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Brief History of Ceuta and Melilla Autonomous Cities of Spain

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Ceuta is located along the boundary of Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It is a Spanish autonomous city on north coast of Africa. Only 14km from Spanish mainland province of Cadiz by the strait of Gibraltar. It is a contested region with morocco with Land mass approximate 4,571 acres, land border6.4km to M'diq-Fnideq Prefecture

The border road

The border road

The border road

Autonomous Communities of (Spain)

An autonomous community according to Spanish constitution of 1978 guarantees limited autonomy to regions or nationalities that constitute Spain. The region is given first-level political and administrative rights including some of sovereignty.

The autonomous status confers self-government including devolved power to community based on autonomous status and constitution. The vest communities with devolved powers, strong local nationalism a sort of federal system.

Spain has two autonomous cities and seventeen autonomous communities. The status of autonomy confers communities the provisions to be governed according to the constitution and develop local laws.

An Attraction

An Attraction

An Attraction

List of Autonomous Cities

There are two autonomous cities Ceuta and Melilla. Ceuta population is 84,519 legislature Assembly the mayor Juan Jesus Vivas (PP). Melilla’s mayor-president is Eduardo de Castro population 86,026 legislature assembly.

Facts on Ceuta

The first settlers was 1st millennium BC while end of Muslim rule was 14 august 1415. It was ceded to Spain 1 January 1668 and became an autonomous status 14 march 1995. The government type is council of government, mayor-presidential system. The parliament is Cortes Generales, congress 1 deputy, senate 2 senators. The total population of Ceuta 85,144 density 4,600 km2.

  • first settlers was 1st millennium BC
  • end of Muslim rule14 august 1415
  • ceded to Spain 1 January 1668
  • became an autonomous status 14 march 1995
  • government type is council of government
  • mayor-presidential system
  • parliament is Cortes Generales
  • congress 1 deputy
  • senate 2 senators
  • total population of Ceuta 85,144
  • density 4,600 km2




Brief History

In the first millennium Phoenicians establish a defense outpost on Ceuta. This was in aid of trade and controlling access between Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean. After the battle of Thapsus 46BC Caesar annexed North Africa as a Roman Province. It was elevated to a colony by Claudis.

On 21 August 1415 John I of Portugal led 45,000 men in a surprise assault and conquered Ceuta. Then it was later recognized as Portuguese possession in1479. Next came the treaty of tordesihas 1494.

After the Portuguese restoration war of 1640 Portugal regained its independence however Ceuta sided with Spain. Recognizing the alliance with Spain King Alfonzo VI of Portugal ceded Ceuta to King Carlos II of Spain.

At the Siege of Ceuta 1694-1727 Moroccan forces attacked the city. Other wars followed like the Hispano-Moroccan war 1859-60, Battle of Tetuan 1936, Spanish civil war 1936-1939. Then the independence of Spanish Morocco 1956 however Ceuta remained under Spanish rule.

Melilla: the Spanish enclave

The City of Melilla

Melilla is located across Spanish province of Granada and Almeria. It is found northwest of African continent with Port of Melilla southern side of peninsula of Cape. South of the city you have the Moroccan settlement of Beni Absar.

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It derived status of autonomy 14 march 1995 population is 86,384 inhabitants, language Spanish. Total area is 12.3 K2, Mayor-President Eduardo de Castro, Parliament has Congress 1 deputy (of 350), senate 2 senators (of 264).

Brief History of Melilla

Melilla is a Berber name meaning “white one” in ancient Greek it was a trade settlement for Punic and Phoenicians. Centuries later it was ruled by Hispano-Visigothic, Vandal and Byzantine bands. Then different succession from Marind, Wattasid, Almoravid, Punic, Phoenician, Roman rulers and many more.

At some point it was part of the kingdom of Fez then the Spaniards conquered Melilla while in later centuries the Moroccans besieged in 1694-1696. And later 1774-1775. Abd el Krim of the Berbers in1928.

The City of Melilla

The City of Melilla

The City of Melilla


The city is known for exportation of various items. Popular trade include cotton, sugar, tea, candles, beeswax, eggs, tea, and goatskins.

  • Cotton
  • Sugar
  • Tea
  • Candles
  • Beeswax
  • Eggs
  • Tea
  • Goat skins

Sport and Transportation

Their number one sports is football and surfing. They have three roads from Melilla to morocco border including an airport at Melilla. Two notable airlines are the Melilla airlines and Air Nostrum linking Spain capitals like Palma, Madrid, Las Palmas de Grand Canarias.

Immigrants at the Border Fence

immigrants at the border fence

immigrants at the border fence


Immigration is a major problem facing the city. They have thousands of migrants from Africa and Arab fleeing economic situations and war. To protect themselves from the incessant inflow a six meter tall border fence including day/night vision camera including troop presence.


a castle

a castle

Political status and religion

The city once had a large population of Jews pre-world war II. However there are only a few left in the city. It has a small number of Hindu community, 45% Muslim Community and 45% Christian community.

Highly multicultural four major religions are practiced in such a small population. Political status is Mayor-President and Assembly –legislature. There are eight subdivisions further subdivided into neighborhoods. Local election is done every four years for twenty five legislative seats.

The first district has 3 neighborhood, second district 3 neighborhoods third district one neighborhood. The fourth district gas 2 neighborhoods, fifth district has 5 neighborhoods sixth district 2 neighborhoods, seventh district 4 neighborhoods, eight district 8 neighborhoods. This makes a total number at 28 neighborhoods.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 olu


Liz Westwood from UK on December 18, 2019:

I once stayed in Gibraltar. From our hotel we thought we could see the lights of Ceuta. We thought how strange it was that the Spanish object to the British having Gibraltar when they have territories in Morocco.

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