Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera

Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera (Spanish pronunciation: [peˈɲon de ˈβeleθ ðe la ɣoˈmeɾa]; Arabic: حجر بديس, romanized: Hajar Badis) is a Spanish exclave and rocky tied island, in the western Mediterranean Sea, connected to the Moroccan shore by a sandy isthmus. It is also connected to a smaller islet to the east, La Isleta, by a rocky isthmus. The tied island was named Hajar Badis (Rock of Badis) and was connected to the town of Badis.

Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera
Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, seen from the Moroccan coast in 2007.
LocationMoroccan coast
Coordinates35°10′20″N 4°17′59″W
Adjacent toMediterranean Sea
Area1.9 ha (4.7 acres)
Plazas de Soberanía

Vélez de la Gomera, along with La Isleta, is a premodern overseas possession known as a plaza de soberanía. It is administered by the Spanish central government[1] and has a population consisting only of a small number of Spanish military personnel.

Its border with Morocco is 80 m (260 ft) long, making it one of the shortest international borders in the world.


An illustrated inset showing Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera from Jodocus Hondius's 1606 map of Fez and the Kingdom of Morocco.

Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera is located 119 km (73.94 mi) southeast of Ceuta. It was a natural island in the Alboran Sea until 1934, when a huge thunderstorm washed large quantities of sand into the short channel between the island and the African continent. The channel was turned into a tombolo[2] and the island became a peninsula, connected to the Moroccan coast by an 85 m (278.87 ft) long sandy isthmus, which is the world's shortest single land-border segment.[3] With a length of 400 m (1,312.34 ft) northwest-southeast and a width of up to 100 m (328.08 ft), it covers about 1.9 ha (4¾ acres).


Current Spanish possessions in Northern Africa
1692 engraving of the Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, by Lucas Vostermans of Antwerp

Portugal and Spain passed an agreement in 1496 in which they effectively established their zones of influence on the North African coast. As a result, Spain could occupy territory only east of Peñón de Vélez. This restriction ended with the Iberian Union of Portugal and Spain under Philip II after the 1578 Battle of Alcácer Quibir, when Spain started to take direct actions in Morocco, as in the occupation of Larache.[4]

In 1508, Spain launched a successful expedition under the command of Pedro Navarro to take the peñón located near Badis, held by pirates who were constantly attacking and looting the coast of Southern Spain.

In 1522, Spain lost the peñón to a Moroccan Berber attack that resulted in the deaths of the whole Spanish garrison. Ali Abu Hassun, the new Wattasid ruler of Morocco in 1554, then gave the peñón to Ottoman troops who had assisted him in gaining the throne.[4]

The Ottomans used it as a base for corsairs operating in the region of the Strait of Gibraltar. The Sa'di sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib was alarmed by this activity, fearing that the Ottomans might use the town of Badis as a base from which to undertake the conquest of Morocco. In 1564, he forced the Moroccans to evacuate the town and the peñón, which he handed over to the Spaniards. The Moroccan population retired to the kasbah of Senada.[5]

In 2012, the territory was assaulted by a group of Moroccan activists belonging to the Committee for the Liberation of Ceuta and Melilla, whose leader was Yahya Yahya.[6]


Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera is governed by direct rule from Madrid.[7][8]


The territory is reached primarily by helicopter via a helipad located on the upper sections. A landing area is located on the south end near the land entrance to Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera.

See also


  1. González, Mónica Ceberio Belaza, Ignacio Cembrero, Miguel (2012-09-17). "The last remains of the Spanish empire". EL PAÍS. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  2. "Historia de Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera". Ejercito de Tierra (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 May 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  3. Lewis, Martin W. (30 Aug 2010). "The World's Shortest Border". GeoCurrents. Archived from the original on 11 August 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  4. Kissling, Hans Joachim; Spuler, Bertold; et al. (29 October 1996). The Last Great Muslim Empires: History of the Muslim World. Translated by Bagley, F. R. C. Princeton, New Jersey: Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-55876-112-4. Retrieved 29 October 2018 via Google Books.
  5. Colin, G. S. (1986) [1960]. "Bādis". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. I (2nd ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 859. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_0995. ISBN 9004081143.
  6. Sánchez, Paqui (29 August 2012). "Cuatro activistas marroquíes intentan ocupar el Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera". El Mundo (in Spanish).
  7. "Moroccans eye Spanish enclave across tiny border". The National. July 16, 2017. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  8. "Europe :: Spain — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
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