Bades (Maroc) – It’s one of the shortest land borders in the world: a few dozen metres of plastic cord across a sandbank separate Morocco from the tiny Spanish enclave of Penon de Velez de la Gomera.

Wooden boats lie amid nets worn by seawater at the foot of the imposing mini-peninsula, home to a Spanish military base.

“Don’t approach the string!” a Moroccan soldier shouted from a pillbox, his helmet askew.

“They might shoot you with plastic bullets,” he said in a lower tone of voice, before retreating to the shade of his wooden shelter on a slope facing the Mediterranean.

Penon de Velez de la Gomera is one of seven Spanish enclaves on the northern coast of Morocco, which claims sovereignty over all of them.

The best known are Ceuta, which overlooks the strategically vital Strait of Gibraltar, and Melilla, further to the east.

© AFP Mustafa EL HASSOUNI The tiny Spanish enclave of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, a peninsula off the coast of Morocco's Al-Hoceima national park

© AFP Mustafa EL HASSOUNI – The tiny Spanish enclave of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, a peninsula off the coast of Morocco’s Al-Hoceima national park