Gibraltar: History

From the naked eye, it might seem difficult to imagine why North African Muslims would want to leave their home, risk everything to get to Europe, and live completely out of their element in a foreign land. But if we take a look at the history of Northern Africa and its relation to Europe, it becomes clearer as to why they have relocated.

In North Africa the French had established their 'priority of interest' as early as 1830 with a sudden invasion of Algeria...Twenty years later, partly as the outcome of a deal with Britain which confirmed the latter's free hand in Egypt, France turned her attention to Morocco. In 1904 this ancient country was divided into 'zones of influence' by France and Spain, and colonial subjection soon followed. (Davidson, 1972, p.285)


Colonial AfricaOn the 5th of June 1830, France invaded Algeria and "organized [Algeria] into overseas departments of France" (Wikipedia 2006). This means they exploited the locals in business and farming. But their hold on North Africa did not end quickly.

The map to the right is a representation of Europe's colonization of Africa in the 18 and 1900s. France's sector is denoted by a spotted pattern and is seen throughout much of northwestern Africa and Madagascar. By looking at a map it is easier to visualize how Europeans just decided to sit down and literally break up the continent and claim peoples and places not rightfully theirs. It goes without saying that the locals were less than pleased about the negotiation and often families and tribes would be split up onto different colonial countries.

Map of AlgeriaBy 1848, Algeria was an official territory of France after 18 years of French occupation. 114 years later, in June of 1962, after much damage was done to the land and the inhabitants, France granted Algeria independence and pulled out. 3 months later, the People's Democratic Algerian Republic was formed


Algeria was not the only African land France was interested in. Morocco, lying directly under Spain on the African side on the Strait of Gibraltar, was obviously a valuable piece of land to be in control of. But France was not the only country wanting in on the deal:

European powers showed interest in colonizing the country beginning in 1840, and there were frequent clashes with the French and Spanish. Finally, in 1904, France and Spain concluded a secret agreement that divided Morocco into zones of French and Spanish influence, with France controlling almost all of Morocco and Spain controlling the small southwest portion, which became known as Spanish Sahara...By the terms of the Algeciras Conference (1906), the sultan of Morocco maintained control of his lands and France's privileges were curtailed.

Map of MoroccoFrance and Spain's occupation in Morocco was seemingly shorter than that of Algeria most likely due to Morocco's important location on the Strait. But despite the France's power being "curtailed," France did not officially pull out of Morocco until March 2, 1956 (CIA Factbook, 2006).

Ever since France and Spain pulled out of North African countries, the North Africans have been trying to get into France and Spain. Hans Korn Rasmussen's book "No Entry" (1996, p.115) describes this:

In recent years, under Southern European Leadership, the EU countries have placed the countries bordering the Mediterranean higher on their list of priorities. In political terms, it has been argued that there are two threats, demographic growth and the Muslim menace.

North Africa's history with France and Spain has lead many African Muslims to migrate to Europe to find a better life in their previous occupants countries. To find out more about issues with North Africans in Europe, visit our other sites.


Rasmussen, H. (1996). No Entry. Denmark: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Davidson, B. (1972). Africa: History of a Continent. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Dutta, P. (2005, Nov. 12). Islam's March on Paris?. Retrieved March 24 2006, from http://www.aina.org/news/20051112112006.htm

(2006). In Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 5 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Algeria.

Algeria. Retrieved April 12 2006, from http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Algeria.html

Infoplease. Retrieved April 14 2006, from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107800.html

CIA: The World Factbook. Retrieved April 14 2006, from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/