Spanish Morocco


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Spanish Morocco is Number 122 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. At the time this study was written, Spanish Morocco was made up of two zones, a northern zone consisting of the Mediterranean coast and its hinterland, and a southern zone consisting of an enclave around the Atlantic coast town of Ifni. The main towns in the northern zone were Melilla, Tetuan (Tétouan), Ceuta, Laraish (Larache), El-Ksar El-Kebir (Alcazar), and Arzila (Asilah). The book covers physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions. The section on political history traces the course by which Spain gained these territories, beginning with the seizure of Melilla in 1597. In the late 19th century, the Sultanate of Morocco was still nominally independent, but its territory was carved into spheres of interest by the European powers. The Spanish zone was defined under the Convention of 1904 between France and Spain, conclusion of which followed the signing of a Franco-British agreement in which Britain recognized the preeminent position of France in Morocco. In 1912, Morocco formally became a French protectorate, with the sultan relegated to a largely ceremonial role. Spain retained its Mediterranean and Atlantic coastal zones, which became a Spanish protectorate. The French and Spanish protectorates ended in 1956, and the fully independent Kingdom of Morocco became the successor state to the Sultanate of Morocco. Spain retains to the present the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, over which Morocco claims sovereignty.

Last updated: March 24, 2015