Algeciras is a port city in the south of Spain, near the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It is situated on the Río de la Miel slightly to the north of Tarifa, which is the southernmost town of peninsular Spain. It is the largest urban area on the Bay of Gibraltar (in Spanish, the Bahía de Algeciras), with a population in 1999 of 103,106 people.
The city was founded in 713 by the Moors, probably on the site of an earlier Roman town known as Portus Albus (“White Port”). It enjoyed a brief period of indepedance as a taifa state from 1035-1058. It was named al-Jazirah al-Khadra’ (“Green Island“) after the offshore Isla Verde; the modern name is derived from this original Arabic name (compare also Algiers and Al Jazeera). In 1344 the city was taken by Alfonso XI of Castile. It was retaken by the Moors in 1368, but was destroyed. The site was subsequently abandoned.
Algeciras was refounded in 1704 by refugees from Gibraltar following the territory’s capture by Anglo-Dutch forces in the War of the Spanish Succession. It was rebuilt on its present rectangular plan by Charles III of Spain in 1760. In July 1801, the French and Spanish navies fought the British Royal Navy offshore in the Battle of Algeciras, which ended in a British victory.
The city hosted the Algeciras Conference in 1906, an international forum to discuss the future of Morocco which was held in the Casa Consistorial (town hall). During the Franco era, Algeciras underwent substantial industrial development, creating many new jobs for the local workers made unemployed when the border between Gibraltar and Spain was sealed between 1969 and 1982.
As a curiosity, in 1982 Algeciras was the scene of Operation Algeciras, a failed plan conceived by the Argentinian military to sabotage the British military facilities in Gibraltar during the Falklands War.