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-square-kilometre (144 sq mi) international zone centred on the city of TangierMorocco, 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.

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.

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 Britain over its control, Tangier was made a neutral demilitarized zone in 1924 under a joint administration according to an international convention signed in Paris on December 18, 1923. Although some disagreements emerged about the agreement ratifications were exchanged in Paris on May 14, 1924. The convention was amended in 1928. The governments of ItalyPortugal, and Belgium adhered to the convention in 1928, and the government of the Netherlands in 1929.

Spanish possessions in North Africa

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. 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. As a result of the creation of the Mixed Court, the various European powers withdrew the consular courts that previously exercised jurisdiction there.

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 the west, many of whom were able to live an openly “out” life in the Zone.

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 Francoist State 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. Tangiers was annexed to the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco at 23 November 1940. In May 1944, although it had served as a contact point between him and the later Axis Powers during the Spanish Civil War, Franco expelled all German diplomats from the Zone.

The territory was restored to its pre-war status on October 11, 1945. 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.


Administrator Country Term of Office
Paul Alberge  France 24 August 1926 – 19 August 1929
Joseph Le Fur  France 19 August 1929 – 1 August 1940
Manuel Amieva Escandón  Spain 1 August 1940 – 4 November 1940
Under Spanish occupation (4 November 1940 – 11 October 1945)
Luís António de Magalhães Corrêa  Portugal 11 October 1945 – 18 June 1948
Jonkheer van Vredenburch  Netherlands 15 August 1948 – 9 April 1951
José Luís Archer  Portugal 9 April 1951 – 22 June 1954
Étienne de Croÿ  Belgium 21 June 1954 – 31 December 1954
Robert van de Kerckhove d’Hallebast  Belgium 4 June 1955 – 9 July 1956

Source: Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

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