A Rock as old as time, that dominates the approach to the Mediterranean from the Straits of Gibraltar and the Atlantic beyond, Gibraltar has spent the last thousand years in the hands of the Spanish, the Moors and most recently the British. Gibraltar was ceded by the Spanish king to the British Crown under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 –
“The Catholic King does hereby, for himself, his heirs and successors, yield to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging; and he gives up the said propriety to be held and enjoyed absolutely with all manner of right for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.
But that abuses and frauds may be avoided by importing any kind of goods, the Catholic King wills, and takes it to be understood, that the above-named propriety be yielded to Great Britain without any territorial jurisdiction and without any open communication by land with the country round about”.
The consequences of the ceding but with conditions are felt if not every month, then certainly every year.
During the period between 1969 and 1985 there were no land links between the two lands as a result of a bid by General Franco to bring Gibraltar to submission by siege. In 1983 the border was opened to pedestrian traffic only and families divided for over fifteen years who had in many cases been unable to cross by any other route (it being possible to do so via Morocco or, for those who could afford it, via London). Ten years after the General’s death, the border was open again. Since then there have been notable steps to place the relations between Spain and Gibraltar on a more normalised footing. This has not been universally or consistently successful, however, with obvious flashpoints being fishing rights in the waters directly offshore from Gibraltar, issues regarding the construction (including the funding) of the Gibraltar airport, and most importantly the use of customs and immigration control as a means of affecting the traffic between both places.