Tangier International Zone

The Tangier International Zone (Arabic: منطقة طنجة الدولية Minṭaqat Ṭanja ad-Dawliyya, French: Zone internationale de Tanger, Spanish: Zona Internacional de Tánger) was a 373 km2 (144 sq mi) international zone centered on the city of Tangier, Morocco, then under French and Spanish protectorate, under the joint administration of France, Spain, and the United Kingdom (later Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States), that existed from 1924 until its reintegration into independent Morocco in 1956.

Tangier International Zone

منطقة طنجة الدولية
Zone internationale de Tanger
Zona Internacional de Tánger
Map of Tangier and the International Zone
StatusInternational Zone (Condominium)
Common languagesFrench, Arabic, Berber, Portuguese, Haketia, Spanish,
Islam, Christianity, Judaism
Historical eraInterwar period
 Spanish occupation
14 June 1940 – 11 October 1945
1924373 km2 (144 sq mi)
CurrencyPound sterling
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Spanish Protectorate of Morocco
Today part of Morocco

The zone was governed in accordance with the Tangier Protocol, although the Sultan of Morocco retained nominal sovereignty over the zone and jurisdiction over the native population.[1]

The international zone of Tangier had, by 1939, a population of about 60,000 inhabitants and 150,000 by 1950.


To solve a disagreement among France, Spain, and the United Kingdom over its control, Tangier was made a neutral demilitarised zone in 1924 under a joint administration according to an international convention signed in Paris on 18 December 1923.[2] Although some disagreements emerged about the agreement[3] ratifications were exchanged in Paris on 14 May 1924.[4] The convention was amended in 1928.[5] The governments of Italy, Portugal, and Belgium adhered to the convention in 1928, and the government of the Netherlands in 1929.

The Tangier Zone in divided Morocco and Western Sahara

The Zone had its own appointed International Legislative Assembly, which was subject to supervision by a Committee of Control consisting of the Consuls of Belgium, France, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.[6] Executive power was vested in an Administrator, and judicial power resided in a Mixed Court of five judges, respectively appointed by the Belgian, British, Spanish, French, and Italian governments.[6] As a result of the creation of the Mixed Court, the various European powers withdrew the consular courts that previously exercised jurisdiction there.[7]

The Zone had a reputation for tolerance, diversity of culture, religion, and bohemianism. It became a tourist hotspot for literary giants and gay men from Western countries. Many of the latter were able to live an openly "out" life in the Zone.[8][9]

Spanish troops occupied Tangier on 14 June 1940, the same day Paris fell to the Germans. Despite calls by the writer Rafael Sánchez Mazas and other Spanish nationalists to annex "Tánger español", the Francoist State publicly considered the occupation a temporary wartime measure.[10] A diplomatic dispute between Britain and Spain over the latter's abolition of the city's international institutions in November 1940 led to a further guarantee of British rights and a Spanish promise not to fortify the area.[11] Tangiers was annexed to the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco at 23 November 1940.[12] In May 1944, although it had served as a contact point between himself and the later Axis Powers during the Spanish Civil War, Franco expelled all German diplomats from the Zone.[13]

The territory was restored to its pre-war status on 11 October 1945.[14] In July 1952 the protecting powers met at Rabat to discuss the Zone's future, agreeing to abolish it. Tangier joined with the rest of Morocco following the restoration of full sovereignty in 1956.[15]


AdministratorCountryTerm of Office
Paul Alberge France24 August 1926 – 19 August 1929
Joseph Le Fur19 August 1929 – 1 August 1940
Manuel Amieva Escandón Spain1 August 1940 – 4 November 1940
Under Spanish occupation (4 November 1940 – 11 October 1945)
Luís Magalhães Correia Portugal11 October 1945 – 18 June 1948
Henri van Vredenburch Netherlands15 August 1948 – 9 April 1951
José Luís Archer Portugal9 April 1951 – 22 June 1954
Étienne-Gustave de Croÿ Belgium21 June 1954 – 31 December 1954
Robert van de Kerchove d'Hallebast4 June 1955 – 9 July 1956

See also


Works cited

Further reading

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