Spain

Where is Gibraltar? – Geography, Culture & Language Discussed

Have you ever asked yourself the question: “Where is Gibraltar?” or “What language do they speak in Gibraltar?” These and many other questions are often asked – and rarely answered correctly.

Whether you are traveling to Gibraltar soon, or just want to brush up on your general knowledge – these are important facts to have.

You might have also asked yourself whether or not Gibraltar is an island, or if you can see Morocco from Gibraltar.

Well, I am here to clear all these things up in this ultimate Gibraltar post about history, culture, and language.

Let’s get to it.

stunning gibraltar rock

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Where is Gibraltar?

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

The only country bordering Gibraltar is Spain to the north. The Mediterranean Sea is to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean is to the west.

The Strait of Gibraltar separates Gibraltar from Morocco in Africa. The strait is about 9 miles (14.3 km) wide at its narrowest point.

As you can see on the map below, Gibraltar is only a stone’s throw away from another continent!

where is gibraltar map showing the location of gibraltar in spain
Where is Gibraltar Map

Can You See Africa from Gibraltar?

Yes, you can see Africa from Gibraltar on a clear day!

As I said, Africa is only about 9 miles away from Gibraltar. That’s super close, and close enough to see it with your bare eye.

Gibraltar has some high points, like the Rock of Gibraltar. This gives you a great vantage point and makes it easy to spot it.

The weather is often clear enough to give you good visibility across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Lastly, there’s not much in the way to block your view, especially when you’re looking out over the sea.

So if you’re ever there, don’t forget to look across the water. You might catch a glimpse of another continent!

cute monkeys sitting on gibraltar rock looking over to morocco

What Is the Distance Between Gibraltar and Morocco?

As I have mentioned before, the distance between Gibraltar and Morocco is about 9 miles at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar.

If you cross the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar, you’ll most likely end up in Tangier, Morocco.

As to how to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, you have a couple of options.

Firstly, there are ferries that can take you from Gibraltar to Morocco. Quick and easy!

Technically, you could also swim from Gibraltar to Morocco. But I would not recommend it for the average swimmer. Strong currents and busy shipping lanes make it risky.

Lastly, if you’ve got a boat or can rent one, that’s another way to cross.

drone shot from the streit of gibraltar that seperates spain and gibraltar from morocco

Is Gibraltar an Island?

No, Gibraltar is not an island. Gibraltar is connected to Spain’s southern tip.

But it is easy to get confused because Gibraltar is surrounded by water on three sides.

All in all, Gibraltar is considered part of the mainland.

As you can see on the map below marked in orange, Gibraltar shares a land border with Spain, so Gibraltar is not an island.

Border between gibraltar and spain market to show that gibraltar is not an island
Is Gibraltar an Island – Map marking land border with Spain

How Big is Gibraltar? Is It Walkable?

Gibraltar is pretty tiny, only about 2.6 square miles.

Technically, you can totally walk it. You could get from one end to the other in just a few hours.

Gibraltar is about 3 miles long and up to 0.75 miles wide.

But with the Rock of Gibraltar and some steep areas, be ready for a bit of a climb. Luckily, Gibraltar has cable cars to take you to the higher spots.

Is Gibraltar Part of Spain?

No, Gibraltar isn’t part of Spain.

Gibraltar is actually a British Overseas Territory. Even though it’s right next to Spain, it’s been under British control since 1713.

Gibraltar became British because of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Before that, it was Spanish.

The treaty ended a war between big European powers, and Spain gave Gibraltar to Britain as part of the deal.

It’s stayed British ever since, even though it’s right there on Spain’s doorstep.

lighthouse in gibraltar with a view to morocco

The Citizenship of Gibraltar

People in Gibraltar usually have British citizenship. They carry British passports but with a twist: they’re labeled “Gibraltar.”

If you want to become a citizen of Gibraltar, it’s similar to becoming a British citizen:

Usually, you need to be a legal resident for several years. Then you’ve got to take a test about life in the UK (Gibraltar).

Fill out all the paperwork and pay the fees. If approved, you’ll go through a ceremony to become an official citizen.

Is Gibraltar Reclaiming Lands?

Yes, Gibraltar has been reclaiming land, mostly from the sea. This means Gibraltar is slowly getting bigger.

The airport runway is a good example of Gibraltar’s land reclamation. It’s built on land that used to be water. They’ve also reclaimed land around the harbor and port areas.

As for the future, there are plans for more land reclamation. Mostly they plan to reclaim towards the east side.

It’s all about making room for more buildings, facilities, and maybe even green spaces. So they’re expanding bit by bit.

gibraltar airport as an example for land reclamation

How Did Gibraltar Get its Name?

Gibraltar got its name from the Arabic term “Jabal Tariq.” That means “Mountain of Tariq.

Gibraltar was named after Tariq ibn Ziyad. He was a Muslim general who landed there in 711 AD when he invaded the Iberian Peninsula.

Over time, “Jabal Tariq got a little lost in translation and turned into “Gibraltar.”

Is Gibraltar Atlantis?

The Atlantis connection is more of a myth than fact.

Some people think the Rock of Gibraltar could be one of the “Pillars of Hercules.”

Some ancient texts say, that this marked the gateway to Atlantis.

But there’s no solid proof or anything. It’s mostly a fun story or theory that people like to chat about.

Many people believe that Santorini is Atlantis as well.

Conclusion: Gibraltar Culture, History and Geography Questions Answered

There you have it, —the captivating history and geography of Gibraltar summed up in one blog post. From its strategic position that’s been a game-changer in history, to its British identity sitting on Spain’s southern edge, Gibraltar is quite unique.

We talked about taking a ferry to Morocco and step onto another continent, all in the span of a day, since it is only about 9 miles away. Or stay local and climb the famed Rock of Gibraltar, from where you can see Morocco on a clear day.

And let’s not forget the legends that surround this small yet vibrant territory. Whether you buy into the Atlantis theories or not, it is interesting for sure.

I hope you now know where Gibraltar is located and what makes it so special.

If you are interested in more history, geography and culture, make sure to read about London or maybe even the interesting island of Malta next.

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, originally from Austria. She spends most parts of the year abroad at various destinations with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.