Gibraltar / Rich in history and heritage

History of Gibraltar

Standing guard at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula

The strategic position of the Rock of Gibraltar has attracted visitors since Prehistoric times. More than 90,000 years ago the first known colonisers – Neanderthals – already inhabited the Rock.

The wealth of resources provided by both land and sea attracted ensuing civilisations, including Phoenician sailors who arrived from the Middle East in the 8th Century. The Rock acted like a giant beacon and was used as a place of religious worship. The myths of the Pillars of Hercules originated from this time.

The Phoenicians were followed by their descendants, the Carthaginians and later by the Romans who defeated them and established control of the Strait. From these shores, the Roman Empire was supplied with an abundance of fish and seafood. Gibraltar¹s strategic location was once again highlighted in 711 AD with the Islamic invasion of Europe led by Tarik-ibn-Ziyad (after whom Gibraltar was named). Later, in the 14th Century, the Islamic navies wrestled with the fleets of Aragon and Catalonia for commercial control of the channel in the Battle of the Strait.

The rich history of Gibraltar is reflected in the culture and lifestyle of the people today, as well as in the many historic buildings and sites. For example, the bastions used to defend Gibraltar by the British during the Great Siege of 1779-83 still stand. Similarly, the Bay into which Nelson¹s body was bought after Trafalgar is a living testament to the past, as are the kilometres of tunnels within the Rock which date back to the Second World War. The North African landings were co-ordinated by General Eisenhower from his base deep inside the Rock itself.

Constitutional Environment

Gibraltar is a self-governing British Overseas Territory and has its own Parliament known as the House of Assembly.

The Government consists of the Chief Minister and seven other Ministers who are responsible for all internal matters, such as trade, financial services, economic development, taxation, public works, housing, the environment, education, transport, employment and health.

The United Kingdom remains responsible for defence and foreign affairs.

Gibraltar is a full member of the European Union under Article 299(4) of the Treaty of Rome but has a specific exemption from the requirement to levy value added tax.

The EEA Agreement applies to Gibraltar under the same conditions as those laid down by the Treaty of Rome by virtue of Article 126(1) of that agreement.


Culture

Ministry of Culture

Gibraltar’s main cultural events are organised by the Ministry of Culture, although there are countless others, such as concerts, plays and exhibitions, which are organised by other entities, including musicians, artists and dance groups.

The main aims of the ministry are:

For further information contact:

Ministry of Culture

Gibraltar Cultural Services (GCS)

GCS works on behalf of the Ministry of Culture for HM Government of Gibraltar, organising cultural events and managing the numerous cultural facilities and premises in Gibraltar.

For more information on Gibraltar Cultural Services, downloadable cultural forms and and a full calendar of events visit http://www.culture.gi

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