Dakhla is a city in Western Sahara under Moroccan control. It is the capital of the Moroccan administrative region Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira. It has about 55,618 inhabitants and is built on a narrow peninsula of the Atlantic Coast (Península de Río de Oro) about 550 km south of El Aaiún (Laayoune).
The area was inhabited by Berbers since ancient times. Dakhla was expanded or possibly founded by Spanish settlers during the expansion of their empire. The Spanish interest in Western Africa in desert coast of Sahara was the result of fishing activities carried out from the nearby Canary Islands by Spanish fishers and the Barbary pirates menace.
Spanish fishers were seal fur traders and hunters, fishers and whalers in Sahara coast from Dakhla to Cabo Blanco from 1500 to present, extending by West coast of Africa to whaling Humpback whales and their calves, mostly in Cape Verde, and Guinea gulf in Annobon, São Tomé and Príncipe islands just to 1940. These fishing activities have had a negative impact on wildlife causing the disappearance or endangered of many species, it highlighting marine mammals and birds.
They 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 at 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 military and Spanish Arabist Emilio Bonelli recognized the coast between Cape Bojador and Cabo Blanco, founding three settlements in the Saharan coast: one in Villa Cisneros in honor of cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, another in Cabo Blanco for seal hunting, which gave the name of Medina Gatell, and another in Angra de Cintra with the name of Puerto Badia, in honor of the Arabist and adventurer Domingo Badia. Bonelli got the native inhabitants of the peninsula de Río de Oro signed an agreement which placing them under the protection of Spain. Thanks to the presence of the three seatlements in December that year The Spanish government put in communication of the colonial powers assembled at the Berlin conference, which was adjudged possession of the territory lying between Cape Bojador and Blanco.