The Greeks believed that Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules and no one dared sail beyond it. Later, when it came under British control, it became known as a symbol of British naval strength and was known as "the Rock."
Situated at latitude 36°07'N and longitude 05°21'E, Gibraltar juts out steeply from the low-lying Spanish territory to which it is connected by a sandyisthmus, a mile long and half a mile wide. Five miles east, across the Bay of Gibraltar, lies the Spanish port of Algeciras and 20 miles south,across the Strait, is northern Africa. The Mediterranean falls to the East and it is approximately 1,400 miles to Britain, by sea.
Shortly after the mass exodus of Gibraltar’s Spanish population in 1704, immigrants from throughout the Mediterranean began settling on the Rock. By the late nineteenth century, the different immigrant groups had coalesced into an ethnicallt homogeneous population, from which most of today’s Gibraltarians are descended. British by nationality, the Gibraltarians (gibraltareños in Spanish) are in ethnic terms neither straight forwardly British nor Spanish, but a complex amalgam of both these and other elements.
Gibraltar's population has generally been on an upward trend since the first figures were released in 1753, then the population was 1,816. It went into five figures in 1844, at just over 10,000, reaching the 20,000 mark in 1901. After a slump for a number of years, it returned in 1951 to the 20,000 mark - and it has kept rising ever since. It was recorded as 32,194 in the last census for 2012.
Craig Murray concluded that Gibraltar is a Tax Haven, not a Nation. Gibraltar played an important role as one of only two tax havens in the EU (Luxembourg is the other.) Gibraltar is the world’s fifth-largest banking center, and with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.9 billion, it has one of the highest GDP per capita on Earth.
Gibraltar was the first European financial center to introduce the tax exempt company as an offshore holding vehicle, and its unique status within the EU makes it the jurisdiction of choice for certain types of investors or traders: there are over 60,000 companies registered in Gibraltar (more than two per inhabitant!), many of them being exempt.
Gibraltar offers a variety of interesting fiscal products ranging from lucrative funds development and administration to customized financial solutions, ranging from international tax planning strategies to monthly tax-free registered debentures (stable bonds with an attractive non-taxable fixed rate).
Classified as a developing country, Gibraltar is entitled to preferential trade tariffs under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). Legislation is in place to encourage High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) and High Executives Possessing Specialist Skills (HEPSS) to establish tax residency in Gibraltar, affording them the opportunity to have the tax payable on their income restricted to a capped amount.
Self-sufficient Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. Tax rates are low to attract foreign investment. The British military presence has been sharply reduced and now contributes about 7% to the local economy, compared with 60% in 1984. In recent years, Gibraltar has seen major structural change from a public to a private sector economy, but changes in government spending still have a major impact on the level of employment.
Gibraltar has an international financial center, which is small internationally but large in comparison to its domestic economy. The financial services sector has strong ties to London, the Crown Dependencies, and other financial centers. The financial sector, tourism (over 11 million visitors in 2012), gaming revenues, shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. The financial sector, tourism, and the shipping sector contribute 30%, 30%, and 25%, respectively, of GDP. Telecommunications, e-commerce, and e-gaming account for the remaining 15%.
The Rock runs a length of 3 miles, from north to south and is 3/4 mile wide. Its total area is 2 1/4 square miles, though land increased by reclamationis not reflected in this in this measurement. The top of the Rock, 1,396ft high, is a sharp, knife-ridge extending for about a mile and a half from the north escarpment, which is virtually inaccessible. The ridge slopes gradually south for about a mile, terminating at the southern extremity, Europa Point, in perpendicular cliffs about 100ft high. The whole upper length of the eastern face is inaccessible and the steep upper half of the western slopes is uninhabited, having been designated a nature reserve.
Geologically, Gibraltar can be divided into two main parts. To the north is a plain, consisting of sand 30ft deep, atop 4ft of clay and a bed of coarse sand 2 1/4 ft thick and limestone. The second part is a mass of the Rock to the south, consisting of compact Jurassic limestone, overlaid with dark shale, limestone breccias or sands.
Nowadays Gibraltar primarily sources water from the efficient desalination and purification of water, at facilities located at the North Mole. Gibraltar’s climate is temperate. During winter months, the prevailing winds are from the west or north-west and occasionally south-west. Snow or frost is extremely rare. The mean minimum and maximum temperatures during this period are 13°C and 18°C respectively. In summer the prevailing wind is from the east; a warm breeze, laden with moisture, known as the 'Levanter', strikes the eastern face of the Rock, condenses in the sky above it and causes a cold pall to hang over the city and bay. During this period the climate is humid.
The mean minimum and maximum temperatures in the summer are 13°C and 30°C respectively. Vegetation in Gibraltar is rich and varied, from its upper slopes to the Alameda Gardens. Over 600 species of plants, exclusive of ferns, mosses and lichens are known to grow on the Rock, six of them, including the Gibraltar candytuft, are found nowhere else in Europe. Plant life is at its most impressive between October and May.
The hot sun and scant rainfall give the Rock a somewhat barren appearance during the summer months. Over 270 species of wild birds have been recorded in here, some are resident on the Rock, such as the Barbary partridge which is found nowhere else inmainland Europe. The majority are migrants that congregate at the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa. Among these, the best known and most spectacular are the migrations of 15 species of bird of prey and the crossing of 50,000 white storks.
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