Geopolitics in Gibraltar

20 February 2020

In Libby's second blog she takes us to Gibraltar. Read on to find out more.


As you prepare to study abroad you might wonder how best to balance studying with exploring the part of the world you are in; so as to make the most of both the opportunity to experience a foreign university and the beautiful country you’re in. I certainly had these thoughts. However, it doesn’t have to come down to a choice between one or the other. Your university might offer modules which organise field trips.

At Universidad de Granada I take a class in Geopolitics, and although I wasn’t aware when I enrolled in it, part of the module is a field trip. This trip was mostly paid for by the university, the only expense students had to cover was accommodation. Looking out for modules that organise trips like this can be a fabulous way to combine cheap travel and studying, and provide unique experiences. I know that many geography departments (and some other departments too) organise trips, so if you study an interdisciplinary degree like I do, you might want to make the most of these opportunities!


Views of Morocco from our bus

My Geopolitics trip took me to Gibraltar, a 3-hour drive from Granada, and an interesting place to study due to its strategical position in the Mediterranean, its issues of conflicted sovereignty, the implications of Brexit, its link to many trafficking routes and its tax haven status. After an early start we were greeted by a guide who drove us around the peninsula whilst lecturing us on its history. Gibraltarians are for the most part proficient both English and Spanish, which means they speak an interesting hybrid of the two. During the day we had the opportunity to meet both Dr Joseph Garcia, historian, current leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party and Deputy Chief Minister of the Government of Gibraltar and his Worship John Gonçalves, Mayor of Gibraltar. They gave us insights into the history of the rock, and contemporary issues it faces. Our professor also provided useful information about the Spanish perspective on the sovereignty issue.

Our guide took us around the peninsula’s various neighbourhoods, university, tunnels through the Rock, and caves near the top, where we also encountered the iconic monkeys. Despite the terrible, and truly British, weather we were able to see the Moroccan coast 15km away across the Mediterranean, and wrapped up in the mist the rock gave an enchanting impression. At the end of the day we had free time to explore and went to have fish and chips, the perfect cure for any lingering homesickness.


Monkey (left) and me (right)


We spent the night in the neighbouring Spanish port Algeciras, which was a nice opportunity to socialise with other students taking the module, make friends and discover a new place. The next day we remained there and met a representative from the organisation Barrio Vivo, which fights drug addiction. Gibraltar and the Spanish Campo de Gibraltar’s situation at the heart of the passage between Africa and Europe are tremendously affected socially and economically by global drug trafficking. After some free time for lunch and exploring we headed home, and arrived back in Granada in the early evening.  Overall the trip provided great insight into the geopolitical issues at stake in the region and was a fun way to travel somewhere I perhaps wouldn’t have been otherwise. Plenty of short trips are feasible from Granada, and can give an appreciation of the history or politics of the region, so you may want to check if your university offers modules with any such field trips!


By: Libbie Davies