History and Constitution, Gibraltar
The Straits of Gibraltar, known in antiquity as the Fretum Gaditanum or Fretum Herculeum, are a strategically important link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. In ancient times the rock of Gibraltar, then known as Calpe, and its counterpart on the African side, Mt Abyla (Jebel Musa), near Ceuta, were known as the Pillars of Hercules - set up by Hercules, as legend had it, at the gateway to the great Ocean. In A.D. 711 the Moors landed here under their general Tarik, who named the rock Jebel al-Tarik ("Mount of Tarik"), which in course of time became Gibraltar.In 1462 Spain at last recovered Gibraltar from the Arabs. During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1704, it was taken by British troops, and under the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 it was formally assigned to Britain. All later attempts by Spain to recapture Gibraltar were unsuccessful. The Franco regime also sought Arms of Gibraltar to recover the territory, but in a referendum held in 1967 more than 95% of the inhabitants voted in favor of staying with Britain. In 1969 a new constitution came into effect under which the colony became the City of Gibraltar, under British sovereignty. Thereupon Spain closed the frontier with Gibraltar. Under a treaty signed at Lisbon in 1980 Britain and Spain agreed on the reopening of the frontier, though it was not in fact opened until 1985. In 1987 agreement was reached on the "joint use" of the territory so as to promote the development of tourist facilities and the use of the airport.ConstitutionGibraltar enjoys self-government in internal affairs, but Britain remains responsible for foreign affairs, defense and internal security. The head of state is the Governor as representative of the Queen and commander-in-chief, assisted by the nine-member Gibraltar Council. The executive, the Council of Ministers (between four and twelve in number), headed by the Chief Minister, is elected by Gibraltar's 15-member Parliament.