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Disputed Gibraltar: Earth Image of the Week May 25, 2012
Satellite Image of Strait of Gibraltar
The sun's reflection off the Mediterranean and adjacent Atlantic causes the water to appear milky in this midday image.
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow stretch of water between the southern Iberian Peninsula and the western tip of North Africa.

At its most narrow, the strait separates Europe and Africa by just 9 miles.

When NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the region at midday on May 10, 2012, it captured the clear image to the right, which shows the strait separating the varied landscape of northern Morocco from the arid terrain of southern Spain.

The Strait of Gibraltar also separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean Sea, and has been one of the most strategic waterways for world powers over the past 400 years.

The British territory of Gibraltar can also be seen extending southward in a peninsula from the eastern part of the Spanish city of Algeciras.

The sovereignty of Gibraltar has been a major bone of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations.

Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, though Spain asserts a claim to the territory and seeks its return.

Last week, Queen Sofia of Spain was ordered by her country’s government to turn down an invitation to attend Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee lunch at Windsor Palace due to an escalating diplomatic row over Gibraltar.

Spain's foreign ministry had earlier issued a formal complaint to Britain's Ambassador in Madrid over the planned visit in June of The Earl and Countess of Wessex to Gibraltar to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

Queen Sofia is the great-great granddaughter of Queen Victoria and so distantly related to Queen Elizabeth. She is also the first cousin-once-removed of Prince Philip.

Image: NASA'sMODIS Rapid Response System