Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña

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Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña (literally Holy Cross of the Little Sea) was a Spanish settlement on the south-western coast of Morocco, across from the Canary Islands, founded in 1476 as a trading post with a fortress. It was located close to a lagoon (hence its present name of Foum Agoutir) not far of Cape Juby near present-day Tarfaya.

The importance of the settlement was derived from its position in the trans-Saharan slave trade, and captives were shipped to sugar plantations on the Canary Islands.

The Spanish were expelled from the area in 1524 by the Saadi dynasty. After its abandonment, the exact location of Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña was forgotten, to the point that when, in 1916, the Spanish gained control of the Cape Juby Strip, which included the location, they assigned it a new name, Puerto Cansado.

On the other hand, in the mid-nineteenth century, during the Scramble for Africa, France and Spain laid conflicting claims over the Maghreb, and Spain became interested in its lost medieval fortress in order to claim the southern part of Morocco, and for no clear reason Ifni, more than 300 miles North from the real location, was wrongly considered the most likely area; and consequently that territory was ceded to Spain by Morocco in the treaty of Wad Ras of 1860 as result of the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1859.

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