hidden europe 15

Spanish strongholds: exclaves in North Africa

by Nicky Gardner


Most of us have heard of Ceuta and Melilla. But what of Spain's other exclaves on and around the Barbary coast? hidden europe investigates some little outposts of Europe in North Africa.

It was five years ago this summer that Morocco and Spain had a bit of a spat over an uninhabited rocky island just off the coast of North Africa. Evidently Spain thought that the Isla Perejil, which lies a mere two hundred metres off the coast of Morocco was actually Spanish territory. So the Madrid government was more than a shade miffed when a handful of Moroccan troops landed and raised their national flag. For many Europeans, reading their morning newspapers in the days thereafter, this mid-summer invasion raised a smile or two, and it wasn't long before the Moroccan troops withdrew - on the condition that Spain stayed well clear of the island too. Thus Isla Perejil (or Leila, as the Moroccans prefer to call it) found itself in a sort of political limbo. Some wag even suggested that the island might constitute itself as an independent republic.

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