The species is found in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco and in Gibraltar, and is one of the best-known Old World monkey species. Besides humans, it is the only primate that lives freely in Europe.

Some scientists believe the Barbary Macaque was first introduced to Gibraltar from North Africa by the Moors, who occupied southern Iberia between 711 and 1492. It is certain that the macaque population has been present on the The Rock long before Gibraltar became British in 1704, as they are mentioned In 1610 by Portillo.

The Barbary Macaque population in Gibraltar is nowadays thriving (some 230 animals), unlike that of North Africa. It is considered Gibraltar's unofficial national animal. Locals refer to them as 'monos' (=monkeys).