Melilla (/məˈliːjə/ mə-LEE-yə; Spanish: [meˈliʎa]) is a Spanish autonomous city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a border with Morocco, with an area of 12.3 km2 (4.7 sq mi). Melilla is one of two permanently inhabited Spanish cities in mainland Africa, the other being Ceuta. It was part of the Province of Málaga until 14 March 1995, when the city's Statute of Autonomy was passed.
Melilla, like Ceuta, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. In 2011 it had a population of 78,476, made up of Catholics of Iberian origin (primarily from Andalusia and Catalonia), ethnic Riffian Berbers and a small number of Sephardic Jews and Sindhi Hindus. Spanish and Riffian-Berber are the two most widely spoken languages, with Spanish as the only official language.
Port of Melilla
Location of Melilla
|• Mayor-President||Juan José Imbroda (PP)|
|• Total||12.3 km2 (4.7 sq mi)|
|• Density||6,380.1/km2 (16,524/sq mi)|
|• % of Spain||0.16%|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Statute of Autonomy||14 March 1995|
|Congress||1 deputy (of 350)|
|Senate||2 senators (of 264)|
The current Berber name of Melilla is Mřič or Mlilt, which means the "white one". Melilla was an ancient Berber village and a Phoenician and later Punic trade establishment under the name of Rusadir (Rusaddir for the Romans and Russadeiron (Ancient Greek: Ῥυσσάδειρον) for the Greeks). Later it became a part of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. Rusaddir is mentioned by Ptolemy (IV, 1) and Pliny (V, 18) who called it "oppidum et portus", also cited by Mela (I, 33) as Rusicada, and by the Itinerarium Antonini. Rusaddir was supposed to have once been the seat of a bishop, but there is no record of any bishop of the supposed see, which is not included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees. As centuries passed, it went through Vandal, Byzantine and Hispano-Visigothic hands. The political history is similar to that of towns in the region of the Moroccan Rif and southern Spain. Local rule passed through Amazigh, Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Umayyad, Idrisid, Almoravid, Almohad, Marinid, and then Wattasid rulers. During the Middle Ages, it was the Berber city of Mlila. It was part of the Kingdom of Fez when the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon requested Juan Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia, to take the city.
In the Conquest of Melilla, the duke sent Pedro Estopiñán, who conquered the city virtually without a fight in 1497, a few years after Castile had taken control of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, the last remnant of Al-Andalus, in 1492. Melilla was immediately threatened with reconquest and was besieged during 1694–1696 and 1774–1775. One Spanish officer reflected, "an hour in Melilla, from the point of view of merit, was worth more than thirty years of service to Spain."
The current limits of the Spanish territory around the fortress were fixed by treaties with Morocco in 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1894. In the late 19th century, as Spanish influence expanded, Melilla became the only authorized centre of trade on the Rif coast between Tetuan and the Algerian frontier. The value of trade increased, goat skins, eggs and beeswax being the principal exports, and cotton goods, tea, sugar and candles being the chief imports.
In 1893, the Rif Berbers launched the First Melillan campaign and 25,000 Spanish soldiers had to be dispatched against them. The conflict was also known as the Margallo War, after the Governor of Melilla and Spanish General Juan García y Margallo, who was killed in the battle.
In 1908 two companies, under the protection of Bou Hmara, a chieftain then ruling the Rif region, started mining lead and iron some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from Melilla. A railway to the mines was begun. In October of that year the Bou Hmara's vassals revolted against him and raided the mines, which remained closed until June 1909. By July the workmen were again attacked and several of them killed. Severe fighting between the Spaniards and the tribesmen followed, in the Second Melillan campaign.
In 1910, with the Rif having submitted, the Spaniards restarted the mines and undertook harbor works at Mar Chica, but hostilities broke out again in 1911. In 1921 the Berbers under the leadership of Abd el Krim inflicted a grave defeat on the Spanish (see Battle of Annual), and were not defeated until 1926, when the Spanish Protectorate finally managed to control the area again.
General Francisco Franco used the city as one of his staging grounds for his Nationalist rebellion in 1936, starting the Spanish Civil War. A statue of him – the last statue of Franco in Spain – is still prominently featured.
On 6 November 2007, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia visited the city, which caused a massive demonstration of support. The visit also sparked protests from the Moroccan government. It was the first time a Spanish monarch had visited Melilla in 80 years.
Melilla (and Ceuta) have declared the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice, as an official public holiday from 2010 onward. It is the first time a non-Christian religious festival is officially celebrated in Spain since the Reconquista.
Melilla is located in the northwest of the African continent, next to the Alboran Sea and across the sea from the Spanish provinces of Granada and Almería. The city layout is arranged in a wide semicircle around the beach and the Port of Melilla, on the eastern side of the peninsula of Cape Tres Forcas, at the foot of Mount Gurugú and the mouth of the Río de Oro, 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) above sea level. The urban nucleus was originally a fortress, Melilla la Vieja, built on a peninsular mound about 30 meters (98 ft) in height.
The Moroccan settlement of Beni Ansar lies immediately south of Melilla. The nearest Moroccan city is Nador, and the ports of Melilla and Nador are both within the same bay; nearby is the Bou Areg Lagoon
Melilla has held local elections for its 25-seat legislature every four years since 1979. Since its Statute of Autonomy in 1995, the legislature has been called the Assembly and its leader the Mayor-President. In the most recent election in 2011, the People's Party (PP) won 15 seats, maintaining the role of Mayor-President for Juan José Imbroda, who has held office since 2000. A regional splinter of the PP, the PPL, won 2 seats and governs in coalition. Opposition consists of the regionalist and leftist Coalition for Melilla (CPM, 6 seats) and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE, 2 seats).
Melilla is subdivided into eight districts (distritos), which are further subdivided into neighbourhoods (barrios):
The government of Morocco has requested from Spain the sovereignty of the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, Perejil Island, and some other small territories. The Spanish position is that both Ceuta and Melilla are integral parts of the Spanish state (and, therefore, are not considered colonies), and have been since the 15th century; both cities also have the same semi-autonomous status as the mainland region in Spain. Melilla has been under Spanish rule for longer than cities in northern Spain such as Pamplona or Tudela, and was conquered roughly in the same period as the last Muslim cities of Southern Spain such as Granada, Málaga, Ronda or Almería: Spain claims that the enclaves were established before the creation of the Kingdom of Morocco. Morocco denies these claims and maintains that the Spanish presence on or near its coast is a remnant of the colonial past which should be ended. The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories does not include these Spanish territories and the dispute remains bilaterally debated between Spain and Morocco.
Melilla has a warm Mediterranean climate influenced by its proximity to the sea, rendering much cooler summers and more precipitation than inland areas deeper into Africa. The climate, in general, has a lot in common with the type found in southern coastal Spain on the European mainland, with relatively small temperature differences between seasons.
The principal industry is fishing. Cross-border commerce (legal or smuggled) and Spanish and European grants and wages are the other income sources.
Melilla is regularly connected to the Iberian peninsula by air and sea traffic and is also economically connected to Morocco: most of its fruit and vegetables are imported across the border. Moroccans in the city's hinterland are attracted to it: 36,000 Moroccans cross the border daily to work, shop or trade goods. The port of Melilla offers several daily connections to Almería and Málaga. Melilla Airport offers daily flights to Almería, Málaga and Madrid. Spanish operator Air Europa and Iberia (airline) operates in Melilla's airport.
Many people travelling between Europe and Morocco use the ferry links to Melilla, both for passengers and for freight. Because of this, the port and related companies form an important economic driver for the city.
Melilla's Capilla de Santiago, or James's Chapel, by the city walls, is the only authentic Gothic structure in Africa.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, Melilla became a thriving port benefitting from the recently established Protectorate of Spanish Morocco in the contiguous Rif. The new architectural style of Modernisme was expressed by a new bourgeois class. This style, frequently referred to as the Catalan version of Art Nouveau, was extremely popular in the early part of the 20th century in Spain.
The workshops inspired by the Catalan architect Enrique Nieto continued in the modernist style, even after Modernisme went out of fashion elsewhere. Accordingly, Melilla has the second most important concentration of Modernist works in Spain after Barcelona. Nieto was in charge of designing the main Synagogue, the Central Mosque and various Catholic Churches.
Melilla has been praised as an example of multiculturalism, being a small city in which one can find four major religions represented. However, the Christian majority of the past, constituting around 65% of the population at one point, has been shrinking, while the number of native Muslim inhabitants has steadily increased to its present 45% of the population. The Jewish and Hindu communities have also been shrinking due to economic emigration to mainland Spain (notably Malaga and Madrid).
Jews, who had lived in Melilla for centuries, have been leaving the city in recent years (from 20% of the population before World War II to less than 5% today). Most of the Jewish population has left for Israel and Venezuela. There is a small, autonomous, and commercially important Hindu community present in Melilla, which numbers about 100 members today.
Melilla has been a popular destination for refugees and people leaving countries with poor economies in order to enter the European Union. The border is secured by the Melilla border fence, a six-metre-tall double fence with watch towers; yet refugees frequently manage to cross it. Detection wires, radar, and day/night vision cameras are planned to increase security and prevent illegal immigration. In February 2014, over 200 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa scaled a security fence to get into the Melilla migrant reception centre. The reception centre, built for 480 migrants, was already overcrowded with 1,300 people.
Melilla Airport is serviced by Air Nostrum, flying to the Spanish cities of Málaga, Madrid, Barcelona, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Palma de Mallorca, Granada, Badajoz, Sevilla and Almería. In April 2013, a local enterprise set up Melilla Airlines, flying from the city to Málaga. The city is linked to Málaga, Almería and Motril by ferry.
Three roads connect Melilla and Morocco but require clearance through border checkpoints.
Melilla is a surfing destination. The city's football club, UD Melilla, plays in the third tier of Spanish football, the Segunda División B. The club was founded in 1943 and since 1945 have played at the 12,000-seater Estadio Municipal Álvarez Claro. Until the other club was dissolved in 2012, UD Melilla played the Ceuta-Melilla derby against AD Ceuta. The clubs travelled to each other via the Spanish mainland to avoid entering Morocco. The second-highest ranked club in the city are Casino del Real CF of the fourth-tier Tercera División. Football in the exclave is administered by the Melilla Football Federation.
Melilla is twinned with:
Nieto was in charge of designing the main Synagogue, the Central Mosque and various Catholic churches
Ceuta ( or ; Spanish: ['θewta]) is an 18.5 km2 (7 sq mi; 4,571 acres) Spanish autonomous city on the north coast of Africa, separated by 14 km (9 mi) from Cadiz province on the Spanish mainland by the Strait of Gibraltar and sharing a 6.4 km (4 mi) land border with M'diq-Fnideq Prefecture in the Kingdom of Morocco. It lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and is one of nine populated Spanish territories in Africa and, along with Melilla, one of two populated territories on mainland Africa. It was part of Cádiz province until 14 March 1995 when both Ceuta and Melilla's Statutes of Autonomy were passed, the latter having been part of Málaga province.
Ceuta, like Melilla and the Canary Islands, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2011, it has a population of 82,376. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims and small minorities of Sephardic Jews and ethnic Sindhi Hindus.
Spanish is the official language, while Darija Arabic is also spoken by 40–50% of the population, which is of Moroccan origin.Club Melilla Baloncesto
Club Melilla Baloncesto is a professional basketball team based in Melilla that plays in the LEB league. This is the only team in Spain that played all LEB seasons.
The team's home arena is the Pabellón Javier Imbroda Ortiz (formerly known as Ciudad de Melilla), with a capacity of up to 3,800 spectators.Coat of arms of Melilla
Similar to the coat of arms of Ceuta, the coat of arms of Melilla combine elements from different earlier coats of arms, in this instance those of Castile and León. It is the central device of the flag of Melilla. The supporters are the Pillars of Hercules, an ancient name given to the Straits of Gibraltar from the coat of arms of Spain, and read Non Plus Ultra (Latin) ("No more beyond"). The top part of the coat of arms reads Præferre Patriam Liberis Parentem Decet (Latin) ("It is seemly for a parent to put his fatherland before his children").Conquest of Melilla
The Conquest of Melilla occurred in September 1497, when a fleet sent by the Duke of Medina Sidonia (the precise involvement of the Catholic Monarchs in the operation is a moot point in historiography) seized the north African city of Melilla., as continuation of Reconquest of Mauritania Tingitana
During the 15th century the mediterranean cities of the Sultanate of Fez (Melilla among them) fell in decadence in opposition to cities located in the Atlantic facade, which concentrated most of the economic activity. By the end of the 15th century, the port of Melilla, that had been often disputed between the rulers of Fez and Tlemcen, was nearly abandoned.Plans for the conquest occurred as soon as the Fall of Granada in 1492. Spanish captains Lezcano and Lorenzo Zafra visited the coast of Northern Africa to identify possible locations for the Spanish to overtake, and Melilla was identified as a prime candidate. Melilla was, however, in the Portuguese zone of influence under the terms of the 1479 Treaty of Alcáçovaz. At Tordesillas in 1494, King John II of Portugal, the Portuguese ruler agreed to make an exception and permitted the Spanish to attempt the conquest of Melilla.The duke sent Pedro Estopiñán who conquered the city virtually without a fight in 1497, as internal conflicts had depleted it of troops, and its defenses were weakened. The Wattasid ruler Muhammad al-Shaykh sent a detachment of cavalrymen to retake control of the city, but they were repulsed by the guns of the Spanish ships.Divisiones Regionales de Fútbol in Ceuta and Melilla
The Divisiones Regionales de Fútbol in Ceuta and Melilla:
Preferente de Ceuta, 1 Group (Level 5)
Primera Autonómica de Melilla, 1 Group (Level 5)Flag of Melilla
The flag of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, consists of a pale blue background with the city's coat of arms in the centre.Geography of Spain
Spain is a country located in southwestern Europe occupying most (about 85 percent) of the Iberian Peninsula and includes a small exclave inside France called Llívia as well as the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean 108 km (67 mi) off northwest Africa, and five places of sovereignty (plazas de soberanía) on and off the coast of North Africa: Ceuta, Melilla, Islas Chafarinas, Peñón de Alhucemas, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera.
The Spanish mainland is bordered to the south and east almost entirely by the Mediterranean Sea (except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar); to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. With an area of 504,030 km2, Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe (behind France) and the fourth largest country in the European continent (behind Russia, Ukraine and France). It has an average altitude of 650 m.
Its total area is 504,782 km2 (194,897 sq mi) of which 499,542 km2 (192,874 sq mi) is land and 5,240 km2 (2,023 sq mi) is water. Spain lies between latitudes 36° and 44° N, and longitudes 19° W and 5° E. Its Atlantic coast is 710 km (441 mi) long. The Pyrenees mountain range, extends 435 km (270 mi) from the Mediterranean to the Bay of Biscay. In the extreme south of Spain lie the Straits of Gibraltar, which separate the Iberian peninsula and the rest of Europe from Ceuta and Morocco in North Africa; at its nJuly 1936 military uprising in Melilla
The July 1936 military uprising in Melilla occurred at the start of the Spanish Civil War. The rebels seized the main garrisons of the Spanish Army in Africa and by 18 July had crushed the resistance of the army officers loyal to the Republican government. The supporters of the Second Spanish Republic were detained or shot.List of airports in Spain
This is a list of airports in Spain, sorted by location.List of postal codes in Spain
Postal codes were introduced and standardized in Spain in 1985, when Correos (the national postal service of Spain) introduced automated mail sorting. The first two digits (ranging 01–52) of the postal code correspond to one of the fifty provinces of Spain (as listed in general alphabetical order, with some exceptions), plus the two autonomous cities on the African coast.Melilla (Congress of Deputies constituency)
Melilla is one of the 52 constituencies (Spanish: circunscripciones) represented in the Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament, the Cortes Generales. The constituency currently elects one deputy using plurality voting. Its boundaries correspond to those of the autonomous city of Melilla.Melilla border fence
The Melilla border fence forms part of the Morocco–Spain border in the city of Melilla, one of two Spanish cities in north Africa. Constructed by Spain, its stated purpose is to stop illegal immigration and smuggling. Morocco has objected to the construction of the barrier, since it does not recognise Spanish sovereignty in Melilla. Melilla's border and its equivalent in Ceuta, also bordering Morocco, are the only two land borders between the European Union and an African country.Plazas de soberanía
The plazas de soberanía (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈplaθaz ðe soβeɾaˈni.a], literally "places of sovereignty") are the Spanish sovereign territories in North Africa. These are separate pieces of land scattered along the Mediterranean coast bordering Morocco. The name refers to the fact that these territories have been a part of Spain since the formation of the modern country (1492–1556), and are distinguished from African territories obtained by Spain during the 19th and 20th century.
Historically, a distinction was made between the so-called "major sovereign territories", comprising the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, and the "minor sovereign territories", referring to a number of smaller exclaves and islands along the coast. In the present, the term refers mainly to the latter.Public holidays in Spain
Public holidays celebrated in Spain include a mix of religious (Roman Catholic), national and regional observances. Each municipality is allowed to have a maximum of 14 public holidays per year; a maximum of nine of these are chosen by the national government and at least two are chosen locally.
If one of the "national holidays" happens to fall on a Sunday the regional governments — the autonomous communities of Spain — can choose an alternate holiday or they can allow local authorities to choose. In practice, except for holidays falling on a Sunday, the regional governments can choose up to three holidays per year; or they can choose fewer to allow for more options at the local level.
A puente (bridge) is sometimes made between weekends and holidays that fall on Tuesday or Thursday. The puente will then create a long weekend.
Since 2010, Ceuta and Melilla, both autonomous cities of Spain, have declared the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice, as an official public holiday. It was the first time a non-Christian religious festival has been officially celebrated in Spain since the Reconquista.Rif War
The Rif War was an armed conflict fought from 1920 to 1927 between the colonial power Spain (later joined by France) and the Berber tribes of the Rif mountainous region. Led by Abd el-Krim, the Riffians at first inflicted several defeats on the Spanish forces by using guerrilla tactics and captured European weapons. After France's military intervention against Abd el-Krim's forces and the major landing of Spanish troops at Al Hoceima, considered the first amphibious landing in history to involve the use of tanks and aircraft, Abd el-Krim surrendered to the French and was taken into exile.In 1909, Rifian tribes aggressively confronted Spanish workers of the iron mines of the Rif, near Melilla, which led to the intervention of the Spanish Army. The military operations in Jebala, in the Moroccan West, began in 1911 with the Larache Landing. Spain worked to pacify a large part of the most violent areas until 1914, a slow process of consolidation of frontiers that lasted until 1919 due to World War I.
The following year, after the signing of the Treaty of Fez, the northern Moroccan area was adjudicated to Spain as a protectorate. The Riffian populations strongly resisted the Spanish, unleashing a conflict that would last for several years. In 1921, the Spanish troops suffered the catastrophic Disaster of Annual, the biggest defeat in the history of Spain, in addition to a rebellion led by Rifian leader Abd el-Krim. As a result, the Spanish retreated to a few fortified positions while Abd el-Krim ultimately created an entire independent state: the Republic of the Rif. The development of the conflict and its end coincided with the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, who took on command of the campaign from 1924 to 1927. In addition, and after the Battle of Uarga in 1925, the French intervened in the conflict and established a joint collaboration with Spain that culminated in the Alhucemas landing which proved a turning point. By 1926 the area had been pacified; Abd-el-Krim surrendered in July 1927; and the Spanish regained the previously lost territory.
The Rif War is still considered controversial among historians. Some see in it a harbinger of the decolonization process in North Africa. Others consider it one of the last colonial wars, as it was the decision of the Spanish to conquer the Rif — nominally part of their Moroccan protectorate but de facto independent — that catalyzed the entry of France in 1924.The Rif War left a deep memory both in Spain and in Morocco. The Riffian insurgency of the 1920s can be interpreted as a precursor to the Algerian war of independence, which took place three decades later.Rusadir
Rusadir was an ancient Punic and Roman town at what is now Melilla, Spain, in northwest Africa. Under the Roman Empire, it was a colony in the province of Mauretania Tingitana.Second Melillan campaign
The Second Melillan campaign (Spanish: Guerra de Melilla ) was a conflict in 1909 in Morocco around Melilla. The fighting involved local Riffians and the Spanish Army.Siege of Melilla (1774)
The Siege of Melilla was an attempt by the British-backed Sultanate of Morocco to capture the Spanish fortress of Melilla on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast. Mohammed ben Abdallah, then Sultan of Morocco, invested Melilla in December 1774 with a large army of Royal Moroccan soldiers and Algerian mercenaries. The city was defended by a small garrison under Irish-born Governor Don Juan Sherlocke until the siege was lifted by a relief fleet in March 1775.UD Melilla
Union Deportiva Melilla is a football team based in the autonomous city of Melilla. Founded in 1943 and refounded in 1976 it currently plays in Segunda División B – Group 4, holding home matches at Estadio Municipal Álvarez Claro, with a 12,000-seat capacity.
|Climate data for Melilla 47 m (1981–2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||25.6
|Average high °C (°F)||16.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||13.3
|Average low °C (°F)||9.9
|Record low °C (°F)||0.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||58
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||6||6||5||5||3||1||0||1||2||4||6||6||44|
|Average relative humidity (%)||72||74||73||69||67||67||66||69||72||75||74||73||71|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||184||170||192||220||258||279||289||268||210||194||176||168||2,607|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
|Plazas de soberanía|
1 Autonomous cities
Outlying territories of European countries
Territories under European sovereignty but closer to or on continents other than Europe (see inclusion criteria for further information).
Countries and territories of North Africa
|Partially recognized state|
1Entirely claimed by both Morocco and the SADR. 2Spanish exclaves claimed by Morocco. 3Portuguese archipelago claimed by Spain. 4Disputed between Sudan and Egypt. 5Terra nullius located between Egypt and Sudan. 6Disputed between Sudan and South Sudan. 7Part of Chad, formerly claimed by Libya. 8Disputed between Morocco and Spain