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Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in North Africa with a population of nearly 32 million and an area just under . Its capital is Rabatmarker, and its largest city is Casablancamarker. Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Oceanmarker that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltarmarker into the Mediterranean Seamarker. It is bordered by Algeriamarker to the east, Spainmarker to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with three small Spanish enclaves, Ceutamarker, Melillamarker, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomeramarker), and Western Saharamarker to the south.

Several dialects of Arabic and Berber are spoken in Morocco. However, this linguistic diversity doesn't affect the ethnic situation as the population is largely homogeneous.

Morocco is the only country in Africa that is not currently a member of the African Union and it has shown no interest in joining, due to other African nations recognizing Western Sahara as a sovereign state. However, it is a member of the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union, Francophonie, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Mediterranean Dialogue group, and Group of 77. It is also a major non-NATO ally of the United States.


The full Arabic name al-Mamlaka al-Maġribiyya (المملك المغربية) translates to "The Western Kingdom". Al-Maġrib (meaning "The West") is commonly used. For historical references, medieval Arab historians and geographers used to refer to Morocco as Al-Maghrib al Aqşá ("The Farthest West"), disambiguating it from neighboring historical regions called al-Maghrib al Awsat ("The Middle West", Algeriamarker) and al-Maghrib al Adna ("The Nearest West", Tunisiamarker).

The Latinized name "Morocco" originates from medieval Latin "Morroch", which referred to the name of the former Almoravid and Almohad capital, Marrakechmarker. The Persians straightforwardly call it "Marrakech" while the Turks call it "Fas" which comes from the ancient Idrisid and Marinid capital, Fèsmarker.

The word "Marrakech" is presumably derived from the Berber word Mur-Akush, meaning Land of God.


Berber Morocco

The area of present-day Morocco has been inhabited since Neolithic times (at least since 8000 BC, as attested by signs of the Capsian culture), a period when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. In Mesolithic ages the geography of Morocco resembled a savanna more than the present day arid landscape. In the classical period, Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should not be confused with the modern-day country of Mauritaniamarker. Modern DNA analysis (see link) has confirmed that various populations have contributed to the present-day gene pool of Morocco in addition to the main ethnic group which is the Amazighs/Berbers. Those other various populations are Arabs, Iberians, Phoeniciansmarker, Sephardic Jews and sub-Saharan Africans.

Roman and pre-Roman Morocco

North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterraneanmarker world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the early Classical period. Major early substantial settlements of the Phoeniciansmarker were at Chellahmarker, Lixus and Mogadormarker, with Mogador being a Phoenician colony as early as the early 6th century BC. The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the wider Mediterranean, as this strategic region formed part of the Roman Empire, as Mauretania Tingitana. In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire declined, the region fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then Byzantine Greek in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high mountains of most of modern Morocco remained unsubdued, and stayed in the hands of their Berber inhabitants. Christianity was introduced in the second century and gained converts in the towns and among slaves and Berber farmers.

Islamic Morocco

By the seventh century, Islamic expansion was at its greatest. In 670 AD, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascusmarker.
Arabs brought their customs, culture, and Islam, to which most of the Berbers converted, forming states and kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Nekor and Barghawata, sometimes after long-running series of civil wars. Under Idris ibn Abdallah who founded the Idrisid Dynasty, the country soon cut ties and broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdadmarker and the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalusmarker. The Idrisids established Fesmarker as their capital and Morocco became a centre of learning and a major regional power.

After the reign of the Idrisids, Arab settlers lost political control in the region of Morocco. After adopting Islam, Berber dynasties formed governments and reigned over the country. Morocco would reach its height under these Berber dynasties that replaced the Arab Idrisids after the 11th century. The Almoravids, the Almohads, then the Marinid and finally the Saadi dynasties would see Morocco rule most of Northwest Africa, as well as large sections of Islamic Iberiamarker, or Al-Andalusmarker. Following the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, large numbers of Muslims and Jews fled to Morocco.
After the Saadi, the Arab Alaouite Dynasty eventually gained control. Morocco was facing aggression from Spain and the Ottoman Empire that was sweeping westward. The Alaouites succeeded in stabilizing their position, and while the kingdom was smaller than previous ones in the region, it remained quite wealthy. In 1684, they annexed Tangiermarker. The organization of the kingdom developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727), who, against the opposition of local tribes began to create a unified state.

Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation in 1777. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the Atlantic Oceanmarker. On December 20, 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III declared that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage. The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.

European influence

Successful Portuguesemarker efforts to invade and control the Atlanticmarker coast in the fifteenth century did not profoundly affect the Mediterraneanmarker heart of Morocco. After the Napoleonic Wars, Egypt and the North African maghreb became increasingly ungovernable from Istanbulmarker, the resort of pirates under local beys, and as Europe industrialized, an increasingly prized potential for colonization. The Maghreb had far greater proven wealth than the unknown rest of Africa and a location of strategic importance affecting the exit from the Mediterranean. For the first time, Morocco became a state of some interest in itself to the European Powers. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830. Recognition by the United Kingdommarker in 1904 of France's sphere of influence in Morocco provoked a reaction from the German Empiremarker; the crisis of June 1905 was resolved at the Algeciras Conference, Spain in 1906, which formalized France's "special position" and entrusted policing of Morocco to France and Spain jointly. A second Moroccan crisis provoked by Berlinmarker, increased tensions between European powers. The Treaty of Fez (signed on March 30, 1912) made Morocco a protectorate of France. By the same treaty, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern Saharan zones on November 27 that year.

Many Moroccan soldiers (Goumieres) served in the French army in both World War I and World War II, and in the Spanish Nationalist Armymarker in the Spanish Civil War and after (Regulares).


Nationalist political parties, which subsequently arose under the French protectorate, based their arguments for Moroccan independence on such World War II declarations as the Atlantic Charter (a joint U.S.-British statement that set forth, among other things, the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they live). A manifesto of the Istiqlal Party (Independence party in English) in 1944 was one of the earliest public demands for independence. That party subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement.
France's exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascarmarker and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French and Spanish protectorates. In August 1953, Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri, the right-hand man of the caliph of Spanish Morocco declared Sultan Mohammed V as the legitimate sultan of Morocco in its entirety in the grand mosque in Tetuan. The most notable violence occurred in Oujdamarker where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets. Operations by the newly created "Jaish al-tahrir" (Liberation Army), were launched on October 1, 1955. Jaish al-tahrir was created by "Comité de Libération du Maghreb Arabe" (Arab Maghreb Liberation Committee) in Cairomarker, Egyptmarker to constitute a resistance movement against occupation. Its goal was the return of King Mohammed V and the liberation of Algeriamarker and Tunisiamarker as well. France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year.

All those events helped increase the degree of solidarity between the people and the newly returned king. For this reason, the revolution that Morocco knew was called "Taourat al-malik wa shaab" (The revolution of the King and the People) and it is celebrated every August 20.

Contemporary Morocco

On November 18, 2006, Morocco celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish colonial possessions through military action were less successful. The internationalized city of Tangiermarker was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956 (see Tangier Crisis). Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule would be marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifnimarker in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Saharamarker during the 1970s after demanding its reintegration from Spain since independence, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara.)

Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997. Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status by the United States in June 2004 and has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.


Morocco is a de jure constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco, with vast executive powers, can dissolve government and deploy the military, among other prerogatives. Opposition political parties are legal, and several have been formed in recent years.Politics of Morocco take place in a framework of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister of Morocco is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives of Morocco and the Assembly of Councillors. The Moroccan Constitution provides for a monarchy with a Parliament and an independent judiciary.

The constitution grants the king extensive powers; he is both the secular political leader and the "Commander of the Faithful" as a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. He presides over the Council of Ministers; appoints the Prime Minister following legislative elections, and on recommendations from the latter, appoints the members of the government. While the constitution theoretically allows the king to terminate the tenure of any minister, and after consultation with the heads of the higher and lower Assemblies, to dissolve the Parliament, suspend the constitution, call for new elections, or rule by decree, the only time this happened was in 1965. The King is formally the chief of the military. Upon the death of his father Mohammed V, King Hassan II succeeded to the throne in 1961. He ruled Morocco for the next 38 years, until he died in 1999. His son, King Mohammed VI, assumed the throne in July 1999.

Following the March 1998 elections, a coalition government headed by opposition socialist leader Abderrahmane Youssoufi and composed largely of ministers drawn from opposition parties, was formed. Prime Minister Youssoufi's government is the first government drawn primarily from opposition parties in decades, and also represents the first opportunity for a coalition of socialist, left-of-center, and nationalist parties to be included in the government until October 2002. It was also the first time in the modern political history of the Arab world that the opposition assumed power following an election. The current government is headed by Abbas El Fassi.

Legislative branch

Since the constitutional reform of 1996, the bicameral legislature consists of two chambers. The Assembly of Representatives of Morocco (Majlis al-Nuwab/Assemblée des Répresentants) has 325 members elected for a five year term, 295 elected in multi-seat constituencies and 30 in national lists consisting only of women. The Assembly of Councillors (Majlis al-Mustasharin) has 270 members, elected for a nine year term, elected by local councils (162 seats), professional chambers (91 seats) and wage-earners (27 seats).The Parliament's powers, though limited, were expanded under the 1992 and 1996 constitutional revisions and include budgetary matters, approving bill, questioning ministers, and establishing ad hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate the government's actions. The lower chamber of Parliament may dissolve the government through a vote of no confidence.

Political parties and elections

Judicial branch

The highest court in the judicial structure is the Supreme Court, whose judges are appointed by the King. The Youssoufi government continued to implement a reform program to develop greater judicial independence and impartiality. Morocco is divided into 16 administrative regions; the regions are administered by the Walis and governors appointed by the King.

Administrative divisions

As part of a 1997 decentralization/regionalization law passed by the legislature 16 new regions (provided below) were created. It is the primary administrative division of Morocco : Chaouia-Ourdigha, Doukkala-Abda, Fes-Boulmane, Gharb-Chrarda-Beni Hssen, Greater Casablanca, Guelmim-Es Smara, Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz, Meknes-Tafilalet, Oriental, Oued Eddahab-Lagouira, Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer, Souss-Massa-Draa, Tadla-Azilal, Tangier-Tetouan, Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate

Morocco is divided also into 37 provinces and 2 wilayas*: Agadirmarker, Al Hoceimamarker, Azilal, Beni Mellalmarker, Ben Slimanemarker, Boulemanemarker, Casablancamarker*, Chaouenmarker, El Jadida, El Kelaa des Sraghnamarker, Er Rachidiamarker, Essaouiramarker, Fesmarker, Figuigmarker, Guelmimmarker, Ifranemarker, Kenitramarker, Khemissetmarker, Kheniframarker, Khouribga, Laayounemarker, Larachemarker, Marrakechmarker, Meknesmarker, Nadormarker, Ouarzazatemarker, Oujdamarker, Rabat-Sale*, Safi, Settat, Sidi Kacemmarker, Tangiermarker, Tan-Tan, Taounatemarker, Taroudanntmarker, Tata, Tazamarker, Tetouanmarker, Tiznit; three additional provinces of Ad Dakhlamarker (Oued Eddahab), Boujdourmarker, and Es Smaramarker as well as parts of Tan-Tanmarker and Laayounemarker fall within Moroccan-claimed Western Saharamarker

International organization affiliations

ABEDA, ACCT (associate), AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, EBRD, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEAmarker, IBRD, ICAOmarker, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRMmarker, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFCmarker, IFRCSmarker, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMFmarker, IMO, Intelsatmarker, Interpolmarker, IOCmarker, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, OASmarker (observer), OIC, OPCWmarker, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCOmarker, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPUmarker, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO


Organization Dates
United Nations since November 12, 1956
Arab League since October 1, 1958
International Olympic Committeemarker since 1959
Organisation of African Unity co-founder May 25, 1963; withdrew November 12, 1984
Group of 77 since June 15, 1964
Organisation of the Islamic Conference since September 22, 1969
World Trade Organization since January 1, 1995
Mediterranean Dialogue group since February 1995
Major non-NATO ally of the United States since January 19, 2004

Bilateral and multilateral agreements

Regions and prefectures

Different versions of maps of Morocco

Morocco is divided into 16 regions, and subdivided into 62 prefectures and provinces.

As part of a 1997 decentralization/regionalization law passed by the legislature, sixteen new regions were created. These regions are:

Western Sahara status

Because of the conflict over Western Saharamarker, the status of both regions of "Saguia el-Hamra" and "Río de Oro" is disputed.

The government of Morocco has suggested that a self-governing entity, through the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), should govern the territory with some degree of autonomy for Western Sahara. The project was presented to the United Nations Security Council in mid-April 2007. The stalemating of the Moroccan proposal options has led the UN in the recent "Report of the UN Secretary-General" to ask the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution. The autonomy is rejected by the group Polisario which fought against the Spanish colonial rule and now for the Western Sahara decolonization with the name of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

On September 29, 2009, the Ministry of the Interior, decided to the close the office of the daily newspaper, Ahkbar al-Yom, in Casablanca.


High Atlas mountains
Rif mountains
Bin el Ouidane river, Beni-Mellal
The geography of Morocco spans from the Atlantic Oceanmarker, to mountainous areas, to the Sahara (desert). Morocco is a Northern African country, bordering the North Atlantic Oceanmarker and the Mediterranean Seamarker, between Algeriamarker and the annexed Western Saharamarker.

A large part of Morocco is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains are located mainly in the center and the south of the country. The Rif Mountainsmarker are located in the north of the country. Both ranges are mainly inhabited by the Berber people.At , Morocco is the fifty-seventh largest country in the world (after Uzbekistanmarker).Algeriamarker borders Morocco to the east and southeast though the border between the two countries has been closed since 1994. There are also four Spanish enclaves on the Mediterranean coast: Ceutamarker, Melillamarker, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomeramarker, Peñón de Alhucemasmarker, and the Chafarinasmarker islands, as well as the disputed islet Perejilmarker. Off the Atlantic coast the Canary Islandsmarker belong to Spain, whereas Madeiramarker to the north is Portuguesemarker. To the north, Morocco is bordered by and controls part of the Strait of Gibraltarmarker, giving it power over the waterways in and out of the Mediterraneanmarker sea. The Rif mountainsmarker occupy the region bordering the Mediterranean from the north-west to the north-east. The Atlas Mountains run down the backbone of the country, from the south west to the north east. Most of the south east portion of the country is in the Sahara Desert and as such is generally sparsely populated and unproductive economically. Most of the population lives to the north of these mountains, while to the south is the desert. To the south, lies the Western Saharamarker, a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975 (see Green March). Morocco claims that the Western Sahara is part of its territory and refers to that as its Southern Provinces.

Morocco's capital city is Rabatmarker; its largest city is its main port, Casablancamarker.

Other cities include Agadirmarker, Essaouiramarker, Fesmarker, Marrakechmarker, Meknesmarker, Mohammadiamarker, Oujdamarker, Ouarzazatmarker, Safimarker, Salèmarker, Tangiermarker and Tétouanmarker.

Morocco is represented in the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 geographical encoding standard by the symbol MA. This code was used as the basis for Morocco's internet domain, .ma.


The climate is Mediterranean, which becomes more extreme towards the interior regions where it is mountainous. The terrain is such that the coastal plains are rich and accordingly, they comprise the backbone for agriculture. Forests cover about 12% of the land while arable land accounts for 18%. 5% is irrigated.

In mountainous areas (like the Atlas range) temperatures often drop below zero and mountain peaks remain snow-capped throughout most of the year. Northern Morocco gets very wet and rainy during the winter, whereas in the south, at the edge of the Sahara, it gets bitterly dry and cold. In Marrakech the average temperature in summer is 38°C (100°F). In winter, its around 21°C (70°F).

The average annual temperatures of Morocco's major cities are as follows: Rabat, 22°C (71°F); Casablanca, 20°C (69°F); Marrakesh, 22°C (71°F); Fez, 20°C (66°F); Meknes, 21°C (68°F); and, Tangier, 20°C (66°F).


Barbary Macaque
Morocco is known for its wildlife biodiversity. Birds represent the most important fauna. The avifauna of Morocco includes a total of 454 species, of which five have been introduced by humans, and 156 are rare or accidental.


Morocco's economy is considered a relatively liberal economy governed by the law of supply and demand. Since 1993, the country has followed a policy of privatization of certain economic sectors which used to be in the hands of the government.

Government reforms and steady yearly growth in the region of 4-5% from 2000 to 2007, including 4.9% year-on-year growth in 2003-2007 helped the Moroccan economy to become much more robust compared to a few years ago. Economic growth is far more diversified, with new service and industrial poles, like Casablancamarker and Tangiermarker, developing. The agriculture sector is being rehabilitated, which in combination with good rainfalls led to a growth of over 20% in 2009.

The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, is an additional quarter. The sectors who recorded the highest growth are the tourism, telecoms and textile sectors. Morocco , however, still depends to an inordinate degree on agriculture. The sector accounts for only around 14% of GDP but employs 40-45% of the Moroccan population. With a semi-arid climate, it is difficult to assure good rainfall and Morocco’s GDP varies depending on the weather. Fiscal prudence has allowed for consolidation, with both the budget deficit and debt falling as a percentage of GDP.
The economic system of the country presents several facets. It is characterized by a large opening towards the outside world. Francemarker remains the primary trade partner (supplier and customer) of Morocco. France is also the primary creditor and foreign investor in Morocco. In the Arab world, Morocco has the second-largest non-oil GDP, behind Egypt, as of 2005.

Since the early 1980s the Moroccan government has pursued an economic program toward accelerating real economy growth with the support of the International Monetary Fundmarker, the World Bank, and the Paris Club of creditors. The country's currency, the dirham, is now fully convertible for current account transactions; reforms of the financial sector have been implemented; and state enterprises are being privatized.

The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphorous (after Chinamarker, which is first, and the United Statesmarker which is second), and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco's economy. Tourism and workers' remittances have played a critical role since independence. The production of textiles and clothing is part of a growing manufacturing sector that accounted for approximately 34% of total exports in 2002, employing 40% of the industrial workforce. The government wishes to increase textile and clothing exports from $1.27 billion in 2001 to $3.29 billion in 2010.

The high cost of imports, especially of petroleum imports, is a major problem. Another chronic problem is unreliable rainfall, which produces drought or sudden floods; in 1995, the country's worst drought in 30 years forced Morocco to import grain and adversely affected the economy. Another drought occurred in 1997, and one in 1999–2000. Reduced incomes due to drought caused GDP to fall by 7.6% in 1995, by 2.3% in 1997, and by 1.5% in 1999. During the years between drought, good rains brought bumper crops to market. Good rainfall in 2001 led to a 5% GDP growth rate. Morocco suffers both from unemployment (9.6% in 2008), and a large external debt estimated at around $20 billion, or half of GDP in 2002.

Among the various free trade agreements that Morocco has ratified with its principal economic partners, are The Euro-Mediterranean free trade area agreement with the European Union with the objective of integrating the European Free Trade Association at the horizons of 2012; the Agadir Agreement, signed with Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia, within the framework of the installation of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area; the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement with United Statesmarker which came into force in January 1, 2006, and lately the agreement of free exchange with Turkeymarker.(See Economy of Morocco)


Ethnolinguistic groups in Morocco as of 1973.

Morocco is the fourth most populous Arab country, after Algeriamarker, Egyptmarker and Sudanmarker. Most Moroccans practice Sunni Islam and are of Berber, Arab or mixed Arab-Berber stock. Berbers comprise about 60% of the Moroccan population.

Morocco has been inhabited by Berbers for at least the last 5000 years. The Arabs conquered the territory that would become Morocco in the 7th and 11th centuries, at the time under the rule of various late Byzantine Roman leaders and indigenous Berber and Romano-Berber principalities, laying the foundation for the emergence of an Arab-Berber culture. A sizeable portion of the population is identified as Haratin and Gnawa (or Gnaoua), black or mixed race. Morocco's Jewish minority (265,000 in 1948) has decreased significantly and numbers about 5,500 (See History of the Jews in Morocco). Most of the 100,000 foreign residents are French or Spanish, largely colonists' descendants primarily professionals working for European multinationals. Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million Europeans, mainly Spanish and French settlers (colons).

Recent studies make clear no significant genetic differences exist between Arabic and non-Arabic speaking populations, highlighting that in common with most of the Arab World, Arabization was mainly via acculturation of indigenous populations over time. According to the European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa were genetically closer to Iberians than to Sub-Saharan Africans of Bantu ethnicity.

The largest concentration of Moroccans outside Morocco is in France, which has reportedly over one million Moroccans. There are also large Moroccan communities in Spain (about 700,000 Moroccans), the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Canada.


Morocco's official language is Modern Standard Arabic. The country's distinctive Arabic dialect is called Moroccan Arabic. Approximately 18 million (60% of the population), mostly in rural areas, speak Berber which exists in Morocco in three different dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhiyt, and Tamazight) either as a first language or bilingually with the spoken Arabic dialect. French, which is Morocco's unofficial second language, is taught universally and serves as Morocco's primary language of commerce and economics. It also is widely used in education and government. About 2.000,000 Moroccans in the northern part of the country speak Spanish as a second language in parallel with Tarifit. English, while still far behind French and Spanish in terms of number of speakers, is rapidly becoming the second foreign language of choice among educated youth (after French). As a result of national education reforms entering into force in late 2002, English will be taught in all public schools from the fourth year on. French however, will remain the second foreign language because of Morocco's close economic and social links with other French-speaking countries and especially France.

Most people live west of the Atlas Mountains, a range that insulates the country from the Sahara Desert. Casablancamarker is the center of commerce and industry and the leading port; Rabatmarker is the seat of government; Tangiermarker is the gateway to Morocco from Spain and also a major port; Fesmarker is the cultural and religious center; and Marrakech is a major tourist center.

There is a European expatriate population of 100,000, mainly of French or Spanish descent; many are teachers or technicians and more and more retirees, especially in Marrakechmarker.


Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization. Through Moroccan history, Morocco hosted many people coming from East (Phoeniciansmarker, Carthaginiansmarker, Jews and Arabs), South (Sub-Saharan Africans) and North (Romans, Vandals, Andalusiansmarker (including Moors and Jews). All those civilizations have had an impact on the social structure of Morocco. It conceived various forms of beliefs, from paganism, Judaism, and Christianity to Islam.

The production of Moroccan literature has continued to grow and diversify. To the traditional genres—poetry, essays, and historiography—have been added forms inspired by Middle Eastern and Western literary models. French is often used in publishing research in the social and natural sciences, and in the fields of literature and literary studies, works are published in both Arabic and French. Moroccan writers, such as Mohammed Choukri, Driss Chraïbi, Abdallah Laroui, Abdelfattah Kilito, and Fatima Mernissi, publish their works in both French and English. Expatriate writers such as Pierre Loti, William S. Burroughs, and Paul Bowles have drawn attention to Moroccan writers as well as to the country itself.

Since independence a veritable blossoming has taken place in painting and sculpture, popular music, amateur theatre, and filmmaking. The Moroccan National Theatre (founded 1956) offers regular productions of Moroccan and French dramatic works. Art and music festivals take place throughout the country during the summer months, among them the World Sacred Music Festival at Fès.

Moroccan music, influenced by Arab, Amazigh, African, and Andalusian traditions, makes use of a number of traditional instruments, such as the flute (nāy), shawm (ghaita), zither (qanūn), and various short necked lutes (including the ʿūd and gimbrī). These are often backed by explosive percussion on the darbūkka (terra-cotta drum). Among the most popular traditional Moroccan artists internationally are the Master Musicians of Jajouka, an all-male guild trained from childhood, and Hassan Hakmoun, a master of gnāwa trance music, a popular spiritual style that traces its roots to sub-Saharan Africa. Younger Moroccans enjoy raï, a style of plain-speaking Algerian music that incorporates traditional sounds with those of Western rock, Jamaican reggae, and Egyptian and Moroccan popular music.

Each region possesses its own specificities, thus contributing to the national culture and to the legacy of civilization. Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its diverse legacy and the preservation of its cultural heritage.

Culturally speaking, Morocco has always been successful in combining its Berber, Jewish and Arabic cultural heritage with external influences such as the French and the Spanish and, during the last decades, the Anglo-American lifestyles.


Moroccan cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. This is a result of the centuries-long interaction of Morocco with the outside world. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Corsican, Portuguese, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and African cuisines. The cuisine of Morocco has been influenced by the native Berber cuisine, the Arabic Andalusian cuisine brought by the Moriscos when they left Spain, the Turkish cuisine from the Turks and the Middle Eastern cuisines brought by the Arabs, as well as Jewish cuisine.

Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and orange and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Morocco. The most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco is beef; lamb is preferred but is relatively expensive. Couscous is the most famous Moroccan dish along with pastilla, tajine, and harira. The most popular drink is green tea with mint. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.


Moroccan literature is written in Arabic, Berber and French. It also contains literature produced in Al-Andalusmarker. Under the Almohad dynasty Morocco experienced a period of prosperity and brilliance of learning. The Almohad built the Marrakechmarker Koutoubia Mosquemarker, which accommodated no fewer than 25,000 people, but was also famed for its books, manuscripts, libraries and book shops, which gave it its name; the first book bazaar in history. The Almohad Caliph Abu Yakub had a great love for collecting books. He founded a great library, which was eventually carried to the Casbahmarker and turned into a public library.

Modern Moroccan literature began in the 1930s. Two main factors gave Morocco a pulse toward witnessing the birth of a modern literature. Morocco, as a French and Spanish protectorate left Moroccan intellectuals the opportunity to exchange and to produce literary works freely enjoying the contact of other Arabic literature and Europe.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Morocco was a refuge and artistic centre and attracted writers as Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and William S. Burroughs. Moroccan literature flourished with novelists such as Mohamed Zafzaf and Mohamed Choukri, who wrote in Arabic, and Driss Chraïbi and Tahar Ben Jelloun who wrote in French. Other important Moroccan authors include, Abdellatif Laabi,Abdelkarim Ghellab, Fouad Laroui, Mohammed Berrada and Leila Abouzeid. It should be noted also, that orature (oral literature) is an integral part of Moroccan culture, be it in Moroccan Arabic or Amazigh.

Ethnic groups and languages

Morocco is considered by some as an Arab-Berber country. Others insist on the Berber-African identity of Morocco. About 82% acknowledge a Berber identity, though many more have Berber ancestry. Berbers are also by language but also by traditional customs and culture - such as the distinctive music and dances. Berber language (Also called Tamazight) is now more or less officially recognized in Morocco. Classical Arabic remains the only official language of Morocco and is used in limited socio-economic and cultural activities and written newspapers but it is never spoken between Moroccans. The most common spoken variety of Arabic in Morocco, Moroccan Arabic, has also been significantly influenced by Berber languages.

Linguistically, Berber belongs to the Afro-Asiatic group, and has many accents or variants. The three main accents used in Morocco are Tachelhit, Tamazight and Tarifit (Also called Thamazight by its speakers). Collectively, those Berber languages they are known as "Chelha" in Moroccan Arabic and as "Barbaria" in Classical Arabic used in the Middle East. The terms "Barbar" and "Chelha" are considered by most Berber activists as extremely offending and humiliating. They prefer the word Amazigh.

Tachelhit (sometimes known as "soussia" or "chelha") is spoken in south-west Morocco, in an area between Sidi Ifni in the south, Agadir in the north and Marrakech and the Draa/Sous valleys in the east. Tamazight is spoken in the Middle Atlas, between Tazamarker, Khemissetmarker, Azilal and Errachidia. Tarifit is spoken in the Rif area of northern Morocco in towns like Nadormarker, Al Hoceimamarker, Ajdirmarker, Tangiermarker and Taourirt, Larachemarker and Tazamarker.

For more detailed information on this subject see: Berber languages.

Berbers willingly embraced Islam, though their non-Arab ethnic and linguistic purity has remained. Hundreds of Amazigh (Berber) associations were created in the last few years. Newsstands and bookstores in all the major cities are filled with new Amazigh magazines and other publications that provide articles about the Amazigh culture and art. The state owned TV station RTM (now TVM) has started broadcasting a daily 10-minute long news bulletin in the 3 Berber accents since the mid 90's. Berber activists are repeatedly demanding a 50% share of broadcasting time in standardized Amazigh language on all 5 state owned satellite channels TVM, 2M, 3, 4 and Laayoune TV. The state still refuses or ignores these demands.


Moroccan music is predominantly of Arab origins. There also exist other varieties of Berber folk music. Andalusian and other imported influences have had a major effect on the country's musical character. Rock-influenced chabbi bands are widespread, as is trance music with historical origins in Muslim music.

Morocco is home to Andalusian classical music that is found throughout North Africa. It probably evolved under the Moors in Cordobamarker, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention.

Chaabi (popular) is a music consisting of numerous varieties which are descended from the multifarious forms of Moroccan folk music. Chaabi was originally performed in markets, but is now found at any celebration or meeting.

Popular Western forms of music are becoming increasingly popular in Morocco, such as fusion, rock, country, metal and particularly hip hop.


The railway network of Morocco consists of 1907 km 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge and 1003 km electrified with 3 kV DC. There are connections to Algeria, and consecutively Tunisia, but since the '90 the connections are closed. The Gibraltar Tunnel is a rail tunnel link proposed between Tangier, Morocco and Spain under the Strait of Gibraltar to be in operation in 2025.

There are plans for high-speed lines: Work by ONCF could begin in 2007 from Marrakech to Tangier in the north via Marrakesh to Agadir in the south, and from Casablanca on the Atlantic to Oujda on the Algerian border. If the plans are approved, the 1,500 kilometres of track may take until 2030 to complete at a cost of around 25 billion dirhams ($3.37 billion). Casablanca to Marrakesh could be cut to 1 hour and 20 minutes from over three hours, and from the capital Rabat to Tangier to 1 hour and 30 minutes from 4 hours and 30 minutes.

There are around 56986 kilometres of roads (national, regional and provincial) in Morocco. In addition to 610,5 kilometre of highways.


Military service in Morocco has been supressed since septembre 2006, and the country’s reserve obligation lasts until age 50. The country’s military consists of the Royal Armed Forces—this includes the army (the largest branch) and a small navy and air force—the National Police Force, the Royal Gendarmerie (mainly responsible for rural security), and the Auxiliary Forces. Internal security is generally effective, and acts of political violence are rare (one exception, a terrorist bombing in May 2003 in Casablanca, killed scores). The UN maintains a small observer force in Western Sahara, where a large number of Morocco’s troops are stationed. The Saharawi group Polisario maintains an active militia of an estimated 5,000 fighters in Western Sahara and has engaged in intermittent warfare with Moroccan forces since the 1980s.

The military of Morocco is composed of the following main divisions:


Education in Morocco is free and compulsory through primary school (age 15). Nevertheless, many children particularly girls in rural areas still do not attend school. The country's illiteracy rate has been stuck at around 50% for some years, but reaches as high as 90% among girls in rural regions. On September 2006, UNESCO awarded Morocco amongst other countries; Cubamarker, Pakistanmarker, Rajasthanmarker (India) and Turkeymarker the "UNESCO 2006 Literacy Prize".

Morocco has about 230,000 students enrolled in fourteen public universities. The Mohammed V University in Rabat and Al Akhawayn University in Ifranemarker (a public university) are highly regarded. Al-Akhawayn, founded in 1993 by King Hassan II and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, is an English-language American-style university comprising about 1,000 students. The University of Al Karaouinemarker, in Fez, is considered the oldest continuously operating university in the world and has been a center of learning for more than 1,000 years.

Morocco allocates approximately one-fifth of its budget to education. Much of this is spent on building schools to accommodate the rapidly growing population. Education is mandatory for children between the ages of 7 and 13 years. In urban areas the majority of children in this age group attend school, though on a national scale the level of participation drops significantly. About three-fourths of school-age males attend school, but only about half of school-age girls; these proportions drop markedly in rural areas. Slightly more than half of the children go on to secondary education, including trade and technical schools. Of these, few seek higher education. Poor school attendance, particularly in rural areas, has meant a low rate of literacy, which is about two-fifths of the population.


Morocco has more than four dozen universities, institutes of higher learning, and polytechnics dispersed at urban centres throughout the country. Its leading institutions include Muḥammad V University in Rabat, the country’s largest university, with branches in Casablanca and Fès; the Hassan II Agriculture and Veterinary Institute in Rabat, which conducts leading social science research in addition to its agricultural specialties; and Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, the first English-language university in North Africa, inaugurated in 1995 with contributions from Saudi Arabia and the United States.

List of universities in Morocco


Spectator sports in Morocco traditionally centred on the art of horsemanship until European sports—football (soccer), polo, swimming, and tennis—were introduced at the end of the 19th century. Football is the country’s premier sport, popular among the urban youth in particular, and in 1970 Morocco became the first African country to play in World Cup competition. At the 1984 Olympic Games, two Moroccans won gold medals in track and field events, one of whom—Nawal El Moutawakel in the 400 metre hurdles—was the first woman from an Arab or Islamic country to win an Olympic gold medal. Another was Hicham El Guerrouj. Tennis and golf have also become popular. Several Moroccan professional players have competed in international competition, and the country fielded its first Davis Cup team in 1999.

As of 2007, Moroccan society participated in many sports, including handball, football, golf, tennis, basketball, and athletics. Hicham El Guerrouj, a retired middle distance runner for Morocco, won 2 gold medals for Morocco at the Athletics at the 2004 Summer Olympics. And holds the 1600 (1 mile) world record, along with other notable performances.

International rankings

See also

Notes and references

  1. Conventional long form: Kingdom of Morocco - Conventional short form: Morocco - Local long form: al-Mamlakah al-Maġribiyya - Local short form: al-Maġrib - CIA World Factbook
  2. Pending resolution of the Western Sahara conflict.
  3. D. Rubella, Environmentalism and Pi Paleolithic economies in the Maghreb (ca. 20,000 to 5000 B.P.), in, J.D. Clark & S.A. Brandt (eds.), From Hunters to Farmers: The Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 41-56
  4. C. Michael Hogan, Mogador: Promontory Fort, The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
  5. Sabatino Moscati, The Phoenicians, Tauris, ISBN 1850435332
  6. The Maghrib under the Almoravids and the Almohads, Encyclopædia Britannica.
  7. " Morocco - History". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  8. " Morocco (Page 8 of 9)". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009. Archived 2009-11-01.
  9. Roberts, Priscilla H. and Richard S. Roberts, Thomas Barclay (1728-1793: Consul in France, Diplomat in Barbary, Lehigh University Press, 2008, pp. 206-223.
  10. Pennell, C.R. (2000). Morocco since 1830: A History. New York, New York University Press, pg. 40.
  11. *
  12. " Tangier(s)". Jewish Virtual Library.
  13. " Morocco (Page 9 of 9)". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009. Archived 2009-11-01.
  14. " Morocco". Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  15. Regions of Morocco,
  16. Regions of Morocco,
  18. Bergier, P., & Thévenot, M. (2006). Liste des oiseaux du Maroc / The List of the Birds of Morocco. Go-South Bull. 3: 51-83. Available online.
  19. Scientific American magazine, June 2009, "Phosphorous: A Looming Crisis"
  21. The CIA Fact book
  22. Berbers: The Proud Raiders. BBC World Service.
  23. The Jews of Morocco. Jewish Virtual Library.
  24. Raimondo Cagiano De Azevedo (1994). " Migration and development co-operation.". p.25.
  25. European Journal of Human Genetics (2000) 8, 360–366
  26. Morocco: From Emigration Country to Africa's Migration Passage to Europe. Hein de Haas. Radboud University Nijmegen.
  27. " Berber" Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2006. Archived 2009-11-01.

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