Tangier (; Ṭanjah; Berber: ⵟⴰⵏⵊⴰ Tanja or (archaic) Tingi; ; ; and usually Tangiers in British English) is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 850,000 (2012 estimates). It is located on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. It is the capital of the Tangier-Tetouan Region and of the Tangier-Asilah prefecture of Morocco.
The history of Tangier is very rich due to the historical presence of many civilizations and cultures starting from the 5th century BC. Between the period of being a Berber settlement and then a Phoenician town to the independence era around the 1950s, Tangier was a refuge for many cultures. In 1923, Tangier was considered as having international status by foreign colonial powers, and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, writers and businessmen.
The city is currently undergoing rapid development and modernization. Projects include new 5-star hotels along the bay, a modern business district called Tangier City Center, a new airport terminal and a new football stadium. Tangier's economy is also set to benefit greatly from the new Tanger-Med port.
Tangier's sport team I.R.T. (or Ittihad Riadi de Tanger) is a prominent football club with a large following base. Tangier will be one of the host cities for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament, which shall be played at the new Ibn Batouta Stadium and in other cities across Morocco.
Tangier was founded by Carthaginian colonists in the early 5th century BC.
The Greeks ascribed its foundation to the giant Antaios, whose tomb and skeleton are pointed out in the vicinity, calling Sufax the son of Hercules by the widow of Antaeus. The cave of Hercules, a few miles from the city, is a major tourist attraction. It is believed that Hercules slept there before attempting one of his twelve labours.
The commercial town of Tingis (Τιγγίς in Ancient Greek), came under Roman rule in the course of the 2nd century BC (146 BC), first as a free city and then, under Augustus, a colony (Colonia Julia, under Claudius), capital of Mauritania Tingitana of Hispania (since 38 BC). It was the scene of the martyrdoms of Saint Marcellus of Tangier. In the 5th century AD, Vandals conquered and occupied "Tingi" and from here swept across North Africa.
A century later (between 534 and 682), Tangier fell back to the Eastern Roman empire, before coming under Arab (Umayyad) control in 702. Due to its Christian past, it is still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Portuguese, driven in good part by religious fervor, started their colonial expansion by taking Ceuta in 1415, Tangier was always a primary goal. They failed to capture the city in 1437 but finally occupied it in 1471 (see List of colonial heads of Tangier). A partial plan of the original kasbah (Arabic: القصبة al-qaṣbah) was found in 2009-12, in a Portuguese document now preserved in the Military Archives of Sweden in Stockholm (Krigsarkivet (Riksarkivet)). The Portuguese rule (including Spanish rule during the Iberian Union, 1580–1640) lasted until 1662, when it was given to Charles II of England as part of the dowry from the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza, becoming English Tangier. The English gave the city a garrison and a charter which made it equal to English towns. The English planned to improve the harbour by building a mole. With an improved harbour the town would have played the same role that Gibraltar later played in British naval strategy. The mole cost £340,000 and reached 1,436 feet long, before being blown up during the evacuation.
An attempt of Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco to seize the town in 1679 was unsuccessful; but a crippling blockade by his Jaysh al-Rifi ultimately forced the English to withdraw. The English destroyed the town and its port facilities prior to their departure in 1684. Under Moulay Ismail the city was reconstructed to some extent, but it gradually declined until, by 1810, the population was no more than 5,000.
Tangier's geographic location made it a centre for European diplomatic and commercial rivalry in Morocco in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the opening of the 20th century, it had a population of about 40,000, including 20,000 Muslims, 10,000 Jews, and 9,000 Europeans (of whom 7,500 were Spanish). The city was increasingly coming under French influence, and it was here in 1905 that Kaiser Wilhelm II triggered an international crisis that almost led to war between his country and France by pronouncing himself in favour of Morocco's continued independence.
In 1912, Morocco was effectively partitioned between France and Spain, the latter occupying the country's far north and far south, while France declared a protectorate over the remainder. The last Sultan of independent Morocco, Moulay Hafid, was exiled to the Sultanate Palace in the Tangier Kasbah after his forced abdication in favour of his brother Moulay Yusef. Tangier was made an international zone in 1923 under the joint administration of France, Spain, and Britain under an international convention signed in Paris on December 18, 1923. Ratifications were exchanged in Paris on May 14, 1924. The convention was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on September 13, 1924. The convention was amended in 1928. The governments of Italy, Portugal and Belgium adhered to the convention in 1928, and the government of the Netherlands in 1929.
The International zone of Tangier had a 373 square kilometer area and, by 1939, a population of about 60,000 inhabitants.
Spanish troops occupied Tangier on June 14, 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 Franco regime publicly considered the occupation a temporary wartime measure. 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. The territory was restored to its pre-war status on October 11, 1945. Tangier joined with the rest of Morocco following the restoration of full sovereignty in 1956.
Originally, the city was part of the larger province of Mauretania Caesariensis, which included much of Northern Africa. Later the area was subdivided, with the eastern part keeping the former name and the newer part receiving the name of Mauretania Tingitana. It is not known exactly at what period there may have been an episcopal see at Tangier in ancient times, but in the Middle Ages Tangier was used as a titular see (i.e., an honorific fiction for the appointment of curial and auxiliary bishops), placing it in Mauretania Tingitana. For the historical reasons given above, one official list of the Roman Curia places the see in Mauretania Caesarea.
Towards the end of the 3rd century, Tangier was the scene of the martyrdom of Saint Marcellus of Tangier, mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on 30 October, and of St. Cassian, mentioned on 3 December.
Under the Portuguese domination, there was a Bishop of Tangier who was a suffragan of Lisbon but in 1570 the diocese was united to the diocese of Ceuta. Six Bishops of Tangier from this period are known, the first, who did not reside in his see, in 1468. During the era of the protectorate over Morocco, Tangier was the residence of the Prefect Apostolic of Morocco, the mission having been founded on November 28, 1630, and entrusted to the Friars Minor. At the time it had a Catholic church, several chapels, schools, and a hospital. The Prefecture Apostolic was raised to the status of a Vicariate Apostolic of Marocco April 14, 1908, and on November 14, 1956, became the Archdiocese of Tangier.
The city also has the Anglican church of Saint Andrew.
Tangier acquired the reputation of a spying and smuggling centre and attracted foreign capital due to political neutrality and commercial liberty at that time. It was via a British bank in Tangier that the Bank of England in 1943 for the first time obtained samples of the high-quality forged British currency produced by the Nazis in "Operation Bernhard".