Search This Blog

Monday, August 29, 2022

Gibraltar becomes a city !!

Many of us born and brought up in a City may not readily realise but those of us, who travel frequently can .. . there is a big divide between Cities like Madras, Bangalore, Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and other places like Karur, Erode, Villupuram, Nagercoil and the like !  .. .. there may not be a correct definition of a City !  -  a  city is a large human settlement. But most Cities are advanced with many workplaces and are densely populated. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, production of goods, and communication. Their density facilitates interaction between people, and in general offers better amenities.

Historically, city-dwellers have been a small proportion of humanity overall, but following two centuries of unprecedented and rapid urbanization, more than half of the world population now lives in cities, which has had profound consequences for global sustainability. Present-day cities usually form the core of larger metropolitan areas and urban areas—creating numerous commuters traveling towards city centres for employment, entertainment, and education. Other important traits of cities besides population include the capital status and relative continued occupation of the city. For example, country capitals such as Beijing, London, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, Paris, Rome, Athens, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Manila, and Washington, D.C. reflect the identity and apex of their respective nations !!

Miles away, outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was 'excellent' to see the recognition, describing it as a 'huge accolade' to Gibraltar's 'rich history and dynamism'.  Gibraltar, a rocky 2.6-square mile peninsular which boarders Spain and is just 10 miles from north Africa, became British territory in 1713 under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht which brought an end to the War of the Spanish Succession.   As a British overseas territory, it is home to a military garrison and has a naval base. But over the past few decades, the EU has sought to put pressure on London and Madrid to resolve its future status. In a referendum in 2002, Gibraltarians resoundingly rejected the idea of joint sovereignty.

Have heard of this phrase ‘ 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 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.

Gibraltar finally joined the official list of British cities on Monday, after 180 years in which its status, granted by Queen Victoria, had been overlooked due to an administrative error. The British overseas territory bid to become a city earlier this year as part of the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, but research in the National Archives established it had in fact been granted city status in 1842. The status of Gibraltar and how to police the border with Spain has been a point of contention since Britain's 2016 vote to leave the European Union. The peninsula was excluded from the exit deal reached between Britain and the EU. Informal arrangements are in place while the two sides negotiate over Gibraltar, which overwhelmingly backed remaining in the EU in the Brexit referendum.

Now, Gibraltar can officially call itself a city, 180 years after it was first granted the status by Queen Victoria. The Rock has now had its status reaffirmed - Boris Johnson described it as a "huge accolade" celebrating its "rich history and dynamism".  A Jubilee competition saw 39 places apply to become cities and eight of them, including Doncaster, Bangor, and Dunfermline, ultimately granted the status.

City status in UK  is often associated with having a cathedral, university, or large population, but there are no set rules for it being granted - it's awarded by the monarch on advice of ministers. It brings little in the way of material benefits, although it can often provide a boost to communities by putting them on the map and is normally a source of pride for residents. The government said Gibraltar had been omitted from official lists after being originally given the title by Queen Victoria, but it is not clear how this happened. An updated record of the 81 places named as cities has now been published. Gibraltar is one of only five outside the UK to be recognised. Hamilton in Bermuda, Jamestown in Saint Helena, and Douglas on the Isle of Man were already on the list, while Stanley in the Falklands Islands was among those named for the Jubilee this year.  It comes as ministers publish a fresh record of the 81 places that have so far achieved the special status, including the eight new designations awarded as part of a competition to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee earlier this year.

The Rock's 2006 constitution stipulates that there can be no transfer of sovereignty to Spain against the wishes of its voters.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Aug 2022


No comments:

Post a Comment