Gibraltar (Span. Gibraltar'), an isolated mass of rock, in the SW. of Spain, rising to an altitude of 1408 feet, 3 miles in length, and £ mile in average breadth, is situated at the extremity of a low sandy peninsula, which connects it on the north with Andalusia. By the completion of the railway route in 1892, Gibraltar is within four days of England. Its western side is washed by the Bay of Gibraltar, called also the Bay of Algeciras; and at the foot of the rock, on this same side, is the town of Gibraltar, which consists of two parts, the South Town, above the dockyard, and the North Town, which has narrow streets and many mean houses, and is inhabited by a motley agglomeration of English, Spaniards, Jews, and Moors. Pop. (1901), civil, 20,355 ; military, 6475; total, 26,830. One may notice the numerous barracks; the governor's official residence, an old Franciscan convent; the naval hospital; the Alameda Gardens; the signal-station, crowning the central eminence of the rock, 1255 feet high ; the remains of the Moorish castle (10th c.); and the lighthouse (1841), on Point Europa, whose light, 150 feet above the sea, is seen for 20 miles. At the northern base of the rock is the open space called the North Front, extending as far as the British lines ; here are the cemetery, the cricket-ground, the racecourse, etc. Between the British and the Spanish lines is the neutral ground, which is uninhabited. The harbour and dock improvements in progress in 1900-10 (mainly for naval purposes) were estimated to cost some £6,500,000. There is good anchorage in the Bay of Gibraltar, 8 miles deep by 5 wide. Gibraltar has been a free port since its capture by the British, was for a time one of the chief commercial emporiums of the Mediterranean, and is an important coaling-station. Since 1842 it has been the see of an Anglican bishop. Almost the entire rock bristles with artillery; and the approaches from the north and from the sea are guarded by many powerful batteries. Towards the north and northwest the defences are aided by a series of fortified galleries, 2 to 3 miles in length. The eastern side is so precipitous as to be altogether secure from assault. In these days, however, of steamships and heavy long-range guns, the military importance of Gibraltar has certainly diminished. The rocky mass is perforated by numerous caverns, some of which penetrate for several hundred feet into the rock. The largest, called the ' Hall of St Michael,' is 220 feet long, 90 wide, and 70 high, and its floor is connected with the roof by stalactite pillars ranging up to 50 feet in height; the entrance lies 1100 feet above the sea. Gibraltar is the only place in Europe where monkeys (some 20 Barbary apes) live wild.
Gibraltar was known to the early Phoenician navigators. The Greeks called it Calpe, and it and Abyla opposite (now Ceuta) formed the Pillars of Hercules, long held to be the western boundary of the world. In 711 a.d. the Saracen leader Tarik fortified it, as a base of operations against the Visigothic kingdom ; and from him it took the name of Gebel el-Tarik, or Hill of Tarik, of which Gibraltar is a corruption. In 1302 Ferdinand II. of Castile won it from the Moors; but in 1333 it fell into the hands of the king of Fez. In 1410 Yussuf, king of Granada, possessed himself of the fortress, which, however, was finally wrested from the Moors by the Spaniards in 1462. A combined Dutch and English force compelled the governor to capitulate in 1704; and since then Gibraltar has remained continuously in the possession of the British, in spite of many desperate efforts on the part of Spain and France to dislodge them, the greatest in 1779-82, when it was defended with heroic valour by General Eliott (Lord Heathfield) and 5000 men, including 1100 Hanoverians.
See works by Drinkwater (1785), Gilbard (1881), and H. M. Field (New York, 1889).