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Gibraltar

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Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. The territory shares a border with Spain to the north. Gibraltar has historically been an important base for the British Armed Forces and is the site of a Royal Navy base.

The name of the territory is derived from the Arabic name Jabal Tariq, meaning "mountain of Tariq". It refers to the geological formation, the Rock of Gibraltar, which in turn was named for the Berber Umayyad general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia in advance of the main Moorish force in 711 under the command of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. Earlier, it was known as Mons Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules. Today, Gibraltar is known colloquially as Gib or The Rock.

A one-year investigation and analysis of 235 countries and territories by Jane’s Country Risk listed Gibraltar as the top stable and prosperous British Territory, in 5th position overall. The sovereignty of Gibraltar has been a major bone of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations. Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity, under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, though Spain asserts a claim to the territory and seeks its return. The overwhelming majority of Gibraltarians strongly oppose this, along with any proposal of shared sovereignty. The British government has stated that it is committed to respecting the Gibraltarians' wishes.

Economy of Gibraltar

The barbary macaques form an integral part of Tourism in Gibraltar
The British military traditionally dominated the economy of Gibraltar, with the naval dockyard providing the bulk of economic activity. This has however diminished in the last twenty years, and it is estimated to account for only 7% of the local economy, compared to over 60% in 1984. Today, Gibraltar has an extensive service-based economy, dominated by financial services and tourism.
A number of British and international banks have operations based in Gibraltar. Recently, many bookmakers and online gaming operators have relocated to Gibraltar to benefit from operating in a regulated jurisdiction with a favourable corporate tax regime. However, this corporate tax regime for non-resident controlled companies is due to be phased out by 2010.

Tourism is also a significant industry. Gibraltar is a popular stop for cruise ships and attracts day visitors from resorts in Spain. The Rock is a popular tourist attraction, particularly among British tourists and residents in the southern coast of Spain. It is also a popular shopping destination, and all goods and services are VAT free. Many of the large British high street chains have branches in Gibraltar, including Marks and Spencer, BHS, Dorothy Perkins, and the supermarket Morrisons.

Figures from the CIA World Factbook show the main export markets in 2006 were United Kingdom 30.8%, Spain 22.7%, Germany 13.7%, Turkmenistan 10.4%, Switzerland 8.3%, Italy 6.7% while the corresponding figures for imports are Spain 23.4%, Russia 12.3%, Italy 12%, UK 9%, France 8.9%, Netherlands 6.8% and United States 4.7%.

The Gibraltar Government state that economy grew in 2004/2005 by 7% to a GDP of £599,180,000. Based on statistics in the 2006 surveys, the Government statisticians estimate it has grown by 8.5% in 2005/6 and by 10.8% in 2006/7 and that the GDP is probably now around 730 million. Inflation was running at 2.6% in 2006 and predicted to be 2% to 3% in 2007. Speaking at the 2007 budget session, Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister said "The scale of Gibraltar's economic success makes it one of the most affluent communities in the entire world."

Currency

Main article: Gibraltar pound

Under the terms of the 1934 Currency Notes Act, the Government of Gibraltar issues banknotes which are legal tender alongside Bank of England banknotes in Gibraltar. These notes are backed by sterling reserves held by the Gibraltar government and can be exchanged at parity with sterling through a currency board arrangement. Clearing and settlement of funds is conducted in sterling, and Gibraltar banknotes in circulation bear the words "Pounds sterling". The euro is unofficially accepted in Gibraltar by most retail outlets, though not by the Post Office or by some payphones.

Communications

Gibraltar has a digital telephone exchange supported by a fibre optic and copper infrastructure. The main telephone operator, Gibtelecom, also operates a GSM network and is an Internet Service provider.

A local company Gibnet Limited, started the first Internet service in January 1996 and later changed its name Sapphire Networks Limited.

Victorian Post Box of standard 1887 UK design in use in Gibraltar Old Town in 2008.

International Direct Dialling is provided, and Gibraltar was allocated the access code 350 by the International Telecommunication Union. This works from all countries with IDD, including Spain, which has accepted its use since 10 February 2007, when the telecom dispute was resolved. Gibraltar mobile and fixed service numbers are eight digits.

Dial-up, ADSL, high-speed Internet lines are available, as are some wifi hotspots in hotels. Local operator CTS is rolling out WiMax.

The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation operates a television and radio station on UHF, VHF and medium-wave. The radio service is also Internet-streamed. Special events are streamed in video.

The other local radio service is operated by British Forces Broadcasting Service who also provide a limited cable network for television to HM Forces.

The largest and most frequently published newspaper is the Gibraltar Chronicle, Gibraltar’s oldest established daily newspaper and the world’s second oldest English language newspaper to have been in print continuously with daily editions six days a week. Panorama is published on weekdays, and Vox, 7 Days, The New People, and Gibsport are weekly. (Credit: Wikipedia).