Tangier’s fate has been destined by its location on the northwest tip of the African continent: the Arabic harbor city and trading town “Tanja” is situated at the Strait of Gibraltar facing the Atlantic Ocean. Greek saga has it that the town was founded by the giant Antaeus who named it after his wife “Tingis”. Prehistorical findings dating back to the Old Stone Age seem to hint at the existence of early settlements in this region – and since the city is proven to have existed at around 1,600 B.C., it counts as the oldest known town in Morocco that was permanently inhabited. Tangier has a terraced layout around a beautiful wide bay on the bottom slopes of the Rif Mountains, surrounded by fine, sandy beaches. The harbor is also to be found here, dominated by the impressive Medina and its Kasbah. Being so close to the Iberian Peninsula, and having lived through more than four decades with an international status (1912-1956), Tangier, the “Gate to Morocco”, has long been the most European city in the country. Clearly visible signs are the ample quarters south and west of the Medina which emerged after 1906.
Until today, Tangier has also been an important hub for artists: Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) found inspiration here just like Henri Matisse (1869-1954), who painted his famous Moroccan Triptychon here in 1912-1913. During the roaring ages from 1923-1956, the city attracted not only bankers, adventurers and newcomers, but also writers of distinction. One of them, the US-Citizen Paul Bowles, was the first to arrive - inspiring colleagues such as dramatist Tennessee Williams and the writer William Burroughs to visit Tangier. French poets and novelists like Pierre Loti, Paul Morand, Jean Genet and Joseph Kessel spent time in town, and even today, Tangier attracts artists like Fès-born writer Tahar Ben Jelloun who keeps coming back to the harbor city. Next to its significance as an administrative center, Tangier is also an important – and rapidly expanding – industrial location. The major sectors are ship building, the textile industry and the processing of tobacco and fish. Since 2012, French cars are manufactured here as well. Tangier is embracing its prosperous future with arms widely outstretched, and several new trade areas and touristic centers are currently being built or planned.
The city’s status as a harbor can’t be overestimated – the commercial harbor is the sixth-biggest in Morocco and the ferry port the most important one in the country. This figure already hints to the third sector, the tourism industry. Due to its favorable location, Tangier is the first touching point for a high number of European guests, and the nice setting combined with a fresh summer climate contribute powerfully to Tangier’s role as a popular tourist and beach destination.