Its surrounding area, including the cities of Tarfaya and Tan-Tan, is called the Cape Juby Strip (after the homonymous cape), the Tarfaya Strip (after the homonymous city) or the Tekna Zone (after the Tekna, the native Saharawi tribe). The region is presently the far south of internationally recognized Morocco, and makes up a semi-desert buffer zone between Morocco proper at the Draa River and the Western Sahara. The strip was under Spanish rule during much of the 20th century, officially as part of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco, but mainly administered alongside Saguía el-Hamra and Río de Oro as part of the Spanish Sahara, with which the Strip had closer cultural and historical links.
On May 28, 1767, Mohammed ben Abdallah, the Sultan of Morocco, signed a peace and commerce treaty with King Charles III of Spain. In the treaty, Morocco was unable to guarantee the security of Spanish fishermen along the coasts south of the Noun River, as Morocco did not have control over the Tekna tribes of that area (Art. 18).
In 1879, the British North West African Company established a trading post near Cape Juby called "Port Victoria". On March 26, 1888, Moroccan soldiers attacked the post, killing the director of the post and leaving two workers badly injured. In 1895, the company sold its post to the Sultan of Morocco.
In 1912, Spain negotiated with France (which controlled the affairs of Morocco at the time) for concessions on the southern coast of Morocco. Francisco Bens officially occupied the Cape Juby region for Spain on July 29, 1916. It was administered by Spain as a single entity with Spanish Sahara and the Ifni enclave, as Spanish West Africa.
The Spanish area comprised 12,700 sq mi (33,000 km2) and had a population of 9,836. Its main town was founded by the Spanish as Villa Bens (now called Tarfaya). Villa Bens was used as a staging post for airmail flights.
Retrocession to Morocco
When Morocco became independent in 1956, it requested the cession of Moroccan areas controlled by Spain. After some resistance and some fighting during 1957 (the Ifni War), the Spanish government in 1958 ceded the Cape Juby Strip to Morocco.
In 1877, the Scottish engineer Donald Mackenzie was the first to propose the creation of a Sahara Sea. Mackenzie's idea was to cut a channel from one of the sand-barred lagoons north of Cape Juby south to a large plain which Arab traders had identified to him as El Djouf. Mackenzie believed this vast region was up to 61 metres (200 ft) below sea level and that flooding it would create an inland sea of 155,400 square kilometres (60,000 sq mi) suited to commercial navigation and even agriculture. He further believed that geological evidence suggested this basin had once been connected to the Atlantic via a channel near the Saguia el-Hamra. He proposed that this inland sea, if augmented with a canal, could provide access to the Niger River and the markets and rich resources of West Africa. There are several small depressions in the vicinity of Cape Juby; at 55 m (180 ft) below sea level, the Sebkha Tah is the lowest and largest. But it covers less than 250 km2 (97 sq mi) and is 500 km (310 mi) north of the geographical area identified as El Djouf (also known as the Majabat al-Koubra) which has an average elevation of 320 m. Mackenzie never travelled in this area but had read of other sub-sea level desert basins in present-day Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt similar to those found near Cape Juby. These basins contain seasonally dry salt lakes, known as chotts or sebkhas. Egypt's Qattara Depression is perhaps the largest such basin in North Africa.
- Pedro Giménez de Aragón Sierra. "Proyecto Ibn Jaldun. VII. El colonialismo español en el s. XIX: África. 2. Chafarinas, Sidi Ifni y el Sáhara" (in Spanish). Junta de Andalucía. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- Cesáreo Fernández Duro (08-09-1877). "Cautivos españoles en Cabo Blanco" (PDF) (in Spanish). La Ilustración Española y Americana nº XXXIII. p. 156. Retrieved 2010-06-16. Check date values in:
- José Fernández Bromón (1888-05-15). "Sucesos de Marruecos" (PDF) (in Spanish). La Ilustración Española y Americana nº XVIII. p. 307. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
- Cust, R. (1884). "The railway over the Sahára from Algeria to the Senegál and the destruction of Colonel Flatters". Journal of the Royal United Service Institution. Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies. 28 (77): 839–856. doi:10.1080/03071848409424351. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
- Mackenzie, Donald (1877). The flooding of the Sahara: an account of the proposed plan for opening Central Africa to commerce and civilization from the north-west coast, with a description of Soudan and western Sahara, and notes of ancient manuscripts, &c. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
- fr:Sebkha Tah
- "El Djouf desert, Mauritania". mr.geoview.info.