A Few ‘Keys’ to Understanding Gibraltar

Julie Michot

Abstract


British Gibraltar, the last colony in Europe, has a population whose cultural identity is uneasy to define: to demonstrate how unique they are, the Gibraltarians wave a flag depicting a coat of arms granted by a Spanish queen. But their land is a bone of contention between London and Madrid. From the outside, the ‘eternal’ dispute is based on the fact that the strait is the key to the Mediterranean; and yet, it is rather a human problem. A few decades ago, Gibraltar was locked from the outside by Spain; nowadays, the traditional ‘Ceremony of the Keys’ gives the impression the inhabitants still feel besieged. The Rock’s fate is thus closely linked to geography and imperialistic pretentions, making it harder for Gibraltarians to be recognized as a genuine people having the right to decide its future. Self‑determination is definitely the most precious ‘key’, the one Gibraltarians do not possess yet.


Keywords


(straits of) Gibraltar, nationalism, self-determination, decolonization; Spain, UK.

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