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Total population
c. 40,000[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
 Gibraltar 23,757+[3]
 United Kingdom 11,830+[1]
 Spain ~3,000[2]
 United States 570[1]


English, Spanish
Llanito (vernacular)
Predominantly Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism
Related ethnic groups
British, Spanish, Andalusians, Catalans, Italians (Genoese), Maltese, Portuguese, Jews
Gibraltarians encircle The Rock during the tercentenary of British Gibraltar, 4 August 2004.

The Gibraltarians (colloquially Llanitos) are a cultural group native to Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.


Gibraltarians are a racial and cultural mixture of the many immigrants who came to the Rock of Gibraltar over three hundred years. They are the descendants of economic migrants who came to Gibraltar following its capture by an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704. All but 70 of the existing population of 4,000 fled to the surrounding Campo de Gibraltar.[4]

Most Gibraltarian surnames are Mediterranean or British extraction. The exact breakdown is as follows:

Rank Origin Proportion (%) of family names
on 1995 electoral register[5]
1 British 27%
2 Spanish (excluding Minorcan) 24%
3 Italian 19%
4 Portuguese 11%
5 Maltese 8%
6 Jewish 3%
7 Minorcan 2%
8 Other 4%
9 Unassigned 2%

Genoese and Catalans (who arrived in the fleet with Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt) became the core of Gibraltar's first civilian population under Habsburg Gibraltar. Sephardi Jews from Tetouan in Morocco, who had previously been suppliers to English Tangier, began supplying fresh produce to Gibraltar in 1704.

Jews in Gibraltar by 1755 together with the Genoese formed 50% of the civilian population (then 1,300). In 1888 construction of the new harbour at Gibraltar began to provide an additional coaling station on the British routes to the East. This resulted in the importation of Maltese labour both to assist in its construction, and to replace striking Genoese labour in the old coaling lighter-based industry. Maltese and Portuguese people formed the majority of this new population. Other groups include Minorcans (due to the links between both British possessions during the 18th century; immigration began in that century and continued even after Minorca was returned to Spain in 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens),[6][7] Sardinians, Sicilians and other Italians, French, and British people.

Immigration from Spain (including refugees from the Spanish Civil War) and intermarriage with Spaniards from the surrounding Spanish towns was a constant feature of Gibraltar's history until General Francisco Franco closed the border with Gibraltar, cutting off many Gibraltarians from their relatives on the Spanish side of the frontier. The Spanish government reopened the land frontier, but other restrictions remain in place.

For the period of World War II the border was closed, although Spain was nominally neutral, as Franco's regime was effectively allied with Nazi Germany.

Genoese/Italian Surnames[edit]

Recent research by Fiorenzo Toso in 2000 about the names of Gibraltarian families of Genoese origins was: based on original research and deals with the Ligurian origin of many of the surnames currently found in Gibraltar. It points out the areas of origin of these surnames, discusses their etymology and gives their present frequency. Remarks are made on Liguria's historical importance in this locality, and above all on the linguistic, ethnographic and cultural consequences of this influence.[8]

From this research appears clearly that most of the emigration from the Italian region Liguria was from the areas of Genoa and Savona, and some Sicilian surnames (like Caruana) are mistakenly believed to be Maltese (while are from Sicilians emigrated to Malta during the Italian Renaissance).

The following are the most common Genoese surnames in Gibraltar, according to Toso's research. The number of Gibraltarian residents who have these surnames, according to Gibraltar's Yellow Pages are provided in parenthesis.

  • Parody (45), Baglietto (45), Danino (33), Olivero (50), Robba (32), Montegriffo (34), Chipolina (25),[9] Ferrary (35), Ramagge (24), Picardo (6), Isola (24), Canepa (12), Cavilla (14) and Bossano (15).[10]

Maltese surnames[edit]

By 1912 the total number of Maltese living in Gibraltar was not above 700. Many worked in the dockyard and others operated businesses which were usually ancillary to the dockyard. However, the economy of Gibraltar was not capable of absorbing a large number of immigrants from Malta and by 1912 the number of Maltese was already in decline as they returned to the Maltese Islands. Eventually those who stayed in Gibraltar became very much involved in the economic and social life of the colony, most of them also being staunch supporters of links with the UK.

Below are a list of the most common list of Maltese surnames in Gibraltar along with the current number of Gibraltarians who possess them.

  • Azzopardi (22), * Barbara (12), * Borg (46), * Bugeja (11), * Buhagiar (14), * Buttigieg (18), * Zammit (37).[11]


Gibraltarians are British citizens, albeit with a distinct identity of their own. Gibraltar is sometimes referred by the younger generation as "Gib" (/dʒɨb/). In Spanish, they are colloquialy referred to as Llanitos[citation needed] and a number of nicknames for Gibraltar relating to the Rock of Gibraltar.[citation needed]

noun: Gibraltarian(s) adjective: Gibraltar

Rank Nationality Proportion (%) of the population (2001)[12]
1 Gibraltarian 83.22%
2 Other British 9.56%
3 Moroccan 3.50%
4 Spanish 1.19%
5 Other 1.54%
6 Other EU 1.00%

Estimates for 2008 show a small decrease in the proportion of Gibraltarians (81.12%), a significant increase in the ratio of "Other British" (11.09%) and a small increase in the ratio of "Other" (7.79%). No further breakdown is provided in this figure.[3]


Gibraltarians, 1856


The main religion of Gibraltar is Christianity with the majority of Gibraltarians belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. Other Christian denominations include the Church of England, the Gibraltar Methodist Church,[13] the Church of Scotland, various Pentecostal and independent churches mostly influenced by the House Church and Charismatic movements, as well as a Plymouth Brethren congregation. There is also a ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are a number of Hindu Indians, a Moroccan Muslim population, members of the Bahá'í Faith[14] and a long-established Jewish community.[15][16]

Rank Religion Proportion (%) of Gibraltarians[12]
1 Roman Catholic 78.09%
2 Church of England 6.98%
3 Muslim 4.01%
4 Other Christian 3.21%
5 None 2.86%
6 Jewish 2.12%
7 Hindu 1.79%
8 Other or unspecified 0.94%


English (used in schools and for official purposes) and Spanish are the main languages of Gibraltar. Although English is the official language, Gibraltarians are typically bilingual, speaking Spanish as fluently as English.[17] Most Gibraltarians converse in Llanito, Gibraltar's vernacular. It is an old dialect of Andalusian Spanish with modern British English influence, as well as influences from Genoese Ligurian, Maltese, Portuguese and Haketia. Gibraltarians may also code-switch to English. Hebrew is spoken by the significant Jewish community. Arabic is also spoken by the Moroccan community, similar to Hindi and Sindhi being spoken by the Indian community of Gibraltar. Maltese is still spoken by some families of Maltese descent.

Gibraltarians have a light, but unique accent when speaking English, primarily influenced by Andalusian Spanish and southern British English. Many educated Gibraltarians are able to converse in Received Pronunciation.

Notable Gibraltarians[edit]

Main article: List of Gibraltarians

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Appearance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain under the Foreign Affairs Commission (Senate of Spain), 5 October 2006.
  3. ^ a b Abstract of Statistics 2008
  4. ^ Gold, Peter (2005). Gibraltar: British or Spanish?. Routledge. p. 2. 
  5. ^ Edward G. Archer (2006). "Ethnic factors". Gibraltar, identity and empire. Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-415-34796-9. 
  6. ^ Jackson, William (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar (second ed.). Grendon, Northamptonshire, UK: Gibraltar Books. p. 225. ISBN 0-948466-14-6. The open frontier helped to increase the Spanish share, and naval links with Minorca produced the small Minorcan contingent. 
  7. ^ Edward G. Archer (2006). Gibraltar, identity and empire. Routledge. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-0-415-34796-9. 
  8. ^ Research on genoese surnames in Gibraltar (in Italian)
  9. ^ History of the Chipulina family in Gibraltar
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Census of Gibraltar 2001
  13. ^ "Gibraltar Methodist Church". The Methodist Church. Retrieved 30 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "National Baha'i Communities | The Bahá'í Faith". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "People". Official Government of Gibraltar London website. 2005. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 6 November 2007. 
  16. ^ Jacobs, Joseph. "Gibraltar". Retrieved 6 November 2007. 
  17. ^ "Language of Gibraltar".