Sidi Ifni Travel Guide

It’s known among nature lovers and surfers, not only for its beauty, but also for its friendliness.

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Sidi Ifni is a city located in southwest Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Legzira Plage is just 10km out of Sidi Ifni. Amazing place where nature shows off her beauty and the water and wind have carved the majestic red stone arches than extend along this sandy beach. It’s quiet here, not very touristy. It’s known among nature lovers and surfers, not only for its beauty, but also for its friendliness.

The few hostels in the area have only been serving tourists for a short while. If you choose to stay here for a while, you won’t forget the feeling of the red mountains bathed in the roar of the surf. The colors of in the morning and at sunset are unique and unforgettable.

It has a population of 20,000 people. The economic base of the city is fishing. It belongs to the Souss-Massa-Drâa economic region and to the Sidi Ifni Province. Its inhabitants are mainly Chleuhs and Arabs from the Ait Baamrane tribe. In 2000, an important fishing port was concluded, which serves as a base for fish exports.

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HISTORY

The Ait Baamran tribe has long inhabited the small town and the region surrounding it. They worked in husbandry and traded with Europeans and northern Morocco being intermediaries in the trans-Saharan trade. In 1476, an enclave in the region of present-day Sidi Ifni was occupied by Spain, which named its settlement there Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña. It remained in Spanish hands until 1524 when it was captured by Saadian rulers. Historically, Sidi Ifni is claimed to be the location of Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña, which had been for long pursued by Spain who built a small coastal fortress there in the 15th century. Although the existence of the fortress is widely documented, historians could not determine its exact location along the coast between Agadir and Tarfaya. In 1860, following the Spanish-Moroccan War, Morocco conceded Sidi Ifni and the territory of Ifni to Spain as a part of the Treaty of Tangiers. During the period often termed the “Scramble for Africa” in 1884, Spain acquired what is now Western Sahara. Spain occupied Sidi Ifni and Western Sahara jointly, although the latter was formally known under the name Spanish Sahara, or Río de Oro and Saguia el-Hamra.

Until 1952, Ifni region had the status of a protectorate. In this year, the region became part of Spanish West Africa (entity that grouped the colonies of Spanish Sahara and Cape Juby, with its capital defined in Villa Bens—Tarfaya nowadays—in Morocco). Since Morocco obtained its independence in 1956, it claimed the territory in various occasions. The first was in August 1957, by stating that the French-Spanish treaty from 1912 had been derogated. By late 1957 serious incidents had occurred in the border, starting the Ifni War, being Ifni garrisons attacked by the irregular troops led by Moroccan nationalists of the Istiqlal party, and supported tacitly by the king. They called themselves Moroccan Liberation Army.

The Spanish Army retreated from most territory with the purpose of establishing a defensive line limited to Sidi Ifni surroundings. The Moroccan Liberation Army just took control of the abandoned territory. However, this war was never formally declared nor finished. Spain and Morocco signed on 1 April 1958 the Agreements of Angra de Cintra, by which Cape Juby was given to Morocco in June 1958. The lost territories of Ifni region were never regained. They were integrated in Morocco. In the defensive line in Sidi Ifni the border was settled and the city remained under Spanish rule as one actual province of Spain. In 1969, mostly due to international pressure, Spain relinquished Sidi Ifni to Morocco.

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Ifni protests

In June 2008, violent protests took place in Sidi Ifni; according to the first media reports eight people were killed by police forces, but this claim was later not substantiated.

On May 30, dozens of unemployed workers started to block the port as to protest against not having been employed there. Unloading of fish was hindered. The following day, barriers were erected around the port. Several mediation intents with local officials gave no result. On June 6, around 500–600 people protested in the town and, moved by rumours that a police force from Tiznit or Agadir was to arrive, in the first hours of June 7, several entrances to the town were blocked by protesters. A local official was severely harassed by the protesters. At 6:30 a.m. on the same day, a police force composed of some 8,000 agents entered the city, dispersed the protesters employing rubber bullets and reopened the port Many of the protesters fled to the surrounding mountains. The police then entered houses in the neighbourhoods of Boulaalame and Lalla Meryem and started to arrest people in a violent way. Abuse, harassment and theft took place. Around 182 people were detained and all but 10 were liberated later that day. Twelve cases of torture leading to up to 30 days of temporal incapacity and around 35 cases of aggression or harassment were proven the by Moroccan Human Rights organisation OMDH.

On June 7, the Qatar-owned TV chain Al Jazeera stated that between eight and 10 people had been killed during the police intervention. Amnesty International’s 2009 report reads that, “They [the Moroccan police] also conducted unauthorized raids on homes, confiscated property, verbally and sexually harassed people, and carried out arbitrary arrests and detentions.”[4] The relation between the Moroccan government and Al Jazeera was seriously deteriorated[2] and in July, Brahim Sbaalil, a spokesperson for the Islamist-leaning Centre Marocain des Droits Humain (CMDH) that had echoed the claim, was condemned to six months in prison for “spreading false accusations”.

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Sidi Ifni is a city located in southwest Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Legzira Plage is just 10km out of Sidi Ifni. Amazing place where nature shows off her beauty and the water and wind have carved the majestic red stone arches than extend along this sandy beach. It’s quiet here, not very touristy. It’s known among nature lovers and surfers, not only for its beauty, but also for its friendliness.

Travel and tourism in Sidi Ifni. How to get in, maps, activities to do, where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Sidi Ifni Travel Guide.

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Michel Piccaya

About

As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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