BlackFacts Details

Spain's North African Enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta

At the onset of the Industrial Revolution (circa 1750-1850), European countries began scouring the globe looking for resources to power their economies. Africa, because of its geographic location and its abundance of resources, was seen as a key source of wealth for many of these nations. This drive for control of resources led to the "Scramble for Africa" and eventually the Berlin Conference of 1884.

At this meeting, the world powers at the time divided up the regions of the continent that had not already been claimed.

Originally, North Africa was settled by the indigenous peoples of the region, the Amazigh or Berbers as they have come to be known. Because of its strategic location on both the Mediterranean and Atlantic, this area has been sought after as a center of trade and commerce for centuries by many conquering civilizations. The first to arrive were the Phoenicians, followed by the Greeks, then the Romans, numerous Muslim dynasties of both Berber and Arab origin, and finally Spain and Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Morocco was viewed as a strategic trade location because of its position at the Strait of Gibraltar. Although it was not included in the original plans to divide up Africa at the Berlin Conference, France and Spain continued to vie for influence in the region.

Algeria, Morocco"s neighbor to the east, had been a part of France since 1830.

In 1906, the Algeciras Conference recognized France and Spain"s claims for power in the region. Spain was granted lands in the southwest region of the country as well as along the Mediterranean Coast in the North. France was granted the rest and in 1912, the Treaty of Fez officially made Morocco a protectorate of France.

In the aftermath of World War II, many African countries began seeking independence from the rule of Colonial powers. Morocco was among the first nations to be granted independence when France relinquished control in the spring of 1956. This independence also included the lands claimed by Spain in the southwest and in the north