The Hispano-Moroccan War was fought from Spain’s declaration of war on Morocco on 22nd October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26th April 1860. It began with a conflict over the borders of the Spanish city of Ceuta and was fought in northern Morocco.
Today, Spain consists of a number of autonomous communities established in accordance to the second article of the Spanish Constitution which recognises the rights of regions and nationalities to self-government whilst also acknowledging the ‘indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation’. Currently, Spain comprises seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, both of which are on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.
This is a legacy of the Spanish Protectorate system that was established in 1912 over the northern provinces of Morocco. This made some sense because many people lived here who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1497 respectively after the end of the Reconquista.
The Spanish Civil War started in 1936 with the uprising of the Spanish troops stationed in África (as the Protectorate was informally known in the Spanish military parlance) under the command of Francisco Franco against the Republican Government and these troops became the core of the Nationalist Army. Because the local Muslim troops had been among Franco’s earliest supporters, the protectorate enjoyed more political freedom than Franco-era Spain proper after Franco’s victory, with competing political parties and a Moroccan nationalist press, criticizing the Spanish government.
In 1956, when French Morocco became independent, Spain discontinued the Protectorate and surrendered the territory to the newly independent kingdom on 7th April while retaining the plazas de soberanía, Ifni and other colonies outside Morocco, such as Spanish Sahara.
Unwilling to accept this, the Moroccan Army of Liberation waged war against the Spanish forces in the Ifni War of 1958, spreading from Sidi Ifni to Rio de Oro, gained Tarfaya. In 1969, Morocco obtained Ifni. Today Morocco continues to object to Spanish possessions on mainland Africa and claims Ceuta and Melilla as integral parts of the country, considering them to be under foreign occupation, comparing their status to that of Gibraltar.
Ceuta remains an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa and separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, it lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and along with the other Spanish exclave Melilla are the only Spanish territories located in mainland Africa.