Capital: Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera Government: Military (Spain) Population: Unknown Currency: Euro Continent: Africa Official language: Spanish Area: 1.9 hectares
Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera is a Spanish rock in the west of the Mediterranean Sea, connected to the Moroccan shore by a sandy isthmus. It is one of several peñones, or rock-fortresses, on the coast of Northern Africa administered by the Spanish central government, and has a small population of Spanish military personnel.
Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera is located 119 km southeast of Ceuta. It was a natural island in the Alboran Sea until 1934, when a huge thunderstorm washed large quantities of sand in the short channel between the island and the African continent, turning it into a peninsula, connected to the Moroccan coast by an 85 m long sandy isthmus, the world's shortest single land border segment. the territory covers about 19,000 m² or 1.9 hectares.
Portugal and Spain passed an agreement in 1496 in which they effectively established their zones of influence on the North African coast: Spain could only occupy territory east of Peñón de Vélez. This restriction would only end with the absorption of Portugal into the Spanish crown of Philip II after the 1578 Battle of Ksar El Kebir, when Spain started to take direct actions in Morocco, as in the occupation of Larache.
In 1508, Spain launched a successful expedition under the command of Pedro Navarro to take the Peñón from the pirates who held it, and who were constantly attacking and looting the coast of Southern Spain. In 1522, Spain lost the Peñón to a Moroccan Berber attack that resulted in the deaths of the whole Spanish garrison. Ali Abu Hassun, new ruler of the Kingdom of Fez in 1554, then gave the Peñón to Ottoman troops that had assisted him in gaining the throne. In 1564, after a failed attempt in 1563, the Spaniards under command of García Álvarez de Toledo, 4th Marquis of Villafranca retook the Peñón, killing its garrison of 150 Ottoman soldiers. Mathurin Romegas took part in the capture, and Brantôme was another witness to the event. Spain has retained control of it ever since, withstanding sieges 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 role, but in the end the proposal was dropped. On the morning of 29 August 2012 seven Moroccan activists from the Committee for the Liberation of Ceuta and Melilla placed flags of Morocco on the rock. Spanish soldiers arrested four of the activists while the other three evaded capture. One of those taking part was Yahya Yahya, mayor of the Moroccan town of Beni Ansar.