Tuesday, September 1, 2020

the rock of Gibraltar

Risk, uncertainty and protection ~ Insurance key words and an Insurer getting attracted to this photo is obvious.  An advertisement of The Prudential Insurance Co of America illustration showing  steam-powered ship sailing past the rock, labelled  "The Prudential has the Strength of Gibraltar" published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, in Feb 1909. [pic credit : Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C]

Have heard of this phrase ‘ you are rock of Gibraltar ‘ a metaphor meaning the solidity and strength that a rock can provide.  The rock of Gibraltar  was known to the ancient Greeks as one of the two Pillars of Hercules. According to Greek mythology adopted by the Etruscans and Romans, when Hercules had to perform twelve labours, one of them (the tenth) was to fetch the Cattle of Geryon of the far West and bring them to Eurystheus; this marked the westward extent of his travels. A lost passage of Pindar quoted by Strabo was the earliest traceable reference in this context: "the pillars which Pindar calls the 'gates of Gades' when he asserts that they are the farthermost limits reached by Heracles”. 

The Rock of Gibraltar, also known as the Rock, is a monolithic limestone promontory located in the territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It is 426 m (1,398 ft) high. Most of the Rock's upper area is covered by a nature reserve, which is home to around 300 Barbary macaques. These macaques, as well as a labyrinthine network of tunnels, attract many tourists each year. Gibraltar is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. During the War of the Spanish Succession, Britain took control of Gibraltar on this day in 1704 after Spain surrendered, and “the Rock” subsequently became a British colony and a symbol of British naval strength.

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula,  bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 32,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.  In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During the Napoleonic Wars and World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, which is only 14.3 km (8.9 mi) wide at this naval choke point. It remains strategically important, with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait.  Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services and bunkering.


The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations because Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and, in a 2002 referendum, the idea of shared sovereignty was also rejected.  It is in news again !

Downing Street hit out at Spain amid claims that Madrid lobbied US politicians to back joint-control of Gibraltar. Several current and former members of Congress said they were approached by the Spanish embassy in Washington after backing the British Overseas Territory's sovereignty. The campaign lasted between 2014 and 2019 and involved the suggestion that Gibraltar citizens be given dual Spanish nationality and Madrid would get a say in its political system, the Daily Telegraph reported.  UK  Prime minister's official spokesman said: 'The people of Gibraltar have repeatedly and overwhelmingly expressed their wish to remain under British sovereignty and we will respect their wishes. 'We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes.  Furthermore the UK will not enter into any process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content. 'We will continue to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard Gibraltar, its people and its economy including maintaining a well-functioning Gibraltar-Spain border.'

Britain and Spain, Nato allies, have clashed repeatedly  in recent years over the tiny enclave at the mouth of the Mediterranean. Its position has been thrown into even sharper focus since the Brexit vote, because of its sometimes frictious land border with Spain.  Citizens of The Rock, which overwhelmingly backed Remain at the 2016 referendum, have consistently pledged their allegiance to Britain, including in several referendums on the subject.

For centuries there were colonies and people were subjugated – things have changed and yet some Countries wish to dominate over others. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6.8.2020.

 


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