Spanish port on the coast of Morocco, at the Mediterranean entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. Ceuta is an autonomous city administered by Spain. Ceuta, Melilla (also an exclave), and other tiny islets along the coast of North Africa constitute the territories of Spanish North Africa. The city is on a narrow isthmus that connects Mount Hacho (also held by Spain) to the mainland. (Mount Hacho has been identified as possibly the southern Pillar of Heracles, of the ancient Mediterranean world; Jebel Moussa [Musa] in Morocco is another possibility.) On the summit of Mount Hacho is a fort used by the Spanish military.
Five centuries of Spanish Christian occupation have given the place a European rather than Moorish appearance. (Only about a third of the population is Muslim.) Lying south of the isthmus, the port consists of a small bay enclosed by two breakwaters. With the construction of modern port facilities, Ceuta grew as a military, transport, and commercial centre. Ceuta is surrounded by a double fence with barbed wire to secure its borders. In 2006 the fence was raised and Ceuta’s military personnel and number of weapons were increased. Even so, thousands of immigrants, mainly African refugees, unsuccessfully try to cross the border every year.