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Africa 2006,

When the Phoenicians started trading with the region it was already occupied by people of caucasoid origin. These Africans were called barbarians by the ancient Greeks and Romans and the name Berber is probably derived from barberoi (Greek) or barbari (Latin). Arab-Muslim conquerors in the course of the 7th Century succeeded in converting many Berbers to Islam. Marriages between Arab warriors and Berber women started a process of assimilation. In 1492 the Christians in Spain and Portugal finally overpowered the Moors and caused a considerable migration to Morocco of Muslims and Jews. Following their victory, the Spaniards and Portuguese seized most of the ports along the Maghreb coast. Ceuta and Tanger were already under Portuguese control and Melilla became a Spanish stronghold. In 1684 the city of Tanger, which had been donated to the English by the Portuguese, was reoccupied by the Moroccans. However, Spain held on to Melilla and to Ceuta, which it had acquired from the Portuguese as well. In 1912 France took possession of the larger (central) part of Morocco, with all its important cities, and later that year ceded to Spain two territories to the north and south including Ceuta and Melilla and Rio de Oro (later to become known as the Spanish or Western Sahara). The nationalist opposition in Morocco defeated a combined Franco-Spanish force of over 250,000 in 1926 and forced France to grant it self-government in 1956. Spain had to cede all its possessions except Ceuta, Melilla, Ifni and Spanish Sahara. As the neighboring states (Algeria, Mauritania and Mali) became independent, Morocco claimed, on historic grounds, parts of their territory, as well as the entire Spanish Sahara. King Mohammed V ruled from 1957 until his death in 1961. He was succeeded by his son Mulay Hassan II who ruled until his death in 1999 and was followed to the throne by his heir, King Mohammed VI.