As in, why are they Spanish territory instead of Moroccan?

  • 1
    welcome to History.SE. However, you should do some prior research before you ask questions here. Try to find out: - When did Ceuta and Melilla become Spanish? Who owned it before? What did "Spanish" mean at the time? - What is the history of the surrounding areas? What was the last time that those two exclaves had been part of Morocco? Is it accurate to speak of "Morocco" at that time? - Who contolled Morocco a century ago, and how did that control end? What was the population of Ceuta and Melilla at the time? I think the answer to your question boils down to "typical messy European history."
    – o.m.
    Feb 2 '17 at 6:34
  • Your comments are just semantics. I thought the way I phrased the question implied I was asking "why do Ceuta and Melilla belong to Spain and not Morocco" present tense. But you bring up an interesting point.I have never seen a question here that couldn't be answered with a google search, but saying that kind of defeats the purpose of having this site. Please in the future just answer my damn question instead of being obtuse. Feb 2 '17 at 18:04
  • I wasn't quite sure if this was a homework assignment. So I wanted to help (and explain the close votes) without doing the homework. Sorry if that came across wrong.
    – o.m.
    Feb 2 '17 at 18:40
  • It's alright. I'm sorry that I got mad Feb 2 '17 at 22:18

Long story short:

  • Ceuta was conquered by Portugal in 1415, and was "transferred" to Spain in 1640. Melilla was "acquired" in 1497. Other minor places like Vélez de la Gomera was conquered in 1508. So most of these places were conquered during the Age of Discovery, just at the beginning of European colonialism.
  • The population of these places are largely of ethnic Spanish descent, although there are also large old minorities of people of Arabs/Berber extraction, Sephardic Jews, and Indians (from India).
  • Ceuta was conquered by the Visigoths already in 675, but c. 710 it became the foothold from where the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula was launched.

I can be wrong, but as a Spanish citizen I would say that Spain retains these cities mostly because of their strategic value (cf. Gibraltar), and because there is also some psychological involvement (cf. Serbs and Kosovo).

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