Gibraltar is of great strategic importance, providing bunkering, repair facilities and shelter to ships as well as a valuable airport for tourism. The narrow rocky limestone peninsula of Gibraltar is joined to the mainland by a low, flat sandy isthmus, which is crossed by a neutral zone and the Spanish frontier. Relations between Britain and Spain over the question of the sovereignty of Gibraltar are far from peaceful and friendly, with frequent testing on a daily basis of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) and air space taking place by Spanish military helicopters or launches. The Rock has permanent ownership in perpetuity of the eastern half of Gibraltar Bay with excellent anchorages and a fine harbour enclosed by three breakwaters.
The climate is always warm and sunny with January temperatures averaging 17 degrees Centigrade, rising to 30 degrees in summer. Summers are virtually rainless, with many types of vegetation and wild olives to be seen. Seawater distillation plants supplement the meagre water supply, and Gibraltar has no agriculture or mineral deposits of any type, with fresh vegetables brought in daily from Spain. Import duties are low, with the primary economic source being the bunkering of fuel oil, diesel oil and LNG of over five million tonnes per year to many thousands of ships.
The second source of income is the arrival of over 400,000 cruise passengers per year, and over eleven million international passengers arriving by foot, car, coach or aeroplane.
HISTORY OF GIBRALTAR
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