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  • andrewmorrisey

Revised 2022 Sail Plan from France into the Med with a multi-week stop in North Africa's Morocco.

Updated: May 30, 2022

We are 3 weeks from flying over to meet up with our new boat on Feb 3rd, 2022 and have been watching many other cruisers do the journey from La Rochelle France down the Atlantic Coast and into the Med. Other considerations on this revision is the need to spend some time out of the EU waters based on the allowance of only 90 days in the EU over a 180 day rolling period. We have also been talking to the folks in France and there is not really any good spot to anchor along the France coastline of the Biscay. We arrive in La Rochelle on Feb 3rd and plan to spend most of February learning the boat with several day trips and learning all the systems.

Here is the updated sail plan with our first leg being a 200nm shakedown leg to Bilbao Spain starting in March 2022.

Leg 1 - Bilbao Spain.

A 200 nautical mile shakedown leg along the Atlantic coast of France. This trek should take about 35-40 hours and will be a good practice for our double handed watch shift plan. The target marina is located in Getxo which is 16 kms North of Bilbao. The Bilbao area is the largest city in the province of Biscay where the economic social development is located, where the estuary of Bilbao is formed. Its main urban core is surrounded by two small mountain ranges with an average elevation of 400 metres (1,300 ft). Its climate is shaped by the Bay of Biscay low-pressure systems and mild air, moderating summer temperatures by Iberian standards, with low sunshine and high rainfall. The annual temperature range is low for its latitude.

After its foundation in the early 14th century by Diego López V de Haro, head of the powerful Haro family, Bilbao was one of the commercial hubs of the Basque Country that enjoyed significant importance in the Crown of Castile. This was due to its thriving port activity based on the export of wool and iron commodities extracted from the Biscayan quarries to all over Europe. Throughout the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Bilbao experienced heavy industrialisation, making it the center of the second-most industrialised region of Spain, behind Barcelona. At the same time an extraordinary population explosion prompted the annexation of several adjacent municipalities.


EL Puerto Deportivo de Getxo +34 944 91 13 54

Embarcadero Publico de Las Arenas +34 944 80 31 00

Puerto Pesquero Santurtzi

Leg 2 - Santander

A 40 Nautical Mile sail along the Northern coast of Spain in the Biscay.

Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria. It is a port city located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao with a population of 172,000 (2017).

It is believed to have been a port since ancient times, due to its favorable location, and is documented as far back as the 11th century. Much of the medieval city was lost in the Great Fire of 1941. Today, its remaining old town, beach and other attractions are popular with tourists and other visitors and its economy is mainly service based. The port is still very active and a regular ferry service operates to the United Kingdom. Fish and seafood dominate the local cuisine. Santander notably houses the headquarters of multinational bank Banco Santander, which was founded there.

Marinas: Puerto Deportivo Marina del Cantábrico Puerto Deportivo Marina De Santander MARINA DE SANTANDER +34 942 36 92 98

Leg 3 - Gijon

An 85 Nautical Mile sail along the Northern coast of Spain in the Biscay. Depending on weather and conditions we may put in another layover between legs 2-3.

Gijón is a city and municipality in north-western Spain. It is the largest city and municipality by population in the autonomous community of Asturias. It is located on the coast of the Cantabrian Sea in the Bay of Biscay, in the central-northern part of Asturias; it is approximately 24 km (15 mi) north-east of Oviedo,[6] the capital of Asturias, and 26 km (16 mi) from Avilés. With a population of 271,780, Gijón is the 15th largest city in Spain.

It’s known for its maritime heritage and the old fishermen’s quarter of Cimadevilla. Santa Catalina hill has a clifftop park and sculpture. The 18th-century Revillagigedo Palace houses an international arts center. It adjoins the Collegiate Church of San Juan Bautista, now a concert hall. Nearby is the 16th-century Clock Tower, with a museum about the city.

Marinas: Marina Alonso +34 697 90 41 05 Dársena de Fomentín Marina Yates +34984157171

Leg 4 - Ribadeo

Ribadeo is a municipality in the Spanish province of Lugo in Galicia. It has a population of 10,023 (INE, 2011) and an area of 106.2 km2 (41.0 sq mi). It is the capital of the A Mariña Orientalcomarca. The first well-known settlements date from Iron Age such as the Gallaecianhillforts of Grovas, Fornelo, Meirengos, Cárcovas, Pumarega, Torre and Aira da Croa. All of them were inhabited by the Gallecian tribe of the Egovarri. During the 6th century the first texts referred to this county as part of Britonia. During the 13th century, Ribadeo received privileges from the king Ferdinand II. The town began as a settlement beside the estuary, occupying what are now the docks of Porcillán and Cabanela, and later expanded on to higher land. It had a wall - more for customs purposes than for defence - of which some remains are still preserved. Along with Viveiro and Mondoñedo, it was one of the three main medieval towns of the former province of Mondoñedo. It was granted a town charter by Fernando III, permitting a weekly market, which is still held. For a while the town was royal property and was then granted to a French nobleman, Pierre de Villeines, in recognition of his services to Enrique de Trastámara. After Villeines there were several further transfers of ownership; the county of Ribadeo became a possession of the House of Alba.

Marinas: Porto De Ribadeo Puerto de As Figueiras Puerto de Castropol

Leg 5 - Vicedo

A short 33 Nautical Mile sail along the Northern coast of Spain in the Cantabrian Sea. The municipality of O Vicedo is located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. It is located in the comarca of A Mariña Occidental, north of the Autonomous Community of Galicia. It is bordered on the north by the Cantabrian Sea, to the south by the municipality of Ourol, to the east by Viveiro and to the west by Mañón. Its district covers an area of 75.96 s/km

Marinas: Puerto de O Vicedo

Leg 6 - Cedeira

Around the top of the coast we go to be finally on our way Southward. A short 27 Nautical Mile jaunt. Cedeira is a municipality in the province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain. It is situated in the northern coast of the Rías Altas. Cedeira has a population of 7,412 inhabitants

An anchorage

Leg 7 - Ares

A short 27 Nautical Mile leg to Ares. Ares is a municipality in the autonomous community of Galicia in province of A Coruña in northwestern Spain. It is located in the comarca of Ferrol. It spans the coastal strip running from the entrance of the estuary of the Ferrol river to the port of Redes. The economy is based on fishing, tourism and agriculture.

Marinas: Porto de Ares Porto de Redes

Leg 8 - the famous A Coruña

A very short sail over to Au Coruna from Ares. A Coruña (historical English: Corunna or The Groyne) is a city and municipality of Galicia, Spain. A Coruña is the most populated city in Galicia and the second most populated municipality in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country. The city is the provincial capital of the province of the same name, having also served as political capital of the Kingdom of Galicia from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and as a regional administrative centre between 1833 and 1982, before being replaced by Santiago de Compostela.

A Coruña is located on a promontory in the Golfo Ártabro, a large gulf on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the main industrial and financial centre of northern Galicia, and holds the headquarters of the Universidade da Coruña. A Coruña is a packed city, the Spanish city featuring the tallest mean-height of buildings, also featuring a population density of 21,972 inhabitants per square km of built land area.

Leg 9 - Camariñas

Another 35 Nautical Mile leg Southward down the Atlantic coast of Spain Camariñas is a municipality in the province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain. It belongs to the comarca of Terra de Soneira. An important fishing center, it is renowned all over Spain by the bobbin lace work of its women (the palilleiras).

To the northwest are the impressive cliffs of Cape Vilan (Cabo Vilán "Cape Villain", due to bad currents and many wrecks), a protected natural site.

Marinas: Yacht Club Nautico de Camariñas +34 981 73 71 30 Porto de Muxía +34 981 74 20 30 Cataventos Muxia Marina Marina +34 673 16 81 99

Leg 10 - Fisterra

Fisterra (Galician pronunciation: [fisˈtɛrɐ]; Spanish: Finisterre) is a municipality in the province of A Coruña, in the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain. It belongs to the comarca of Fisterra. Fisterra is on Cape Finisterre, the final destination for many pilgrims on the Way of St. James.

Fisterra is on the rocky Costa da Morte (Galician: "Coast of Death"), named because of the large number of shipwrecks along these shores. The name Fisterra comes from Latin FINIS TERRAE, meaning "Land's End". This name stems from the fact that this area is on a remote peninsula that is one of the westernmost points of land in Galicia, and hence in Spain.

Fisterra is an ancient port and fishing village, formed by narrow streets leading to the Plaza de Ara Solis. The chapel of Nosa Señora do Bon Suceso, dating from the 18th century, is on the plaza. There is a lighthouse on a 600-metre promontory called "Monte Facho" at the tip of Cape Finisterre overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. On the road up to the lighthouse is the parish church of Santa María de Fisterra which contains the Chapel of Santo Cristo.

Fisterra is 108 km from A Coruña, and 98 km from Santiago de Compostela.

Marinas: Porto de Fisterra +34 981 74 00 79

Alternative is a little to the North Peirao de Sardiñeiro

Leg 11 - Vigo

A 52 Nautical Mile leg further South near the bottom tip of Spain on the Atlantic side. Our last port in Spain until we get into the Mediterranean Sea. Vigo is a city and municipality in the province of Pontevedra, within the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain. Located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, it sits on the southern shore of an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ria de Vigo, the southernmost of the so-called Rías Baixas.

The municipality, with an area of 109.06 km2 (42.11 sq mi) and a population of 295,364 in 2019 including rural parishes, is the most populous municipality in Galicia. The area of the municipality includes the Cíes Islands, part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park.

Vigo is one of the region's primary economic agents, owing to the Stellantis Vigo Plant and to its port. Close to the Portugal–Spain border, Vigo is part of the Galicia–North Portugal Euroregion. The European Fisheries Control Agency is headquartered in Vigo.


Marina Davila Sport +34 986 24 46 12 Estación Marítima de Vigo Porto de Vigo

As this is the last stop in Spain we need to clear customs. The customs in Virgo is located

Leg 12 - Porto, PORTUGAL

A 75 Nautical Mile leg leaving Spain and entering Portuguese waters. Checking into Portugal in Porto you need to go to or submit a declaration within 3 days

Porto or Oporto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpoɾtu]) is the second-largest city in Portugal, the capital of the Porto District, and one of the Iberian Peninsula's major urban areas. Porto city proper, which is the entire municipality of Porto, is small compared to its metropolitan area, with an estimated population of just 231,962 people in a municipality with only 41.42 km2. Porto's metropolitan area has around 1.7 million people (2021) in an area of 2,395 km2 (925 sq mi), making it the second-largest urban area in Portugal. It is recognized as a global city with a Gamma + rating from the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Located along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its core was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, as "Historic Centre of Porto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar". The historic area is also a National Monument of Portugal. The western part of its urban area extends to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. Its settlement dates back many centuries, when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Its combined Celtic-Latin name, Portus Cale,[16] has been referred to as the origin of the name Portugal, based on transliteration and oral evolution from Latin. In Portuguese, the name of the city includes a definite article: o Porto ("the port" or "the harbor"), which is where its English name "Oporto" comes from.

Port wine, one of Portugal's most famous exports, is named after Porto, since the metropolitan area, and in particular the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the packaging, transport, and export of fortified wine. In 2014 and 2017, Porto was elected The Best European Destination by the Best European Destinations Agency. Porto is on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago.

Marinas: Marina da Afurada +351 22 090 7300 Open 24 hrs

Leg 13 - Figueira da Foz

65 Nautical miles to Figueira into the Mondego River.

Figueira da Foz (Portuguese pronunciation: [fiˈɣɐjɾɐ ðɐ ˈfɔʃ] ), also known as Figueira for short, is a city and a municipality in the Coimbra District, in Portugal. Practically at the midpoint of the Iberian Peninsula's Atlantic coast, it is located at the mouth of the Mondego River, 40 km (25 mi) west of Coimbra and sheltered by hills (Serra da Boa Viagem), sharing about the same latitude with Philadelphia, Baku and Beijing. The population of the municipality in 2011 was 62,125, in an area of 379.05 km2 (146.35 sq mi). The city of Figueira da Foz proper has a population of 46,600. It is the second largest city in the district of Coimbra.

It is a coastal city with several beaches, summer and seaport facilities on the Atlantic Ocean coast. As a tourism city, it plays an important part in the centre of the country. A zone of legal gambling, one can find in Figueira one of the biggest casinos of the Iberian Peninsula – the Casino Figueira.


Marina da Figueira da Foz +351 233 402 918

Leg 14 - Nazaré (Beach)

37 Nautical Miles to Nazare where the worlds largest surfing waves are along the beaches. The Marina is tucked in behind a breakwater but it may be weather and wave dependent to get in so we shall see.

Nazaré is a town and municipality located in the District of Leiria in Central Portugal. The municipality has a population of 14,889 in an area of 82.43 km2, while the town itself has around 10,000 inhabitants.

It is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the Silver Coast (Costa de Prata).

The town of Nazaré consists of three neighbourhoods: Praia (along the beach), Sítio (an old village, on top of a cliff) and Pederneira (another old village, on a hilltop). Praia and Sítio are linked by the Nazaré Funicular, a funicular railway.

The present mayor is Walter Chicharro, a member of the Socialist Party. The municipal holiday is on 8 September, as part of the Our Lady Of Nazaré Festival, a ten-day religious and secular celebration with processions, bullfights, fireworks, folk dancing and a fair.


Marina da Nazaré Yacht Clube Naval Da Nazaré Sur tel:+351262560422

Leg 15 - Peniche

Peniche (Portuguese pronunciation: pɨˈniʃ) is a seaside municipality and a city located in the Leiria District of Central Portugal. It has 26,431 inhabitants, in an area of 77.55 km2. The city itself has a population of about 15,600 inhabitants. The present mayor is Henrique Bertino, elected by the independent coalition GCEPP (Grupo de Cidadãos Eleitores por Peniche; Electors for Peniche Group of Citizens).

Marinas: Marina de Peniche cais marina Braço de mar

Leg 16 - Cascais

A day sail to Cascais, pronounced Cash-Kaiz (listen). This is the port that our sailing hero and former foredeck on our Windseeker (J30) Daniele Gaw raced to on a Volvo Open 65 as foredeck of Team Austrian Ocean Race Project. As we all watched Leg from Lorient of The Ocean Race Europe 2021 from our armchairs in Halifax after a grueling 1,300 NM race they placed first.

Cascais is a municipality in the Lisbon District of Portugal, located on the Portuguese Riviera. The population in 2011 was 206,479, in an area of 97.40 km2. Cascais is an important tourist destination. Its marina hosts events such as the America's Cup and the town of Estoril, part of the Cascais municipality, hosts conferences such as the Horasis Global Meeting.

Cascais's history as a popular seaside resort originated in the 1870s, when King Luís I of Portugal and the Portuguese royal family made the seaside town their residence every September, thus also attracting members of the Portuguese nobility, who established a summer community there. Cascais is known for the many members of royalty who have lived there, including King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, when he was the Duke of Windsor, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and King Umberto II of Italy. Exiled Cuban president Fulgencio Batista was also once a resident of the municipality. The Casino Estoril inspired Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel Casino Royale.

The municipality is one of the wealthiest in both Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula. It has one of the most expensive real estate markets and one of the highest costs of living in the country and is consistently ranked highly for its quality of life.

Marinas: Cascais Marina +351 21 482 4800 Marcascais - Sociedade Concessionária da Marina de Cascais +351 21 482 4800

Leg 17 - a day sail into Lisbon harbour - The Capital of Portugal

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 544,851 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 2.9 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, which represents approximately 27% of the country's population. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area, the Portuguese Riviera, form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, culminating at Cabo da Roca.

Lisbon is recognised as an alpha-level global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. Lisbon is one of two Portuguese cities (alongside Porto) to be recognised as a global city. It is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe's Atlantic coast. Additionally, Humberto Delgado Airport served 29 million passengers in 2018, being the busiest airport in Portugal, the 3rd busiest in the Iberian Peninsula and the 20th busiest in Europe. The motorway network and the high-speed rail system of Alfa Pendular links the main cities of Portugal to Lisbon. The city is the 9th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Athens, Venice, Madrid and Florence with 3,539,400 tourists in 2018. The Lisbon region has a higher GDP PPP per capita than any other region in Portugal. Its GDP amounts to US$96.3 billion and thus $32,434 per capita. The city occupies the 40th place of highest gross earnings in the world. Most of the headquarters of multinational corporations in Portugal are located in the Lisbon area. It is also the political centre of the country, as its seat of government and residence of the head of state.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the second-oldest European capital city (after Athens), predating other modern European capitals by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. After the fall of the Roman Empire it was ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century; later it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147 Afonso Henriques conquered the city and since then it has been the political, economic and cultural center of Portugal.

Leg 18 - Sines

A longer 60 Nautical Mile leg further South.

Sines is a city and a municipality in Portugal. The municipality, divided into two parishes, has around 14,214 inhabitants (2021) in an area of 203.30 km2 (78.49 sq mi). Sines holds an important oil refinery and several petrochemical industries. It is also a popular beach spot and the main fishing harbor of Alentejo region.

The municipality is bordered to the north and east by the municipality of Santiago do Cacém, south by Odemira and west by the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline of the city, south of São Torpes, is part of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park.

Marinas: Porto De Recreio De Sines +351 269 249 731 Porto Sines PSA +351 269 870 600

Leg 19 - Lagos

A longer 80 Nautical mile leg that end with rounding the northern tip of Europe's Atlantic Ocean.

Lagos literally "lakes"; Proto-Celtic: *Lacobriga, is a city and municipality at the mouth of Bensafrim River and along the Atlantic Ocean, in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal. The population of the municipality in 2011 was 31,049, in an area of 212.99 km2. The city of Lagos proper (which includes only the civil parish of São Sebastião e Santa Maria) has a population of approximately 22,000. Typically, these numbers increase during the summer months, with the influx of visiting tourists and seasonal residents. While the majority of the population lives along the coast and works in tourism and services, the inland region is sparsely inhabited, with the majority of the people working in agriculture and forestry.

Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, rock formations (Ponta da Piedade), bars, restaurants and hotels, renowned for its vibrant summer nightlife and parties.[citation needed] Yet, Lagos is also a historic centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, frequent home of Henry the Navigator, historical shipyard and, at one time, centre of the European slave trade. In 2012, travel website TripAdvisor, classified Lagos as the number one travel destination, on a list of "15 destinations on the rise" worldwide.

Lagos, Nigeria, may have been named after it, since, at the time of the 15th century, Lagos, Portugal, was the main centre of Portuguese maritime expeditions down the African coast.

Marinas: Marina Lagos +351 282 770 210 Marina de Lagos, Pontão B +351 966 193 431

Marina de Lagos +351 282 770 210

Leg 20 - Cádiz, SPAIN

An overnight leg from Lagos to Cadiz crossing back into Spain.

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight that make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Cádiz, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, with archaeological remains dating to the 12th century BC, was founded by the Phoenicians. It has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. It is also the site of the University of Cádiz.

Situated on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea‚ Cádiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalusian city with well-preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cádiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old Town (Spanish: Casco Antiguo). It is characterized by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Pópulo, La Viña, and Santa María, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town. While the Old City's street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees allegedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.

Marinas: Complejo Deportivo Puerto Elcano +34 956 29 00 12

Marinas: Puerto Sherry +34 956 87 01 03

Leg 21 - Barbate

A 40 Nautical mile day trip from Cadiz to Barbate.

Barbate is a municipality of Spain part of the Province of Cádiz, in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is coastal town located off the Atlantic Ocean, close to the Strait of Gibraltar. Displaying a total area of 142.17 km2, it has, as of 2019, a registered population of 22,518

Marinas: Puerto de Barbate +34 856 10 83 99 Yacht Club Náutico de Barbate +34 956 43 39 05

Ensure you fully Check out at customs in Spain to stop the Schengen clock before sailing to Africa.

Leg 22 - Tangier, Africa

A perpendicular crossing of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world - The Strait of Gibralter. Picking a good weather window is also key for this short 25 Nautical mile leg.

Tangier is a city in northwestern Morocco. It is on the Maghreb coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. The town is the capital of the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, as well as the Tangier-Assilah prefecture of Morocco.

Many civilisations and cultures have influenced the history of Tangier, starting from before the 10th century BCE. Between the period of being a strategic Berber town and then a Phoenician trading centre to Morocco's independence era around the 1950s, Tangier was a nexus for many cultures. In 1923, it was considered as having international status by foreign colonial powers and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, bohemians, writers and businessmen.

The city is undergoing rapid development and modernisation. Projects include tourism projects along the bay, a modern business district called Tangier City Centre, an airport terminal, and a football stadium. Tangier's economy is set to benefit greatly from the Tanger-Med port.

Marinas: Tanga Bay Marina Royal Yacht Club de Tanger +212 5399-38575

Check into & out of customs at the end of the pier.

GROUND Travel Plan

We will likely leave the boat at the Marina for a few weeks and take ground transportation to: - Rabat - Casablanca - Fes

The Leg to the FINISH of our delivery into the Med - Gibraltar, British Territory

The final leg, of our Atlantic Ocean travels, for now and the beginning of a few years sailing in the Mediterranean and beyond.

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 32,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.

In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It became an important base for the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars and World War II, as it controlled the narrow entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, which is only 14.3 km (8.9 mi) wide. This choke point remains strategically important, with half the world's seaborne trade passing through it.. Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services, and bunkering.

The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations, as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum, and for shared sovereignty in a 2002 referendum. Nevertheless, Gibraltar maintains close economic and cultural links with Spain, with many Gibraltarians speaking Spanish as well as a local dialect known as Llanito.

On 31 January 2020, the UK and Gibraltar left the European Union. In December 2020, the UK and Spain agreed in principle to a basis on which the UK and the EU might negotiate terms for Gibraltar to participate in aspects of the Schengen Agreement.

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