|Head of Government||Abdelilah Benkirane|
|Head of State||Mohammed VI of Morocco|
|Population||32,309,239 (July 2012 est.)|
Morocco (Arabic: المغرب al-Maghrib ; Berber: ⴰⵎⵕⵕⵓⴽ or ⵍⵎⴰⵖⵔⵉⴱ Ameṛṛuk or Lmaġrib; French: Maroc), officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of over 32 million and an area of 446,550 km² (710,850 km² with Western Sahara). Morocco also administers most of the disputed region of the Western Sahara as the Southern Provinces. Morocco remains the only African state not to be a member of the African Union due to its unilateral withdrawal on November 12, 1984 over the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1982 by the African Union as a full member without the organization of a referendum of self-determination in the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Arabic name al-Mamlakat al-Maghribiyyah (المملكة المغربية) translates to "The Western Kingdom". Al-Maghrib (المغرب), meaning "The West", is commonly used. For historical references, medieval Arab historians and geographers used to refer to Morocco as al-Maghrib al-Aqṣá (المغرب الأقصى, "The Farthest West"), disambiguating it from neighboring historical regions called al-Maghrib al-Awsaṭ (المغرب الأوسط, "The Middle West", Algeria) and al-Maghrib al-Adná (المغرب الأدنى, "The Nearest West", Tunisia).
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, including the power to dissolve the parliament. Executive power is exercised by the government but the king's decisions usually override those of the government if there is a contradiction. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can also issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. The latest Parliamentary elections were held on November 25, 2011, and were considered by some neutral observers to be mostly free and fair. Voter turnout in these elections was estimated to be 43% of registered voters. The political capital of Morocco is Rabat, although the largest city is Casablanca; other major cities include Marrakesh, Tetouan, Tangier, Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador.
The Moroccan economy is generally diverse but very fragile. About 40% of Moroccans cannot read or write, and the country has high levels of extreme poverty and health care deprivation. Morocco also has a high level of economic inequality. The unemployment rates under the highly educated as well as the unskilled are very high and cause consistent social unrest in many cities and villages. In 2011, the UN's Human Development Index ranked Morocco as the 130th most developed country in the world.
Almost all Moroccans speak Berber, Moroccan Arabic or French as mother tongues. Hassaniya Arabic, sometimes considered as a variety of Moroccan Arabic, is spoken in the southern provinces (Western Sahara) in the country by a small population.
The full Arabic name al-Mamlakat al-Maghribiyyah (المملكة المغربية) translates to "The Western Kingdom". Al-Maghrib (المغرب), meaning "The West", is commonly used. For historical references, medieval Arab historians and geographers used to refer to Morocco as al-Maghrib al-Aqṣá (المغرب الأقصى, "The Farthest West"), disambiguating it from neighboring historical regions called al-Maghrib al-Awsaṭ (المغرب الأوسط, "The Middle West", Algeria) and al-Maghrib al-Adná (المغرب الأدنى, "The Nearest West", Tunisia).
The English name "Morocco" originates from Spanish "Marruecos" or the Portuguese "Marrocos", from medieval Latin "Morroch", which referred to the name of the former Almoravid and Almohad capital, Marrakesh. In Persian Morocco is still called "Marrakesh". Until recent decades, Morocco was called "Marrakesh" in Middle Eastern Arabic. In Turkish, Morocco is called "Fas" which comes from the ancient Idrisid and Marinid capital, Fez.
The word "Marrakesh" is made of the Berber word combination Mour N Akoush (Mur N Akuc), meaning Land of God.
The earliest well-known Moroccan independent state was the Berber kingdom of Mauretania under king Bocchus I. This kingdom of Mauretania (in northern Morocco, not to be confused with the present state of Mauritania) dates at least to 110 BC. The region remained a part of the Roman Empire until 429 AD when invading Vandals overran the area and Roman administrative presence came to an end.
Umayyad Muslims conquered the region in the 7th century, bringing their language, their system of government, and Islam, to which many of the Berbers slowly converted, mostly after the Arab rule receded. The first Muslim state, independent from the Abbasid Empire, in the area of modern Morocco, was the Kingdom of Nekor, an emirate in the Rif Mountains. It was founded by Salih I ibn Mansur in 710 AD, as a client state to the Rashidun Caliphate. According to medieval legend, Idris I fled to Morocco from the Abbasids' massacre against his tribe in Iraq and managed to convince the Awraba Berber tribes to break allegiance to the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. He founded the Idrisid Dynasty in 788 AD. Morocco later became a center of learning and a major regional power. The Idrissids were dethroned in 927 by the Fatimid Caliphate and their Miknasa alies. The Miknasa princes, who had broken off relations with the Fatimids in 932, were removed from power by the Maghrawa of Sijilmasa in 980.
From the 11th century onwards, a series of powerful Berber dynasties arose. Under the Almoravid dynasty and the Almohad dynasty, Morocco dominated the Maghreb, Muslim-conquered Spain, and the western Mediterranean region. In the 13th century the Merinids gained power over Morocco and strove to replicate the successes of the Almohads. In the 15th century the Reconquista ended Islamic rule in central and southern Iberia (modern day Spain + Portugal) and many Muslims and Jews fled to Morocco. Under the Saadi Dynasty, the first Moroccan dynasty initiated by ethnic Arabs since the Idrisids, the country would consolidate power and fight off Portuguese and Ottoman invaders, as in the battle of Ksar el Kebir. The reign of Ahmad al-Mansur brought new wealth and prestige to the Sultanate, and a massive invasion of the Songhay Empire was initiated.
However, managing the territories across the Sahara proved too difficult. After the death of al-Mansur the country was divided among his sons. In 1666 the sultanate was reunited by the Alaouite dynasty, who have since been the ruling house in Morocco. The organization of the state developed with Ismail Ibn Sharif. With his Jaysh d'Ahl al-Rif (the Riffian Army) he seized Tangier from the English in 1684 and drove the Spanish from Larache in 1689.
In 1912, after the First Moroccan Crisis and the Agadir Crisis, the Treaty of Fez was signed, effectively dividing Morocco into a French and a Spanish protectorate. In 1956, after forty-four years of occupation, Morocco regained independence from France and Spain as the "Kingdom of Morocco".
Population of Morocco
The area of present-day Morocco has been inhabited since Paleolithic times (at least since 200,000 BC, as attested by signs of the Aterian culture), a period when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. In Paleolithic 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 nation of Mauritania. The suggested skeletal similarities between the robust Iberomaurusian "Mechta-Afalou" burials and European Cro-Magnon remains, as well as the case for continuity of the bearers of the Iberomaurusian industry from Morocco with later northwest African populations suggested by the dental evidence should be considered. Current scientific debate is concerned with determining the relative contributions of different periods of gene flow to the current gene pool of North Africans. Anatomically modern humans are known to have been present in North Africa during the Upper Paleolithic 175,000 years ago as attested by the Aterian culture. With apparent continuity, 22,000 years ago, the Aterian was succeeded by the Iberomaurusian culture which shared similarities with Iberian cultures. The Iberomaurusian was succeeded by the Bell-Beaker culture in Morocco.
Additionally, recent studies have discovered a close mitochondrial link between Berbers and the Saami of Scandinavia which confirms that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area of southwestern Europe was the source of late-glacial expansions of hunter-gatherers that repopulated northern Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum and reveals a direct maternal link between those European hunter-gatherer populations and the Berbers.
Jewish people (whether of Hebrew or Berber descent) historically lived in Morocco. In any case, over the centuries, nearly all Berbers were Islamicized. Still, a large number of Berber Jews remained in Morocco especially after the arrival of Sephardi Jews following the Alhambra decree. In the early 20th century, numerous Moroccan Jews emigrated to the United States and Italy, after Italian Jews established study centers and schools to bring the Enlightenment to Moroccan Jews.
In 1948, before the creation of Israel, Berber Jews numbered approximately 265,000 in Morocco. The hostilities and disruption of the war of independence and other wars in the Mideast caused more Jews to leave for Palestine, Europe and the United States. Seven thousand live there now (mostly in a few major cities). In relation to the commemoration of Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World, numerous academic studies were undertaken about the Moroccan Jews of Morocco. The late king Hassan II reached out internationally to descendants of Jews who had lived in the country and encouraged returns and visits, with recognition of their contributions to the nation, but there has not been markedly increased immigration.
Romans and Morocco
North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the early Classical period. Major early substantial settlements of the Phoenicians were at Chellah, Lixus and Mogador, 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 5th century, as the Roman Empire declined, the region fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, 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 2nd century and gained converts in the towns and among slaves and Berber farmers.
The Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou, High Atlas. Built by the Berbers from the 14th century onwards, a Kasbah was a single family stronghold (as opposed to a Ksar: a fortified tribal village).
Islamic expansion began in the 7th century. 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 Damascus. After the outbreak of the Great Berber Revolt in 739, the region's Berber population asserted its independence, forming states and kingdoms such as the Miknasa of Sijilmasa and the Barghawata. Under Idris ibn Abdallah, who was appointed by the Awraba Berbers of Volubilis to be their representative, the country soon cut ties and broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalus. The Idrisids established Fes as their capital and Morocco became a centre of Muslim learning and a major regional power.
Morocco would reach its height under a series of Berber dynasties that replaced the Idrisids after the 11th century. From the 13th century onwards the country saw an importation of Banu Hilal Arab tribes as Mercenaries. Their arrival was to have a critical effect on the nation: due to them nomadism returned, urban civilization fell and the country's inhabitants were quickly becoming Ruined. The Almoravids, the Almohads, the Marinids, the Wattasids and finally the Saadi dynasty would see Morocco rule most of Northwest Africa, as well as large sections of Islamic Iberia, or Al-Andalus. Following the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, large numbers of Muslims and Jews were forced to flee to Morocco.
After the Saadi, the 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 Tangier. 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. According to Elizabeth Allo Isichei, "In 1520, there was a famine in Morocco so terrible that for a long time other events were dated by it. It has been suggested that the population of Morocco fell from 5 to under 3 million between the early sixteenth and nineteenth centuries."
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 Ocean. On 20 December 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.
Pre-1956 Tangier had a highly heterogeneous population that included 40,000 Muslims, 30,000 Europeans and 15,000 Jews.
Successful Portuguese efforts to invade and control the Atlantic coast in the 15th century did not profoundly affect the Mediterranean heart of Morocco. After the Napoleonic Wars, Egypt and the North African Maghreb became increasingly ungovernable from Istanbul, 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 Kingdom in 1904 of France's sphere of influence in Morocco provoked a reaction from the German Empire; the crisis of June 1905 was resolved at the Algeciras Conference in Spain in 1906, which formalized France's "special position" and entrusted policing of Morocco jointly to France and Spain. The Agadir Crisis provoked by the Germans, 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 Army in the Spanish Civil War and after (Regulares).
Under the French protectorate, Moroccan natives were denied their basic human rights such as freedom of speech, the right of gathering and travel in their own country. French settlers built for themselves modern European-like cities called "villages" or "villes" (French for "city") next to poor old Arab cities called "Medinas". The French colonial system forbade native Moroccans from living, working, and traveling into the French quarters. The French education system taught a minority of noble native Moroccan families about French history, art and culture, while disregarding their native language and culture. Colonial authorities exerted tighter control on religious schools and universities, namely "madrassas" and Quaraouaine university. The rise of a young Moroccan intellectual class gave birth to nationalist movements whose main goals were to restore the governance of the country to its own people.
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 Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French and Spanish protectorates. The most notable violence occurred in Oujda 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 Cairo, Egypt to constitute a resistance movement against occupation. Its goal was the return of King Mohammed V and the liberation of Algeria and Tunisia 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.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat
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 Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956. Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule were marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s ("Marcha Verde", Green March) 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 has always been known for its Islamic liberalism and openness towards the Western world. King Mohammed VI of Morocco with his ruling elite are democratically-minded, showing tolerance within the limits of territorial integrity and traditional laws and customs.
Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with three small Spanish-controlled exclaves, Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera), Algeria to the east, and Western Sahara to the south. Since Morocco controls most of Western Sahara, its de facto southern boundary is with Mauritania.
The internationally recognized borders of the country lie between latitudes 27° and 36°N, and longitudes 1° and 14°W. Adding Western Sahara, Morocco lies mostly between 21° and 36°N, and 1° and 17°W (the Ras Nouadhibou peninsula is slightly south of 21° and west of 17°).
The geography of Morocco spans from the Atlantic Ocean, to mountainous areas, to the Sahara (desert). Morocco is a Northern African country, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and the annexed Western Sahara.
A large part of Morocco is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains are located mainly in the center and the south of the country. The Rif Mountains are located in the north of the country. Both ranges are mainly inhabited by the Berber people. At 172,402 sq mi (446,519 km2), Morocco is the fifty-seventh largest country in the world (after Uzbekistan). Algeria borders Morocco to the east and southeast though the border between the two countries has been closed since 1994.
Spanish territory in North Africa neighbouring Morocco comprises five enclaves on the Mediterranean coast: Ceuta, Melilla, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Peñón de Alhucemas, the Chafarinas islands, and the disputed islet Perejil. Off the Atlantic coast the Canary Islands belong to Spain, whereas Madeira to the north is Portuguese. To the north, Morocco is bordered by the Strait of Gibraltar, where international shipping has unimpeded transit passage between the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The Rif mountains stretch over 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 northeast. Most of the southeast 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 lies the Western Sahara, 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 Rabat; its largest city is its main port, Casablanca. Other cities include Agadir, Essaouira, Fes, Marrakech, Meknes, Mohammadia, Oujda, Ouarzazat, Safi, Salé, Tangier and Tétouan.
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 in the North and in some mountains (West of Atlas), which becomes more extreme towards the interior regions. The terrain is such that the coastal plains are rich and accordingly, they comprise the backbone for agriculture, especially in the North. Forests cover about 12% of the land while arable land accounts for 18%; 5% is irrigated. In the Atlas (Middle Atlas), there are several different climates: Mediterranean (with some more humid and fresher variants), Maritime Temperate (with some humid and fresher variants too) that allow different species of oaks, moss carpets, junipers, atlantic cedars and many other plants, to form extensive and very rich humid cloud forests. In the highest peaks a different climate may occur. On the other side of Atlas mountains (East Atlas), the climate changes, due to the barrier/shelter effect of these mountainous system, turning it very dry and extremely warm during the summer (that can last several months), especially on the lowlands and on the valleys faced to the Sahara. Here it starts the big Desert Sahara and it is perfectly visible, for example, on the Draa Valley, on which it is possible to find oases, sand dunes and rocky desert landscapes. So the climate in this region is desert.
The Barbary lion, hunted to extinction in the wild, was a subspieces native to Morocco and is a national emblem
Morocco is known for its biodiversity; Avifauna being the most notable. The avifauna of Morocco includes a total of 454 species, five of which have been introduced by humans, and 156 are rarely or accidentally seen.
The last Barbary lion in the wild was shot in the Atlas Mountains in 1922. The other two primary predators of northern Africa, the Atlas bear and Barbary leopard, are now extinct and critically endangered, respectively.
Imports and exports
Farmers in Morocco’s fertile coastal plains grow sugar beets, grains, fruits, and vegetables in order to sell in Europe. Morocco’s major export is foods, all kinds of food, from nuts to meat to fruits. Many farmer raise livestock, mainly sheep. Although Morocco is rich in foods one of their major imports are manufactured goods, which may contain foods. They may also contain cloths, school supplies, etc.
Moroccan trade is still dominated by its main import and export partner France, although France's share in Moroccan trade is declining, in favour of the US, the Gulf Region and China. If seen as a single entity, the EU is by far Morocco's largest trading partner. In recent years, Morocco has reduced its dependence on phosphate exports, emerging as an exporter of manufactured and agricultural products, and as a growing tourism destination. However, its competitiveness in basic manufactured goods, such as textiles, is hampered by low labour productivity and high wages. Morocco is dependent on imported fuel and its food import requirement can rise substantially in drought years, as in 2007. Although Morocco runs a structural trade deficit, this is typically offset by substantial services earnings from tourism and large remittance inflows from the diaspora, and the country normally runs a small current-account surplus.
|Population of Morocco |
|Source: OECD/World Bank|
Most Moroccans practice Sunni Islam and are of Arab and Berber ethnic background. Arabs and Berbers make up about 99.1% of the Moroccan population., which each one constituting about half the population of the state.
Morocco has been inhabited for at least the last 200,000 years. Berbers are the indigenous people and still make up the bulk of the population. Muslim 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. The Arab occupation was brief and was ended by revolting Berbers who later founded numerous Muslim Berber kingdoms. 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. Some of them are colonists' descendants, who primarily work for European multinational companies, others are married to Moroccans and preferred to settle in Morocco. Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million Europeans.
According to The Medieval Legends, In the 12th and 13th centuries there was an invasion of Arab nomads from The Fatimid Empire located in North Eastern Africa, known as Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym tribes who were a bunch of Arabized Libyan Tribes founded in the Fayum Oasis in Egypt and Cyrenaica of Libya, swept the Eastern Maghreb, but recent studies make clear no significant genetic differences exist between Arabic speaking and non-Arabic speaking populations, highlighting that in common with most of the Arab World, Arabization was mainly via acculturation of non-Arab indigenous populations over time. The Moorish refugees from Spain settled in the coast-towns. According to the European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa were genetically closer to Iberians than to Black Sub-Saharan Africans and Middle Easterners.[not in citation given]
The largest concentration of Moroccan migrants outside Morocco is in France, which has reportedly over one million Moroccans of up to the third generation. The Netherlands hosts about 360,000 Moroccans and Belgium hosts about 300,000 Moroccans. There are also large Moroccan communities in Spain (about 700,000 Moroccans), the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Israel, Canada and the United States. Moroccan (Berber) Jews are thought to constitute the second biggest Jewish ethnic subgroup in Israel.
Most people live west of the Atlas Mountains and north of the Rif Mountains, two mountain ranges that insulate the country from the Sahara Desert. Casablanca is the major center of commerce and industry and the leading port. Rabat is the seat of government; Tangier is the gateway to Morocco from Spain and also a major port. Fes is the cultural and religious center of Arab-Muslim culture in Morocco. Agadir, Nador, and Al Hoceima are the major Berber cultural centers, in addition to their economic importance. Marrakesh is the top touristic city of the country and an international celebrity magnet.
There is a European professional expatriate and retiree population of about 60,000 especially in Casablanca and Marrakesh. They are mainly of French or Spanish descent. Many of them are teachers, technicians, international managers, in addition to the retirees.
In Morocco, there are an estimated 15 to 18 million Berber speakers, making up about 50% to 65% of the population. The dubious 2004 population census, conducted by the government, says that only 28.07% of the total population actually speak Berber.
Berber intellectuals and activists who dispute this figure cite various counter-arguments such as the lack of linguistic training of the census officers, lack of accurate linguistic census planning, absence of interest by the government in mother-tongue census and its focus on counting how many people speak French, and the difficulty or inability of census officers to distinguish between people who happen to master Moroccan Arabic as a second language and those who actually speak it as a mother tongue.
On the other hand, it is generally accepted that the numbers of Berber speakers in Morocco was, and possibly still is, on a sharp decline due to the anti-Berber government's policies in education and media the deprived Berber from development and flourishing in urban areas. These anti-Berber policies came to an end in 2011 after the February 20th popular protests that lead to, among many other things, the recognition of Berber as an official language of the country. Moreover, in the 20th century, mass migrations of Berber speakers occurred from the countryside to the cities where French and Arabic dominate and where Berber is not integrated in the economic and governmental institutions, forcing those migrants to learn another language and teach it to their children, who in turn would grow up in a city that doesn't speak Berber or doesn't encourage it.
Morocco's official languages are Arabic and the Berber. The country's distinctive group of Moroccan Arabic dialects is referred to as Darija. Approximately 89.84% of the whole population can communicate to some degree in Moroccan Arabic. The Berber language is spoken in three dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhit and Central Atlas Tamazight).
As it is in Algeria and Tunisia, the French language is widely used in governmental institutions, media, mid-size and large companies, international commerce with French speaking countries, and often in international diplomacy. French is taught as an obligatory language at all schools. It is the medium of education and the curriculum language of all science and economics programs at all universities except in the programs of Arabic language, law or theology. Al Akhawayn University is the only one that offers all programs in English.
Spanish is spoken by a very small population in the north of the country especially around the Spanish exclaves Melilla and Ceuta. While French language dominance in Morocco is a direct result of the French occupation, the Spanish occupation of large parts of Morocco for about half a century didn't result in any strong Spanish language presence. Spanish today is almost invisible in the mainstream media and in the educational system.
According to the 2004 census, 2.19 million Moroccans spoke a foreign language other than French. English, while far behind French in terms of number of speakers, is the first foreign language of choice, since French is obligatory, among educated youth and professionals. As a result of national education reforms entering into force in late 2002, English is taught in most public schools from the fourth grade on. French is still taught nationally from the earliest grades.
Below is the number of speakers of each Berber language, according to the 2004 census:
|Region||Tashelhit Berber||Mid-Atlas Tamazight Berber||Tarifit Berber||Total pop||total % of Berber language speakers|
|Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra||28,352||6,569||891||219,505||16.31%|
There are about 2 million Moroccan Berber-speakers living in Europe. They represent about 80% of all Moroccans in the Netherlands, about 70% of Moroccans in Belgium, about 50% of Moroccans in France, Germany, and Spain, and about 25% of all Moroccans in Italy.
Linguistically, Berber belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family, and has many accents and dialects. Berber is known by Arabic-speaking Moroccans as "Shelha", "Rifiya", or "Susiya". Classical Arabic of the Middle East had used the word "al-Barbariyya" (The equivalent of "Berber" in English) since the first contacts between Berbers and Arabs 14 centuries ago. Although, there is a dominating trend, that occurred in the 2000s (decade), among all Arabic-speaking media in both the Middle East and North Africa of using the word "al-Amazighiyya" to refer to the Berber language and "al-Amazigh" to refer to the Berbers, as the Arabic word "Barbari" means both "Berber" and "Barbaric"/"uncivilized". The strong campaigns and discourses of Berber cultural activists who master Arabic have managed to influenece Arab media and Arab intellectuals as far as the Persian Gulf. Berber activists and intellectuals have succeeded in promoting their own cultural terminology, their own symbols like the Berber flag, and their own identity keywords on a large scale in Arab and European media. This made the Berber language and Berber culture go from unnoticed to unavoidable.
Recent studies make clear no significant genetic differences exist between Arabic and non-Arabic speaking populations, HLA DNA data suggest that most Moroccans are of a Berber origin and that Arabs who invaded North Africa and Spain in the 7th century did not substantially contribute to the gene pool. The Moorish refugees from Spain settled in the coast-towns. According to a 2000 article in European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa were genetically closer to Iberians than to West Africans and Middle Easterners
The different loci studied revealed close similarity between the Berbers and other north African groups, mainly with Moroccan Arabic-speakers, which is in accord with the hypothesis that the current Moroccan population has a strong Berber background.
Morocco is a de jure constitutional parliamentary monarchy with an elected parliament. With the 2011 constitutional reforms, the King of Morocco still retains few executive powers whereas those of the prime minister have been enlarged. Opposition political parties are legal. 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 honorific 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 from the political party that has won the most seats in the parliamentary elections, and on recommendations from the latter, appoints the members of the government. The previous constitution(note constitution of 1996) 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 protests in Morocco and elsewhere in the Arab world in early 2011, King Mohammed VI announced the establishment of a committee aimed at preparing the text of a new constitution, which included further limitations on the powers of the monarch.
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 was the first ever government drawn primarily from opposition parties, and also represents the first opportunity for a coalition of socialists, 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.
The legislature's building in Rabat
Since the constitutional reform of 1996, the bicameral legislature consists of two chambers. The Assembly of Representatives of Morocco (Majlis an-Nuwwâb/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 still relatively limited, were expanded under the 1992 and 1996 and even further in the 2011 constitutional revisions and include budgetary matters, approving bills, 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.
2011 Constitutional reforms
On 1 July voters approved the draft of a new constitution which entered into effect on 29 July 2011.
The constitutional reforms consisted of the following:
- The Berber (Amazigh) language is an official state language along with Arabic.
- The state preserves and protects the Hassānīya language (spoken by some 200,000 people in the Moroccan southern Sahara) and all the linguistic components of the Moroccan culture as a heritage of the nation
- Since 2011, the king has the obligation to appoint a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections. Previously, he could appoint any person in this position regardless of the elections results.
- The king is no longer "holy and sacred" but the "integrity of his person" is "inviolable", which means that he is still uncriticizable by anybody.
- High administrative and diplomatic posts (including ambassadors, CEOs of state-owned companies, provincial and regional governors), are now appointed by the prime minister and the ministerial council which is presided by the king, previously the latter exclusively held this power.
- The prime minister is the head of government and president of the council of government, he has the power to dissolve the parliament.
- The prime minister will preside over the council of Government, which prepares the general policy of the state. Previously the king held this position.
- The parliament has the power of granting amnesty. Previously this was exclusively held by the king.
- The judiciary system is independent from the legislative and executive branch, the king guarantees this independence.
- Women are guaranteed "civic and social" equality with men. Previously, only "political" equality was guaranteed, though the 1996 constitution grants all citizens equality in terms of rights and before the law.
- The King would retain complete control of the armed forces, foreign policy and the judiciary; authority for choosing and dismissing prime ministers and he would retain control of matters pertaining to religion.
- All citizens have the freedom of: thought, ideas, artistic expression and creation. Previously only free-speech and the freedom of circulation and association were guaranteed.
On 2 July 2011 some Moroccan protesters said they were undeterred despite a landslide victory for King Mohammed in a referendum on constitutional changes they say do nothing to ease his autocratic grip on power.
The nation's interior ministry has offered the tentative date of November 11, 2011 for parliamentary elections.
A Moroccan soldier trains with United States Marines
Compulsory military service in Morocco has been suppressed since September 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 (with one exception, the 2003 Casablanca bombings which killed 45 people). 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:
- Royal Armed Forces
- Air Force
- Auxiliary Forces
- Moroccan Royal Guard
- Marche Verte
ABEDA, ACCT (associate), AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, EBRD, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
|United Nations||since November 12, 1956|
|Arab League||since October 1, 1958|
|International Olympic Committee||since 1959|
|Organisation of African Unity||co-founder May 25, 1963; withdrew November 12, 1984|
|Group of 77||since June 15, 1964|
|Organisation of Islamic Cooperation||since September 22, 1969|
|Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie||since 1981|
|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
- Council of Arab Economic Unity
- Euro-Mediterranean free trade area
- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
- US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement
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:
- 01. Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira
- 02. Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra
- 03. Guelmim-Es Semara
- 04. Souss-Massa-Drâa
- 05. Gharb-Chrarda-Béni Hssen
- 06. Chaouia-Ouardigha
- 07. Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz
- 08. Oriental
- 09. Grand Casablanca
- 10. Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer
- 11. Doukkala-Abda
- 12. Tadla-Azilal
- 13. Meknès-Tafilalet
- 14. Fès-Boulemane
- 15. Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate
- 16. Tangier-Tétouan
Morocco is divided into 38 provinces and 2 wilayas*: Agadir, Al Hoceima, Azilal, Beni Mellal, Ben Slimane, Boulemane, Casablanca*, Chaouen, El Jadida, El Kelaa des Sraghna, Er Rachidia, Essaouira, Fes, Figuig, Guelmim, Ifrane, Kenitra, Khemisset, Rommani, Khenifra, Khouribga, Laayoune, Larache, Marrakech, Meknes, Nador, Ouarzazate, Oujda, Rabat-Sale*, Safi, Settat, Sidi Kacem, Tangier, Tan-Tan, Taounate, Taroudannt, Tata, Taza, Tetouan, Tinghir, Tiznit; three additional provinces of Ad Dakhla (Oued Eddahab), Boujdour, and Es Smara as well as parts of Tan-Tan and Laayoune fall within Moroccan-claimed Western Sahara.
This is a list of the largest metropolitan areas, each may include several towns and cities, which are in very close proximity to each other.
|Cities in Morocco|
|Transliteration||Arabic||Census 1982||Census 1994||Census (last data)|
|1.||Casablanca||الدار البيضاء||2,139,204||2,717,125||7,500,000||Grand Casablanca|
|2.||Fès||فاس||448,823||772,184||1 040 563||Fès-Boulemane|
|4.||Salé||سلا||328 000||580 000||903,485||Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer|
|7.||Rabat||الرباط||526 000||624 000||620,000||Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer|
Western Sahara status
Because of the conflict over Western Sahara, the status of both regions of "Saguia el-Hamra" and "Río de Oro" is disputed. The United Nations views Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory, and as a case of unfinished decolonization. Morocco's rule in the territory is not internationally recognized, nor is the independent republic proposed by Polisario, a Saharawi group which fought against the Spanish colonial rule and then for Western Sahara's independence as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (today headquartered in Algeria). There is a ceasefire in effect since 1991, and a UN mission (MINURSO) is tasked with organizing a referendum on whether the territory should become independent or recognized as a part of Morocco. At the time, both parties signed an agreement to this effect, but they did not agree on who would be entitled to vote.
The territory is mostly administered as the Southern Provinces by Morocco since Spain handed over the territory to Morocco and Mauritania after the Madrid Accords in 1975–76. Part of the territory, the Free Zone, is a mostly uninhabited area controlled by the Polisario Front as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with Headquarters at Tindouf in Algeria. A UN-administered cease-fire has been in effect since September 1991. As of 2006, no UN member state has recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Western Sahara War
The Western Sahara War was the armed conflict which saw the Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement Polisario Front (headquartered in Algeria) battling Morocco and Mauritania for the control of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara from 1976 to 1991. The war resulted in the Spanish retreat in 1976, the Mauritanian retreat in 1979 and a cease fire agreement with Morocco. The bigger part of the territory remained under Moroccan control.
Moroccan Autonomy Initiative
Recently, the government of Morocco has suggested autonomous status for the region, through the Moroccan Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS). The project was presented to the United Nations Security Council in mid-April 2007. The proposal was encouraged by Moroccan allies such as the United States, France and Spain, and the Security Council "takes note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution". The Security Council has called upon the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution.
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. Morocco is the world's biggest exporter and third producer of phosphorus. Price fluctuations of phosphates in the international market strongly influence Morocco's economy.
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. For 2012 the World Bank forecasts a rate of 4% growth for Morocco and 4.2% for following year, 2013.
Economic growth is far more diversified, with new service and industrial poles, like Casablanca and Tangier, 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 industries that recorded the highest growth are tourism, telecoms, information technology, and textile. Morocco, however, still depends to an inordinate degree on agriculture. This economic sector accounts for only around 14% of GDP but employs 40–45% of the Moroccan working population. With a semi-arid climate and an ill-developed irrigation system, it is difficult to assure enough irrigation. Morocco’s economy depends heavily on the weather, a typical characteristic of third-world countries. 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. France remains the primary trade partner (supplier and customer) of Morocco. France is also the primary creditor and foreign investor in Morocco. In Africa, Morocco has the fifth largest economy and the fastest growing internet usership.
Since the early 1980s the Moroccan government has pursued an economic program toward accelerating real economy growth with the support of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Paris Club of creditors. The country's currency, the dirham, is now fully convertible for current account transactions[clarification needed]; 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 phosphorus (after China, which is first, and the United States 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 the Kingdom's 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 States which came into force on January 1, 2006, and lately the agreement of free exchange with Turkey.
Argan trees are endemic to Morocco. They produce the Argan oil, valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties
Agriculture in Morocco employs about 40% of the nation's workforce and is the largest employer in the country. Barley, wheat, and other cereals are amongst the main products. On the Atlantic coast, where there are extensive plains, olives, citrus fruits, and grapes are grown.
Below is a table of the agricultural output of Morocco according to estimates of the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, data is from 2009:
|Rank||Commodity||Value (Int $1000)||Production (MT)||Quantity world rank||Value world rank|
|2||Indigenous Chicken Meat||635,889||446,424||NA||NA|
|5||Indigenous Cattle Meat||433,257||160,384||NA||NA|
|6||Cow milk, whole, fresh||409,566||1,750,000||NA||NA|
|8||Indigenous Sheep Meat||325,935||119,706||NA||NA|
|9||Almonds, with shell||307,240||104,115||5||5|
|12||Hen eggs, in shell||221,668||267,267||NA||NA|
|18||Other melons (inc.cantaloupes)||134,386||730,000||8||8|
|19||Tangerines, mandarins, clem.||128,945||522,000||12||12|
|20||Anise, badian, fennel, corian.||127,126||23,000||7||7|
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2009 data: 
Cannabis is cultivated in the Rif Region since the VIIth century. According to the UN 2004 World Drugs Report, Morocco is considered as the largest producer of Cannabis in the world. According to that report, its cultivation and transformation represents 0.57% of the national GDP of Morocco in 2002.
Around 88% of the cannabis consumed in Europe comes from the Rif region in Morocco. In addition to that, Morocco is a transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe.
Morocco is a favorite destination for sexual tourism. Sexual tourism has developed in Morocco especially with the large influx of tourists from Europe as well as from the Arab Gulf countries. Since the 2004 Thailand tsunami, after the international attention focused on some countries of Southeast Asia, Morocco has become a favorite destination for sexual tourism.
Some Moroccan cities like Marrakesh have long been a haven for pedophiles looking for young boys. According to a US State department report, tens of thousands of child prostitutes in Morocco, serving the cities and military barracks. Increasingly, Morocco's reputation for child sex is luring an international clientele as sex tourists tout the old slave markets of Marrakech to buy sex with children. As some parents in Morocco are raising their children for sale, an export market has also begun to emerge.
Moroccan men, women, and children are exploited for sex trafficking in European and Middle Eastern countries. Also, Moroccan women are forced into prostitution in Gulf States, Jordan, Libya, Syria, and European countries. Furthermore, Morocco is a destination and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking. Many of foreigners (Men, women, and children) who enter Morocco illegally are coerced into prostitution. Female migrants are transported to other Moroccan cities, like Casablanca to be sold to prostitution networks.
Poverty and exclusion have contributed to the alarming growth of the prostitution industry in Morocco  as well as the economic difficulties. Anonymity, Availability, Affordability, Low risk of detection, and lack of child-protection laws in Morocco are also among the causes children continue to be victimized by sexual tourists. Furthermore, Morocco has emerged in recent years as a preferred destination for pedophiles because of lenient sentences handed out to offenders. A report published by the International Coalition for Responsible and Respectful Tourism indicates close links between sex tourism, globalisation and the opening of borders. The same report cited other causes like violation of children’s socio-economic rights; a lack of public education on sex and human rights; the disintegration of family structures; domestic abuse and a lack of responsibility on the part of schools.
Sexual tourism has caused many damages affecting society, its reputation, and the dignity of its people. As an example, Saudi Arabia has banned Moroccan women of a certain age from performing umrah, the reason is that those woman would abuse their visas for other purposes.
In 2008, about 56% of the electricity source of Morocco came from coal. However, as forecasts indicate that energy requirements in Morocco will rise 6% per year between 2012 and 2050, a new law passed encouraging Moroccans to look for ways to diversify the energy supply, including more renewable resources. The Moroccan government has launched a project to build a solar thermal energy power plant and is also in looking into the use of Natural Gas as a potential source of revenue for Morocco’s government.
Morocco has embarked upon the construction of large solar energy farms to lessen dependence on fossil fuels, and to eventually export electricity to Europe.
The railway network of Morocco consists of 1,907 kilometres (1,185 mi) 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge and 1,003 kilometres (623 mi) electrified with 3 kV DC. There are connections to Algeria, and consecutively Tunisia, but since the 1990s 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 (930 mi) 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 56,986 kilometres (35,409 mi) of roads (national, regional and provincial) in Morocco. In addition to 610.5 kilometres (379.3 mi) kilometre of highways.
The Tangier-Casablanca high-speed rail link marks the first stage of the ONCF’s high-speed rail master plan, pursuant to which over 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) of new railway lines will be built by 2035 The high speed train -TGV- will carry 8 million passengers per year. It will have a capacity of 500 passengers. the work in the High Speed Train project has started in September 2011 and the infrastructure works and railway equipment will end in 2014, and the HST will be operational in December 2015.
Education in Morocco is free and compulsory through primary school. The country's illiteracy rate has been stuck at around 50% for some years, with male literacy at 65.7% and female at 39.6%. On September 2006, UNESCO awarded Morocco amongst other countries such as Cuba, Pakistan, India and Turkey 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 Ifrane (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 1,780 students. 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 quarters 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.
The al-Qarawiyin University, founded in the city of Fez in 859 as a madrasa, is considered by some sources, including UNESCO, to be the "oldest university of the world". Some historians though  consider it not a "university" before the 13th century, when the teaching became general and it started to form philosophers and thinker, including several non-Muslims. These views, however, are contested by other historians who consider the university to have been a uniquely Christian creation of medieval Europe. The university was established in 1963 and designated University of Al-Karouine in 1965.
Morocco has also some of prestigious Postgraduate Schools like : EMI, ISCAE, INSEA, l'École nationale d'industrie minérale, École Hassania des travaux publics, ENCG (écoles nationales de commerce et de gestion), EST (écoles supérieures de technologie).
Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization. Through Moroccan history, it has hosted many people coming from East (Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Arabs), South (Sub-Saharan Africans) and North (Romans, Vandals, Andalusians, 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 Mohamed Choukri, Driss Chraïbi, Abdallah Laroui, Abdelfattah Kilito, and Fatema 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 mainly Berber-Moorish, European, Mediterranean cuisines. The cuisine of Morocco is essentially Berber cuisine (sometimes referred to as the Moorish cuisine). It is also Influenced by Sephardic cuisine and by the Moriscos when they took refuge in Morocco after the Reconquista. 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 oranges 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.
Moroccan literature is written in Arabic, Berber and French. It also contains literature produced in Al-Andalus. Under the Almohad dynasty Morocco experienced a period of prosperity and brilliance of learning. The Almohad built the Marrakech Koutoubia Mosque, 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 Casbah 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, Abdelkrim Ghallab, 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.
Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix, Louvre, Paris
Moroccan music is of Amazigh, Arab and sub-Saharan origins. Rock-influenced chaabi 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 Cordoba, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention. A genre known as Contemporary Andalusian music and art is the brainchild of Morisco visual artist/composer/ oudist Tarik Banzi founder of the Al-Andalus Ensemble
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.
Morocco participated in 1980's Eurovision Song Contest, being in penultimate position.
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 1986 Morocco became the first Arab and African country to qualify to the second round in World Cup competition. Many football players with Moroccan roots hold dual citizenship and play for European league teams. Examples include Ibrahim Afellay (FC Barcelona/Netherlands national side), Marouane Fellaini (Everton/Belgium national side), and Adil Rami (Valencia/French national side). Morocco will be hosting the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. The host cities will include Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, Agadir and Marrakech.
At the 1984 Olympic Games, two Moroccans won gold medals in track and field events. Nawal El Moutawakel won in the 400 metres hurdles; she was the first woman from an Arab or Islamic country to win an Olympic gold medal. Saïd Aouita won the 5000 metres at the same games. Hicham El Guerrouj won gold medals in the 1500 metres and 5000 metres for Morocco at the 2004 Summer Olympics and holds several 1.609 km (1.000 mi) List of world records in athletics|world records. Morocco is identified by the abbreviation MAR at the Olympics.
Tennis and golf have become popular. Several Moroccan professional players have competed in international competition, and the country fielded its first Davis Cup team in 1999.
Kickboxing is also popular in Morocco. Badr Hari, heavyweight kickboxer and martial artist, is a former K-1 heavyweight champion and K-1 World Grand Prix 2008 and 2009 finalist.
Morocco first participated at the Olympic Games in 1960, and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except when they participated in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. Morocco also boycotted the 1976 Games, withdrawing after having initially sent a delegation. In doing so, Morocco joined the boycott of the Games by most African countries, in protest against New Zealand's participation following an All Blacks rugby match, unrelated to the Olympics, against an apartheid team from South Africa. Only one Moroccon representative had time to compete before his country's withdrawal: Abderahim Najim took part in the Men's Light Flyweight event in boxing, and lost his first and only match.
Morocco has also participated in the Winter Olympic Games on four occasions since 1968, but not since 1992. Moroccan athletes have won a total of twenty one medals, eighteen in athletics and three in boxing. Hicham El Guerrouj, with two gold medals and one silver medal, and Saïd Aouita, with one gold and one silver, are Morocco's two multiple medal winners. The National Olympic Committee for Morocco was created in 1959.
Landscapes and monuments
Notes and references
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