Tangier or Tangiers [pronounce] (Tanja طنجة in Berber and Arabic, Tánger in Spanish, Tânger in Portuguese, and Tanger in French) is a city of northern Morocco with a population of 669,680 (2004 census). It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. It is the capital of the Tangier-Tétouan Region.
The history of Tangier is very rich due to the historical presence of many civilizations and cultures starting from the 5th century BCE. Between the period being a Phoenician town to the independence era around 1950's, Tangier was a place --and, sometimes a refuge-- for many cultural diversities. However, it was until early 20th century when Tangier was attributed an international status by foreign colonial powers in 1923 and thus becoming a destination for many Europeans and non-Europeans alike such as Americans and Indians.
Nowadays, the city is 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 soccer stadium. Tangier's economy will also benefit greatly from the new Tanger-med port.
The modern Tanjah (Anglicised as Tangier) is an ancient Phoenician town, founded by Carthaginian colonists in the early 5th century BC. Its name is possibly derived from the Berber goddess Tinjis (or Tinga), and it remains an important city for the Berbers. Ancient coins call it Tenga, Tinga, and Titga with Greek and Latin authors giving numerous variations of the name.
According to Berber mythology, the town was built by Sufax, son of Tinjis, the wife of the Berber hero Antaios. The Greeks ascribed its foundation to the giant Antaeus, 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 came under Roman rule in the course of the 1st century BC, first as a free city and then, under Augustus, a colony (Colonia Julia, under Claudius), capital of Mauritania Tingitana of Hispania. 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 became part of the Byzantine empire, before coming under Arab control in 702. Due to its Christian past it is still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.
When the Portuguese started their expansion in Morocco, by taking Ceuta in 1415, Tangiers was always a primary goal. They failed to capture the city in 1437 but they finally occupied it in 1471. The Portuguese rule lasted until 1661, when it was given to Charles II of England as part of the dowry from the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza. 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 1436 feet long, before being blown up during the evacuation.
In 1679, Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the town but imposed a crippling blockade which 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.
The United States dedicated its first consulate in Tangier during the George Washington administration. In 1821, the Legation Building in Tangier became the first piece of property acquired abroad by the U.S. government--a gift to the U.S. from Sultan Moulay Suliman. It was bombarded by the French Prince de Joinville in 1844.
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 (with Berbers predominating over Arabs), 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 (called Spanish Morocco) and a part of Moroccan territory in the 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, joined by Italy in 1928. After a period of effective Spanish control from 1940 to 1945 during World War II, Tangier was reunited with the rest of Morocco following the restoration of full sovereignty in 1956.
Tangier was a Roman Catholic titular see of former Mauretania Tingitana. 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. (Thus one official list of the Roman Curia places it in Mauretania Caesarea). Towards the end of the third century, Tangier was the scene of the martyrdom of St. Marcellus, mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on 30 October, and of St. Cassian, mentioned on 3 December. It is not known whether it was a diocese in ancient times. Under the Portuguese domination, it was a suffragan of Lisbon and, in 1570, was united to the diocese of Ceuta. Six of its bishops are known, the first, who did not reside in his see, in 1468. In the protectorate era of Morocco Tangier was the residence of the prefect Apostolic of Morocco, which mission was in charge of the Friars Minor. It had a Catholic church, several chapels, schools, and a hospital.
The city is a host of the Anglican church of Saint Andrew.
More recently, Tangier has been affiliated with an International Investigations firm, Tangiers International, who claim to be the largest Investigations firm in the world.
The multicultural placement of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities and the foreign immigrants attracted writers like Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Brion Gysin and the music group the Rolling Stones, who all lived in or visited Tangier during different periods of the 20th century.
It was after Delacroix that Tangier became an obligatory stop for artists seeking to experience the colors and light he spoke of for themselves - with varying results. Matisse made several sojourns in Tangier, always staying at the Hotel Villa de France. "I have found landscapes in Morocco," he claimed, "exactly as they are described in Delacroix's paintings." The Californian artist Richard Diebenkorn was directly influenced by the haunting colors and rhythmic patterns of Matisse’s Morocco paintings.
In the 1940s and until 1956 when the city was an International Zone, the city served as a playground for eccentric millionaires, a meeting place for secret agents and all kinds of crooks, and a mecca for speculators and gamblers, an Eldorado for the fun-loving "Haute Volée". During World War II the Office of Strategic Services operated out of Tangier for various operations in North Africa.
Around the same time, a circle of writers emerged which was to have a profound and lasting literary influence. This included Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet as well as Mohamed Choukri (one of North Africa's most controversial and widely read authors), Abdeslam Boulaich, Larbi Layachi, Mohammed Mrabet and Ahmed Yacoubi. Among the best known works from this period is Choukri's For Bread Alone. Originally written in Classical Arabic, the English edition was the result of close collaboration with Bowles (who worked with Choukri to provide the translation and supplied the introduction). Tennessee Williams described it as 'a true document of human desperation, shattering in its impact.' Independently, William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch was written in Tangier and the book's locale of Interzone is an allusion to the city.
Tangier is Morocco's second most important industrial center after Casablanca. The industrial sectors are diversified: textile, chemical, mechanical, metallurgical and naval. Currently, the city has four industrial parks of which two have the status of free economic zone (see Tangier Free Zone).
Tangier's economy relies heavily on tourism. Seaside resorts have been increasing with projects funded by foreign investments. Real estate and construction companies have been investing heavily in tourist infrastructures. A bay delimiting the city center extends for more than seven kilometers. The years 2007 and 2008 will be particularly important for the city because of the completion of large construction projects currently being built. These include the Tangier-Mediterranean port ("Tanger-med") and its industrial parks, a 45,000-seat sports stadium, an expanded business district, and a renovated tourist infrastructure.
Agriculture in the area of Tangier is tertiary and mainly cereal.
The infrastructure of this city of the strait of Gibraltar consists of a port that manages flows of goods and travellers (more than one million travelers per annum) and integrates a marina with a fishing port.
The city has seen a fast pace of rural exodus from other small cities and villages. The population has quadrupled during the last 25 years (1 million inhabitants in 2007 vs. 250,000 in 1982). This phenomenon has resulted in the appearance of peripheral suburban districts, mainly inhabited by poor people, that often lack sufficient infrastructure.
The city's postcode is 90 000.
New developments include a new terminal at the airport, a soccer stadium seating 45,000 spectators, a high-speed train, and a business district called Tangier City Center.
The new Tanger-med port is managed by the Danish firm A. P. Moller-Maersk Group and will free up the old port for tourist and recreational development.
Tangier's Ibn Batouta International Airport and the rail tunnel will serve as the gateway to the "Moroccan Riviera" the coast between Tangier and Oujda. Traditionally the north coast was an impoverished and underdeveloped region of Morocco but it has some of the best beaches on the Mediterranean and is about to see rapid development.
The airport is being expanded and will become larger with more flights. Easyjet flies to Tangier from Madrid, and will soon fly via London. In addition, a TGV high-speed train system is being built. It will take a few years to complete, and will become the fastest train system in North Africa.
Many universities are located both inside and outside the city. Universities like the "Institut Superieur Internationale de Tourisme" (ISIT), which is a school that offers diplomas in various departments, offer courses ranging from business administration to hotel management. The institute is among one of the most prestigious tourism schools in the country. Other colleges such as the "Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion" (ENCG-T) is among the biggest business schools in the country as well as "Ecole Nationale des Sciences appliquées" (ENSA-T), a rising engineering school for applied sciences.
There are more than a hundred Moroccan primary schools, each dispersed randomly in the city.