Like Ceuta, Melilla is an Autonomous City. The Autonomous City of Melilla (la Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla) is geographically located in North Africa, facing the Mediterranean Sea (el Mar Mediterráneo) on the south east coast of the Tres Forcas peninsula.
Melilla has a surface area of approximately 12.5km² and a population of around 68,000 of which roughly 15% are Muslim. Melilla has been a part of the Kingdom of Spain (el Reino de España) since 1497. It was granted Autonomous City status in 1995.
Its coast is largely flat having over 2km of good sandy beaches. Inland Melilla becomes more hilly. The city itself has arguably the second most important group of Modernist buildings in Spain after Barcelona in the region of Catalonia.
The primary economic contributor to the city is fishing: a sea facing city, Melilla has a port. Other sources of revenue are grants from Spain and Europe and cross border trading.
Melilla was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th Century. Known at that time as Rusadir, it was an important city because of its strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea and also because it became a successful trading port. It was later inhabited by the Romans, and later still by the Arabs before it became Spanish.
There is a very strong feeling in Morocco that the current Spanish Autonomous Cities of Melilla and Ceuta be reintegrated into Morocco, along with the following small islands located off of the Moroccon coast, which are also currently Spanish territories:
- the Chafarine Islands (las Islas Chafarinas)
- Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera
- Peñón de Alhucemas
- and the Parsley Island (la Isla Perejil).
This view is not shared by the Spanish government (el Gobierno de España).
The climate in Melilla is Mediterranean. There are warm summers (24°C average temperature) and mild winters (13°C average temperature).