Morocco Explained

For other uses see Morocco (disambiguation).

Native Name: المملكة المغربية
al-Mamlaka al-Maġribiyya
Conventional Long Name:Kingdom of Morocco
Common Name:Morocco
National Motto:"Allāh, al Waţan, al Malik"(transliteration)
"God, Nation, King"
National Anthem:"Hymne Chérifien"
Official Languages:Arabic,[1] others commonly used unofficially.
Ethnic Groups:80% Arab-Berber, 20% Berber, 0.8% Sahrawis, 0.3% (French, Spanish other), 0.1% Tuareg[2]
Demonym:Moroccan
Capital:Rabat
Latd:34
Latm:02
Latns:N
Longd:6
Longm:51
Longew:W
Largest City:Casablanca
Government Type:Constitutional monarchy
Leader Title1:King
Leader Name1:Mohammed VI
Leader Title2:Prime Minister
Leader Name2:Abbas El Fassi
Sovereignty Type:Unification
Sovereignty Note:1554
Established Event1:Unified by Saadi dynasty
Established Date1:1554
Established Event2:Alaouite dynasty (present)
Established Date2:1666
Established Event3:Independence from France
Established Date3:March 2, 1956
Established Event4:Independence from Spain
Established Date4:April 7, 1956
Area Rank:57th
Area Magnitude:1_E10
Area Km2:446550
Area Sq Mi:172,414
Percent Water:250km²
Population Estimate:31,352,000[3]
Population Estimate Year:2008-01
Population Estimate Rank:37th
Population Density Km2:70
Population Density Sq Mi:181
Population Density Rank:122nd
Gdp Ppp Year:2007
Gdp Ppp:$126.943 billion[4]
Gdp Ppp Rank:54th
Gdp Ppp Per Capita:$4,093 (IMF)
Gdp Ppp Per Capita Rank:109th
Gdp Nominal Year:2007
Gdp Nominal:$75.116 billion
Gdp Nominal Rank:56th
Gdp Nominal Per Capita:$2,422 (IMF)
Gdp Nominal Per Capita Rank:108th
Hdi Year:2007
Hdi: 0.646
Hdi Rank:126th
Pnb Rank:60th
Pib Rank:60th
Hdi Category:medium>
Currency:Moroccan dirham
Currency Code:MAD
Time Zone:WET
Utc Offset:+0
Time Zone Dst:WEST
Utc Offset Dst:+1
Drives On:right
Cctld:.ma
Calling Code:212
Footnotes:
  • All data excludes Western Sahara, much of which is under Moroccan de facto administrative control.
Footnote1:French is widely used in the government in official texts, and in the business community, though neither instance is 'official.' Moroccan Arabic, an Arabic vernacular is the most common native language. Amazigh or Berber languages are also widely spoken.

Morocco (Arabic: <big>المغرب</big> "al-Maġrib"), officially the Kingdom of Morocco[5] (Arabic: المملكة المغربية), is a country located in North Africa with a population of nearly 34 million and an area just under 447,000 km2. The capital is Rabat, and the largest city is Casablanca. It has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with two small Spanish autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla), and Mauritania to the south via its Western Saharan territories.[6]

Morocco is the only country in Africa that is not currently a member of the African Union. However, it is a member of the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union, Francophonie, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mediterranean Dialogue group, and Group of 77. It is also a major non-NATO ally of the United States.

Name

The full Arabic name al-Mamlaka al-Maġribiyya 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", Algeria) and al-Maghrib al Adna ("The Nearest West", Tunisia).[7]

The Latinized name "Morocco" originates from medieval Latin "Morroch," which referred to the name of the former Almoravid and Almohad capital, Marrakech.[8] The Persians straightforwardly call it "Marrakech"[9] while the Turks call it "Fas" which comes from the ancient Idrisid and Marinid capital, Fès.[10]

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

History

See main article: History of Morocco.

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. Many theorists believe the Amazigh people, commonly referred to as Berbers or by their regional ethnic identity (e.g. Chleuh), probably arrived at roughly the same time as the inception of agriculture in the region. In the classical period, Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should not be confused with the modern-day country of Mauritania.

Roman and pre-Roman 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. 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 Greeks 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.

Medieval 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 Damascus. His delegates went to what is now Morocco, which he called "Maghreb al Aqsa" or "The Far West," in the year 683. The delegates supported the assimilation process that took about a century.

What became modern Morocco in the seventh century, was an area of Berbers influenced by the Arabs, who 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 Baghdad and the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalus. The Idrisids established Fes 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.[11] 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 Iberia, or Al-Andalus.

Alaouite Dynasty 1666–1912

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 Tangier. The organization of the kingdom developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif, 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 Ocean. At this time, American envoys tried to obtain protection from European powers, but to no avail. 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. Negotiated by Thomas Barclay and signed by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1786, it has been in continuous effect since its ratification by Congress in July 1787.[12] Following the re-organization of the U.S. federal government upon the 1787 Constitution, President George Washington wrote a now venerated letter to the Sultan Sidi Mohamed strengthening the ties between the two countries. The United States legation (consulate) in Tangier is the first property the American government ever owned abroad.[13] The building now houses the Tangier American Legation Museum.

European influence

See main article: Portuguese Empire, French colonial empire and Spanish Morocco. Successful Portuguese efforts to invade and control the Atlantic coast in the fifteenth 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.[14] 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, 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 Berlin, 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).

Resistance

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 protectorate all over the country. The most notable 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.

Modern 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 Tangier 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 Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara 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.

Politics

See main article: Politics of Morocco. 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.

Human rights and reforms

See main article: Human rights in Morocco. Morocco's history after independence and at the beginning of the reign of Hassan II was marked by a period of political tensions between the monarchy and opposition parties. Those years of tension are labeled by the opposition as the Years of Lead. Politically-motivated persecutions were common, especially when General Oufkir became responsible for home security.

However, during the last decade of the rule of King Hassan II, especially under the reign of Mohammed VI and with the launch of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) to investigate abuses committed in the name of the state, Morocco is trying to reconciliate with the victims. Many new laws and codes concerning all aspects of life are being or have been passed, most notable of which was the creation of the Mudawana — a family code which represented the first unique initiative of its kind in the Arab and Muslim world. The code gives women more rights. Other issues such as the abolition of capital punishment and the reform of the Moroccan nationality law are being debated. The Moroccan parliament is due to vote on these issues in spring 2007.

The 2003 Casablanca bombings and the need to fight the terrorist threat have led the government to pass a controversial anti-terrorism law that cracked down on terror suspects. Moroccan and international organizations continue to criticize the human rights situation in Morocco, mainly the arrests of suspected Islamist extremists during 2004 and 2005 in relation to the 2003 Casablanca bombings, and in Western Sahara.[15]

In mid-February 2007, a study published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies called "Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco" concluded that Morocco provides a valuable lesson in political and economic reform, which others in the Arab world can draw on and that the Moroccan model confirms that it is possible to adopt both forms of reform simultaneously.[16]

Regions and prefectures

See main article: Regions of Morocco and Prefectures and provinces of Morocco. Morocco is divided into 16 regions,[17] and subdivided into 62 prefectures and provinces.[18]

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 Sahara, 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.[19] 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.

Geography

See main article: Geography of Morocco. See also List of cities in Morocco and Western SaharaAt 172,402 sq.mi (446,550 km²), Morocco is the fifty-seventh largest country in the world (after Uzbekistan). It is comparable in size to Iraq, and is somewhat larger than the US state of California.Algeria 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: Ceuta, Melilla, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Peñón de Alhucemas, and the Chafarinas islands, as well as 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 and controls part of the Strait of Gibraltar, giving it power over the waterways in and out of the Mediterranean sea. The Rif mountains 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 Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975 (see Green March).[6] 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, Salè, Tangier and Tétouan.

Climate

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.

Wildlife

Morocco is known for its wildlife biodiversity. Birds represent the most important fauna.[20] The avifauna of Morocco includes a total of 454 species, of which five have been introduced by humans, and 156 are rare or accidental.[21]

Encoding

Morocco is represented in the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 geographical encoding standard by the symbol MA.[22] This code was used as the basis for Morocco's internet domain, .ma.[22]

Economy

See main article: Economy of Morocco. 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.[23]

Through 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, the Moroccan economy is much more robust than just a few years ago. Economic growth is far more diversified, with new service and industrial poles, like Casablanca and Tangier, developing. The agriculture sector is being rehabilitated, wich 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. France 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 Fund, 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 phosphates (after the United States and China), 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.[24]

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 in January 1 2006 and lately the agreement of free exchange with Turkey. (See Economy of Morocco)

Demographics

See main article: Demographics of Morocco.

Morocco is the third most populous Arab country, after Egypt and Sudan.[25] Most Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of Arab, Berber, or mixed Arab-Berber stock.There is no significant genetic difference between Moroccan Arabs and Moroccan non-Arabs (i.e. Berbers). Thus, it is likely that Arabization was mainly a cultural process without genetic replacement. However, according to the European Journal of Human Genetics, North-Western Africans were genetically closer to Iberians and to other Europeans than tosub-Saharan Africans.[26]

Most Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of Berber, Arab or mixed Arab-Berber stock. Morocco was inhabited by Berbers since at least 5000 years ago. 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 princips and indigenous Berber and Romano-Berber principalities, laying the foundation for the emergence of an Arab-Berber culture. A portion of the population is identified as Haratin and Gnaoua, black or highly mixed race Moroccans. Morocco's Jewish minority has decreased significantly and numbers about 7,000 (See History of the Jews in Morocco). Most of the 100,000 foreign residents are French or Spanish, largely professionals working for European multinationals or descendants of colonists. Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million Europeans,[27] 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. [28] .

Languages

See main article: Languages of Morocco. Morocco's official language is classical Arabic. The country's distinctive Arabic dialect is called Moroccan Arabic. Approximately 12 million (40% 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.[29] French, which remains Morocco's unofficial second language, is taught universally and still serves as Morocco's primary language of commerce and economics. It also is widely used in education and government. About 20,000 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 third foreign language of choice among educated youth (after Arabic and 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. Casablanca is the 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; Fez 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 Marrakech.

Culture

See main article: Culture of Morocco. Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization. Through Moroccan history, Morocco hosted many people coming from East (Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Arabs), South (Sub-Saharan Africans) and North (Romans, Vandals, Andalusians (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.

Cuisine

See main article: Cuisine of Morocco. 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 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. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.

Literature

See main article: Literature of Morocco. 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,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.

Music

See main article: Music of Morocco. 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 Cordoba, 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.

Transport

See main article: Transport in Morocco.

Military

See main article: Military of Morocco. Military service lasts for 18 months in Morocco, 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

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; Cuba, Pakistan, Rajasthan (India) and Turkey the "UNESCO 2006 Literacy Prize".[30]

Morocco has about 230,000 students enrolled in fourteen public universities. The Mohammed V University in Rabat and Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (a private 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 Karaouine, 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.

Universities

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 private English-language university in North Africa, inaugurated in 1995 with contributions from Saudi Arabia and the United States.

List of universities in Morocco

See main article: List of universities in Morocco.

Sport

See main article: Sport 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. 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.

International rankings

Affiliations

OrganizationDates
United Nationssince November 12, 1956
Arab Leaguesince October 1, 1958
International Olympic Committeesince 1959
Organization of African Unityco-founder May 25, 1963; withdrew November 12, 1984
Group of 77since June 15, 1964
Organization of the Islamic Conferencesince September 22, 1969
World Trade Organizationsince January 1, 1995
Mediterranean Dialogue groupsince February 1995
Major non-NATO ally of the United Statessince January 19, 2004

Bilateral and multilateral agreements

See also

External links

Government
General information
News media
Tourism

Notes and References

  1. "An Islamic and fully sovereign state whose official language is Arabic, the Kingdom ofMorocco constitutes a part of the Great Arab Maghreb."
  2. http://looklex.com/e.o/morocco.peoples.htm Moroccan people
  3. http://www.hcp.ma/ Haut-Commissariat au Plan
  4. Web site: Report for Selected Countries and Subjects.
  5. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mo.html#Govt Conventional long form: Kingdom of Morocco - Conventional short form: Morocco - Local long form: al-Mamlakah al-Maġribiyya - Local short form: al-Maġrib
  6. Pending resolution of the Western Sahara conflict.
  7. Book: Yahya, Dahiru. Morocco in the Sixteenth Century. 1981. Longman. 18.
  8. Web site: Regions of Morocco. 2007-09-07. statoids.com.
  9. Web site: مراکش. 2007-09-07. Persian Wikipedia.
  10. Web site: Fas. 2007-09-07. Turkish Wikipedia.
  11. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/418538/North-Africa/46490/The-Maghrib-under-the-Almoravids-and-the-Almohads The Maghrib under the Almoravids and the Almohads
  12. Roberts, Priscilla H. and Richard S. Roberts, Thomas Barclay (1728-1793: Consul in France, Diplomat in Barbary, Lehigh University Press, 2008, pp. 206-223.
  13. Web site: Milestones of American Diplomacy, Interesting Historical Notes, and Department of State History. 2007-12-17. htm. U.S. Department of State.
  14. Pennell, C.R. (2000). New York, New York University Press, pg. 40.
  15. http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/morocc12228.htm Human rights overview on Morocco
  16. - Center for Strategic and International Studies by Haim Malka and John Alterman
  17. http://www.statoids.com/uma.html Regions of Morocco
  18. http://www.statoids.com/yma.html Regions of Morocco
  19. Web site: Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (April 13, 2007). 2007-05-18. ped. UN Security Council.
  20. Web site: Profile on Morocco. 2007-05-10. African Conservation Foundation.
  21. 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.
  22. Web site: English country names and code elements. 2008-05-24. International Organization for Standardization. 2008-05-15.
  23. Book: Leonard, Thomas M.. Encyclopedia of the Developing World. Taylor & Francis. 0-4159-7663-4. 1085.
  24. http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Morocco-ECONOMY.html
  25. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2119rank.html The CIA Fact book
  26. European Journal of Human Genetics (2000) 8, 360–366
  27. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ac97 History of Morocco
  28. European Journal of Human Genetics (2000) 8, 360–366
  29. http://uk.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761552010/Berber_(people).html Berber (people)
  30. Web site: 2006 UNESCO Literacy Prize winners announced. UNESCO.org. 2006-09-27.