Statute of Autonomy Day in Melilla Date in the current year: March 13, 2024

Statute of Autonomy Day in Melilla Statute of Autonomy Day, also known as simply Autonomy Day, is an official holiday in the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla. It is celebrated on March 13 to commemorate the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of Melilla on this day in 1995.

The Kingdom of Spain consists of 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla. The two autonomous cities have more competences than other municipalities, but limited legislative powers compared to autonomous communities. They are not subordinate to any other community and have the right to become autonomous communities at any point, but haven’t exercised it yet.

Ceuta and Melilla have a special status because they are Spanish enclaves in northern Africa. Both cities have a high percentage of Muslim population (nearly 40% and growing) and have been claimed by Morocco since its independence in 1956.

Melilla was most likely founded by Phoenicians during their colonization of the Western Mediterranean. Its original name was Rusadir. The settlement was conquered by Carthaginians in the 4th century BC and later absorbed by the Roman Empire. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city was destroyed by the Vandals, but it was rebuilt when the region became part of the Byzantine Empire.

The settlement was named Melilla by Arab and Berber Muslims who conquered it in the late 7th century. For several centuries, the city was ruled by a succession of Islamic dynasties, until the Spanish conquered it in 1497, consolidating the success of the Reconquista. Since then, Morocco has tried to reconquer Melilla several times, but in vain.

After the fall of Francisco Franco’s regime and the enthronement of King Juan Carlos I, a new Constitution of Spain was adopted. It was the 1978 Constitution that allowed Ceuta and Melilla to gain autonomy. Melilla held the first local elections to the city’s legislature in 1979. However, this was just the first step towards autonomy. For a decade and a half after its first elections, Melilla remained a municipality in the province of Málaga (the autonomous community of Andalusia).

The Statute of Autonomy of Melilla (Estatuto de Autonomía de Melilla) was approved on March 13, 1995. It came into force the following day, after being published in the Official State Gazette. The anniversary of the Statute of Autonomy is one of the two regional public holidays in Melilla. The other one is Melilla Day (September 17), commemorating the Spanish conquest of the city.

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Statute of Autonomy Day in Melilla, Melilla Autonomy Day, holidays in Spain, holidays in Melilla, regional observances