Community and identity

The making of modern Gibraltar since 1704

This study concerns the history of Gibraltar following its military conquest in 1704, after which sovereignty of the territory was transferred from Spain to Britain and it became a British fortress and colony. It focuses on the civilian population and shows how a substantial multi-ethnic Roman Catholic and Jewish population, derived mainly from the littorals and islands of the Mediterranean, became settled in British Gibraltar, much of it in defiance of British efforts to control entry and restrict residence. To explain why that population arrived and took root, the book also analyses the changing fortunes of the local economy over 300 years, the occupational opportunities presented and the variable living standards which resulted. Although for most of the period the British authorities primarily regarded Gibraltar as a fortress and governed it autocratically, they also began to incorporate civilians into administration, until it eventually, though still a British Overseas Territory, became internally a self-governing civilian democracy. The principal intention of the study is to show how the demographic, economic, administrative and political history of Gibraltar accounts for the construction, eventually and problematically, of a distinctive ‘Gibraltarian’ identity. With Gibraltar's political future still today contested, this is a matter of considerable political importance.

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