Gibraltar: The UK’s Sunny Satellite State

Who likes Britain? I do. But let’s be honest, we would all like a bit more sun – well, a lot more sun, and a lot more sand, and maybe even a lovely warm sea. If only Britain was in the South of Spain, eh? Well, look no further than Gibraltar – Britain’s satellite state.

With a total area of only 2.5 square miles, half of which is home to a giant rock, the peninsular (read: NOT an island) of Gibraltar is practically run by Brits. It looks like home, but for a few subtle differences.

Be it the Spaniards dressed as bobby policemen, wandering round as if lost on the way to a fancy dress party, the WH Smith selling Mars Bars at three times the price of the UK, or the Gibraltarian pound notes which resemble monopoly money, you cannot help but feel you have wandered into another dimension in which the UK is, in fact, on the Mediterranean. Of course, the biggest difference, less subtle than most, is the weather – with an average of just one rainy day each summer, it is always glorious.

Before you all move there, however, just make sure you are fully aware of some of the slightly more peculiar features of the peninsula. With a population of thirty thousand in such a small area, there is not a huge amount of room for manoeuvre in Gibraltar. This is not helped by the bizarre airport, which happens to have its only runway crossing the largest road on the whole peninsula – like a level crossing! On average four flights a day take off or land on this runway, each time leading to a virtual standstill around the whole principality as the road barriers come down and the plane (unsurprisingly) gets priority.

As this is a student magazine I cannot help but mention that Gibraltar is also a tax haven. Without going into the small print, this effectively can be translated as one thing: cheap cigarettes and alcohol. Really, really cheap! A word of caution; just because the Spanish dress-up policemen might not look like they mean business, the Spanish border guards that appear as you attempt to exit with your suitcase full of swag certainly do. So anyone thinking about a quick booze run whilst on a holiday down the road in Marbella might have to think again.

Joell Leskin

2 Comments on this post.
  • Tom Clements
    14 February 2011 at 12:56
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    Sounds like a really odd place; I was never really aware anything existed there apart from a giant rock inhabited by monkeys…

  • Michael Wolff
    4 July 2011 at 15:54
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    Dear Joell: Greetings from your presumably unknown cousin-of-sorts. I found this entry by Googling your name after having sent an exploratory email to your father. I’ve just had my 84th birthday and thought I”d try to find out something about how my long ago abandoned English family was doing. I’d love to hear from you. I’m at

    Michael (son of Joel Wolff who was brother of Rose Wolff Leapman your great grandmother)

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