Gibraltar is the famous promontory located at the western entrance of the Mediterranean, with Spain to the north and, across the Straits, Morocco to the south. The Straits, a channel 36 miles long that connects the Atlantic with the Mediterranean, are 27 miles wide at the west end, 8 miles at their narrowest and 15 miles between Gibraltar and Almina Point near Ceuta. Africa is clearly visible on a fine day. There is an incredible landing strip which bisects the two-mile long, narrow isthmus linking the colony geographically to mainland Spain.
In ancient times, the Rock, as Gibraltar is popularly called, and its counterpart on the African side, Mount Abyla, were known as the Pillars of Hercules. In 711 A.D., the Arabs landed here under General Tarik. They named the place Jebel al Tarik, from which later the name Gibraltar was derived. In 1462, Spain took possession of Gibraltar only to lose the territory to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Geographically, the Rock is part of the Iberian Peninsula; politically, the British have controlled Gibraltar for over two centuries.
As a British Crown Colony, Gibraltar enjoys self-government in internal affairs; Britain remains responsible for foreign affairs, defense and security. The tiny outpost is full of natural caves, man-made tunnels and water catchments that stretch across the mountain face. Visitors enjoy historical sites, magnificent views and beautiful beaches. A favorite pastime is strolling along Main Street to browse and shop in the many duty-free shops or stop in one of the pubs for a genuine ale, fish and chips or a steak and kidney pie. Many visitors come to see Gibraltar's curiosity, the Barbary Apes. According to legend, the British will remain as long as the apes survive.