Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The 'Island of Gibraltar'... a geography lesson

As most people know, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

It is connected to the Spanish mainland by a 1.2 km (0.75 mi) wide (roughly from east to west) isthmus, much of which forms a land border with Spain.

In fact, Gibraltar is itself a peninsula. Wikipedia defines a peninsula as "a piece of land that is bordered on three or more sides by water, but is still attached to the mainland"... and that's precisely what Gibraltar is... so, it's a peninsula and definitely NOT an island!

I did say that this is what most people know. However, it seems that many people don't. Many think Gibraltar is an island... and that includes many, who have actually visited Gibraltar!

I can understand it if people who have never visited Gibraltar don't know our geography... or as often happens, they relate Gibraltar to Malta and make an assumption that Gibraltar is also another British island in the Mediterranean. This type of mistaken geography... one can accept!

But... I'm often very irritated (and much gnashing of teeth goes on) by the number of people who publish posts on blogs or websites and just assume Gibraltar is an island, for reasons that only they know best, simply because they can't be bothered to do a little bit of research and find out for themselves... what Gibraltar actually is!

The photograph at the top left, is a satellite view of the Bay of Gibraltar and shows very clearly that Gibraltar is indeed attached to the mainland of the Iberian Peninsula, and mainland Spain.

Here's a photograph, taken from the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, looking down and North into mainland Spain across the isthmus that attaches Gibraltar to the mainland. The image shows the airport, cemetery and the main road leading to the land border with Spain. In the background can be seen La Línea de la Concepción, the Spanish town which is Gibraltar's immediate neighbour across the frontier. The rest of mainland Spain can be seen receedeing in the distance.

It's all perfectly simple and clear right? One would therefore imagine, that anyone visiting Gibraltar, especially who has either driven (or particularly) walked across the border and isthmus (the piece of land that connects Gibraltar with the mainland) into Gibraltar, would know that they did not walk over water! One would think these people have noticed that they did not take a boat or ferry either... but actually came across dry land, in the form of a (normally very busy) road, which even more singularly, actually traverses our airport runway... right!??

So how come then... so many idiots, despite all this... still refer to the 'island' of Gibraltar?

It took Google 0.27 seconds to find around 17,200 sites for the "island of gibraltar".

A perfect example of this can be seen in this idiot's post today:

"Today we drove 65 miles to Gibraltar and it was shut. I don't like Gibraltar, it is very tacky, but we had heard crocs (sandals) were £17 on the island so 4 of went there today. We got onto the rock but the shops and banks were all shut because it was Commonwealth Day!!!!!!!!! So I like it even less now."

Naturally, I couldn't resist leaving a comment:

"So... you drive 60 miles to a place you don't like... to 'an island'... that you drive (or walked) across to over a large road... (which crosses an isthmus over a mile wide)... the only thing that's 'tacky' around here mate... is your brain! Oh and your cheapskate taste!!"


Well, sorry... perhaps I'm being a touch too hard on Mike... but, if people are going to spout off such rubbish, they will have to accept the consequences and a little reaction from those of us who (perhaps strangely for those who may have no allegiance to anything much) have an affection for their homeland and don't like assholes running off at the mouth so dismissively of it!

Finally, I would like to concur with Donovan, who also commented on Mike's post and said:

"Wow. So you drove 60 miles to buy a tacky pair of rubber shoes but don't like Gib because they have a sense of loyalty to the crown. Hmm, you're better off in spain."

I'm with you Donovan!

Mike... stay in Spain mate... you'll be in good company!

Update - 11th March 2009 12:20

Readers may note with passing interest... that the comments, made by me and Donovan, published above, which were posted on Mike's blog post ('the idiot') have now been deleted by him! Readers will I'm sure, make their own judgement on this somewhat spineless approach to blogging!

For myself, I can't see what the point of having a comment system is... if the blogger is going to remove any unfavourable posts that readers may make from time to time. This is just an incumbent hazard... when one puts 'one's head above the parapet' and blogs!

A Blogger should stand by and live with the consequences of whatever one writes about. Something that I... am very aware of and no doubt will fall foul of... given time! :)

I think, when unfavourable posts are made, one either needs to be able to stand by one's story, opinion or view... and if necessary argue it... or if persuaded by the strength of argument, one simply has to hold one's hand up and back down and / or simply apologise for causing possible offence unjustly.

To my mind, simply deleting a comment... is just cowardly... and like the ostrich, hiding one's head in the sand of bigotry or hypocrisy... or just simply being wrong!

I expand on this here: A passing note on spineless blogging!


roughseasinthemed said...

I'm one of the idiots. Despite living here, and criticising everyone else for getting it wrong - I once said it myself. Cringing in embarrassment.

Maybe it's my island mentality and Gib feels so unique? Anyway, just to say that I have slipped up too.

Cybernest said...

roughseasinthemed... there are idiots and then there are 'tacky' idiots!

Personally, I don't think you fall into either categories... I know, I read your excellent blogs!

We're all perfectly capable of being idiotic at times... sometimes... I even think it's a good thing to be so. It's perhaps a way of maintaining our childlike sanity... not a bad thing and we're all up for it.... just ask my kids... or other women in my life! :)

My post here certainly does not intend to categorise everyone who occassionally wrongly refers to Gibraltar as an island... as an idiot (though I do wish they would research a place before making a post or comment about it from a distance).

It's loutish, 'bad mouthing' idiots... I have a problem with... and especially this one who actually drove or walked into Gibraltar then called it 'the island', referred to it as 'tacky' and complained it was 'closed' (due to the public holiday celebrating Commonwealth Day)! No... in this case... a slip of the tongue was NOT acceptable or allowed to pass without comment!

Mike said...

I read your comments with interest and regret that I am not allowed an opinion. However you and do agree on one thing, our dislike of abusive comments on blogs. It's a shame you don't practice what you preach.

Cybernest said...

Ahhh... but here Mike... you ARE allowed an opinion... unlike in your blog, where you have deleted (or refused to publish) at least 5 comments from myself and Donovan... and for all I know, others too!

Mike, the issue is NOT about abuse on blogs and I AM practicing what I preach.

Now that I've rattled your cage... and since you've had the courage (all credit to you) to show yourself here you might go a little step further... reach out for that moral high ground, and accept manfully that your reflections on Gibraltar were bound to cause offence. Your denying us the right to comment by deleting or not publishing posts... was spineless.

Mate... I'm not into abuse... per se... but neither do I suffer dismissive 'bad mouthing' of Gibraltar quietly!

peter d said...

I read with interest your" grumpy old man "tirades -not everybody is as clever as you and me.We visited Gibraltar in January '96-it was the worst weather in living memory according to the guy at the multi-story-but I did manage to buy a very cheap bottle of whisky before we got washed away(in Safeways?)We liked it (both Gib. and the whisky) and will try to return in better weather-we are off to Nerja in April.It struck me as funny the way the Spanish made it difficult to find Gibraltar loads of signs for Cadiz (sounds like Cardiff?)
Some of your photos ????????
I hope you are coping health wise all the best

Cybernest said...

Hi Peter_d

I see we have much in common... brains (!heh), blogging and our tastes in music, films and books... and of course a love of travel and our homeland and culture! :)

I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed your visit to Gibraltar... despite the appalling weather. It's been a bit like that just recently too... but I can assure you it's not the norm and Gibraltar is usually graced by wonderful weather.

Your forthcoming visit to Nerja is timely. For me... Springtime is the best time of the year to visit and I love this area at this time of the year. I hope you can squeeze another visit to Gib in... maybe load up on a few more drams and other cheap goodies (hopefully not tacky sandals!! ha ha).

The lack of signage on the approach to Gibraltar is well noted. They do that on purpose of course.

I'm afraid you've lost me on your "some of your photos ??" comment? Perhaps you might clarify?

As for my health... as you can see, I'm alive and kicking... and coping. Thanks for asking.

I wish you well too and thank you for your comment!

Paul Balcombe said...

I must admit I never knew Gibraltar was a peninsula and my wife was born there. Due to your excellent blog I can finally see both sides of the Gibraltar "question " .

Thanks for educating and hope to see your beautiful scenery soon.