Ceuta and Melilla
are two small enclaves on the coast of Morocco. Despite seemingly being a
part of Morocco, they actually belong to Spain. For a variety of factors,
including their pleasant climate, duty-free ports, strong economies,
modern facilities, and beneficial tax laws, both are potentially superior
Ceuta is a city and seaport in northwest
Africa, located on the Strait of Gibraltar. Bordered by Morocco, the city
is an enclave of Spain and is governed as part of Cadiz province in Spain.
Ceuta is situated on the site of ancient Abila, which is thought by
scholars to be one of the two Pillars of Hercules. Positioned on a
headland consisting of seven peaks, the city lies at the end of a narrow
isthmus. Its total area is about nine square miles (about 23 square
Melilla is located slightly more than 150
nautical miles east of Ceuta and stands on a large cape which extends some
15 miles out from the coast. The area of Melilla is about 4 square miles
(about 10 square kilometres). Melilla is administered by the Spanish
province of Malaga.
The cities enjoy a mild Mediterranean
subtropical climate. Winter is the rainy season while summer tends to be
Ceuta and Melilla have about 80,000
residents each. Close to 80% of the residents are Spanish, with much of
the rest being Moroccan. Residents of Indian descent comprise about 1% of
the population. Most of the Spanish residents adhere to the Roman Catholic
faith while most of the Moroccans are Muslim. Both Spanish and Moroccan
are widely spoken, however, Spanish is the predominate language of
business and government.
Because both cities have excellent
seaports -- though Ceuta's port is built around a natural harbor and is
larger than Melilla's -- recreational pleasure craft that ply the
Mediterranean call the ports home. Ceuta's port, especially, is often
filled with pleasure craft.
Ceuta and Melilla have a long history.
Both cities date their original establishment to the Phoenicians, the
sailors and merchants of the ancient Mediterranean.
Ceuta later became the site of a
Carthaginian settlement, which was taken over eventually by the Romans. In
the 5th century the city was captured by the Vandals, who in time lost it
to Byzantium. After that the Visigoths, Arabs, Portuguese, and finally the
Spanish in 1580 seized control. Since that time, except for a period from
1694 to 1720 when the Moors gained control, the enclave has remained a
jurisdiction of Spain.
Melilla's history is quite similar. It,
too, was established by the Phoenicians, and subsequently was ruled by the
Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, and various Berber dynasties until it
was conquered by Spain in 1497.
Today, the cities have their own civil
governments. Although they are officially considered to be a part of
Spanish provinces, they enjoy a somewhat unique status. Each city has one
deputy and two senators in the Spanish Parliament. Moreover, the
provincial governments provide little actual governmental functions; the
local administration of each city largely carries out the tasks of
government. Ceuta and Melilla are, in a practical sense, separated from
Spain by the Mediterranean Sea but also by their local administrations.
If there is a long-term concern over the
stability of Ceuta and Melilla, it is that Morocco would like to negotiate
control of the enclaves. However, Spain has little intention of giving up
what it considers to be part of its territory and it appears that the
status quo will remain.
While Melilla is smaller than Ceuta, and
has a smaller port, these enclaves are both modern and prosperous. Because
of its smaller size, smaller port, and the fact that its location does not
allow it to take advantage of the sea traffic that plies the strait,
Melilla is the less cosmopolitan of the two enclaves.
Ceuta, on the other hand, has a fine
natural harbor, and its port is far busier than most of the ports of
mainland Spain. The enclave's location at the busy strait gives it an
advantage most cities envy. In addition, Ceuta is only an hour away from
Algeciras, Spain by ferry. Because this is a shorter route than Tangiers,
Morocco to Algeciras, Ceuta, for many, provides easier entry to Spain.
Also important is Ceuta's designation as a duty-free port of entry for
Spain. This designation has led to the proliferation of numerous shops
selling countless items. Of course, all this results in a healthy,
The easy access of each of the enclaves to
Spain and the rest of Europe, their pleasant climate, and prosperity make
Ceuta and Melilla attractive sites for those considering retirement, as
well as those contemplating the establishment of a business.
Ceuta and Melilla both have appealing
tax structures. Because the cities are Spanish, Spain's tax system
applies, however, the taxes apply at only half the rate one would pay
in Spain. Furthermore, residents of the enclaves enjoy the benefits of
all Spanish double taxation treaties. It is also noteworthy that the
enclaves are duty-free ports, there is no VAT (value added tax), and the
cost of maintaining a residence is quite low compared to other retirement
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