Sidi Ifni - History


The Berber Ait Baamran tribe has long inhabited the small town and the region surrounding it. They worked in husbandry and traded with Europeans and northern Morocco being intermediaries in the trans-Saharan trade.

In 1476, an enclave in the region of present-day Sidi Ifni was occupied by Spain, which named its settlement there Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña. It remained in Spanish hands until 1524 when it was captured by Saadian rulers.

Historically, Sidi Ifni is claimed to be the location of Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña, which had been for long pursued by Spain who built a small coastal fortress there in the 15th century. Although the existence of the fortress is widely documented, historians could not determine its exact location along the coast between Agadir and Tarfaya. In 1860, following the Spanish-Moroccan War, Morocco conceded Sidi Ifni and the territory of Ifni to Spain as a part of the Treaty of Tangiers. During the period often termed the "Scramble for Africa" in 1884, Spain acquired what is now Western Sahara. Spain occupied Sidi Ifni and Western Sahara jointly, although the latter was formally known under the name Spanish Sahara, or Río de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra.

Until 1952, Ifni region had the status of a protectorate. In this year, the region became part of Spanish Western Africa (entity that grouped the colonies of Spanish Sahara and Cape Juby, with its capital defined in Villa Bens –Tarfaya nowadays–, in Morocco).

Since Morocco obtained its independence in 1956, it claimed the territory in various occasions. The first was in August 1957, by stating that the French-Spanish treaty from 1912 had been derogated. By late 1957 serious incidents had occurred in the border, starting the Ifni War, being Ifni garrisons attacked by the irregular troops led by Moroccan nationalists of the Istiqlal party, and supported tacitly by the king. They called themselves Moroccan Liberation Army.

The Spanish Army retreated from most territory with the purpose of establishing a defensive line limited to Sidi Ifni surroundings. The Moroccan Liberation Army just took control of the abandoned territory. However, this war was never formally declared nor finished. Spain and Morocco signed on 1 April 1958 the Agreements of Angra de Cintra, by which Cape Juby was given to Morocco in June 1958. The lost territories of Ifni region were never regained. They were integrated in Morocco. In the defensive line in Sidi Ifni the border was settled and the city remained under Spanish rule as one actual province of Spain.

In 1969, mostly due to international pressure, Spain relinquished Sidi Ifni to Morocco.

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