Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera


Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera

Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera is one of the Spanish occupied territories in North Africa off the Moroccan coast ("Plazas de soberanía"), along with the coastal cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the island of Peñón de Alhucemas and Islas Chafarinas. Vélez de la Gomera is administered from Melilla. Its tiny population is made up of military personnel only.

Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera is located 119 km (72.7 mi) southeast of Ceuta, the largest Spanish territory in Africa. It was a natural island until 1934, when a huge thunderstorm washed large quantities of sand in the short channel between the island and the African continent [http://www.ejercito.mde.es/organizacion/commeli/html/velez.htm (history of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera on Spanish Defence ministry website, in Spanish only)] . Ever since, it has been an artificial peninsula, currently connected to the Moroccan coast by an 85 m (279 ft) long sandy isthmus, the world's shortest land border. With a length of 400 meters northwest-southeast and a width of up to 100 meters, it covers about 19,000 or 1.9 ha or 0.019 km².

In 1508 Spain launched an expedition under the command of Pedro Navarro to fight against the pirates who populated it, and who were constantly attacking and looting the coast of Southern Spain. Spain captured the Peñón, but they lost it again in 1522 after a successful Berber attack, in which the whole Spanish garrison was slaughtered. In 1564, after some failed attempts, the Spaniards reconquered it and they have retained control of it ever since, despite having been besieged on several occasions, in 1680, 1701, 1755, 1781 and 1790.

In 1871 the Spanish Congress debated abandoning the Peñón, since by that time it had lost its military interest, but in the end the proposal was dropped.

External links

* [http://usuarios.lycos.es/librodefaros/norteafrica/72660%20FVELEZ.jpgAerial view]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Spanish_autonomous_communities.html#Melilla WorldStatesmen- Spain]
* [http://www.ejercito.mde.es/organizacion/commeli/html/velez.htm Description of the history of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, in Spanish only]

See also

* Plazas de soberanía
* List of Spanish Colonial Wars in Morocco
* Spanish Morocco


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