Spanish protectorate in Morocco

The Spanish protectorate in Morocco[a] was established on 27 November 1912 by a treaty between France and Spain[1] that converted the Spanish sphere of influence in Morocco into a formal protectorate.

The Spanish protectorate consisted of a northern strip on the Mediterranean and the Strait of Gibraltar, and a southern part of the protectorate[2] around Cape Juby, bordering the Spanish Sahara. The northern zone became part of independent Morocco on 7 April 1956, shortly after France had ceded its protectorate (French Morocco). Spain finally ceded its southern zone through the Treaty of Angra de Cintra on 1 April 1958, after the short Ifni War.[3] The city of Tangiers was excluded from the Spanish protectorate and received a special internationally controlled status.

Since France already held a protectorate over the entire country and controlled Morocco's foreign affairs (since 30 March 1912), it also held the power to delegate a zone to Spanish protection.[4] The surface area of the zone was about 20,948 km2 (8,088 sq mi), which represents 4.69% of modern-day Morocco.

Spanish protectorate in Morocco

Protectorado español en Marruecos
الحماية الإسبانية على المغرب
Map of Spanish Morocco with its Northern (Spanish Morocco proper) and Southern (Cape Juby) zones
Map of Spanish Morocco with its Northern (Spanish Morocco proper) and Southern (Cape Juby) zones
Map of the northern zone in 1956
Map of the northern zone in 1956
StatusProtectorate of Spain
Common languagesSpanish
Tetuani Ladino or Haketia
Christianity-Roman Catholicism
High Commissioners 
Historical era20th Century
27 November 1912
• Reunited to Morocco
7 April 1956
20,948 km2 (8,088 sq mi)
CurrencySpanish peseta
Preceded by
Succeeded by



In a convention dated 27 June 1900, France and Spain agreed to recognize separate zones of influence in Morocco, but did not specify their boundaries. In 1902, France offered Spain all of Morocco north of the Sebou River and south of the Sous River, but Spain declined in the belief that such a division would offend Britain.[5] The British and French, without any Spanish insistence, declared Spain's right to a zone of influence in Morocco in Article 8 of the Entente cordiale of 8 April 1904:[5]

The two Governments, inspired by their feeling of sincere friendship for Spain, take into special consideration the interests which that country derives from her geographical position and from her territorial possessions on the Moorish coast of the Mediterranean. In regard to these interests the French Government will come to an understanding with the Spanish Government. The agreement which may be come to on the subject between France and Spain shall be communicated to His Britannic Majesty's Government.

What exactly "special consideration" meant was dealt with in the secret third and fourth articles, specifying that Spain would be required to recognise Articles 4 and 7 of the treaty but could decline the "special consideration" if she wished:

The two Governments agree that a certain extent of Moorish territory adjacent to Melilla, Ceuta, and other presides should, whenever the Sultan ceases to exercise authority over it, come within the sphere of influence of Spain, and that the administration of the coast from Melilla as far as, but not including, the heights on the right bank of the Sebou shall be entrusted to Spain.

Spanish possessions in North Africa

The British goal in these negotiations with France was to ensure that a weaker power (Spain) held the strategic coast opposite Gibraltar in return for Britain ceding all interest in Morocco.[5] France began negotiating with Spain at once, but the offer of 1902 was no longer on the table. Since France had given up her ambitions in Ottoman Libya in a convention with Italy in 1903, she felt entitled to a greater share of Morocco. On 3 October 1904, France and Spain concluded a treaty that defined their precise zones.[6] Spain received a zone of influence consisting of a northern strip of territory and a southern strip. The northern strip did not reach to the border of French Algeria, nor did it include Tangier, soon to be internationalized. The southern strip represented the southernmost part of Morocco as recognized by the European powers: the territory to its south, Saguia el-Hamra, was recognized by France as an exclusively Spanish zone. The treaty also recognized the Spanish enclave of Ifni and delimited its borders.[7]

In March 1905, the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, visited Tangier, a city of international character in northern Morocco. There he loudly touted Germany's economic interests in Morocco and assured the sultan of financial assistance in the event of a threat to Moroccan independence. At Wilhelm's urging, Sultan Abd el Aziz called for an international conference. The final act of the Algeciras Conference (7 April 1906) created the State Bank of Morocco, guaranteed the attending powers equal commercial rights in Morocco and created a native Moroccan police force led by French and Spanish officers.[8]

The final Spanish zone of influence consisted of a northern strip and a southern strip centred on Cape Juby. The consideration of the southern strip as part of the protectorate back in 1912 eventually gave Morocco a solid legal claim to the territory in the 1950s.[2] While the sparsely populated Cape Juby was administered as a single entity with Spanish Sahara, the northern territories were administered, separately, as a Spanish protectorate with its capital at Tetuán.

Merchant flag of Spanish Morocco
Merchant flag of Spanish Morocco (1937–56)

The Protectorate system was established in 1912. The Islamic legal system of qadis was formally maintained.

Rif War

Following the First World War, the Republic of the Rif, led by the guerrilla leader Abd el-Krim, was a breakaway state that existed from 1921 to 1926 in the Rif region, when it was subdued and dissolved by joint expedition of the Spanish Army of Africa and French forces during the Rif War.

The Spanish lost more than 13,000 soldiers at Annual in July–August 1921. Controversy in Spain over the early conduct in the war was a driving factor behind the military coup by General Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923 which foreshadowed the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39.[9]

After the successful 1925 Alhucemas landing, the French–Spanish alliance ended up achieving victory and putting an end to the war.

Second Spanish Republic

Before 1934, the southern part of the protectorate (Tekna)[10] was governed from Cape Juby (within the same southern strip) since 1912; Cape Juby was also head of the Spanish West Africa. Then, in 1934, the southern part began to being managed directly from Tetuán (in the northern part of the protectorate) and the seat of the Spanish West Africa was moved from Cape Juby to the territory of Ifni (not a part of the protectorate), which had been occupied by the Spaniards that year.[10]

Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War started in 1936 with the partially successful coup against the Republican Government, which began in Spanish Morocco by an uprising of the Spanish Army of Africa stationed there, although within a day uprisings in Spain itself broke out. This force, which included a considerable number of Moroccan troops (regulares), was under the command of Francisco Franco (who spent much time in Morocco) and became the core of the Spanish Nationalist Army. The Communist Party of Spain and Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), advocated anti-colonial policies, and pressured the Republican government to support the independence of Spanish Morocco, intending to create a rebellion at Franco's back and cause disaffection among his Moroccan troops. The government — then led by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) — rejected that course of action as it would have likely resulted in conflict with France, the colonial ruler of the other portion of Morocco.[11]

Because the locally recruited Muslim regulares had been among Franco's most effective troops, the protectorate enjoyed more political freedom and autonomy than Francoist Spain-proper after Franco's victory.[12] The area held competing political parties and a Moroccan nationalist press, which often criticized the Spanish government.

World War II

Spanish troops provisionally occupied Tangier during World War II, on the pretext that an Italian invasion was imminent.[13]

Retrocession to Morocco

In 1956, when France ended its protectorate over Morocco, Spain discontinued the protectorate and retroceded the territory to the newly independent kingdom, while retaining the plazas de soberanía which were part of Spain prior to the colonial period, Cape Juby, Ifni, and other colonies (such as Spanish Sahara) outside of Morocco. Unwilling to accept this, the Moroccan Army of Liberation waged war against the Spanish forces. In the 1958 Ifni War, which spread from Sidi Ifni to Río de Oro, Morocco gained Tarfaya (the southern part of the protectorate) and reduced the Spanish control of the Ifni territory to the perimeter of the city itself. In 1969, through negotiation, Morocco obtained Ifni as well.

As of 2019, Morocco still claims Ceuta and Melilla as integral parts of the country, and considers them to be under foreign occupation, comparing their status to that of Gibraltar. Spain considers both cities integral parts of the Spanish geography, since they were part of Spain for centuries before the occupation of Morocco.



The iron mines in the Rif were one of the sources of income. Their exploitation led to an economic boom in Melilla.


After the Treaty of Algeciras signed in April 1906, where the northern part of Morocco was placed under Spanish administration, the Spanish started to develop this mineral-rich area, and numerous narrow gauge railways were built.

See also


  1. ^ Arabic: حماية إسبانيا في المغربḤimāyat Isbāniyā fi-l-Mağrib; Spanish: Protectorado español de Marruecos, Spanish pronunciation: [pɾo.tek̚.to.ˈɾa.ðo ɛˈɲol ðɛ ma.ˈrwe.kos] (listen)


  1. ^ "Treaty Between France and Spain Regarding Morocco". The American Journal of International Law. 7 (2 [Supplement: Official Documents]): 81–99. 1913. doi:10.2307/2212275.
  2. ^ a b Vilar 2005, p. 143.
  3. ^ Gangas Geisse & Santis Arenas 2011, p. 3.
  4. ^ Woolman 1968, pp. 14–16.
  5. ^ a b c Woolman 1968, p. 7–8.
  6. ^ "Treaty Between France and Spain Concerning Morocco". The American Journal of International Law. 6 (2 [Supplement: Official Documents]): 116–20. 1912. doi:10.2307/2212123.
  7. ^ Merry del Val 1920a, pp. 330–31.
  8. ^ Woolman 1968, p. 10–11.
  9. ^ Porch, Douglas; Spain's African Nightmare; MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History; (2006); 18#2; pp. 28–37.
  10. ^ a b Vilar 2005, p. 145.
  11. ^ Tres años de lucha, José Díaz; p. 343; cited in Spain! The Unfinished Revolution; by Landis, Arthur H; 1st ed.; New York: International Publishers; 1975; pp. 189-92; retrieved 2015
  12. ^ Marin Miguel (1973). El Colonialismo español en Marruecos. Spain: Ruedo Iberico p. 24-26
  13. ^ Pennell 2001.


Further reading

  • Calderwood, Eric. 2018. Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the making of modern Moroccan culture. Harvard University Press
  • "Min Khalifa Marrakesh Ila Mu’tamar Maghreb El Arabi." (From the caliph of the king of Morocco to the Conference of the Maghreb). (1947, April). El Ahram.
  • Wolf, Jean (1994). Les Secrets du Maroc Espagnol: L’epopee D’Abdelkhalaq Torres. Morocco: Balland Publishing Company
  • Ben Brahim, Mohammed (1949). Ilayka Ya Ni Ma Sadiq (To you my dear friend). Tetuan, Morocco: Hassania Publishing Company
  • Benumaya, Gil (1940). El Jalifa en Tanger. Madrid: Instituto Jalifiano de Tetuan
  • Villanova, José-Luis (2010). Cartographie et contrôle au Maroc sous le protectorat espagnol (1912-1956). MappeMonde vol.98

Coordinates: 35°00′00″N 4°30′00″W / 35.0000°N 4.5000°W

1912 in Spain

Events in the year 1912 in Spain.

Ait Ouriaghel

The Ait Ouriaghel (also written as Ayt Waryaɣar or Ayt Uryaɣal in Berber) is the biggest Berber tribe of the Rif region of the north-eastern part of Morocco. Ait Waryagher means "those who do not back off/ those who do not retreat". They inhabit most of the territory around the city of Al Hoceima. The Ayt Waryaghar speak the "Western-Tarifit" dialect of the Riffian language.

The Ayt Waryaɣar were the main group which participated in the Rif wars (see Republic of the Rif) against the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco at the beginning of 20th century. The Spanish authorities considered it the nucleus of insumisión to the colonial authority in the Eastern zone of the protectorate (see Battle of Annual).

During the Rif War of 1921-1926, the leadership of the Aith Waryaghar was concentrated in the Al-Khattabi family and, in particular, in the person of Muhammad bin Abd el-Krim al-Khattabi. Its centre was the small locality of Ajdir in the bay of Al Hoceima. Muhammad bin Abd el-Krim al-Khattabi made an alliance with the tribesmen of the Ait Touzine tribe to stop the Spaniards at the Nekor river in Temsamane.

Army of Africa (Spain)

The Army of Africa (Spanish: Ejército de África, Arabic: الجيش الإسباني في أفريقيا‎, Al-Jaysh al-Isbānī fī Afriqā) or "Moroccan Army Corps" (Cuerpo de Ejército Marroquí') was a field army of the Spanish Army that garrisoned the Spanish protectorate in Morocco from the late 19th century until Morocco's independence in 1956.

At the start of the 20th century, the Spanish Empire's colonial possessions in Africa comprised Morocco, Spanish Sahara, Ifni, Cape Juby and Spanish Guinea.

Brussels Agreement (1924)

The Brussels Agreement (formally the International Agreement respecting Facilities to be given to Merchant Seamen for the Treatment of Venereal Diseases) is a 1924 multilateral treaty whereby states agreed to provide free or low-cost medical facilities in ports where merchant seamen could be treated for sexually transmitted diseases.

The Brussels Agreement was concluded in Brussels, Belgium on 1 December 1924. The treaty entered into force on 21 November 1925. The Agreement was widely ratified and its effects were studied by a 1958 World Health Organization (WHO) study group. The WHO determined that the Agreement had been successful at improving the health of merchant seamen. The treaty remains in force for 70 states. It was most recently ratified by Papua New Guinea, in 1977.

Belgium is the official depositary for the treaty.

Cape Juby

Cape Juby (Arabic: رأس جوبي‎, trans. Raʾs Juby, Spanish: Cabo Juby) is a cape on the coast of southern Morocco, near the border with Western Sahara, directly east of the Canary Islands.

Its surrounding area, called the Cape Juby Strip or Tarfaya Strip, while making up presently the far south of Morocco, makes up a semi-desert buffer zone between Morocco proper and the Western Sahara. The Strip was under Spanish rule as part of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco during the first half of the 20th century.

Ceuta and Melilla

Ceuta and Melilla may refer to:

Spain's two autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla

in a wider sense, to all the modern Spanish possessions in North Africa (i.e. Ceuta and Melilla, plus other adjacent minor territories, known in Spanish as plazas de soberanía)

French conquest of Morocco

The French conquest of Morocco took place in 1911 in the aftermath of the Agadir Crisis, when Moroccan forces besieged the French-occupied city of Fez. On 30 March 1912, Sultan Abdelhafid signed the Treaty of Fez, formally ceding Moroccan sovereignty to France, transforming Morocco into a protectorate of France. However, many regions remained in revolt until 1934, when Morocco was declared pacified, but, in several regions, French authority was maintained by cooperation with local chiefs and not by military strength.On 17 April 1912, Moroccan infantrymen mutinied in the French garrison in Fez. The Moroccans were unable to take the city and were defeated by a French relief force. In late May 1912, Moroccan forces unsuccessfully attacked the enhanced French garrison at Fez. The last resistance to the conquest of Morocco occurred in 1933–34. The pacification of Morocco took over 22 years.

Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs

The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs, also known as the Hague system provides a mechanism for registering an industrial design in several countries by means of a single application, filed in one language, with one set of fees. The system is administered by WIPO.

International Opium Convention

The International Opium Convention, signed at The Hague on January 23, 1912 during the First International Opium Conference, was the first international drug control treaty. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on January 23, 1922. The United States convened a 13-nation conference of the International Opium Commission in 1909 in Shanghai, China in response to increasing criticism of the opium trade. The treaty was signed by Germany, the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, and Siam. The Convention provided, "The contracting Powers shall use their best endeavours to control, or to cause to be controlled, all persons manufacturing, importing, selling, distributing, and exporting morphine, cocaine, and their respective salts, as well as the buildings in which these persons carry such an industry or trade."

The Convention was implemented in 1915 by the United States, Netherlands, China, Honduras, and Norway. It went into force globally in 1919, when it was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles.

The primary objective of the convention was to introduce restrictions on exports as opposed to imposing prohibition or criminalising the use and cultivation of opium, coca, and cannabis. That explains the withdrawal of the United States and China, which were gravitating towards prohibitionist approaches, as well as the beginning of negotiations leading to the 1925 International Opium Convention in Geneva.A revised International Opium Convention International Convention relating to Dangerous Drugs was signed at Geneva on February 19, 1925, which went into effect on September 25, 1938, and was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on the same day. It introduced a statistical control system to be supervised by a Permanent Central Opium Board, a body of the League of Nations. Egypt, with support from

China and United States, recommended that a prohibition on hashish be added to the Convention, and a sub-committee proposed the following text:

The use of Indian hemp and the preparations derived therefrom may only be authorized for medical and scientific purposes. The raw resin (charas), however, which is extracted from the female tops of the cannabis sativa L, together with the various preparations (hashish, chira, esrar, diamba, etc.) of which it forms the basis, not being at present utilized for medical purposes and only being susceptible of utilisation for harmful purposes, in the same manner as other narcotics, may not be produced, sold, traded in, etc., under any circumstances whatsoever.

India and other countries objected to this language, citing social and religious customs and the prevalence of wild-growing cannabis plants that would make it difficult to enforce. Accordingly, this provision never made it into the final treaty. A compromise was made that banned exportation of Indian hemp to countries that have prohibited its use, and requiring importing countries to issue certificates approving the importation and stating that the shipment was required "exclusively for medical or scientific purposes." It also required Parties to "exercise an effective control of such a nature as to prevent the illicit international traffic in Indian hemp and especially in the resin." These restrictions still left considerable leeway for countries to allow production, internal trade, and use of cannabis for recreational purposes.The Convention was superseded by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

List of Spanish high commissioners in Morocco

On 27 November 1912, amidst the French conquest of Morocco and in the aftermath of the Agadir Crisis, the Treaty Between France and Spain Regarding Morocco was signed by the French Third Republic and the Kingdom of Spain. According to the treaty, parts of Morocco would become a Spanish protectorate from 1912 to 1956, when the country regained its independence.

List of colonial governors of Spanish Sahara

This is a list of European colonial administrators responsible for the territory of Spanish Sahara, an area equivalent to modern-day Western Sahara.

María Teresa Campos

María Teresa Campos Luque MML (born 18 June 1941) is a Spanish journalist and television presenter.

She was born in Tetuan, then Spanish protectorate in Morocco, the third of the six children of an upper-middle-class family. She moved to Málaga in 1942 and later to Madrid.

She studied philosophy at the University of Málaga and has taken part in several radio and television programs. She is a widow and has two daughters and three grandchildren.

Ministry of Overseas (Spain)

The Ministry of Overseas or Ministry of Overseas Territories (Spanish Ministerio de Ultramar) was the ministerial department in charge of the direction of Spanish territories between 1863 and 1899. It administered the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Carolinas, Marianas and Palaos.

Prior to its establishment, the administration of the colonies was in charge of the Ministry of the Navy. By a royal decree of 20 May 1863 responsibility for the colonies was transferred to a new department. Following Spanish–American War of 1898, in which Spain lost the greater part of her colonial territory (Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines), and the sale of her remaining Pacific possessions to Germany by the treaty of 12 February 1899, the Overseas Ministry itself was suppressed in a royal decree of 20 April 1899.

The creation of a Spanish protectorate in Morocco in 1912, and the establishment of Spanish control over its Guinean possessions, a new colonial ministry, the Direccion General de Marruecos y Colonias (General Directorate of Morocco and the Colonies), was set up in 1925. After the loss of the protectorate in Morocco in 1956, its name was changed to Direccion General de Plazas y Provincias Africanas (African Territories and Provinces). In 1969, following the independence of Equatorial Guinea, its remit was once again reduced and it became the Direccion General de Promoción del Sahara, charged with the advancement of Spanish Sahara until 1975.

Port of Ceuta

The Port of Ceuta is a passenger and cargo port located off the North African coast, in the Strait of Gibraltar, belonging to the Spanish autonomous city of Ceuta.

Treaty Between France and Spain Regarding Morocco

The Treaty between France and Spain regarding Morocco was signed on 27 November 1912 by French and Spanish heads of state, establishing de jure a Spanish Zone of influence in northern and southern Morocco, both zones being de facto under Spanish control, while France was still regarded as the protecting power as it was the sole occupying power to sign the Treaty of Fez.

The northern part was to become the zone of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco with its capital in Tetuan, while the southern part was ruled from El Aiun as a buffer zone between the Spanish Colony of Rio de Oro and Morocco.

Treaty of Angra de Cintra

The Treaty of Angra de Cintra, signed by Spain and Morocco on 1 April 1958, ended the Spanish protectorate in Morocco and helped end the Ifni War.

The Spanish foreign minister, Fernando María Castiella y Maíz, and his Moroccan counterpart, Ahmed Balafrej, as well as their respective secretaries, met on the Bay of Cintra in the Spanish colony of Río de Oro between 31 March and 2 April in utmost secrecy to negotiate an end to the clashes between Spain and Moroccan-supported rebels that had begun in October 1957. The resulting treaty was signed on 1 April. By its terms, Spain would return to Moroccan control the southern zone of its protectorate, which it had retained even after handing over the northern zone in 1956. This zone, called Cabo Juby or the Tarfaya Strip, lay between the river Draa and the parallel 27° 40′ north. The transfer was to take place on 10 April in the administrative capital of Villa Bens (Tarfaya). The Moroccan heir apparent, the future Hassan II, was present at the ceremony. The agreement did not give a timeline for the evacuation of Spanish troops from either the northern or southern zone of the old protectorate, but merely expressed both parties' commitment to total evacuation.On 15 April, Spain circulated a note verbale to the United Nations asserting that with the Treaty of Angra de Cintra it had completely fulfilled its declaration of 7 April 1956 terminating its protectorate.On 30 June 1958, the Moroccan Army of Liberation (which was not a part of the regular Moroccan army) declared a ceasefire, bringing to an end the Ifni War. The enclave of Sidi Ifni, which was surrounded by Moroccan territory, was not ceded at Angra de Cintra, since it was under Spanish sovereignty. It was, however, greatly reduced in size, since its outlying regions, occupied by the Ait Ba Amran tribe were abandoned (although this was not specified in the treaty). The city itself was only ceded to Morocco in 1969. Likewise, the agreement of Cintra did not touch upon any of Morocco's other territorial claims against Spain, either in the Sahara or the Mediterranean.

Major conflicts
Key people

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