Jutting out into the Strait of Gibraltar, the Rock of Gibraltar is a small peninsula separated from Spain by a sandy isthmus. However, despite being so close to Spain, this limestone promontory is actually an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The Chief of State is Queen Elizabeth II. Even though this piece of land is tiny, there are lots of fascinating tidbits to pique your curiosity. Ready to learn more? Here are some of the most interesting facts about the Rock of Gibraltar.
7 Interesting Facts about the Rock of Gibraltar
1. The Rock of Gibraltar is made of limestone
The Rock of Gibraltar is a limestone monolithic promontory. Basically, it is a very large protruding rock. It is 426 metres (1,398 ft) high at its highest point on the southern end. Rock Gun is its northernmost summit. It is 5km (3 miles) long and 1.2km (0.75 miles) wide.
2. The Rock of Gibraltar is located on the Iberian Peninsula
You will find the Rock of Gibraltar in the British territory of Gibraltar. The 2.6 square mile peninsula is located on the Iberian Peninsula near the southwestern tip of Europe. The Rock of Gibraltar juts out into the Strait of Gibraltar which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It is located directly south of the Spanish city of La Línea. A low, sandy 1.6km (1-mile) long isthmus connects the Rock of Gibraltar to Spain.
3. The Rock of Gibraltar dates back to the Jurassic period
The Rock of Gibraltar formation dates back to the Jurassic period, which was around 175-200 million years ago. However, some parts of the Rock of Gibraltar formed when the African tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate. This happened about 5 million years ago.
4. The Rock of Gibraltar is home to Barbary macaques
In 1993, officials declared around 40% of Gibraltar’s land area a nature reserve. The Gibraltar Nature Reserve is located in the upper Rock. Around 300 Barbary macaques call the Gibraltar Nature Reserve home. This is the only wild monkey population in Europe. The Moors introduced these monkeys to the area. The Rock of Gibraltar is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. Many twitchers and birders come here to spot birds as they migrate from North Africa to Europe. Some 315 species of birds have been recorded flying over the Rock.
5. There is only one native flower on the Rock of Gibraltar
On the Rock of Gibraltar, you’ll find more than 500 species of small flowering plants. The only native flower on the Rock of Gibraltar is Gibraltar candytuft. This is the only place in Europe where it is found growing in the wild.
6. The Rock of Gibraltar has underground tunnels
The Rock of Gibraltar has many underground tunnels. The British Army constructed the 55km (34 miles) of tunnels over about 200 years. They started excavating in 1782, however, the majority of the tunnels were made during the Second World War. The tunnels can accommodate 16,000 men and supplies. Now mostly under the control of the Government of Gibraltar, many of the tunnels are open to tourists.
7. The Rock of Gibraltar is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Rock of Gibraltar is also home to the Gorham’s Cave complex. These four caves on the steep limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is because the caves provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 100,000 years. Excavations of the cave complex show that they were the last refuge for the Neanderthals around 32,000 years ago.