Constitutionally, Gibraltar is a Crown Colony with internal self-government. It has its own House of Assembly of 15 elected ministers and two nominated members. There is also a Council of Ministers consisting of the Chief Minister and seven other ministers responsible for domestic matters such as trade and economic development, housing, education, public works and services. Defence, foreign affairs, financial stability and internal security remains the responsibility of the UK.
Gibraltar is a member of the EU, however, it has a special position in that it is excluded from the Common External Tariff, the Common Agricultural Policy and the requirements to levy Value Added Tax.
The population of Gibraltar is made up of 30,000 inhabitants of which 26,000 are native and the rest are British expatriates and service personnel. The official language is English although Spanish is also widely used, and most Gibraltarians are fluent in both.
The currency is pound sterling although there is also local currency which is at par with sterling. There are 21 banks in Gibraltar holding a full banking licence, the majority of which are internationally well known. The services they provide cater for both domestic and offshore clients.
Tax concessions for certain types of companies, non-resident individuals and trust for non-residents, together with the absence of any exchange control restrictions, has created a financial environment suitable for many offshore investors.
The Financial Services Commission regulates all aspects of the financial services sector to protect investors effectively. The Financial Services Commissioner is appointed by the Governor, acting with the approval of the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. The other members are appointed by the Governor, acting with the approval of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, after consultation with the Commissioner. The members of the Commission are solicitors, actuaries or accountants or other people who have experience in the field of financial services regulation. Three members are local and five are from the United Kingdom, including the Financial Services Commissioner himself.
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