Melilla: Guide to Melilla, Morocco

Melilla is the smaller of the two enclaves that mark that last vestiges of the Spanish empire in Africa. Much to the same extent as Ceuta, it is a friendly little place that has an autonomous status with its economy bolstered by both a large army garrison and duty-free port status.

Melilla is less affluent than Ceuta but has a more interesting mixture of cultures – two-thirds are Christians, a third are Muslim Berbers and a few hundreds are Hindus. The different religious and ethnic communities get reasonably well together, despite episodes of rioting by the enclave’s ethnic Moroccans in the 1980s over the enactment of citizenship laws that would have left many in limbo without proper papers.

Today, Melilla is pushing hard to develop itself as an alternative Spanish tourist destination. The town has an interesting selection of twentieth-century modernist architecture, an old walled town with stunning views across the Mediterranean. More tourist pleasures are to be found at the port during the summer months, when sailing boats from across mainland Spain sail in a maritime extravaganza.