Morocco–Spain relations

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Morocco-Spain relations
Map indicating locations of Morocco and Spain


Spanish enclaves and islands, claimed by Morocco

In recent times, Morocco–Spain relations have been friendly though intermittently discordant.[1]

Spain possesses two territorial enclaves on Africa's Mediterranean coast (Ceuta and Melilla) that are also claimed by Morocco and sometimes cause bilateral tensions. Other territorial disputes and the Western Sahara issue also sometimes cause tension. In October 2001, Morocco recalled its ambassador from Madrid after pro-Saharan groups in Spain conducted a mock referendum on the fate of the region. In the July 2002 Perejil Island crisis, Spanish troops ejected Moroccan soldiers from the uninhabited Perejil Island off the Moroccan coast; Spain asserted that it had controlled the island for centuries. Diplomatic ties were not restored until January 2003. That July, Morocco complained that Spain lacked neutrality on the Sahara issue when it chaired the United Nations Security Council and, in October, Spain suspended arms sales to Morocco due to the Perejil crisis. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero visited Morocco in April 2004, and King Juan Carlos I visited in January 2005; on both occasions, joint statements called for a negotiated settlement to the Sahara issue—the Moroccan position. However, visits to Ceuta and Melilla by the Spanish prime minister in January 2006 and monarchs in November 2007 again set back relations. The two neighbours also have an unresolved dispute concerning territorial waters between Morocco and the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Morocco's "super port" at Tangier will pose competition that concerns Spanish ports. Financed by Arab states of the Persian Gulf, its construction began in June 2009. It is expected to achieve full capacity in 2014.[1]

Territorial disputes, despite their drama, are subordinate to the continuing and productive economic cooperation between both countries, there's also shared interests in counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and efforts to stem illegal immigration. Morocco notably assisted Spanish authorities in the investigation of the 2004 bombings in Madrid and this relationship continues. Moroccan soldiers have served under Spanish command in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and Moroccan gendarmes have joined Spanish patrols to combat illegal immigration in the Strait of Gibraltar.[1]

Country comparison[edit]

Kingdom of Morocco Kingdom of Spain
Coat of Arms Coat of arms of Morocco.svg Escudo de España (mazonado).svg
Flag Morocco Spain
Population 33,848,242 46,423,064
Area 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi) 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi)
Population Density 73/km2 (190/sq mi) 92/km2 (240/sq mi)
Time zones 1 1
Capital Rabat Madrid
Largest City Casablanca – 3,359,818 Madrid – 3,141,991
Religion Islam (official) - 99%
other religions - 1%
Roman Catholicism - 68%
Irreligious - 27%
other religions - 2%
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
First Head of State Moulay Ali Cherif (Alaouite dynasty)
Al-Rashid of Morocco (Alaouite dynasty)
Charles I of Spain (House of Habsburg)
Philip V of Spain (House of Bourbon-Anjou)
First Head of Government Mbarek Bekkay Francisco Martínez de la Rosa
Head of State Monarch: Mohammed VI of Morocco Monarch: Philip VI of Spain
Head of Government Prime Minister: Saadeddine Othmani Prime Minister: Mariano Rajoy
Legislature Parliament General Courts
Upper house House of Councillors
President: Hakim Benchamach
President: Pío García-Escudero
Lower house House of Representatives
President: Habib El Malki
Congress of Deputies
President: Ana Pastor Julián
Official language(s) Arabic, Berber Spanish
GDP (nominal) US$103.08 billion (3,077 per capita) $1.242 trillion ($26,823 per capita)


Common history[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alexis Arieff. "Morocco: Current Issues". Congressional Research Service (June 30, 2011).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.