As far as pub quiz trivia goes, Gibraltar offers a rich supply. Well known as a British Overseas Territory yet largely unexplored by many, the little island of Gibraltar is packed full of weird and wonderful things to see and do – and here are ten of our favourite facts!
- A popular place for newlywed celebs…
An eccentric legend in the world of music; former Beatle John Lennon was often unconventional. Rather than have a wedding back in his home country, he married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar. In March 1969, Lennon and Ono exchanged vows in their room at The Rock Hotel, and reportedly called the island “British-friendly.” In other words – one of the most famous love stories of all time was made official on this island! The Australian singer Nick Cave, meanwhile, sings that he took his wife on a honeymoon to Gibraltar in the feel-good love song ‘Rock of Gibraltar’.
- …but it’s also popular for divorces.
It unfortunately has a reputation for one of the highest divorce rates – eighth in the world, in fact. Three out of every 1,000 marriages ends in divorce.
- Small, but crowded
Gibraltar is only 2.6 square miles in size, and with a population of over 30,000, makes it the fifth most densely populated country or territory in the world. A little cramped, to say the least!
- Gambling in Gibraltar? You Bet!
The Island is a hotbed of gaming activity, with 30 licensed operators (including 888, Betfair and many other of the most famous poker sites) based in Gibraltar. What’s more – the tiny island boasts some of the most incredible casinos in the world, further establishing it as a popular gambling destination.
Gibraltar has 33,000 inhabitants, 11% of whom are employed directly or indirectly by the gambling sector, highlighting how important it is to the island’s economy.
- Bird watchers paradise
An ornithologist’s dream – Gibraltar is in a perfect position to watch some 315 species of bird flying between Europe and Africa on the Strait of Gibraltar. Used as a ‘Halfway House’ by the migrating birds, the island’s vegetation is one of the reasons that they love this area when stopping off for food and rest.
- You can stay in a boat…but not float
Well, technically it is floating, but the Sunborn Gibraltar hotel is built within a 465ft static cruise ship. It is also the first hotel to be given five-star status on the island. Everything about this monster oozes glamour, with the bright lights of the boat seen from far, far away. Even if you haven’t quite got the cash to stay overnight in one of its luxurious maritime-themed rooms – it’s worth visiting the ship’s many cocktail bars, spa or casino.
- It has a mountain…a very famous one!
The Rock of Gibraltar is a 1,400ft formation which towers over the City of Gibraltar. It provided a fortified base for 30,000 British forces personnel in the Second World War, as well as the location for hundreds of films and television programmes as a shooting location – including James Bond in The Living Daylights.
- Gibraltar’s monkeys have inhabited the island for 1,500 years
If you ever visit the island and stop to admire the rock, you will probably catch a glimpse of some of the 300 Barbary Macaque monkeys that have inhabited the island for possibly over 1,500 years.
They have taken over the areas in and around the rock – particular the hospital of Gibraltar – where you will likely be swamped by a troop or inquisitive (and often aggressive) monkeys. They have been dubbed “out of control” and prone to have a nibble on uninitiated tourists!
- Subterranean attractions
Not all points of interest have to be above ground, particularly not on Gibraltar. Its caves number over 150 and attract around 1,000,000 visitors every year. The biggest and perhaps most sought after is St. Michael’s Cave. It is a Neolithic formation, which dates back to between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago – but was amazingly only discovered in 1974.
Another fascinating facet of Gibraltar’s history is its vast underground tunnels, used as a crucial part of the Allied forces defence during WWII. Before that, however, the British used these tunnels to transport cannons to within a reachable distance of enemies during the Great Siege – a Spanish and French attempt to capture Gibraltar.
The tunnels are between seven and 27 miles in length – impressive digging!
- Rich in Human History
As an attraction, Gibraltar presents a delight for historians and archaeologists. It is believed that Neanderthals died out on the island between 24,000 and 30,000 years ago. They left behind a plethora of evidence in a cave on the south east of the island. Any tourists looking for a lesson is prehistory will be in for a treat!