Melilla

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Melilla (Spanish pronunciation: [meˈliʎa], Arabic: مليلية‎) is a 12.3 square kilometres (4.7 sq mi) autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the Mediterranean Sea, on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Melilla along with the other Spanish exclave Ceuta are the only Spanish territories located in mainland Africa. It was regarded as a part of Málaga province prior to 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. As of 2008 it has a population of 73,460. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims (chiefly Berber), and small minorities of Jews. Both Spanish and Riff Berber are widely spoken. Spanish is the official language, while there have been calls to recognize Berber as well.[1]

Contents

History

Melilla was a Phoenician and later Punic establishment under the name of Rusadir. Later it became a part of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. 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, Ummayyad, Idrisid, Hammudid, Almoravid, Almohad, Marinid, and then Wattasid rulers. Melilla was part of the Kingdom of Fez when The Catholic Monarchs (Spanish: los Reyes Católicos) Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon requested Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, known as Guzmán el Bueno, the 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia to take the city.

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