For centuries Gibraltar was known as one of the Pillars of Hercules, guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean, from a Greek myth about the labours of Hercules.
It was also the landing place for the Moorish invasion of 711 AD, and took its name from the Arabic words Jabal Tarik, meaning the Mountain of Tarik, the general who led the invasion.
During World War II, the garrison was strengthened and it became a Royal Navy base. Most of the civilians were evacuated to Britain, Morocco and Madeira for the duration of the war.
Anyone who has visited Gibraltar will know that one of the on-going issues between the Spanish and British governments is about whether Gibraltar is Spanish or a British
Overseas Territory. In a referendum in 1967 and again in 2002 the people of Gibraltar voted to retain their links with Britain, which date back to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, when Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in perpetuity. It has been under British rule ever since – until 2006, that is, when the Gibraltar government began to govern its own affairs.
Over a thousand people, Spanish nationals and Gibraltarians who lived in La Linea, crossed the border that night. Given little official aid, they were helped by the local people who took them into their homes and set up soup kitchens to help feed the influx of refugees.
Gibraltar’s official stance on the civil war, in line with Britain, was that of a neutral observer, although it was known that the colonial authorities gave aid to the Spanish rebels in an unofficial capacity.