Gibraltar 1789-1869 Gibraltar 1918-1939

Gibraltar British, 1869-1918

Gibraltar and British Control of the Mediterranean . British control of Gibraltar, between 1869 and 1918, was uncontested. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 increased the strategic importance of "the Rock", as much of the ocean trade from Europe to Asia and vice versa now took the shortcut through Red Sea, Suez Canal and Mediterranean.
Gibraltar was primarily a base of the British navy; any military engagements in the Mediterranean thus were of concern : continuing expansion of French control in Algeria, the Italian annexation of Rome 1870, the rebellion against Ottoman rule in Bulgaria 1876-1877, the Russo-Ottoman War 1877-1878, the Graeco-Ottoman War of 1881, the French occupation of Tunis 1881, the Creta Crisis of 1897-1898, the Graeco-Ottoman War of 1897, the Macedonia Uprising 1903, the First Morocco Crisis 1906, the Young Turk Rebellion, 1908 (Ottoman Empire), the second Creta Crisis 1908-1910, the Second Morocco Crisis 1911-1912, the Italo-Ottoman War 1911, the First Balkan War 1912, the Second Balkan War 1912-1913, World War I 1914-1918, not to mention the British occupation of Cyprus 1878 and of Egypt 1882.
In most events listed, the British navy did not actively participate, but was present in an observing capacity, providing British diplomacy to influence the political decisions : in 1878, Bulgaria had to give up her Aegaean provinces just gained by the force of Russian arms, in 1912 Serbia had to give up Albanian territory recently conquered, because the British did not tolerate states she perceived as Russian vassals to acquire ports on the Mediterranean. In 1897 the Ottoman Empire had to give up the territory gained in the Graeco-Ottoman War, because Britain protected Greece. The French and Italian expansion into North Africa happened with tacit British approval.
In 1869 Spanish General Prim used Gibraltar as the base from where he staged his coup d'etat (in Spain).

Gibraltar in World War I . As Spain stayed neutral throughout WW I, and France was a British ally, Gibraltar was not threatened.

The Development of Gibraltar . In 1871 the population numbered 18,143, in 1891 19,011. The 1891 census for the first time distinguished between Gibraltarians and foreigners. Gibraltar was reached by submarine telegraph cable in 1870, got electricity in 1897. In 1894 the construction of the Gibraltar Dockyards was begun.
In October 1910, recently deposed King Manuel of Portugal stayed in Gibraltar for a number of days, while the press speculated on his next steps. In August 1912 deposed Sultan of Morocco Moulay Abd-al Hafid traveled through Gibraltar to France.

History of Gibraltar, from gibnet
Timeline of Gibraltar History, from Govt. of Gibraltar Website
DOCUMENTS Maps of Gibraltar, from the CIA factbook and from cwgames
Map of Gibraltar 1901, from Baedeker Spain and Portugal 1901, posted by Alan Gresley
REFERENCE William G.F. Jackson, The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar, Grendon : Gibraltar Books (1987) 1998
Article : Gibraltar, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 p. 640 (on events of 1912) [G]
Article : Gibraltar, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 p.98, 1898 p.98, 1901 pp.106-107, 1905 pp.109-110, 1910 pp.96-97, 1918 pp.90-92 [G]
Article : Gibraltar, in : International Year Book 1900 p.395 [G]
Article : Gibraltar, in : New International Year Book 1907 p.315, 1908 p.297, 1909 p.295, 1913 p.293, 1914 p.302, 1916 p.273, 1918 p.257 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on September 14th 2008

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