Known to many simply as “The Rock,” Gibraltar is a British territory on Spain’s southern coast. Spain ceded this narrow 6.8-square-kilometer (2.6-square-mile) peninsula to the United Kingdom as part of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.
Because of Gibraltar’s strategic military importance at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, Britain built a military garrison there. In 1830 the British government turned the garrison into a formal colony. Britain used Gibraltar as a way to control traffic in and out of the Mediterranean. During World War II, Allied forces launched attacks against Axis forces in North Africa from Gibraltar.
During the early 1960s the United Kingdom considered granting Gibraltar independence, but Spain claimed it would then have sovereignty. Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly in a 1967 referendum to remain part of the United Kingdom. In the late 1990s the United Kingdom held talks with Spain about sharing sovereignty of Gibraltar. Gibraltarians held another referendum and again voted overwhelmingly to remain exclusively British subjects. Since then Gibraltar, the United Kingdom, and Spain have signed an agreement whereby Spain agreed to remove certain restrictions, the United Kingdom agreed to compensate Spaniards who were employed in Gibraltar before the border closed in 1969, and Gibraltar agreed to allow Spain to open a cultural center that could fly the Spanish flag.
Today Gibraltar consists of a town of some 29,000 people who live at the foot of the towering 426-meter (1,396-foot) Rock of Gibraltar. Because of the density of the territory, most people live in apartments and work for the government in dockyards or the tourist industry. Trade agreements with Spain are important because all food must be imported as there is no farmland.
Adventists on Gibraltar
Gibraltar has no organized Seventh-day Adventist churches. The first recorded Adventists in Gibraltar were G. F. Jones and his wife, who had served as pioneer missionaries in the South Pacific, and who moved to the territory in 1934 and lived there for a while. Over the years small groups of Adventists have sporadically lived in Gibraltar.
English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
Roman Catholic, 78%; Anglican, 7%; other Christian, 3%; Muslim, 4%; Jewish, 2%; Hindu, 2%; other, 4%.
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
*General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 144th Annual Statistical Report
In 1993 some organized work began with seven church members living in the area. However, the membership dwindled, and in 2004 only three members were left. That year Global Mission—the Adventist Church’s frontline mission arm—started a five-year project in conjunction with two nearby Spanish churches to establish a church. A small group of 10 to 12 people now meets each Sabbath afternoon for worship and Bible study. An Adventist physician holds seminars on family life and healthful living.
Gibraltar is one of the many countries that make up the Euro-Africa Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The division is currently hosting “Follow the Bible,” an initiative sponsored by the Adventist Church around the world to stimulate a deeper interest in reading the Bible. It features a multilanguage Bible traveling to countries around the world. The journey began last October in the Philippines and will circle the globe until July 2010, when the Bible will be featured at the opening meeting of the General Conference Session in Atlanta.