Ceuta and Melilla

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Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish 'autonomous cities' bordering Morocco that, together with the tiny military outpost known as Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, are the only remaining European colonies in Africa. The future of these enclaves is the source of a long-standing dispute between Spain and Morocco, with the former intent on maintaining these territories, and Morocco wanting to pursue their integration into its borders.

Ceuta (population 76,100[1]) was conquered by the Portuguese in 1415 and became Spanish territory in 1580. Historically, the enclave was commercially important as a provider of ivory, and due to its shipyard and fish-processing plants, is the more strategically valuable of the two autonomous cities.

Melilla (population 68,000) was conquered by Spain in 1497 and is a modern town that has retained some of its old architecture. The two cities are linked to Spain via ferry services to Malaga, Algeciras and Almeria.

Due to Ceuta and Melilla being part of the European Union under Spanish auspices, the cities are frequently used as an attempted stepping stone by illegal immigrants. People trafficking is also an issue. In 2005 Morocco and Spain agreed to deploy more troops to patrol the borders; however, official control of borders and defence falls under Madrid.


See also