Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and shares its northern border with the Province of Cádiz in Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region. At its foot is a densely populated city area, home to over 30,000 Gibraltarians and other nationalities.
An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. The territory was subsequently ceded to Britain "in perpetuity" under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an enormously important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, which is only eight miles (13 km) wide at this point. Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services, and shipping.
The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and again in 2002. Under the Gibraltar constitution of 2006, Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defence and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of Government of the United Kingdom.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory. The British Nationality Act 1981 granted Gibraltarians full British citizenship.
Under its current constitution, Gibraltar has almost complete internal democratic self-government through an elected parliament, elected for a term of up to four years. The unicameral parliament presently consists of 17 elected members, and the Speaker who is not elected, but appointed by a resolution of the parliament.
The government consists of 10 elected members. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar. The governor enacts day-to-day matters on the advice of the Gibraltar Parliament, but is responsible to the British government in respect of defence, foreign policy, internal security and general good governance.
Judicial and other appointments are made on behalf of the Queen in consultation with the head of the elected government.
The 2011 election was contested by the Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD), Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP)-Gibraltar Liberal Party (GLP) Alliance and the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP is a new party, formed in 2006 and fielded candidates in the 2007 election, but none was elected. The head of government is the Chief Minister (as of December 2011, Fabian Picardo). All local political parties oppose any transfer of sovereignty to Spain, instead supporting self-determination. The main UK opposition parties also support this policy and it is UK government policy not to engage in talks about the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of the people of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is part of the European Union, having joined through the European Communities Act 1972 (UK), which gave effect to the Treaty of Accession 1972, as a dependent territory of the United Kingdom under what was then article 227(4) of the Treaty Establishing the European Community covering special member state territories, with exemption from some areas such as the Customs union and Common Agricultural Policy. After a 10-year campaign for the right to vote in European elections, since 2004 the people of Gibraltar have participated in elections for the European Parliament as part of the South West England constituency.
The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Gibraltar on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Gibraltar has been on the list since December 1946.