By Charlotte Irwin
Lying on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, 70km down the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish resort of Marbella, Gibraltar has a spectacular physical setting and the allure of a low-tax regime. The 6.8 sq km strip of land, a British overseas territory, is dominated by a prominent limestone ridge, with views across the Strait of Gibraltar to the coast of Morocco. Its attractions extend to its history and culture.
Brexit has raised the question of sovereignty: 96 per cent of Gibraltarians voted in 2016 to remain in the EU. For now, though, life in Gibraltar comes with certain financial benefits. Standard corporation tax is 10 per cent, rising to 20 per cent for energy and utility companies, and there is no capital gains tax, sales tax or VAT.
Gibraltarians are given a choice of two personal tax systems — an allowance-based system and a gross income-based system. Among the deductions not available in the UK is a £12,000 home purchase allowance. The standard rate of tax in Gibraltar is 20 per cent, subject to the taxpayer’s level of income and the tax system selected.
Residents are not subject to inheritance tax, nor are they taxed on interest on savings or share dividends. Retirees pay zero tax on income from pensions.
It might be a British territory but Gibraltar’s weather is rather more Spanish. Summers are dry, warm and sunny, and in winter temperatures drop to around a manageable 11C. Gibraltar’s geography provides a temperate year-round microclimate.
Mix of cuisines
Gibraltar’s peculiar geography and history make for an interesting gastronomic mix. Its location means it is often viewed as a bridge between Europe and Africa, and the cuisine has touches of both continents.
One of Gibraltar’s best dining experiences is Italian — a nod to the Genoese community that has been there since the 16th century. Seafront restaurant Nunos, in The Caleta Hotel in Catalan Bay, serves Italian staples such as local seafood and fresh pasta dishes.
That said, no British seaside town would be complete without classic pub grub, and the Lord Nelson on Grand Casemates Square satisfies those tastes, serving fish and chips with the obligatory mushy peas and tartare sauce.
Gibraltar’s landscape is dominated by the monolithic limestone promontory — known as The Rock — which was once thought to mark the end of the discovered world. Now it acts as a viewpoint and the headland for the legally protected nature reserve that covers nearly 40 per cent of Gibraltar.
The Rock and the surrounding greenery are home to more than a hundred Barbary macaques — the only wild monkey population in Europe — and migratory birds, which can be spotted during their times of passage.
At the foot of the Rock, Gibraltar’s Alameda Gardens are eight hectares of verdant botanical gardens that were first established in 1816. Locals visit to meander through the diverse collection of plants, from succulents and daisies to a 300-year-old dragon tree and a 200-year-old stone pine.
Gibraltar’s airport has flights to numerous UK hubs, including Bristol, Manchester and London Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton. There are also direct flights to Casablanca and Tangier in Morocco. Travelling overland, the historic Costa del Sol city of Marbella, with its “golden mile” of high-end nightclubs and eating spots, is an hour away by car. Málaga, the birthplace of artist Picasso, is another 40 minutes up the coast.
Photographs: Getty Images/iStockphoto; Alamy; Dreamstime; Valeriy Tretyakov