Mosque in Dakhla
The Spaniards established whaling stations with some cod fishing and trading. In 1881, a dock
was anchored off the coast of the Río de Oro Peninsula
to support the work of the Canarian fishing fleet.
However, it was not until 1884 that Spain formally founded the watering place as Villa Cisneros, in the settlement dated in 1502 by Papal bull
. It was included in the enclaves conceded to the Spanish to the east of the Azores
islands. In 1884, the settlement was promoted by the Spanish Society of Africanists
and funded by the government of Canovas del Castillo
The Spanish military, along with the Spanish Africanist Emilio Bonelli
, claimed the coast between Cape Bojador
and Cabo Blanco for Spain, founding three settlements on the Saharan coast: one in Villa Cisneros, named in honour of Francisco Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros
(1436–1517), the Spanish prelate
who was the Grand Inquisitor
during the Spanish Inquisition
; and another in Cabo Blanco for seal hunting, which was given the name of Medina Gatell; and another in Angra de Cintra with the name of Puerto Badia, in honour of the Arabist and adventurer Domingo Badia
. Bonelli got the native inhabitants of the peninsula de Río de Oro to sign an agreement that placed them under the "protection" of the Kingdom of Spain
. Due to the presence of the three new settlements, in December 1884 the Spanish Government officially informed the main colonial powers assembled at the Berlin Conference
that the Spanish Crown
was in possession of the territory lying between Cape Bojador
and Cape Blanco.
The fort at Villa Cisneros in 1930
During the 1960s, the Francoist State
also built Dakhla Airport
, one of the three paved airports in Western Sahara
. It was from Dakhla, then known as Villa Cisneros, that on 12 January 1976, General Gomez de Salazar became the last Spanish soldier to depart what until that moment had been the colony of the Spanish Sahara; faced with Moroccan and Mauritanian pressure, Spanish authorities decided to give up the territory peacefully, instead of undertaking a fight that they believed they could win but would have cost many lives on all sides. Between 1975 and 1979, Dakhla was the provincial capital of the Mauritanian province of Tiris al-Gharbiyya
, as Mauritania annexed the southern portion of Western Sahara. Dakhla Airport is used as a civilian airport and by Royal Air Maroc
. The 3000 m runway can accommodate a Boeing 737
or smaller aircraft.
The passenger terminal covers 670 m2
and is capable of handling up to 55,000 passengers per year.
Dakhla was occupied by Spain from the late 19th century to 1975, when power was then relinquished to a joint administration between Morocco and Mauritania.
There was a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire in 1991, but as recently as 2006, most UN member states have refused to recognise Moroccan sovereignty in the area.
Windsurfer and the Dragon Island in the background
Dakhla's main economic activity is fishing and tourism. In recent years the town has become a centre for aquatic sports, such as kitesurfing
and surf casting
and is known as a centre for water sports.
farming by hand is a traditional practice in Dakhla.
Oysters are first sold to people and businesses in Dakhla, then to restaurants in cities like Marrakesh
, and then any left are sold to Europe
In April 2015, Vice Media
reported that oysters had recently begun to be exported to high-end European restaurants.
Dakhla has a mild tropical desert climate
) according to the Köppen climate classification
, meaning the mean temperature in every month is at least 18.0 °C (64.4 °F). Dakhla receives an average 33 mm (1.3 in) of precipitation per year. The temperature averages around 17.4 °C (63.3 °F) during January, Dakhla's coldest month and around 23.0 °C (73.4 °F) during September, its warmest month. The temperature seems to be moderated by the Canary Current
. Temperatures are similar to coastal areas of the Canary Islands
, although the climate is sizeably drier and diurnal temperature variation
Nature and ecology
Rocky and sandy shores of Dakhla
Like most areas in Western Sahara, Dakhla and vicinity areas are very poor in vegetation
and are mostly covered by the Sahara Desert
. Unlike on land however, sea waters are or had been very rich in sea life due to the highly productive Current System
flowing offshore and the renown Nouadhibou upwelling
which is located nearby as well. These environmental factors provide excellent conditions for local fisheries, and result in strong local biodiversity for birds in particular. For these reasons, there has been a UNESCO
proposal to create the "Dakhla National Park".
Dakhla Peninsula and Cintra Bay
are some of the most important wintering grounds for birds especially for waders
The greater flamingo
is one of the most iconic birds in the region and there are numerous others known to migrate or inhabit. Some of these are; pelican
, great cormorant
, gulls (slender-billed
), larks (sparrow
), terns (little
), black wheatear
, western reef heron
, marsh harrier
, lesser kestrel
, laughing dove
, great spotted cuckoo
, little swift
, rock martin
, cricket longtail
, bar-tailed godwit
, pharaoh eagle owl
, and red-knobbed coot
Several species such as golden nightjar
, Sudan golden sparrow
, hooded vulture
, dark chanting goshawk
, speckled pigeon
, African mourning dove
, blue-naped mousebird
, Kordofan lark
, red-chested swallow
, chestnut-bellied starling
, African swallow-tailed kite
, tawny eagle
, slender-billed curlew
, demoiselle crane
, Arabian bustard
, lappet-faced vulture
, helmeted guineafowl
are seemingly locally rare or extinct, or rather visitors of vagrants.
Terrestrial animals are less diverse than birds, including Ruppell's fox
, fennec fox
variants, fat sand rat
, lesser Egyptian jerboa
, and others. Barbary lion
became extinct, and possibly local cheetah
and North African elephant
Reptiles and others
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