A tiny British territory off the coast of Spain known primarily for its wild monkeys and for being the place where John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married has become a major focus of the U.K.’s Brexit talks. But what exactly is the situation with Gibraltar, is it threatened by Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, and could the UK go to war with Spain over it? Here is everything you need to know:
Where is Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is a 2.6 square mile territory at the southernmost point of Spain’s Iberian Peninsula, separated from Morocco by a narrow passage of water called the Strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population of roughly 30,000 people, who are known as Gibraltarians.
Why is it British?
In 1704, Gibraltar was taken by an Anglo-Dutch fleet during the war of the Spanish Succession and ceded to Britain “in perpetuity” under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Spain attempted to retake the territory numerous times during the eighteenth century, mainly by laying sieges on the Rock – the region’s iconic landmark – but was unsuccessful. The war between Britain and Spain ended after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1784, and the two countries united to fight Napoleon in 1810. Although Britain and Spain have been long-term allies for centuries now, ownership of Gibraltar has remained an awkward, often-disputed topic in U.K.-Spanish relations.
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