The strategic location of Gibraltar explains why, for centuries,
the Rock has been used as a naval fortress and why so many battles
have been fought over this tiny peninsula at the entrance to the
Gibraltar forms the eastern shore of a bay that has been of commercial importance from earliest times. It has been claimed that the port of Tharshish to which the fleets of Solomon resorted was situated here. Certainly the Phoenicians recognised the advantages of its protective geographical features; they founded the colony of Melcarthos (C artei a) on the north shore during the 9th century B.C. and made it an entrepot for trade with many ports throughout the Mediterranean.
Gibraltar was possessed successively by the Phoenicians. Carthaginians, Romans and Visigoths but remained uninhabited till the Mohammedan invasion of the Iberian peninsula in 711 A.D. by Tariq-ibn-Zeyad from whom Gibraltar gets it name, Gibel Tariq (Tariq's Mountain) and the city itself was founded by the Almohad monarch, Abd el Mumin in 1160 A.D. The Spaniards finally captured Gibraltar from the Moors in 1462 and retained it until 1704. In that year it was surrendered to an Anglo Dutch force during the war of the Spanish Succession, since when it has remained in British hands.
The existence of the actual Rock of Gibraltar is first recorded by the Romans, who named it Calpe. It was the belief of ancient writers that the Pillars of Hercules were situated in the Strait of Gibraltar and after they perished, the two mountains, Calpe and Abyla (the latter being situated opposite Gibraltar on the African shore), retained the names.
Today, this same quirk of geography has allowed Gibraltar to become a maritime centre of excellence. Located at a crossroads of Mediterranean and Atlantic shipping lanes, Gibraltar is ideally placed to provide a wide range of services to vessels of all sizes and types.
Gibraltar is a bustling commercial centre. With over 90,000 vessels transiting the Strait of Gibraltar each year, the Rock has become a major bunkering station – the largest in the Mediterranean – and offers a wide range of other shipping services.
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