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Kingdom of Morocco

Major Cities:
Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Marrakech, Fez, Meknès, Oujda

Other Cities:
Agadir, Ceuta, El Jadida, Kenitra, Safi, Tétouan


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 1999 for Morocco. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Morocco has been called "a cold country with a hot sun." The mild, semitropical climate on the northern and western coastal areas is separated by mountain ranges from a desert climate to the east and south. Most people live west of the mountain chains which protect them from the Sahara Desert. In the harsher south the population is sparse, concentrated in scattered oases along the Draa and Souss Rivers.

Africa's closest approach to Europe, Morocco lies some 20 miles away across the Strait of Gibraltar. Twice, it was the stage for invasions of Europe-the Moorish assault on Spain in the eighth century and the Allied assault on the continent in World War II. Today, jet airliners fly over plodding camel trains and farmers tilling with implements unchanged since Romans occupied and governed the land. Cities offer traditional medinas with narrow, cobblestone streets; the neighborhood mosques with their distinctive minarets; as well as modern skyscrapers, shopping malls and tree-lined boulevards. Morocco's industrious people produce not only some of the world's most ingenious handicraftsfrom handwoven woolen carpets to ornate metalwork, from leathercraft to inlaid wooden objects, from hand-painted ceramics to gold and silver jewelrythey also are heavily involved in intensive agriculture and harvesting fish and other seafood from its offshore waters. Morocco's trees produce olives and cork. The country's largest export, however, is phosphates from the world's largest known deposit of this resource.



Rabat, on the Atlantic coast of northern Africa, is about 280 feet above sea level. It rests on a bluff overlooking a small river, the Bou Regreg. Sale, its sister city, lies opposite Rabat on the north side of the river. Rabat is located 172 miles south of Tangier, the gateway to Europe, and 60 miles north of Casablanca, the country's largest city, principal seaport, and industrial center. Rabat has two main seasonsshort, rainy winter and a long, dry summerseparated by brief transitional seasons. Temperatures range from an average minimum of 46°F in January to an average maximum of 81.5°F in August. Annual rainfall averages 21 inches. Rabat's climate is more moderate than that of Washington, D.C.

Rabat reflects the diversity of cultures that characterizes Morocco. All corners of the country are represented in its population which, including Sale, stretching from Tangier to the Sahara Desert. Contrasts of Arabic and Western (especially French) culture are sharply reflected in the Moroccan capital. European-style villas, shops, apartments, and tree-lined boulevards extend over much of the city. On the avenues of the new section of the city, the latest fashions parade beside flowing robes, hoods, and veils of the Islamic tradition. The historic core of the city is its walled "medina" (old city), whose narrow, bustling cobblestone streets have changed little over the past century. Forests, beaches, mountain resorts, and legendary medieval cities with rich historical cultures, such as Fez and Marrakech, are all within easy distance of Rabat.

Many Rabatis speak Arabic and French well, and some are fluent in Spanish or other Western languages. For the leisure-time student of languages or cultural patterns, many opportunities for study exist. Learning French is worth the investment. The English-speaking community and facilities are simply too limited to be relied on for entertainment and recreational purposes.


Nearly all fresh vegetables and fruits found in the U.S. are available in season in Rabat local markets. Moroccan shops sell imported canned goods at higher than U.S. prices. Domestic and imported goods such as dairy products, flour, rice, couscous olives and spices can be found in local supermarkets and markets. Local bakeries make excellent breads, pastries, cakes an other sweets. A wide variety of fresh fish is sold daily in the fish markets. Good quality beef, veal, chicken, rabbit and pork are available. Moroccan lamb, particularly is of excellent quality.

Some families occasionally drive to Ceuta or Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves on the northern coast, for shopping at several well-stocked supermarkets which carry a large selection of Spanish and other European products. As these territories offer duty-free prices, good values can be found there. Gasoline is approximately 2/3 the cost in Morocco, for example. Moreover, Spanish specialty items such as wines, fruit juices, cheeses, ham and pork products, certain vegetables unavailable in Morocco, and other items make the trip worthwhile. Ceuta is approximately 3-1/2 hour's drive from Rabat, or 1-1/2 hour's drive from Tangier.


The type of clothing worn in Rabat and Casablanca is as in Washington, D.C. The Moroccan public dress mores are much closer to European than to Middle Eastern customs but females dress more conservatively in public places. A "cold country with a hot sun," Moroccan temperatures drop sharply at night, both during summer and winter. Summer days are cooler than in Washington, D.C. Clothing can be ordered from the U.S. without difficulty from catalogs. Local tailors have been used with varying results, and varying prices. Some Mission staffers have located dressmakers which they recommend, individuals who can work with or without patterns. It is recommended, however, that dress fabrics be brought with you, since good locally available fabrics are imported and are either expensive or not to American tastes. Some residents have located suitable clothes and fabrics during visits to Europe.

American women, and families with teen-age daughters, should be aware that Morocco is an Islamic country where the position of women in society is very different from that in the U.S. In Morocco, women appearing in public outside the confines of the home must expect that they will attract attention of the country's males. Moroccan females learn to deal with this early in life and dress accordingly, in many cases by using the djellaba with its long sleeves and robe extending to the ankles. Moroccan women also arrange, whenever possible, to walk the city's streets accompanied by a friend rather than alone. They also learn to develop a thick skin to ignore the unsolicited male comments and suggestions that are inevitable in public.

Expatriate females who reside in Morocco, the young and even not-so-young, often are singled out even more for this uninvited attention. Comments or approaches usually are made in French. In the majority of cases, there is no danger or evil intent, but foreign women residing in Morocco often are made uncomfortable by this behavior. In recognizing this simple fact of life, American women choose their clothes with a view to avoiding any apparel which might seem potentially provocative or enticing. But regardless of choice of clothing, harassment of foreign females generally is unavoidable in Morocco. American female residents should do their best to ignore public comments and avoid reacting in any way.

Men: Prices of men's clothes are higher locally than in the U.S. and there is not as much variety. Generally, it is recommended that clothing and shoes be acquired in the U.S. prior to arrival; ordering from a catalogue can fill needs as they arise.

It is recommended that men purchase a belt designed to carry money and passport which fits out of sight under the shirt or pants. These belts safeguard valuables during the inevitable visits to medinas and souks where crowded conditions favor the activities of pickpockets and petty thieves.

Women: In the evenings, women need a light wrap such as a woolen shawl or sweater, as Moroccan houses tend to remain chilly during winter months. Bring a good supply of sweaters, warm slippers, and bathrobes for the entire family. Long-sleeved dresses are also useful. Many women wear wool afternoon and cocktail dresses during winter. Bring a lightweight wool coat, a raincoat (with detachable liner), and umbrellas. Morocco produces many qualities of women's shoes, but styles and sizes may not fit American tastes. Imported shoes available on the local market are expensive. Women need cocktail, dinner, and evening apparel. Halter-type, sleeveless, or decollete women's fashions are no longer a curiosity (when worn indoors, not on public streets). Ready-made clothing (including children's clothes), women's lingerie, and many accessories can be bought locally. Selection is limited to European styles and prices are high by U.S. standards.

Children: Good quality American-style children's clothing is expensive if purchased locally.

Supplies and Services

Local pharmacies and stores stock a large assortment of locally produced and imported drugs and cosmetics at higher than U.S. prices.

Many hairdressers and barbershops in Rabat offer satisfactory service at prices lower than in the U.S. Manicure, pedicure and masseuse services are available at reasonable prices. Shoe repair is competent and cheap by U.S. standards. Drycleaning service is uneven; avoid purchasing items which must be drycleaned in favor or wash-and-wear fabrics. Repairs for French, Italian, Japanese, and German cars are more satisfactory, and cheaper than for American cars due to spare parts availability.

Domestic Help

Individual requirements vary depending on representational responsibilities, family size and ages of children. Another variable is whether staff are expected to live in, or work only during the day and commute from home. Not all people seeking employment as household staff speak French, and with the exception of the few who have worked for U.S. families before, few know English. Wages for household staff vary according to responsibilities and hours worked during the week. In 1999, a couple or small family hiring a cook/housekeeper could expect to pay DH 500-600 per 5-day work week, with overtime paid for duties after normal hours. Some single personnel hire maid service for 1 or 2 days per week.

Most residences with yards require at least part-time gardeners to assure the plants and lawn are well tended. Such part time help is easily obtainable. A gardener was earning DH 80-100 per day in 1999. Some families able to offer live-in facilities hire a man to be a combination gardener and night watchman. The employer is expected to furnish food and uniforms for household help. As the employer is legally liable for medical bills incurred by employees due to accidents sustained on the job or going to and from work, it is recommended that liability insurance be purchased to cover such contingencies. The rate for this type of policy averages 1.5%-2% of the employee's annual wage.

Religious Activities

Religious services in Rabat are regularly celebrated at Protestant, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish places of worship, as well as at the numerous Moslem mosques which dot the city. With the exception of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, entry to Moroccan mosques is prohibited to non-Moslems, but such visitors are welcome to stroll around outside these often ornate and beautiful structures to admire their architecture. Catholic services in local churches are held in French and Spanish, Protestant services in French and English. Jewish services are in Hebrew. In addition, an English-language nondenominational Protestant service is conducted each Sunday. The English-speaking Protestant community also conducts a Sunday school for children. An English-speaking Catholic priest hears confessions occasionally and says Mass in English every other Sunday. Catechism classes are conducted for elementary school students 1 hour a week.


The Rabat American School Association operates the Rabat American School (RAS), a nonprofit organization, which is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and has received permission to offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum in grades 10-12. Located on an attractive campus covering several acres in the Agdal district and surrounded by a high wall, the school consists of several classroom blocks, administrative offices, science labs, a computer science center, an auditorium, cafeteria, athletic field, gymnasium, gymnastics room, locker rooms and swimming pool. RAS offers classes from nursery through grade 12.

For nursery school, a child must be 3 years of age by September 31 and toilet trained. Rabat also has an English language, parent-run, parent-sponsored nursery coop for 3 and 4-year olds, as well as a number of French language nursery schools.

The RAS curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12 is that of a quality, private school offering university preparatory coursework. Kindergarten, for example, is an academic program covering the full day where children are taught to read. French-language instruction is provided for each student; Arabic language is optional for other than Moroccan students for whom it is compulsory. Spanish also is offered as a foreign language.

Throughout the curriculum there is emphasis placed on learning about the geography, history, culture, religion and accomplishments of the host country. This is presented through special school programs, community service, athletic events and field trips to a variety of sites in Morocco.

Computer instruction is mandatory from grades 1-12. Four separate computer labs are available, the school has its own leased line and every student has access to e-mail. The school has a 14,000-volume library. Transportation by school vehicles is provided to and from school. In 1998, enrollment averaged 450 students, with an average class size of 16. American enrollment averaged 27%, Moroccan enrollment 32%, and 45 other nationalities made up the balance. The faculty of full and part time teachers consisted during the 97-98 school year of 26 U.S. citizens, 3 host country nationals and 26 individuals of other nationalities. Parent-teacher conferences are held regularly, and quarterly progress reports are issued for students above nursery through grade 12.

After school athletic activities, scouting, and other extracurricular offerings such as aerobics, Taekwan-do, ballet, choir, drama, computer club, or arts & crafts are available, with late bus transportation provided. The school sponsors boy's and girl's basketball, soccer, volleyball, track and swim teams.

The school year begins the last week in August and ends in mid-June. The secondary education curriculum is based on the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, with heavy emphasis on mathematics, science and English. Students transferring into RAS, particularly at the secondary level, may find the adjustment difficult unless they have a solid grounding in academic subjects previously. The school will test such prospective students for placement and make recommendations if there are any deficiencies which need to be addressed.

In recent years, graduates of RAS have gained admission to superior North American universities such as Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, M.I.T., Duke and McGill (Canada). For further information, see the Department of Overseas Schools Summary School Information.

The French Cultural Mission operates a number of schools in Rabat at the elementary and secondary levels. Lycee Descartes, a large (3,500 students) coeducational institution, partly housed in a modern building and in several annexes throughout the city, has a solid reputation. Instruction is of high quality but all in French. English is taught as a foreign language. Admission requirements are fluency in French and/or having been enrolled previously in a French language school.

Special Educational Opportunities

Various cultural missions also offer language training, including the French Cultural Mission. All courses are offered at a moderate cost.


Spectator sports include soccer and polo. Morocco's principal cities host soccer games almost every weekend. Those who play golf or tennis will find courses and courts in cities and towns throughout the country, and Morocco's pleasant climate allows play virtually the year around. In Rabat, many golfers avail themselves of the Royal Golf Dar-es-Salaam complex, with two 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course. Greens fees are DH 400 for 9 or 18 holes; caddy fees are DH 70 for 18 holes and DH 40 for 9 holes. You may rent golf carts for DH 300. Admission costs DH 400 (deducted from greens fees when playing golf). The golf club hosts a yearly Pro-Am golf tournament in the fall to which many professionals and ranking amateurs are invited. Royal Golf Dar-es-Salaam also offers tennis, a heated, Olympic-sized swimming pool, sauna bath, pro-shop, and clubhouse. Yearly membership costs DH 9,700 (single) or DH 12,000 (couple) for the first year; then DH 8,100 (single) and DH 10,400 (couple) a year; a child's membership costs DH 1,900 annually. Club members are exempt from entrance or golf fees. Daily nonmember fees for golf are DH 400. Mission personnel may pay for 6 months at a time.

One popular private club, the Riad Club, offers tennis, swimming, a playground for children, and a clubhouse with bar and restaurant. Rabat's yacht club offers an Olympic-sized pool, restaurant, bar, bath-houses, and tennis courts. Membership in the latter club is limited and mostly French, however, The Hilton Hotel offers memberships enabling families to use facilities which include: two swimming pools (one for children, one for adults), four clay tennis courts, a golf practice range, and an exercise room. Monthly dues, however, are steep at DH 1,500 for singles, DH 2,000 for couples, and DH 4,000 for family memberships.

Most of the Atlantic coast beaches have rough surf and strong, often dangerous currents. Moreover, in recent years water samples taken from beach areas near Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier indicate unsafe pollution levels. During hot summer weekends, hordes of local residents flock to the beaches such as Temara, just south of Rabat, or Plage des Nations, a lovely beach just north of Sale. But regretfully, Moroccans have yet to recognize the need to protect their beautiful beach areas by not littering them with plastic bags and other cast-offs from their picnicking. Except in rare instances, trash receptacles are not to be found. Expatriate residents soon learn that driving a few extra miles to Skhirat, Bouznika or Mohammedia, all less populated areas located between Rabat and Casablanca, is worth the effort to enjoy a day at the beach. Other excellent beaches are available up and down the Atlantic coast or north to the shores of the Mediterranean.

Morocco is one of the few countries on the African continent which offers skiing during the winter months. Depending upon snowfall, the ski season may begin as early as December and run through the end of March. Closest to Rabat near Ifrane, approximately 3 hour's drive, are the ski areas of Michliffen and Djebel Hebri at an altitude of 6,500 feet. Michliffen is located on the slope of a mountain. Djebel Hebri includes a steep hill about 10 minutes beyond Michliffen. The Poma lift (300 yards) and baby Poma lift charges are very reasonable by U.S. standards. Djebel Hebri also has an easy hill for learning. Sleds may be rented and a snack bar is available.

The other area offering skiing is Oukaimeden, which is a 90-minute drive from Marrakech, and is reputed to have the best skiing in Morocco. Its facilities include a chair lift to 10,637 feet and intermediate and beginner slopes with T-Bars and Poma lifts. Ski equipment may be rented near the slopes, though quality of such equipment may not be up to U.S. standards.

Several private clubs and the Royal Golf Dar-es-Salaam offer private and group instruction in horseback riding at considerably less cost than in the U.S. Trout fishing can be found in many lakes and streams, but the nearest spot is about 60 miles from Rabat. A reservoir 15 miles from Rabat has provided some excellent fishing for large-mouth bass. (Fishing licenses are required for all inland fishing.) Fishermen also may try their luck at deep sea fishing or surf casting from the beach at many spots along the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts; no license is required for ocean fishing. The reservoir mentioned above also attracts windsurfers. Devotees of this sport also will wish to visit Essaouira, five hours' drive south of Rabat, whose nearly constant onshore wind provides ideal conditions for windsurfing.

Hunters will find ample opportunity to hunt for game such as duck, partridge, quail, goose and dove. Hunts for wild boar, deer, and mountain goats can be arranged. Hunting licenses are required for all types of hunting. All shotguns must be registered. (See Firearms and Ammunition).

In recent years, a number of local tour companies have begun to offer group activities such as mountain bike tours, whitewater rafting in the Atlas Mountains, mountain climbing, hiking, and camel trekking in desert areas.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Rabat has a number of interesting cultural and historical sites which attract tourists from around the world. The Chellah, a former Roman settlement, stands on a bluff overlooking the Bou Regreg River below, and marks the site of the first population center in the Rabat-Sale area. There are traces that the Phoenicians may have settled this site as early as the 8th century B.C. Remains of the Roman forum can still be seen. Out towards the mouth of the Bou Regreg River where it meets the Atlantic stands a tiny fortress and what remains of the Kasbah of the Oudaia, founded around A.D.788. Its principal gateway, the Bab el Kasbah, is the most beautiful surviving in the Moorish world, and within its walls is a perfect Andalusian garden. The site houses a museum of Moroccan clothing, jewelry, and furniture, and an open-air tea room overlooking the river.

The Mausoleum and Mosque of Mohammed V provide a modern contrast to the columns of the uncompleted minaret of the Tour Hassan. The latter was begun in the 12th century by the Almohad ruler, Yacoub El Mansour. The Archeological Museum contains fascinating objects from prehistoric and Roman times. The medina (old city) itself is worth several hours, poking around the many shops selling everything from leather items from Fez, bronze chandeliers from Marrakech, or Berber jewelry from the south.

Within a day's drive of Rabat, you can wander through the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, or visit the casino and beaches of Moham-media. A scenic drive into the foothills of the Atlas, lunch at Rommani, or a picnic in the Mamora cork forest along the Meknes road are pleasant diversions. Fez, about 110 miles from Rabat, offers a labyrinthine "souk," where metalworkers and pottery makers turn out handicrafts the same way that they have been doing it for five centuries. This famous city also is the site of the Karaouyine University and Mosque, the latter originally founded in the 9th Century.

Visit Casablanca, a 1-hour drive, to take in the splendor of the Hassan II Mosque with the tallest minaretin the world; to sample the big city's Parisian boutiques, Italian, Lebanese, and other European grocery stores and patisseries; or to patronize one of the excellent seafood restaurants along the Corniche (seafront). View the Swiss village architecture of Ifrane, high in the Middle Atlas mountains, and spend some time in neighboring Azrou for both summer and winter sports. Marrakesh, less than five hours' drive from Rabat, is famous for the pinkish color of its buildings, its palm trees set against the backdrop of the High Atlas mountains looming up behind the city, its wonderful climate, and the infinite variety of handicrafts for sale in its famous souk. Marrakech is also a good starting-off point for visits to the beginning of the Sahara Desert, trekking into the High Atlas Mountains, viewing the Berber settlements along oases and gorges of the south, or travelling west to the beach towns of Agadir and Essaouira.

The north of Morocco-where the strong Spanish influence continues to be felt-is also worth touring, whether it be to Tangier's medina, to Asilah for its beaches and seafood, to the Lixus Roman ruins near Larache, to Chaouen for a stay in a medieval style mountain village, to Tetaoun for its souk, or to the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which offer a taste of Spain without leaving the continent.


Public entertainment is in French, Arabic, or Berber. The Very Little Theatre Group (an informal, English-speaking community organization) performs several times per year. French troupes occasionally present classical French plays, modern French dramas and comedies. Folklore attractions are presented from time to time. Cultural missions often sponsor concerts featuring touring artists and ballet and dance groups. Rabat's largest theater, the Mohammed V, offers occasional concerts, shows, performances or art exhibitions. In addition to several neighborhood theaters, many theaters show films in the central business district. Virtually all films, whether American, British or Italian, have French dialog dubbed in. Two theaters in the medina feature Arabic films, mostly Egyptian.

Rabat features many excellent restaurants, including a number offering international cuisine such as Japanese (Restaurant Fuji), Vietnamese (Le Mandarin, La Pagode), Italian (Pizzeria Reggio, La Mama), TexMex (El Rancho), and scores of Moroccan establishments where fresh seafood and French or Moroccan cuisine are specialties. U.S. franchise establishments such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen also are located in and around Rabat.

Social Activities

The American Women's Association of Rabat holds monthly meetings and sponsors a wide variety of activities, including an annual fund-raising event to benefit local charities and scholarships.

Along with the Moroccans, you may contribute your effort, skills and personal enthusiasm. Members of the royal family are occupied with and sponsor many of these charities, including the Union des Femmes, organized to promote women in the business world.

In 1998, Rabat had an active Boy Scout troop of about 10 members, ages I 15. The troop included boys of several nationalities, but adhered to U.S. standards. The Rabat American School is the charter institution. Troop No. 241 was awarded the International Boy Scout Crest for exemplifying an "International Experience:" In 1998, there were Cub Scout and Webelo groups, Brownies, Daisies and Junior Girl Scout programs as well. Of course, these groups are dependent upon sufficient adult support to organize and oversee activities.

In recent years, a co-ed slow-pitch softball league involving teams made up of Americans, Moroccans, Japanese and other baseball enthusiasts has been organized for weekend play in Rabat. Typically, teams are drawn from the Marines, Embassy, USAID, Peace Corps, RAS, Hash House Harriers, diplomats and business representatives from Japan, and Moroccans who have taken an active interest in the game. For the younger set, a Little League baseball group organizes practices and games.

RAS is the site of regular volleyball games which mix local Moroccan players, Americans and other expatriates, as well.

Virtually every week, the Hash House Harriers stage their celebrated "race". People young and old of every nationality take part in this regular outdoor activity which gives participants an up-close look at Rabat and its hinterland, before gathering for the social hour which follows. Occasionally, the Harriers organize family travel to another part of Morocco for a weekend together which includes their usual run.


Casablanca is Morocco's economic, financial, industrial and demographic capital (population about 6 million) and the country's most important seaport. It is also a significant airline crossroads from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and other African countries. Casablanca's broad boulevards, multi-story office buildings, bustling business districts, and relatively small medina (the ancient, walled old city) contrast sharply with the traditional imperial cities of Rabat, Fez, Meknes and Marrakech. Though Casablanca begins at sea level, several of its suburbs are considerably higher. Temperatures range between 46°F and 65°F in the rainy winter and between 65°F and 90°F in the humid summer. Humidity averages 75%. Rainfall averages 15-20 inches a year.

The modern city of Casablanca originates from the ancient Berber hamlet called Anfa. The present city center was largely built during the French Protectorate in the first half of the 20th century, while extensive outlying areas have been constructed since independence in 1956. The most visible new landmark on the Casablanca skyline is the Hassan II Mosque, located on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic with its 200-meter-high minaret towering above the city. This magnificent building took 13 years to complete, with several thousand artisans working on it around the clock. Plans include building a conference center, library and other buildings to house businesses in this redeveloped area of the city.


Markets and grocery stores abound in Casablanca; the Central Market and the Maarif offer the best quality and selection. Although the markets are open only in the morning, the grocery stores remain open well into the evening; in addition, several large American-style supermarkets and buyers' clubs are located in the city.

All fresh fruits and vegetables found in the U.S. are available seasonally. Most personnel buy poultry, meat and fish locally. Cuts of meat differ slightly from those in the U.S., but quality and variety are good. Pork, chicken, and beef are available at prices somewhat higher than in the U.S. Alcoholic beverages are available, although expensive when purchased on the local market. Moroccan wines, however, are plentiful and vary in quality from table wine to quite good vintages. Prices are reasonable by U.S. standards. Casablanca has an excellent selection of French pastry shops and Belgian chocolate shops; Moroccan breads and pastries are of good quality.


Most purchase clothing either directly from the U.S. via catalog or while on vacation in Europe or the U.S. However, Casablanca has an increasing number of boutiques with adequate to very good apparel and footwear, some of it imported. Casablanca currently has Morocco's only department store, Alpha 55, which has a clothing department. Clothes may also be purchased at the large supermarkets or price clubs mentioned above.

Casablanca's medina and Habbous district offer an excellent selection of Moroccan arts and handicrafts, everything from bronze metalwork to Berber carpets, to decorated ceramics and pottery. (Other major handicraft centers within the consular district are Marrakech, Safi, Essaouira and Ouarzazate.)

Many expatriates living in Casablanca take advantage of its antique shops, fairs and flea markets to hunt for that special Moroccan or European decorative item.


In Casablanca, automobile service and repair facilities are more numerous than in other Moroccan cities. Buses and taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. There are numerous car rental agencies in Casablanca. Rates are more expensive and rental cars generally are older and less well maintained than those for hire in the U.S. or Europe.

Supplies and Services

Casablanca has many excellent hair stylists, beauty shops and shoe repair shops. Drycleaners are not of American or European standards; wash-and-wear is preferable to items requiring drycleaning. Local film processing using the latest technology to produce fast service is reliable and comparable in price with the U.S. Some employees, however, prefer to send film to the U.S. for processing. (For additional information on Clothing and Supplies and Services, see Rabat.)

Religious Activities

English-language services are available at the Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist, located near the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Casablanca, and weekly Catholic Mass alternates between the Cathedral and Maison St. Dominique. Several Catholic and Protestant churches hold services in French and Spanish. Other places of worship include synagogues and Greek Orthodox Churches. Non-Moslems generally are not permitted to enter mosques in Morocco. An exception is the

Hassan II Mosque where visitors can view the magnificent ornate interior on guided tours for DH 100.


Parents of pre-school age youngsters may enroll their children in the Casablanca American School (CAS), which offers nursery and kindergarten classes on a half day basis, or else choose one of a number of French language pre-schools in Casablanca. A third option is the George Washington Academy (GWA), inaugurated in 1998. The latter offers an American curriculum taught in a trilingual setting (4045% English, 40-45% French and 10-20% Arabic). GWA offers pre-kindergarten through 8th grade education, with plans to expand to 12th grade in the future.

Tuition at the French language pre-schools generally has been less expensive than that charged by CAS; parents must pay this tuition charge themselves.

Other American children attend either CAS or one of the French Mission schools. CAS, which opened its impressive new campus in a suburb named "California" in September 1989 but which has been in operation since 1973, provides English-language, international education from nursery school through grade 12. Interested parents representing the corporate sector and the General founded the school, and it has been well-supported by the entire English-speaking community, as well as permanent residents of Morocco in Casablanca. The school year begins in early September/late August and runs through mid-June. Its walled campus contains a pre-school with 6 classrooms, administration building, large classroom building, two-level library, gymnasium, cafeteria and dining area, and sports field. Construction is planned to begin in 2000 to provide another auditorium, an additional gymnasium, and more classroom space.

All local holidays and some American holidays are observed. The school is supported in part by a grant from the Department of State, and uses modern teaching methods and materials, maintaining high academic standards. It compares favorably to better American public and private schools. The International Baccalaureate program as well as an American high school diploma are offered. In 1999, enrollment stood at 478 students, representing over 30 nationalities. American students made up 9%, Moroccan students were 59%, and 32% came from other nations. Space limitations, particularly in the lowest grades, have meant that early applications for nondiplomatic families are highly recommended.

The school attempts to limit class size to 18 students per class, though CAS responds positively to requests that additional students be accepted from the corporate or diplomatic sectors. French language instruction is provided to all students; Arabic is optional except for Moroccan students for whom it is a compulsory subject. Computer instruction is introduced at an early age. Students can access e-mail through the school's computer lab.

The CAS faculty includes 64 full-time and 8 part-time staff members, including 34 from the U.S. Teachers are assisted by instructional aides in the lower grades as well as by several teaching interns.

CAS integrates the study of Morocco into its curriculum at all levels in order to build a better understanding of the host country. There are academic and athletic exchange programs with Moroccan counterparts; moreover, field trips and visitations promote an appreciation and understanding of the geography, history, language, religion and accomplishments of Morocco.

As the rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum, beginning in middle school and continuing through high school, places heavy emphasis on mathematics, science and English, students transferring into CAS at the secondary level may find adjustment difficult without a solid grounding in previous academic work. The school will test all such prospective students for placement and make recommendations if there are any deficiencies which need to be addressed. Extremely limited resources are available for students with special needs. All students are mainstreamed into the normal academic programs if admitted to CAS. Parents of high-school-age students should consult with A/OS in the Department of State.

CAS graduates in recent years have gained admission to superior North American and European universities such as Duke, Penn, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, M.I.T., Cal Tech, Vassar, Williams, McGill (Canada), International School of Economics, (Rotterdam), London School of Economics, etc. Depending on the institution and IB examination results, some graduates may be given advanced standing or awarded credits at universities based on their IB degree.

After-school activities include a full range of sports for both boys and girls including volleyball, track and field, basketball, soccer, swimming and softball. Other extracurricular offerings are drama, art, choir, debate and yearbook clubs. Student councils are elected at both the lower school and upper school levels. A charity committee focuses CAS efforts at outreach into needy communities in Casablanca and its environs. On the academic side, the school regularly places students from grade 5 upwards, based on Scholastic Achievement Test results, to special summer programs for the academically gifted at Johns Hopkins, Duke University, Amherst and other U.S. higher institutions.

The French Mission system, another educational option, traditionally has many more applicants than places and therefore gives preference to students who have already studied in the French system. French-language fluency is essential. French school hours are longer (including some Saturday sessions) and discipline may be different for those accustomed to U.S. public schools. Class size could well be substantially larger than that at CAS. Graduates of the Lycee Lyautey in Casablanca possess the equivalent of a high school education plus 1 year of college credit, and may continue their education at French universities.

American college degrees or certificates cannot be obtained in Morocco, though Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane offers coursework in English according to a U.S.-based curriculum leading to undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Special Educational Opportunities

The Department-sponsored FSI language program teaches French and Arabic, depending on funding and community interest. The French Cultural Center also offers reasonably priced French or Arabic lessons. The American Language Center, an independent educational institution, is located in the downtown building which formerly housed the Consulate General. The center offers classes in English, French and Arabic. It also houses the American Bookstore which contains a modest assortment of English-language books.


The two golf clubs in the Casablanca area have a combined but limited membership for use of their facilities. One 9-hole course is located in the Anfa residential area of Casablanca near the principal officer's home; it also offers a restaurant, swimming pool, sauna, and tennis courts. The other, which has an 18-hole course, is about 20 miles from Casablanca, in Mohammedia. Casablanca has many tennis clubs.

(See Rabat Sports section on beaches, skiing, hiking, hunting, fishing, etc.) A long strip of clean beaches can be found a half hour's drive south of Casablanca in Dan Bonazza, including several private beaches which offer dining, shower and bathroom facilities. Many people enjoy saltwater fishing, and two yacht clubs offer boating and sailing. Surfing and windsurfing are available, but are not recommended for beginners. Recreation for children is limited, but small public parks, a zoo, two small amusement parks, and an aquarium are located in the city. Horses can be rented and excellent instruction is available for children at reasonable rates.

Long distance running is becoming increasingly popular. Employees from Rabat and Casablanca participate in the annual Marrakech International Marathon, as well as in many shorter races. Spectator events in Casablanca are held in the Mohammed V Stadium; weekend soccer matches are popular and draw huge crowds and considerable traffic congestion. The local newspapers offer coverage of sporting events.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Casablanca's consular district offers a wide variety of sights of both natural beauty and cultural importance. Marrakech, with lovely monuments and excellent restaurants, has a booming tourist industry, as does Agadir with its beautiful Atlantic beaches. Safi and Essaouira offer attractive ceramics and handicrafts as well as a less hurried pace, while Ouarzazate is the gateway to the Draa and Dades Valleys, and Zagora lies at the edge of the Sahara. Within a few hours' drive from Casablanca, one can admire beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls and deserts. The major cities of Rabat, Fez, Meknes, Marrakech, and Tangier are all linked to Casablanca by excellent and inexpensive bus and rail service.


Casablanca offers a wealth of excellent restaurants, many of them French. They can be found both in the major downtown hotel area and out on the Corniche overlooking the water, where diners take advantage of both the beautiful sight and an abundance of fresh seafood. Although there are creditable Moroccan restaurants as well, the best Moroccan cooking in Casablanca remains in private homes. Casablanca has many Lebanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Kosher, Italian, and Spanish restaurants.

In recent years, U.S. franchise establishments have entered the Moroccan market. Casablanca now boasts numerous well-known outlets such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway, Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donuts, Domino's Pizza and even a Schlotsky's Deli. Additionally, Casablanca offers innumerable cafes and ice cream parlors. Personnel at the Consulate General also travel frequently up and down the coast to enjoy the numerous fish and seafood restaurants in such towns as Mohammedia, El Jadida, and Oualidia. The latter is particularly well known for its cultivation of oysters.

Casablanca has a number of night clubs, jazz clubs and discotheques that typically attract the late night crowd. These are generally found along the city's Corniche waterfront area.

Cultural events are limited, but the foreign cultural centers, particularly the French and Italian, as well as the neighborhood cultural centers of Anfa, Maarif, and Ben M'sik, offer frequent concerts, lectures, painting exhibitions, and other cultural events. The Goethe Institute and the Spanish Cultural Center also offer a variety of programs. Casablanca's dozen cinemas offer mostly American films dubbed into French. Three or four showings are featured daily. The foreign cultural centers also show films in the original language with French subtitles. Teenagers participate in social events with their counterparts from the various high schools. The common language is French.

Few festivities take place in Casablanca proper, but there are occasional "moussems" and "fantasias" (colorful simulated charges by horsemen in full regalia, brandishing and firing weapons), and there are native folk dances in the Atlas Mountains. A National Museum and National Library are planned for the redevelopment area surrounding the Hassan II Mosque.

Newsstands carry primarily French and Arabic periodicals, but the International Herald Tribune, the European editions of Time and Newsweek, and The Economist are found readily. Several excellent French bookstores, some of which carry English language titles, are also available.

Shortwave reception is good. A quality shortwave set receives VOA, BBC, or other European broadcasts. Local radio and TV broadcasts are in French and Arabic. A multisystem TV is required for viewing these broadcasts. (See The Host Country, Radio and TV, for information regarding satellite TV)

Social Activities

The Churchill Club, located in the suburb of Ain Diab off the Corniche, stipulates that its members speak English on the premises. Membership is primarily English and American, with some French and Moroccans who wish to exercise their knowledge of English and socialize with native speakers. This club provides a means of getting acquainted with other members of the English-speaking community. The club offers dinner every Tuesday night, luncheons on Sundays, and limited food service during the week. Members are permitted to bring out-of-town visitors. Facilities include a bar, library, small wading pool, table tennis, and billiards. The club also sponsors dances, ethnic dinners and bridge tournaments. Both the American and British consuls general are ex officio members of the governing board.

The Casablanca Amateur Dramatic Society (CADS) presents several full length plays annually, as well as numerous readings using the Churchill Club's facilities, but remaining a separate group. Casablanca's American International Women's Club membership is mostly non-American, although the club president must be a U.S. citizen. Working closely with many hospitals and schools, this group has an effective charity and development program which provides for the needy, and sponsors one annual fund raising event-the pre-Christmas bazaar. Besides monthly business meetings, the club sponsors afternoon bridge sessions and occasional outings. Many social clubs offer tennis, yachting, riding, and swimming. These clubs and the Royal Golf d'Anfa and Mohammedia provide good opportunities for meeting the local community of all nationalities.


Strategically located facing the Strait of Gibraltar, Tangier is one of the oldest urban settlements in Morocco. It likely was founded as a trading post by the Phoenicians around 1100 B.C. and later was settled by Carthaginians and Romans before Arabs arrived in the 7th century A.D. Later, Tangier was fought over by Portuguese, Spanish and the English. From 1906 until Morocco's independence, Tangier existed apart from the rest of Morocco as an international port governed by European countries. It was during these five decades that the city gained a reputation for smuggling, intrigue and espionage. Various artists, writers, poets and eccentric expatriates were attracted to its pleasant climate and checkered history. While the Moroccan government's successful efforts to clean Tangier of its most unsavory elements have altered the character of the city, its proximity to Europe and regular flow of tourists, its somewhat run-down 1930s architecture, its mixture of Berber, Arabic and European influences, and its still active cultural community, combine to make it a highly individual and interesting place.

With a population of nearly 800,000, Tangier is built around a sandy beach and extends up into the foothills of the Rif Mountains. The general topography is hilly and craggy, with scant vegetation in the summer dry season, and with a profusion of flowers and greenery in winter and spring. Average temperature in August, the hottest month, is 86°F Particularly during the summer months, tourists descend upon the city, both from Morocco and the European continent, swelling the city's population and filling its many restaurants, hotels, apartments and cafes.

Tangier's winters, November to April, resemble those of San Francisco, chilly and rainy. January average temperature is around 63°F Periods of rain can last for several days, however, and the resultant dampness coupled with barely adequate heating facilities in many homes require families to have on hand a good supply of warm clothing.


It is said that when the doves from Noah's Ark carried back leaves from Tangier signifying that the flood had receded, Noah exclaimed "Et T'heneja!" (the land has come), pronounced in darija Arabic, "Tanja."

The recorded history of Tangier begins with the arrival of the Phoenicians, whose lonely stone tombs still look out upon the sea that brought them here. Following a short epoch of Carthaginian occupation, the Romans took Tangier in the third century. By the eighth century, the Muslims had taken back the city which, with nearby Ksar Es-Seghir, became the base for their invasion of Iberia. The waning power of the Andalusian Muslims brought Portugal to the scene in 1471. Portugal ruled Tangier until the British received it in 1662, along with Bombay, as part of the dowry of the new wife of King Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, the Infanta of Portugal.

The British in Tangier were first led by Lord Sandwich. Morocco was, at that time, ruled by one of its fiercest sultans, Moulay Ismail. His unending harassment of the British colony of Tangier, coupled with political and financial problems at home, caused the withdrawal of the British in 1681. They blew up much of the city as they left.

The first American official contacts with Morocco began in 1777, when the Sultan of Morocco accorded recognition to the maritime commerce of the fledgling United States. Thus, Morocco became the first nation to recognize the U.S. as an independent nation.

In 1856, Tangier became the diplomatic capital of Morocco. The Franco-Moroccan Treaty of Protectorate was signed in 1912, and Tangier was placed under a special international regime. In June 1940, the forces of the Khalifian Army of the Spanish Zone entered the city, and the next year Tangier was incorporated into the Spanish Zone of Morocco. At that time, Vichy, France, which was dominated by Germany, controlled Morocco.

In August 1946, as a result of the negotiations among France, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the U.S.S.R., the International Statute was reestablished. Morocco became independent in November 1956, and the Tangier International Zone was reabsorbed into the kingdom the following year.

The oldest official U.S. building in the world, outside the United States, is located in Tangier. The former American Legation was a gift to the U.S. in 1821, and was used by official American representatives until new offices were constructed in 1962. In 1981, the old legation building was registered by the Department of the Interior as a national historic site, the first such designation of a property outside the country.


Tangier does not have supermarkets offering the range of food products found in the large shopping centers in Rabat and Casablanca. But fresh seafood, meat and poultry products, and vegetables and fruit can be purchased in the daily souk market or in smaller convenience stores sprinkled throughout the city. Availability of individual vegetables and fruits may depend on the season. Families residing in Tangier recognize that lack of proper sanitation and clean water in surrounding rural areas, as well as use of fertilizer of uncertain origin, require them to wash thoroughly all vegetable and fruit products purchased on the local market.

Tangier's reputation as a place where one can obtain hard-to-find items is still alive and well. Most expatriate families rely on occasional visits to Ceuta-the Spanish enclave an 1-1/2 hour's drive away-to take advantage of reasonable prices, European brand names, and greater variety of vegetables and other individual products.


While most of the information pertaining to Rabat and Casablanca applies to Tangier, it should be noted that, despite the city's historic reputation as a more open city, there is a strong underlying strain of conservatism and strictness concerning Islamic morals and values. This manifests itself in a more conservative dress code for women, for example. Use of the djellaba by women is the rule, with fewer Moroccan females dressed in Western attire in public.

As elsewhere in Morocco, but perhaps even more so in a city that attracts a steady flow of European tourists, foreign women attract the attention of the male population. Expatriate female residents claim this uninvited attention can be more persistent in Tangier than elsewhere, at least until the newcomer is recognized as a resident and not a tourist. American women generally adhere to the rule that sleeves should extend to the elbow and skirts to the knee when they are shopping or otherwise in public.

Supplies and Services

Tangier has many competent hair stylists, beauty shops and shoe-repair shops. Drycleaning is more problematical; wash-and-wear should be selected over clothes which require drycleaning.

Religious Activities

Protestant services in English are offered by the Anglicans at St. Andrew's Church. A group of expatriates also meet regularly at the Tangier International Church for Sunday services. Regular Catholic mass in Spanish, or once monthly in French, also are available in the community.


The American School of Tangier (AST), founded in 1950 to serve the needs of the American community, was established as a coeducational, non-sectarian institution open to children of all religious and racial backgrounds. Over the years, as the American community has dwindled, the composition of the student body has evolved so that today the overwhelming number of children attending AST are Moroccan, with a sprinkling of U.S. students and other nationalities. Nevertheless, its American headmaster of more than 25 years and his faculty of 45 teachers, seven of whom are Americans, have managed to continue the school's tradition of providing an English language, American-style education, and to place its graduates in institutions of higher education throughout the world.

The school has been assisted by grants from the Department of State. Together with grant moneys and donated funds, land was purchased and an academic complex was constructed beginning in 1962. The complex includes a modern building housing 20 classrooms, a large library, administrative offices and a fully equipped science and language laboratory. Later, a dormitory was opened to accommodate boarding students from outside the Tangier area.

AST is incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware as a private, nonprofit educational institution and is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, over half of whom must be U.S. citizens. While the school is not officially accredited with any of the various accrediting organizations which exist in the U.S. or Europe, AST has compiled a noteworthy record of turning out graduates who gain entrance to some of the best American, European or Moroccan universities.

AST follows an American curriculum from kindergarten through the 12th grade. While teachers represent various nationalities, textbooks are nearly universally American. Elementary school covers the fundamentals of reading, number concepts and writing. Students are taught the importance of accuracy, close observation and logical thought. Instruction in French begins in the fifth grade. Arabic is an elective except for Moroccan students for whom it is a compulsory subject. Spanish also is offered, along with art and music. The school produces twice a year a school magazine containing stories, essays and poems by students from all grades. AST's Archaeological and Historical Club meets regularly and takes field trips to historical places of interest around Tangier and elsewhere.

In 1998, the student body from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade numbered 340, with 9 Americans among them. Twenty-one other nationalities were represented among the student body. Secondary education is rigorous and designed to prepare the student for college, with heavy emphasis on English, history, mathematics and the applied sciences. A full range of athletic activities is offered, including track and field, swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis and tennis. But perhaps in the extracurricular field, AST is most well known for its dramatic productions which for over 30 years have earned a reputation for excellence and innovative techniques. Typically, these works involve virtually the whole secondary student body who work up to three months to rehearse and stage the productions, with immense contributions from professional members of the artistic community who donate their time and talents to areas of particular expertise such as direction, set design, costume design, make-up or music.

Special Educational Opportunities

There are opportunities for language study in Tangier-French at the Alliance Francaise; Spanish and Arabic at various institutes.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

To the west of Tangier, less than 30 minute's drive, is Cap Spartel with first-class accommodations and restaurant at La Mirage. To the east, one can stop virtually anywhere on the scenic coastal route drive to Ceuta for great sea views and a meal at one of the many restaurants along the way. Ceuta itself has a number of hotels and a completely different atmosphere for those wishing to get away for a weekend. South of Ceuta, along the Mediterranean coast there are any number of resorts-including Club Med and several hotel complexes patterned after it-where bungalows or rooms may be rented. Farther east there is the beach town of Al Hoceima. Other smaller beach towns are located along the Mediterranean coast until you reach Melilla, the second Spanish enclave.

Traveling south of Tangier, Tetouan is worth a visit, if only to spend some time in its souk. Tetouan does not attract many foreign tourists; which makes the negotiating easier, and the city's stylized carpets are well known throughout Morocco. An hour and one-half farther south is the medieval mountain village of Chaouen. This fascinating town was founded by returning refugees from Iberia in the 15th century and remains surprisingly unfazed by modernity. It is a great weekend getaway spot.

Tangier does have the advantage of frequent ferry service to Spain, which opens up touring possibilities in Spain and Portugal. The overnight ferry to Sete, France also permits discovering the pleasures of that country.

(See Rabat and Casablanca sections of this article for descriptions of other Moroccan places to visit. Rabat can be reached in just over 3 hour's drive, most of which is tolled freeway.)


Tangier offers a number of good restaurants, from simple sawdust-on-the-floor, cheap cafes in the medina where fresh seafood is the house specialty, to more upmarket establishments which are licensed to serve alcohol. Many restaurants offer menus with an emphasis on Spanish-style cooking. There are several restaurants featuring Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine, as well.

The medina itself is a labyrinth of small shops and stalls selling every manner of Moroccan artifact. Prices, however, always start very high because of the constant tourist flow, so negotiating a fair price can be a challenge. One stop not to be missed is the site within the medina of the original American Ambassador's residence, now called "the American Legation." It was given to the new U.S. Government in 1777 by the Sultan Moulay Slimane and is considered an American Historic Landmark. The building now houses a museum.

Despite Tangier having fallen on hard times in recent years, the area still has a lively schedule of cultural offerings-from concerts, to film showings, to art exhibitions. The problem for Americans is that most of these cultural activities require French or Spanish in order to be appreciated, for they are sponsored by the Alliance Francaise, the Spanish Institute, the Italian Cultural Center or the German Goethe Institute. One would do well soon after arrival to pay a visit to these respective centers and get one's name on the mailing list.

Aside from the cultural activities listed above, people assigned to Tangier often have to make their own entertainment. Some choose to take mountain bike excursions; some drive up into the surrounding Rif Mountains for hiking; some arrange tennis games or golf outings. All make use of satellite TV systems to receive U.S. and European programming.

Because of language barriers and the fact that Moroccans are accustomed to spending spare time with their own extended families, invitations are not extended to Americans very often. Of course, when they are received, one can expect extraordinary Moroccan hospitality and a sumptuous meal. The best Moroccan cooking is always found in the home.

For cultural reasons mentioned previously, it is not always pleasant for the American woman to venture out in public alone. Local society is conservative and often not accessible.


Marrakech, the fascinating, walled, oasis city of Morocco in the foothills of the western end of the Grand Atlas, was twice the capital of the country. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the great cities of Islam, and a prospering commercial center. Today, this famed gateway city to the Sahara is still alive with color and confusion in the souks, in the bustling Djemma-el-fna Square, in the narrow streets, in the magnificent Saadian tombs and the gardens, and around the Koutoubya mosque with its 220-foot-high minaret. The 1989 population of greater Marrakech was 1,958,000, a figure that is swelled considerably by tourists throughout the year, but especially during the resort season from December through April.

Marrakech (also spelled Marrakesh) dates back to 1062 when, as the encampment of Yusef ibn-Tashfin, it marked the founding of the African capital of the Almoravides dynasty. The city was captured in 1147 by the Almohades, a Berber Muslim sect who ruled Spain and Morocco in the 12th and 13th centuries. Marrakech was the capital of Morocco until 1259, and again from 1550 until 1660. It was founded as a modern European town in 1913.

The city still evokes thoughts of mystery and espionage, and of desert caravans (it was, in fact, once a starting point for slave caravans to the Sahara and Timbuktu). It draws thousands of tourists who are fascinated by the fabulous 12th-century gardens and beautiful marble palaces, and, mostly, by the minaret which has dominated the landscape since its completion in 1190.

The opportunities for sports, shopping, and sight-seeing are many. Tennis and golf are readily available. The hotels and restaurants are numerous, and information about these can be had at the centrally-located National Tourist Office. Many of the better restaurants serve excellent French and Moroccan dishes.

Marrakech has several points of interest. The Koutoubia mosque, constructed in the 12th century, is the city's most-famous monument. The Koutoubia's minaret is a noticeable landmark. Also, the museum of Dar Si Said offers examples of art from southern regions of Morocco. Displays include weaponry, tribal costumes, silver jewelry, mosaics, lamps, chandeliers, and pottery.

The heart of Marrakech consists of the medina, with its myriad of kiosks and stalls, and the Djemmael-fna, which is a huge town square where drummers, dancers, acrobats, snake charmers, storytellers, and folklore groups gather during the late afternoon to entertain passersby.

The skiing season lasts from the end of December to the end of April. Skiing is available at Oukaimeden and in the Ifrane area. Oukaimeden is about an 80-to 90-minute ride from the city and, at an altitude of 8,530 feet, it overlooks the plain of Marrakech. In the Ifrane area, Michliffen and Djebel Hebri offer skiing at a lower altitude of 6,500 feet. Michliffen is open only for a short season because of minimal snowfall. A restaurant and bar are located on the slope. Djebel Hebri has a very steep hill about 10 minutes beyond Michliffen. Hotels, country cottages, and camp sites offer accommodations for skiers during the winter and hikers throughout the rest of the year.


Fez (also spelled Fès) is the oldest city in Morocco. It was founded early in the ninth century by the Muslim ruler, Idriss II, and is still a religious and cultural center. It is, as one of the most sacred places in the country, a city of ornate mosques and ancient tombs. The Qarawiyin University of Fez is the oldest university in the world and houses a library containing one of the finest collections anywhere of Islamic manuscripts. The ninth-century Karaouyine Mosque is the oldest institute of higher learning in the world.

The souks and the medina provide many interesting hours of sight-seeing, as do the Neijarine Square, the Medrassa Bou Inania, and countless other examples of Moroccan architecture. From the hills, the beauty of the city is memorable, particularly toward evening, when the setting sun casts a glow over the tiled roofs and the labyrinth of narrow streets.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, several madrassas, or religious schools, were founded and these are open to the public. The best known are the Attarine and the Bou Inania, whose caretakers guide visitors through marble courts, under arches dripping with stucco stalactites, into rooms with carved cedar ceilings and intricate walls of tile. In the floors above, ornamentation is absent from the tiny rooms where students lived and studied. In appearance and atmosphere, these cells are strongly reminiscent of French and Italian monasteries of the Middle Ages.

Modern Fez offers good hotels and restaurants, several sports clubs, and many places to shop. It is noted for its Moroccan rugs and handi-crafts, and is the city which lent its name to the brimless hats worn by Muslims in the Middle East.

Several crops are grown in the area surrounding Fez. These include wheat, beans, olives and grapes; sheep, goats, and cattle are also raised.

Good air, rail, and bus transportation make Fez easily accessible. Many visitors drive here from the capital, or from Casablanca or Tangier. The city has an international airport.

The present population of Fez is close to 1,105,000.


Meknès is another large northern Moroccan city, 117 miles northeast of Casablanca. It is also a major tourist center. Each May 7, the birth of Mohammed is commemorated with a majestic display of lights and folkloric presentations, called the Feast of Mouloud. Meknès is an old city, founded in the 10th century. During the Middle Ages, it was an Almohades citadel.

Actually, as in other ancient cities and towns in Morocco, there are two citiesthe walled medina and the modern center. European influence began in Meknès in the mid-19th century, and the desire for colonization almost led to war between France and Germany. Protectorates had been established by France and Spain by 1912.

The sultan's residence, which was built in the 17th century, consists of gardens, gateways, palatial buildings, and parks covering miles in area. It took more than 50 years to complete, and is referred to as the "Versailles of Morocco."

Meknès has several interesting sites. The main gateway of Bab Mansour is among the most imposing relics in Morocco. Its construction was started by Sultan Moulay Ismail and completed by his son Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah. Another point of interest is the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. It is one of the few Moroccan shrines which can be visited by non-Muslims.

Situated in the heart of the medina is the Grand Mosque. This is one of the oldest and largest mosques in Meknès. Outside the walls of the medina is the Palace of Par Jamai with its art museum which includes examples of pottery and carpets from the Atlas Mountains, as well as embroidery, jewels, weapons, and dressing objects.

Meknès is a main railroad center, and is a source of textiles, vegetable oils, canned foods, and cement. There are several hotels and restaurants, and a National Tourist Office, where information and guides are available. One of the newer points of interest is the Museum of Moroccan Arts.

No schools for English-speaking children have been established in either Meknès or Fez, but the American School at Tangier provides satisfactory boarding facilities.


Oujda is a commercial center in northeast Morocco, near the Algerian border. A city of 260,000 residents, it is an important rail junction serving the extensive surrounding agricultural area. The city is a tourist center, has an international airport, and owes some growth to the coal, zinc, and lead mines to the south. Although Oujda has remnants of ancient walls, it is a modern city in appearance.

Oujda was founded in 944 and, in the ensuing centuries, often came under colonial rule. It became part of Morocco in 1797, but was claimed by the French for two different periods in the mid-19th century, and again in 1907.

The city's name is sometimes spelled Oudjda or, in Arabic, Udja.


AGADIR , in southwest Morocco, is one of the country's three chief seaports (the others are Tangier and Casablanca). It was founded by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. Historically, Agadir is known as the site of an international incident which took place in 1911, during the establishment of a French protectorate. A German gunboat, intent on invasion, entered the harbor, and war was narrowly averted when France offered Germany a considerable part of its territory in what is now the Congo. Agadir, one of several Moroccan landing spots for Allied Forces in World War II, was nearly leveled by a series of earthquakes in the winter of 1960. It has been rebuilt and, in addition to its port activity, is also a seaside resort. With its date palm shaded bay, golf course, tennis courts and water sports clubs, Agadir offers the visitor a wide range of entertainment. The city continues to attract an increasing number of tourists. The city's modern market sells meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, flowers, carpets, caftans, ceramics, and handicrafts. A new road from Agadir leads to Marrakech. The population was estimated at 525,000 in 1994. A more recent population figure is unavailable.

CEUTA is a seaport and Spanish enclave and military outpost about 62 miles from Tangier, in northern Morocco. It is a duty-free area, and some Americans make occasional visits to shop. Its Jebel Musa (Mount Hacho), one of two opposite promontories at the entrance to the Mediterranean, commands an impressive view of the Straits of Gibraltar. It faces the other headland (the Rock of Gibraltar) in Spain and, together, they are referred to as the Pillars of Hercules. According to fable, they were one mountain range until Hercules tore them apart in his effort to reach Cádiz. Ceuta, whose current population is over 70,000, has been administered by Spain since 1580. Before that time, it had been first an Arab trading town, and later was held by Portugal.

EL (or AL) JADIDA , a port city of over 120,000 residents on the Atlantic, is located 60 miles southwest of Casablanca. It ships agricultural products. El Jadida was founded by the Portuguese in 1502, and held by them for 217 years. It once was called Mazagan. The city is a favorite beach resort for Moroccans from the big cities. One attraction of note in El Jadida is the subterranean water cistern built by the Portuguese.

KENITRA , a city of about 144,000, is a port on the Sebou (Sebu) River in northwest Morocco, about eight miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It was built by the French to serve the surrounding fertile valley, and once was called Port Lyautey. Allied forces landed at Kenitra in late 1942, during World War II. Its population is about 293,000 (1994 est.).

SAFI (also spelled Saffi) is an Atlantic port and fishing center southwest of Casablanca. It is also an industrial city, and the site of a large chemical complex. The city is an important port for the export of phosphates. Safi is the site of a small 16th century Portuguese fortress, Chateau de la Mer (Sea Castle.) Its current population is 262,000 (2000 est.). Safi was another of the Allied landing sites in Morocco in World War II.

TÉTOUAN , set among picturesque mountains, is 37 miles from Tangier, and has one of the most interesting and attractive medinas in Morocco. Among its principal cultural attractions is the Orchestre du Conservatoire, which specializes in presentations of Andalusian music. Tétouan was the capital of former Spanish Morocco until 1956. It was founded in the 14th century and, in its early years was a pirate base. The city contains many monuments: a fort, walls with well preserved fences, a number of mosques, fountains, and an old imperial palace. The palace was built in the 17th century, but was renovated and restored in 1948. Tétouan has two museums, a college of Fine Arts, and a school of Moroccan Art.


Geography and Climate

Situated in the northwest corner of Africa, the Kingdom of Morocco covers nearly 200,000 square miles. In size and variability of climate, it is comparable to California. Because of its geographical location, Morocco is known in Arabic as El Maghreb el Aqsa-the extreme west of the Arab world. Between Morocco's western coast and the mountains lies a wide plain, the Gharb, which produces most of the country's agricultural products. The High Atlas, the Middle Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas mountain ranges traverse the country from northeast to southwest. The summits of the High Atlas Mountains climb to 13,664 feet (Toubkal) and 12,300 feet (Ayachi). This range collects moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and distributes it over the western part of Morocco. Because this region lies between the Atlantic and the mountains, it enjoys a temperate climate. The Atlas range cannot, however, shut out an occasional "shergui" (hot easterly wind) from the desert. The eastern slopes of the High Atlas have a semi-desert aspect and a rigorous pre-Saharan climate.

In the north, and independent of the Atlas, the Rif Mountains loom up sharply and follow the curving line of the Mediterranean shore. Here, also, a mild climate prevails, which permits Mediterranean-type agriculture.


Morocco's nearly 30 million people (excluding approximately 1.5 million Moroccans living and working abroad) are principally Berber and Arab, but also include several thousand Jewish Moroccans. Some 50,000 French and a smaller number of Spanish and other nationalities reside in the country.

Islam is the state religion in Morocco. As such, Islam is an integral part of daily life and profoundly influences manners and personal conduct. Arabic is the official and principal language; however, Moroccan Arabic is distinctive, with some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary from classical Arabic. French predominates as a second language and much of the country's business is conducted in French. In the north, Spanish is widely understood and spoken. In rural areas, any one of the three Berber vernaculars that are not mutually intelligible may be used. Many Berbers speak Arabic as well as their own dialect of the Berber language. English is not widely spoken in Morocco, although in recent years increasing attention is being given to learning it. Among young Moroccans, English is the language most people study, after Arabic and French.

Recent statistics give the literacy rate for males to be 57% and 31% for females. An estimated 68% of primary school-age boys and 48% of primary school-age girls had attended primary school for at least some period, while 44% of males and 33% of females had attended secondary school.

In Morocco, food and its preparation are very important. People are proud of Moroccan cuisine, which is both imaginative and unusual, blending and combining various kinds of vegetables, fruits and meat or seafood with spices and condiments. "Couscous," a staple made of semolina and served with chicken, lamb, or beef and numerous vegetables, is the national dish. Another traditional Moroccan dish is "tajine," a spicy stew with as many variations as there are cooks; usually tajines have a meat or poultry base. Other Moroccan delicacies include roasted lamb (mechoui), flaky pigeon pie (pastilla), and a hearty soup (harira) of chick peas, meat and vegetables. Green tea, with fresh mint and sugar, is the national drink.

In terms of apparel, both men and women often wear the "djellaba" in public. This resembles the long, hooded robe worn by Franciscan monks. In years past, Arab women avoided revealing their faces in public. Even today, in some rural areas and among some of the older generation living in cities, women wear veils when outside the home. But the younger generation of city-dwelling Moroccans appears to prefer Western-style clothes, except on holidays and ceremonial occasions. Likewise, in metropolitan centers men wear suits and neckties and women generally wear Western attire to their workplaces.

At certain social functions, Moroccan women sometimes wear caftans, beautifully designed and trimmed robes worn with exquisite gold belts. Men living in the hot and dry southern region of Morocco may wear robes in beautiful blue hues and black headdresses worn for protection from the desert sun.

Public Institutions

Morocco became independent in 1956 with the abrogation of French and Spanish protectorate agreements. Tangier, formerly administered as an international zone, was restored to Morocco two years later and Ifni, a small enclave in the south, was handed back by Spain in 1969. The Spanish departed from the Western Sahara, the disputed territory directly south of Morocco, in 1975. A UN-sponsored referendum to determine whether Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara would be upheld is scheduled to be conducted in the territory in July 2000. Two small enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, both located on Morocco's northern coast, remain under Spanish control.

In 1962, a popular referendum approved Morocco's first constitution. It provided for a two-chamber parliament, prefectural and provincial assemblies, rural and municipal councils, and local professional chambers. A second constitution, approved by popular referendum in July, 1970, provided for a unicameral parliament composed of 240 representatives. Ninety of these representatives would be elected directly; the rest would be elected by local and professional assemblies. In early 1972, a popular referendum approved a third constitution. It increased the number of representatives in Parliament to be directly elected by two-thirds. A fourth and somewhat more liberal constitution was adopted by referendum in September, 1992.

Morocco is a monarchy with a constitution; the King is considered to be both the spiritual and temporal leader of the country. King Mohammed VI, who has ruled Morocco since July 1999, is the son of King Mohammed V, a national hero who led the movement for independence from France, and is the latest in the line of the Alaouite dynasty which has ruled Morocco continuously since the 17th century. The Alaouite monarchs trace their descent to the prophet Mohamed, and King Mohammed VI thus bears the title " Commander of the Faithful."

Although dominated by the monarchy, the Moroccan political system since independence has been characterized by political pluralism. The principal political parties include the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), which in 1999 controlled the largest number of seats in the Parliament. The USFP, a member of the "Kutla" (or Democratic Bloc) of parties, which served for many years as the Government's main opposition, represents urban intellectuals and workers. The Kutla also includes the Istiqlal (Independence) party, a nationalist party that has been active since independence, as well as other former socialist and communist groups. The coalition government which took over in 1998, headed by Prime Minister Abdderrahman Youssoufi (USFP), includes parties of the Kutla as well as centrist parties, such as the National Grouping of Independents (RNI) and the National Popular Movement (MNP). The traditional pro-regime parties include the Constitutional Union (UC) party founded in 1983, and the Popular Movement (MP), which represents largely rural and Berber interests. A small conservative Islamist-dominated party also is represented in Parliament.

A referendum in 1996 created a bicameral legislature, composed of the directly elected 325-seat Chamber of Deputies and the indirectly elected 220-seat Chamber of Counselors. The current Parliament was elected in 1997 for terms varying from five to nine years.

Other potential political forces include Morocco's major labor federation, the Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT). The UMT claims 200,000 members, most in the modern economic sector. The Confederation Democratique du Travail (CDT), which claims about 150,000 members, is allied with the USFP, and the Union Generale du Travail Marocaine (UGTM), a third union, is affiliated with the Istiqlal. Moroccan political institutions are based on Islamic tradition, Moroccan history, French precedent, and modern evolution.

According to the constitution, the King-chief of state and commander-in-Chief of the armed forces-shares legislative authority with Parliament. But the King retains exclusive regulatory power and may issue royal decrees ("dahirs") having the force of law. He also is the supreme judicial authority with final appellate functions. All justice is administered in his name. The King appoints his ministers, and a wide range of other officials, including provincial governors and local administrators.

The Supreme Court in Rabat acts as the final appellate court and is charged with defining law. It is empowered only to interpret the law and cannot rule on its constitutionality. Under the Supreme Court are three Courts of Appeal at Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakech, respectively. Although based on a mixture of French and Moslem judicial philosophy, Morocco's legal system also includes elements of Morocco's Berber, Spanish, and Jewish heritages.

Morocco's foreign policy, although officially attached to Arab, Islamic, and nonalignment groups, is generally friendly toward the U.S. and the West. Morocco is an active participant in the U.N., Arab League, Islamic Conference and the Non-aligned Movement. Morocco has been a player in varying degrees in the Middle East peace process over the years. Arab leaders and others frequently call on the

King for consultations. Morocco withdrew from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in a dispute over Polisario membership in 1984.

Morocco's military is nonaligned but is heavily influenced by the Frenchand to some degree by the U.S. Because of budgetary realities, U.S. military aid to Morocco ceased in 1994, but the U.S. continues to give the Kingdom excess defense articles as well as some education and training for limited numbers of Morocco's military.

Arts, Science, and Education

Morocco's rich cultural and artistic history combines both Moorish and Berber influences, visible in Moroccan music, dance, art, architecture, and literature. Since the early 20th century, traditional art has been supplemented by Western (mostly French) influences introduced and adopted in urban centers. In present-day Morocco, traditional and Western-oriented artistic and cultural systems exist side by side. Several exposition halls showing works of Moroccan and international artists are located in Casablanca, Fez, Tangier and Rabat. Many Moroccan painters trained in Europe have adopted Western techniques, but have retained an interest in traditional subjects as well.

Morocco is rich in traditional crafts such as rugmaking, pottery, leather goods, and metalwork. The country's most noted handicraft centers are Fez, Sale, Marrakech, Safi and Essaouira.

Both Moroccan and touring European theatrical and orchestral companies perform in the larger cities. In August the coastal town of Asilah, just south of Tangier, hosts a cultural festival to which artists are invited from various countries as well as from Morocco. Rabat stages a similar event in June. Fez hosts a sacred music festival nearly every year, usually in May. The coastal town of Essaouira hosts an international music festival, also in May. Andalusian Arabic music is popular and is often presented on TV, radio and in local night spots, but public concerts are rare.

Morocco's most important university, Mohammed V, established in 1957, is in Rabat. Its 36,000 students from Morocco, other areas of Africa, and the Middle East, study medicine, law, liberal arts, and the sciences. Other universities have been established at Casablanca, Oujda, Marrakech, Fez, Tetouan, Meknes, Agadir, El Jadida, Moham-media, Kenitra and Ifrane. The Mohammedia School of Engineers, the Hassan II Agronomic Institute, and the National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (INSEA), respectively, are the three most important Moroccan institutions of higher education in their respective fields. In Fez, Morocco's religious capital, Moslem students from around the world study Islamic law and theology at the 1,000-year-old Karaouyine University. There also are schools for judicial studies, information sciences, post and telecommunications, communications and information (journalism), a school for architecture, another for mineral studies, and finally, a National School of Administration.

A new private university, Al Akhawayn in Ifrane, was founded in 1993 and offers instruction in English according to a curriculum patterned after the U.S. model. Many faculty members are either Americans or else U.S.-trained in their respective fields. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered.

At the secondary school level, many Moroccan and French lycees (high schools) offer choices of English, Spanish, or German as a third language. University education, as well as elementary and secondary education undertaken in public institutions, is free. At the university level, most students receive scholarships for expenses relating to books, room and board. During the past few years, technical schools have been opening for those who are not university bound.

Commerce and Industry

Morocco's economy is based largely on agriculture, industry, mining and tourism. More than half of the population continues to depend on agriculture for employment, but agriculture's share of total GDP varies between only 12% and 20% depending on rainfall. Agricultural products-mainly citrus, fresh vegetables, dried peas, beans, olives and wine-comprise about 30% of Moroccan exports each year. Although cereal crops (wheat, barley, corn, and oats) occupy more than 80% of the planted crop land, Morocco must import cereals to cover its food needs. Morocco also is working to improve the exploitation of rich fishing grounds along the Atlantic coast. It already is the world's largest producer and exporter of sardines.

Morocco also leads the world in export of phosphates, with the country holding about 75% of all proven phosphate reserves. The country's most important export, both in tonnage and value, phosphates and derivative products totaled an estimated $1.4 billion, or 3 8% of total exports in 1997. Other important mineral exports include manganese, lead, zinc, cobalt, barite and iron.

The economy's industrial sector continues to build on the base created during the protectorate period. The Office Cherifien des Phosphate's chemical complex at Safi and Jorf Lasfar turn raw phosphates into phosphoric acid, diamonium phosphate, and triple super phosphates. Two oil refineries process most of the country's needs for gasoline, industrial fuel oil, bottled gas, and kerosene from Middle East crude oil. Morocco is dependent on imported energy for 80% of its energy needs. A U.S. firm is involved in a $1.5 billion Independent Power Project in Jorf Lasfar.

Other industries, most of which are found in the axis between Casablanca and Rabat, include tire factories, textile and thread mills, automobile and truck assembly plants, sugar mills and refineries, cement plants, food processing operations, and other light industries and handicraft enterprises.

Some 75 U.S. companies have manufacturing or service operations in Morocco, and many others have regional sales offices. With direct investment totaling $352 million, the United States was Morocco's second largest foreign investor in 1997. Morocco's ongoing privatization process has resulted in the privatization of 52 firms for a total of $1.5 billion since 1993.

Historically, most foreign trade has been with France. In 1996, France bought 28% of Morocco's exports and furnished 21% of its imports. Spain, Japan, India and Italy are Morocco's next most important clients, while France, Spain, the U.S., Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia are the most important exporters to Morocco. The U.S. fluctuates from third to fifth place among suppliers, depending on the year. American exports consist primarily of grain (especially wheat), as well as mining and heavy equipment products. Morocco's exports to the U.S. are rising steadily; these exports consist primarily of phosphates and derivatives, textiles, barites and canned foods.

About 1.5 million Moroccan workers and merchants live abroad, nearly 700,000 of them in France. Their remittances ($1.9 billion in 1998 versus $1.2 billion for phosphate exports) provide an important positive contribution to Morocco's balance of payments, as does tourism.



Plan to bring personally owned vehicles. The importation, sale, or export of personal property-including U.S. employee cars-must be in accordance with the laws, regulations, and conventions of the Kingdom of Morocco. Personal property which is imported by U.S. employees must be for their bona fide personal use or that of their dependents. The importation of a vehicle must not be for the purpose of sale, rent or transfer.

And the automobile should be shipped with its keys and current license plates. Bring with you the invoice or other proof of ownership if the vehicle is new, or the existing registration document under which it has been registered previously. These documents are mandatory for customs clearance and local registration. Also, bring an owner's manual for descriptive details to help with registration of your car.

Approval is not required for a vehicle to enter Morocco, provided it has temporary registration and is insured. A duty-free import request (bon de franchise) must be approved by the MFA and the vehicle registered locally within 1 month following importation.

As noted above, the original title and registration card are required by the Ministry of Transport before a vehicle can be registered. Vehicles imported to Morocco duty-free must be re-exported, sold to another person having duty-free privileges, or if sold to persons without duty-free privileges, customs duty must be paid.

Mandatory third-party insurance costs from approximately DH 1,800 to DH 3,400 (DH = Moroccan dirham), depending upon the size of the vehicle, horsepower of the engine, and intended usage. (A T VA tax of 15.3% is added to the insurance cost if the vehicle is registered in the PAT series.)

All types and makes of left-hand drive cars are driven in Morocco. European cars (locally assembled) are sold in Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier. Repair work on American cars costs less than in Washington, D.C., but spare parts are expensive and often unavailable. Local repair men are more skilled and experienced with manual transmissions than automatic transmissions. Repair work on European cars is cheaper and satisfactory; spare parts are more readily available. However, most spare parts unavailable in Morocco usually can be ordered from mail-order firms in the U.S. In recent years, Japanese and Korean manufactured vehicles have become quite popular in Morocco. Dealerships selling these automobiles generally have spare parts and service departments with trained staff.

Gasoline costs about $3.50 a gallon on the local market. Diesel fuel is available throughout Morocco and is less expensive than gasoline. In 1998, unleaded fuel was available at many gas stations throughout the country.

A valid U.S., foreign, or international driver's license obtained outside of Morocco can be used temporarily. However, local law requires a Moroccan driver's license be obtained within a reasonable time after arrival. Eighteen is the minimum age to obtain a driver's license as of 1998.


Use of public transportation is difficult without a working knowledge of French or Arabic. Very few ticket agents, information clerks, or other public utility employees can understand or speak English. Public transportation in Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier consists of buses and taxis. Bus service is limited. Taxi service consists of more expensive "grand taxis" (Mercedes, or similar) and the cheaper "petit taxis" (Fiats or similar). The latter only operate within city limits and are generally inexpensive if the meter is in working order and used. In recent years, some taxi firms have begun operating radio-equipped taxis which are on call but these are rare. In some parts of Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier, particularly in residential areas, it is virtually impossible to hail a taxi.

The lack of adequate local public transportation can be a problem for employees without personally owned vehicles.


Adequate public transportation is available to and from the principal cities of Morocco with rail and bus fares less expensive than in the U.S. Morocco's major roads are generally well maintained and directions are clearly marked, especially on more traveled routes. Plane service links the cities of Agadir, Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech, Rabat, Tangier, Oujda, Al Houceima, Essaouira, Safi and Tetouan, with Casablancathe main airport-as the hub.

The rail system links Tangier to Rabat and Casablanca, with connections to Meknes, Fez, Marrakech, and other towns. Some trains are air-conditioned. Train travel time from Tangier to Rabat is about 5 hours. Daily air connections are available to Paris from Rabat airport. More regular international air travel, including direct flights to the U.S. and Canada, is out of Casablanca, the country's biggest international airport.

Auto ferry service runs between Tangier and Algeciras or Malaga, Spain; from Tangier to Sete, France; from Ceuta, the Spanish enclave, to Algeciras; and in the summer from Melilla, the other Spanish enclave, to Malaga. The auto ferry crossing takes 2-3 hours from Tangier to Algeciras, and 5 hours from Tangier to Malaga. Tangier to France involves a voyage lasting 3 8 hours aboard the ferry. Weather permitting, faster hydrofoil service is available between Tangier and Algeciras or Tarifa, Spain, or between Ceuta and Algeciras.


Telephone and Telegraph

Local and international telephone and telegraph service is available. Weekday calls to Washington, D.C. using the Moroccan telephone system cost DH 12 a minute. Substantial discount rates have been offered for international calls placed on Saturday, or on other days of the week between midnight and 7:00 a.m. local time. AT&T and MCI telephone calling cards also may be used in Morocco, but their charges are costly. Morocco is five hours ahead of E.S.T.

A full-rate telegram costs about DH 4 a word. Charges for use of the FAX machine are about DH 24 per page to the U.S.


Internet access is available in Morocco, and the national connection is generally reliable and fast. Arrangements can be made for a connection at home with any one of dozens of Internet service providers in Rabat and Casablanca. The price of Internet access is higher than that found in the U.S. Residents who make moderate use of the Internet for web access and e-mail at home report costs of $50-$75 per month.

Numerous Moroccan businesses, media outlets, government offices and other organizations maintain web sites which can provide much useful information about Morocco. Below are some of the more interesting sites:

U.S. Embassy in Morocco: Al-Akhawayn University: (This web site contains one of the best collections of Morocco-related links.)
Marocnet: Moroccan Ministry of Communications:
Maghreb Arab Press Agency (MAP): Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Moroccan Trade and Development Services (MTDS): (Rabat-based Internet service provider)
Maghrebnet: ACDIM: (Internet service provider and cyber cafe)


Moroccan mail service to and from Western Europe generally is reliable. Fast courier services, FEDEX and UPS, operate in Morocco. Packages sent through one of these services from the U.S. ordinarily take at least 48 hours and must pass through Moroccan Customs.

Radio and TV

A good, shortwave set receives VOA, BBC or other international broadcasts. Local stations broadcast in Arabic, French, Spanish, and Berber dialects on AM and FM. One English-language program is broadcast daily. Local radio programs are broadcast 22 hours a day. Music programming is mostly Arab and pop/rock. Morocco radio offers classical music only occasionally. Before leaving the U.S., convert record players and tape recorders to 50 cycles. Two Moroccan TV networks broadcast using the 625 line, 25-picture-per-second system used in much of Europe; American TV's must be adapted for sound. The picture requires no adjustment. Parts for American-made sets are not available, and solid state systems are beyond the capability of local repair shops. TV's for sale on the local market are more expensive than in the U.S. TV programs are scheduled through midnight. Programming is about 60% Arabic and 40% in French. Most of the programs are in color. Two Spanish TV channels can be received in Tangier.

In recent years, satellite dishes enabling viewers to access a wide range of broadcasts have sprouted up all over Morocco as the prices for such equipment have become more affordable. Such systems generally cost from several hundred dollars upward-depending on size of dishto purchase and install. Viewers thus may tune in to CNN, BBC, NBC, TNT, the Cartoon Network or EUROSPORT for free, and also purchase decoding chips which enable them to receive additional movie or sports channels by paying a monthly fee.

When purchasing videotape equipment, remember that the electrical system is 220v 50 cycles locally. The VHS system is used.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

American publications and magazines can be received through the pouch or through international mail. The International Herald Tribune (available on newsstands late the day it is published) or USA Today can be subscribed to for local delivery. Many newsstands carry Time, Newsweek, daily newspapers from France and England, as well as Spanish, Arabic and German newspapers.

The American Women's Association maintains a small, popular, up-to-date lending library at its site in the Agdal district of Rabat. Library hours change seasonally. Volunteers from the American Women's Association staff the library. Membership in the American Women's Association Library requires a nominal fee. The American Language Center bookstores each offer a modest stock of English language bestsellers, classics, cookbooks, children's books and other popular paperbacks, all sold at prices somewhat higher than in the U.S.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Morocco has several adequate physicians and dentists. Rabat and Casablanca both have U.S. trained dentists. The doctors are trained in the French system; however a few speak English. Reputable oculists, with comparable fees to the U.S., are also prevalent in Casablanca and Rabat. Medical and dental care is more of a problem in Tangier.

Some small clinics are used for medical, surgical, orthopedic, and obstetric care. Morocco has a modern cardiac center at the medical school hospital. Few nurses speak English. Patients requiring major surgery or the care of a specialist are evacuated to London which is the designated emergency evacuation site.

Diagnostic laboratory facilities are available in all major cities. Make arrangements to have ongoing prescriptions sent regularly from the U.S. Over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, kaopectate, cough syrup, etc., for self-care of minor illnesses are available on the local market. To avoid communication problems and differences in diagnostic and treatment procedures, attempt to complete all medical and dental treatment in the U.S.

Community Health

Public health standards in the cities are steadily improving. The Ministry of Health sponsors disease control programs for tuberculosis and other communicable diseases and has introduced mass immunization programs.

Preventive Measures

Tuberculosis, eye ailments, hepatitis, and diarrheal illness are common among local residents. Servants should be medically cleared before employment and have regular physical examinations during employment, especially if children are in your household. stray animals. There have been numerous cases of rabies reported in urban areas. The climate can prove difficult for people with sinus problems, allergies, and arthritis due to dampness and high mold and pollen counts during certain seasons.

In larger cities, milk on the local market is pasteurized, dated and refrigerated. Long-life milk (UHT) is widely available. Local markets sell excellent European dairy products. Meat is government inspected and stamped accordingly. Locally purchased meat should be cooked thoroughly. Fresh fish is plentiful. For Americans coming to Morocco, the change in diet frequently results in minor diarrhea. Soak all fruits and vegetables that will not be peeled or cooked in a chlorine solution for 15 minutes, then rinse them.

Quarterly tests on water samples taken in the U.S. Embassy and various residential areas in Rabat and Casablanca show no contamination. A number of families, however, have invested in a water filter of the type found in the U.S. This filter device strains out any particles which might be in the system where rusty pipes exist; moreover, users claim the filter actually improves the taste of tap water. In Tangier, station families all have been provided with a water distiller in their USG-leased quarters. Bottled water is widely available and not expensive, and is used when travelling away from home or in restaurants. Fluo-ride content is low in local water, but fluoride supplements are recommended.

Perhaps the major threat to continuing good health in Morocco is pervasive dangerous driving practices. The first few days of encountering, either as a pedestrian or driver, local driving habits can be traumatic for the uninitiated. Most local drivers, even within cities, drive with excessive speed and follow too closely behind the vehicle ahead of them. It is not uncommon for drivers to run red lights, come to a line of stopped cars at a traffic light and forge into the oncoming lane to pass to the head of the line, squeeze three or four cars into space designed for two, or suddenly and without signaling, make a turn to the right from the left hand lane. Meanwhile, all manner of traffic may be encountered within cities and towns, from buses and heavy trucks, to underpowered motorcycles, to bicycles, to the occasional cart drawn by a horse. Pedestrians will cross the street anywhere they like, and at corners people cross without heeding a red light.

When driving in rural areas, one may expect to find tractors, farm machinery and donkey carts also sharing major roads. The latter lack either rear lights or reflectors. Motorists will attempt to overtake on curves or before hills, endangering both you and oncoming traffic. At night, drivers of oncoming vehicles refuse to dim their high-beam lights, which can be temporarily blinding. Be warned that the accident and fatality rates are high, traveling at night in rural areas on all but the major freeways should be avoided, and defensive driving practices are a must!


Casablanca can be reached daily from New York via London, Amsterdam, Madrid, or Paris. Direct daily flights are also available via Paris to Rabat. Tangier is accessible from various European airports such as London, Madrid, Amsterdam or Barcelona, and flights are more frequent during the summer tourist season.

The Mohammed V Airport is located about 18 miles from Casablanca, and 70 miles from Rabat; the Rabat-Sale Airport is about 5 miles outside Rabat. The Tangier airport is about 9 miles outside Tangier.

Travelers to Morocco must bear a valid passport. Visas are not required for American tourists traveling in Morocco for less than 90 days. For visits of more than 90 days, Americans are required to obtain a residence permit and return visa should they wish to return to Morocco for extended periods. A residence permit and return visa may be obtained from immigration (Service d'Etranger) at the central police station of the district of residence. For additional information concerning entry requirements for Morocco, travelers may contact the Embassy of Morocco at 1601 21st St., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone (202) 462-7979 to 82. The Moroccan Consulate General is located at 10 E. 40th Street, New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 758-2625.

Moroccan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Morocco of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, business equipment, and large quantities of currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Morocco in Washington, D.C. or the Moroccan Consulate General in New York for specific information concerning customs requirements.

Fees are charged for vehicle registration, license plates, drivers' licenses, etc.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Morocco are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca and obtain updated information on travel and security within Morocco.

The U.S. Embassy is located at 2 Avenue de Marrakech in the capital city of Rabat, telephone (212)(37) 76-2265. The American Consulate General in Casablanca is located at 8 Boulevard Moulay Youssef, telephone (212)(22) 26-45-50. Please note that all consular matters are handled at the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca. The Consular Section's American Citizens Services hotline is (212)(22) 43-05-78. The fax number is (212)(22) 20-41-27. The Internet web site is


To bring a cat or dog into Morocco, submit a certificate of good health signed no more than 3 days before departure. A registered veterinarian must state that the animal is free from infections and contagious diseases, particularly rabies. A rabies certificate neither older than 6 months nor more recent than 2 months before the animal's departure is also required. The certificate must completely describe the animal (size, color, etc.), name the owner, and state the time of animal's departure from port of embarkation. It must include a statement that the animal has not bitten anyone within 14 days before departure.

If at all possible, pets should accompany their owners rather than arrive either before or after arrival of owners. Additionally, flights with pets aboard should be scheduled so that arrival occurs during week days when veterinarians normally are on duty to examine documentation and permit entry. There have been cases when pets arrived at odd-hours and were forced to wait until the next business day to be freed from a holding area at the airport. In cases of weekends or during frequent religious or national holidays, delays are common.

Birds with parrot's beaks must be accompanied by a statement signed by the owner and countersigned by a registered veterinarian stating that the bird has been the owner's personal property for at least 6 months before date of departure, that it will not be sold or used for any commercial purposes, and will remain the owner's personal property. A registered veterinarian must also sign a certificate, dated no less than 3 days before departure, stating the bird is free from any visible symptoms of psittacosis (parrot disease) and ornithosis.

For other birds, a signed certificate by a registered veterinarian must be submitted, and dated no less than 3 days before departure, certifying the bird free from contagious or parasitic diseases that can be transmitted to humans or other animals; that the bird is free from ornithosis, plague, and Newcastle disease; and the bird does not come from an area where such diseases are prevalent.

For other animals (turtles, reptiles, etc.) bring a health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian stating that the animal is free from any disease peculiar to its species, and free from any contagious or parasitic disease transmittable to humans or other animals. Importation of rodents, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits is prohibited.

Firearms and Ammunition

Only the following non-automatic firearms and ammunition may be brought to Morocco:

Shotguns, 3 (gauge 20,16 and 12) Ammunition, 1000 rounds.

Firearms must be registered with Moroccan police authorities on arrival. A hunting permit and hunting insurance is required (about $100 a year). Any ammunition purchase must be noted by the seller on the hunting permit. A hunting permit will cost approximately $100 a year. Except as listed above, no other types of firearms or ammunition are permitted in Morocco; i.e., no rifled weapons are licensed for private individuals.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The official currency is the Moroccan dirham (DH). In 1999 the exchange rate was about DH 10 to US$1.00. Morocco prohibits import or export of dirhams. Other currencies may be brought into Morocco, and visitors should be prepared to declare funds in their possession on arrival.

Travelers' checks and credit cards are accepted at some establishments in Morocco, mainly in urban areas. Travelers' checks may be cashed at most banks, although some require the bearer to present both the check and the receipt. ATM machines are available in Casablanca and Rabat, and some American bankcards may be used to withdraw local currency from an account in the United States. Current Moroccan customs procedures do not provide for the accurate or reliable registration of large quantities of American dollars brought into the country by tourists or other visitors. As a result, travelers encounter difficulties when they attempt to depart with the money. In particular, American citizens with dual Moroccan nationality have been asked to provide proof of the source of the funds and have incurred heavy fines. Moroccan currency cannot be converted back into U.S. dollars prior to departure

Local weights and measures follow the European metric scale.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 11 Independence Manifesto Day

May 1 Labor Day

May 23 National Day

Aug. 14 Oued Ed-Dahab Day

Aug. 20 The King & People's Revolution Day

Nov. 6 Anniversary of the Green March

Nov. 18 Independence Day

Id al-Adah*


Id al-Fitr*

Hijra New Year*



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Ashford, Douglas E. Morocco-Tunisia: Politics and Planning. Ann Arbor, MI: Books Demand UMI, 1988.

Berlitz Travel Guides. Morocco Travel Guide. New York: Macmillan, 1989.

Bookin-Weiner, Jerome B., and James A. Miller. Morocco: The Arab West. Boulder, CO: West-view Press, 1991.

Carver, Norman F., Jr. North African Villages: Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia. Kalamazoo, MI: Documan, 1989.

Combs-Schilling, Elaine. Sacred Performances: Islam & Political Authority. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Crowter, Geoff, and Hugh Finlay. Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia: A Travel Survival Kit. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 1989.

Davis, Susan, S., and Douglas A. Davis. Adolescence in a Moroccan Town. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989.

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Kingdom of Morocco

Al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyah


FLAG: The national flag consists of a green five-pointed star at the center of a red field.

ANTHEM: The Hymne Chérifien is a twentieth-century composition without words.

MONETARY UNIT: The dirham (dh) is a paper currency of 100 Moroccan centimes. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 20 Moroccan centimes and ½, 1, and 5 dirhams, and notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, and 200 dirhams. dh1 = $0.11390 (or $1 = dh8.78) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Anniversary of the King's Accession, 3 March; Labor Day, 1 May; National Day, 14 August; Anniversary of the Green March, 6 November; Independence Day, 18 November. Movable religious holidays include 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-Adha', 1st of Muharram (Muslim New Year), and Milad an-Nabi.



Situated at the northwestern corner of Africa, with its northern- most point only 29 km (18 mi) south of Gibraltar, Morocco claims a total area of 446,550 sq km (172,414 sq mi), of which the Western Sahara comprises 252,120 sq km (97,344 sq mi). The Western Sahara is claimed and administered by Morocco, but as of 2006, sovereignty remained unresolved. Comparatively, the area occupied by Morocco is slightly larger than the state of California. Morocco extends 1,809 km (1,124 mi) nesw and 525 km (326 mi) senw. Morocco proper is bordered on the n by the Mediterranean Sea and the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, on the e and se by Algeria, on the s by Western Sahara, and on the w by the Atlantic Ocean, with a total land boundary length of 2,018 km (1,254 mi) and a coastline of 1,835 km (1,140 mi).

Morocco's capital city, Rabat, is located on the Atlantic coast.


Morocco proper is divided into three natural regions: (1) the fertile northern coastal plain along the Mediterranean, which also contains Er Rif, mountains varying in elevation up to about 2,400 m (8,000 ft); (2) the rich plateaus and lowlands lying between the three parallel ranges of the rugged Atlas Mountains, which extend from the Atlantic coast in the southwest to Algeria and the Mediterranean in the northeast; and (3) the semiarid area in southern and eastern Morocco, which merges into the Sahara Desert. The Atlas Mountains, with an average elevation of 3,350 m (11,000 ft), contain some of the highest peaks of North Africa, including Mt. Toubkal (4,165 m/13,665 ft), the highest of all. South of the Atlas are the Anti-Atlas Mountains, with volcanic Mt. Siroua (3,300 m/10,800 ft). The Western Sahara is rocky, sandy, and sparsely populated, unsuited for agriculture but rich in phosphate deposits.

Morocco has the most extensive river system in North Africa. Moroccan rivers generally flow south or westward to the Atlantic or southeastward toward the Sahara; the Moulouya (Muluya), an exception, flows 560 km (348 mi) northeast from the Atlas to the Mediterranean. Principal rivers with outlets in the Atlantic are the Oumer, Rebia, Sebou (Sebu), Bou Regreg, Tensift, Draa, and Sous (Sus). The Ziz (Zis) and Rheris are the main rivers flowing southward into the Sahara.


The rugged mountain ranges and the Atlantic Ocean moderate the tropical heat of Morocco. Temperatures in Casablanca range from an average minimum of 7°c (45°f) to a maximum of 17°c (63°f) in January and from a minimum of 18°c (64°f) to a maximum of 26°c (79°f) in July. Temperature variations are relatively small along the Atlantic coast, while the interior is characterized by extreme variations. The eastern slopes of the Atlas Mountains, which divert the moisture-laden Atlantic winds, have a rigorous pre-Saharan climate, while the western slopes are relatively cool and well watered. The rainy seasons are from October to November and from April to May. Maximum annual rainfall (75100 cm/3040 in) occurs in the northwest. Other parts of the country receive much less; half of all arable land receives no more than 35 cm (14 in) a year.


Extensive stands of cork oak exist in the Atlantic coastal region, while rich evergreen oak, cedar, and pine forests are found on the slopes of the Atlas. In the steppe region, shrubs, jujube trees, and the mastic abound, and along the wadis there are poplars, willows, and tamarisks. The olive tree is widely distributed, but the oil-yielding argan tree, unique to Morocco, grows only in the Sous Valley. The desert is void of vegetation except for occasional oases. Although the lion has disappeared, panthers, jackals, foxes, and gazelles are numerous. The surrounding waters abound in sardines, anchovies, and tuna. As of 2002, there were at least 105 species of mammals, 206 species of birds, and over 3,600 species of plants throughout the country.


Livestock overgrazing, clearing of forests for fuel, and poor soil conservation practices have led to soil erosion and desertification. Pollution of Morocco's water and land resources is due to the dumping of industrial wastes into the ocean, the country's inland water sources, and the soil. Water supplies have also been contaminated by the dumping of raw sewage and coastal waters have been polluted by oil. The nation has about 29 cu km of renewable water resources. Ninety-two percent of the annual water withdrawal is used in farming and 3% for industrial activity. About 99% of the nation's cities have improved water sources, but only 56% of rural dwellers have the same access. Morocco's cities have produced about 2.4 million tons of solid waste per year. The nation's environment is further challenged by pesticides, insect infestation, and accidental oil spills. The Ministry of Housing Development and Environment considers environmental impact as an integral part of its development strategy.

Destruction of wildlife has occurred on a large scale, despite strict laws regulating hunting and fishing. Moreover, the drainage of coastal marshlands to irrigate cultivated land has significantly reduced the numbers of crested coots, purple herons, and marbled and white-headed ducks. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 13 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians, 11 species of fish, 8 species of invertebrates, and 2 species of plants. Endangered species in Morocco include the Barbary hyena, Barbary leopard, waldrapp, Spanish imperial eagle, Mediterranean monk seal, and Cuvier's gazelle. The Bubal hartebeest is extinct. The Sahara oryx is extinct in the wild.


The population of Morocco in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 30,704,000, which placed it at number 37 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 30% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 1.6%, reflecting the decline in fertility rate to 3.3 births per woman. The projected population for the year 2025 was 38,762,000. The population density was 69 per sq km (178 per sq mi); however, the population density is highest in the plains and coastal areas of northwestern Morocco. Most of the population lives in the fertile plains or near the Mediterranean coast.

The UN estimated that 57% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.56%. The capital city, Rabat, had a population of 1,759,000 in that year. Other major cities and their estimated populations are Fès (Fez), 1,032,000; Oujda, 962,000; Marrakech, 951,000; Kénitra, 905,000; Tétouan, 856,000; Safi, 845,000; Meknès, 750,000; and Tangier, 669,685.


The Moroccan government encourages emigration because of the benefit to the balance of payments of remittances from Moroccans living and working abroad. Remittances in 2003 amounted to $3.2 billion. In the first half of the 1990s, about 585,000 Moroccans lived in France, nearly 142,000 in Belgium, some 67,500 in Germany, almost 157,000 in the Netherlands, and 50,000 in Spain. There is some seasonal migration within Morocco as workers move into cities and towns after planting and harvesting are finished. Over 200,000 people migrate permanently to the cities each year; the urban share of the total population increased from 29% to 48% between 1960 and 1994.

Spain has two enclaves on the Moroccan coast, Melilla and Ceuta, that are ringed by fences to keep Moroccans and other Africans out. In August 2004, several hundred Africans attempting to migrate to Europe broke through the fence at Melilla. According to Migration News, there are an estimated 10,000 sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco waiting to cross into the enclaves.

The war in Western Sahara has been a cause of significant migration, both of settlers from Morocco proper and of refugees to Algeria, (165,000 of the latter at the end of 1992). In late 1997 and early 1998, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established a presence in the Western Sahara Territory. In 1999 talks were underway with local authorities to plan for the repatriation of Saharawi refugees, mostly settled in four refugee camps in Tindouf. Repatriation was tentatively scheduled to begin in 2000. The number of migrants in Morocco in 2000 was 26,000. By the end of 2004 there were 2,302 persons of concern to UNHCR in Morocco: 2,121 refugees, 4 stateless persons, and 177 asylum seekers. In 2004, 267 Moroccans applied for asylum in Germany. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated 0.92 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


Arab-Berbers constitute 99.1% of the total population. Berbers, who comprise an estimated 60% of the population, are concentrated largely in the northern regions of the Rif, the middle plains of the Atlas, and the Sous Valley. Arabs are distributed principally along the Atlantic coastal plain and in the cities. The Berbers and Arabs are closely intermingled and bilingualism is common. Formerly the Jewish community played a significant role in the economic life of the country, but its numbers decreased from about 227,000 in 1948 to an estimated 10,000 in 1989. Jews make up only about 0.2% of the population. Other groups made up the remaining 0.7%, including French, Spanish, Italian, and Algerian nationals living in Morocco.


Although classical Arabic is the written and official language, Maghribi Arabic, a dialect peculiar to Morocco, is widely spoken; it can hardly be understood by Arabs of the Middle East. Berber dialects, principally Rifi, Tamazight, and Tashilhit, are spoken in more remote mountainous areas by about one-third of the populace. However, in an effort to preserve their cultural and linguistic heritage, the Berbers have successfully campaigned for government support of Berber language education. Berber has been taught at some primary schools and the government has promised to include Berber classes in all public schools by the 200809 school year. French is often used as the language of business, government, and diplomacy. Spanish is also spoken.


More than 99% of Moroccans are Sunni Muslims. The activity of other sects (chiefly Sufi) has diminished since independence. Most of the country's practicing Christians are part of the foreign community, with a majority of them affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. Rabat and Casablanca have small Protestant communities. There are only about 5,000 Jews in the country, also mostly in the Casablanca and Rabat urban areas. There are small numbers of Baha'is and Hindus.

Islam was officially declared the state religion in 1961, but full religious freedom is theoretically accorded to Christians and Jews. Under the leadership of King Mohammed VI (since 1999), the government has generally encouraged and promoted tolerance and respect among religions. For instance, in 1998 the government created a department for the study of comparative religions at the University of Rabat. However, the government does place several restrictions on religious activities and participation. It is illegal to attempt to convert any Muslim to another faith or to distribute non-Muslim Arabic-language literature, such as Bibles, and traditional Islamic law requires punishment for Muslims who convert.


The road network in 2002 extended 57,694 km (35,886 mi), of which 32,551 km (20,247 mi) were paved, including 481 km (299) of expressways. There were 1,360,000 passenger cars and 400,000 commercial vehicles in use in 2003.

The railroad system is administered by the National Railroad Office and consists of 1,907 km (1,185 mi) of standard-gauge railways, about 1,003 km (623 mi) of which are electrified. Diesel-operated trains are used on the remainder. The main lines run from Marrakech to Casablanca, Rabat, and Sidi Kacem and then branch north to Tangier and east to Meknès, Fès, and Oujda (on the Algerian border).

Casablanca is by far the most important port; second-largest in Africa, it accounted for 40% of goods loaded and unloaded. Tangier is the principal passenger and tourist port; Mohammedia handles most oil imports and can accommodate 100,000-ton tankers. There are also regional ports at Safi, Agadir, and Nador, as well as 10 minor ports. The Moroccan Navigation Co. (Compagnie Marocaine de Navigation-COMANAV), the largest shipping company, is 96% government owned. The country's merchant marine consisted of 41vessels of 1,000 GRT or more totaling 236 131 GRT as of 2005.

Morocco has eight international airports, at Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir, Fès, Oujda, and Al-Hoceima. In all there were an estimated 63 airports in 2004. As of 2005, a total of 25 had paved runways, and there was one heliport. The government-controlled Royal Air Maroc was founded in 1953 and operates flights to the United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; the airline also provides domestic service through a subsidiary, Royal Air Inter. In 2003, about 2.565 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


The Berbers, the earliest known inhabitants of Morocco, suffered successive waves of invaders in ancient times: the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans (1st century bc), Vandals (5th century ad), and finally the Byzantines (6th century). In 682, when the Arabs swept through North Africa, Okba (Uqba ibn-Nefi) conquered Morocco. Under successive Moorish dynasties, beginning with Idris I (Idris bin Abdallah) in 788, the Berber tribes were united and the Islamic faith and Arabic language adopted. The Idrisid dynasty, an offshoot of the Umayyad dynasty, with its capital at Fès (founded in 800), lasted until 974, when it was overthrown by the Berbers. Rising in the Sahara in the early 11th century, the powerful Muslim sect of the Almoravids extended its conquests over North Africa and ultimately into Spain. Abdallah bin Yasin, its chief, was proclaimed ruler over Morocco in 1055. In 1147, the Almohad sect (Al-Muwahhidun), led by Abd al-Mumin bin Ali, conquered the Almoravids and ruled Morocco until 1269, when the Marinid (Beni Marin) dynasty came to power.

In the 16th century, the Saudi dynasty, the new monarchical line, began. Ahmad al-Mansur (called Ad-Dahabi, "the Golden"), the greatest of the Saudi kings, ruled from 1578 to 1603 and inaugurated the golden age of Moroccan history. He protected Morocco from Turkish invasion, strengthened the country's defenses, reorganized the army, and adorned his magnificent capital at Marrakech with the vast booty captured in Timbuktu (1591). The decadence of the last Saudi kings brought Morocco under the control of the Filali dynasty, of mixed Arab and Berber descent, which continued to modern times.

Trade with France and other European countries became increasingly important in the 18th and 19th centuries, and when the French in 1844 defeated the combined Moroccan and Algerian forces at Isly, France became the ascendant power. Spain, under an agreement with France, invaded and occupied northern Morocco in 1860. There followed some 45 years of trade rivalry among the European nations in Morocco. The Act of Algeciras, signed on 7 April 1906 by representatives of the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain (among others), established the principle of commercial equality in Morocco and provided for a joint Spanish-French police force in Moroccan ports.

On 30 March 1912, after France had ceded some 260,000 sq km (100,000 sq mi) of the French Congo to Germany, the French imposed a protectorate in Morocco under Marshal Louis Lyautey. The Moroccans, led by Abd al-Karim, a guerrilla leader, fought for independence in the Rif War (192126) but were defeated by the combined French and Spanish forces, although sporadic fighting continued in Morocco until 1934.

A nationalist movement first took shape around the Plan of Reforms (1934) submitted to the French government by a group of young Moroccans. In 1934, the National Action Bloc was formed, and Alal al-Fasi became the uncontested nationalist leader. In December 1943, the Bloc was revived as the Istiqlal (Independence) Party, which during and after World War II pressed for independence and reforms. It received support from the Sultan, Sidi Mohammed bin Yusuf, later King Mohammed V, who became the symbol of the independence struggle. He was exiled in late 1953, and two years of terrorism ensued. After lengthy negotiations, the Franco-Moroccan agreement of 2 March 1956 granted independence, and Mohammed V became king of Morocco. Incorporated into the new nation was Tangier, once British territory, which had come under the rule of a consortium of powers in 1906 and since 1923 had been the center of an international zone.

After the death of Mohammed V on 26 February 1961, his son was crowned King Hassan II and became head of government. Hassan II increased his political power throughout the 1960s. In 1962, a constitutional monarchy was established, with the king retaining extensive powers. In June 1965, after student riots and other disorders, Hassan II declared a state of emergency and assumed all legislative and executive powers. A revised constitution promulgated in 1970 and approved by popular referendum gave the king broad personal power but reestablished parliament and ended the state of emergency. An attempted coup d'etat by right-wing army officers in July 1971 forced the king to accept, at least in principle, the need for a more broadly based government. A third constitution, approved by referendum on 1 March 1972, transferred many of the king's executive and legislative powers to a parliament which was to have two-thirds of its members directly elected. However, a second coup attempt in August 1972 caused the king to renew the emergency decrees.

In 1975, after Spain announced its intention of withdrawing from sparsely populated but phosphate-rich Spanish Sahara (now the Western Sahara), the king pressed Morocco's claim to most of the territory. Following the government's well-organized "Green March" of about 350,000 Moroccans into the territory in November, Spain ceded the northern two-thirds of the region to Morocco and the southern third to Mauritania. However, Algeria refused to recognize the annexation and supported the claim to the territory by guerrillas of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia al- Hamra and Río de Oro, better known as Polisario. The movement, based in the Algerian border town of Tindouf, proclaimed Western Sahara as the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). In 1979, Mauritania renounced its claim to the southern part of the territory, which Morocco then occupied and annexed. By the early 1980s, Morocco had moved up to 100,000 soldiers into Western Sahara in a costly effort to put down the Polisario revolt. The army built a wall of earth and sand around the productive northwestern coastal region, containing about 20% of the total area, the towns of El Aaiún and Samara, and phosphate mines; later, three-quarters of the Western Sahara was enclosed. In the meantime, Polisario received not only military support, mainly from Algeria and Libya, but also diplomatic support from some 50 countries and from the OAU, which in 1982 seated a delegation from the SADR, provoking a walkout by Morocco and more than a dozen other members. In 1984, Morocco resigned from the OAU when it seated the SADR at its annual summit meeting. Earlier, in 1981, the king's agreement under African pressure for a referendum in the territory provoked strong criticism from Morocco's Socialist Party.

In 1988, UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar persuaded Moroccan and Polisario representatives to accept a peace plan that included a cease-fire (effective in September 1991) and a referendum for the territory on independence or integration with Morocco. The vote was scheduled for 1992 but has been blocked by disagreement by the two sides on details, especially over voter eligibility. The UN force sent to mediate the struggle, MINUSRO (UN Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara) has been struggling to hold the referendum. In 1997, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sent former US Secretary of State James Baker to the region in hopes of ending the intransigence. Throughout the stalemate, the Moroccan government has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations in the Western Sahara.

Serious street riots, protesting against an imminent price hike for basic foodstuffs (subsequently canceled), ensued in June 1984 as the IMF demanded austerity measures in return for new credits. Between 1984 and 1994 King Hassan's government maintained close relations regionally and with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states and was the first Arab nation to condemn the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. A 1984 treaty with Libya calling for a federation of the two countries was abrogated following the Libyan denunciation of the king for officially receiving Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in July 1986. Israeli Prime Minister Rabin made a public visit in 1993 as the king continued to play a moderate role in the search for an Arab-Israel settlement, mediating the 1994 Israeli treaty with Jordan. In 1989, after a border agreement restored relations with Algeria, Morocco promoted the formation of the Arab Maghreb Union of the states of North Africa.

In 1993, after pro-government parties won most local elections the previous year, parliamentary elections were held. The two largest opposition parties, the Istiqlal and USFP, won over 40% of the vote, but center-right parties of the ruling coalition gained a slim majority in the vote's second stage amid charges of election fraud. When the opposition refused to join in a new coalition, a cabinet of technocrats and independents was approved by the king under Prime Minister Mohamed Karim Lamrani, who promised to accelerate the privatization of state-owned enterprises.

Meanwhile, the country's political opposition grew quite vocal in their discontent, prompting government reprisals. The country's most famous Islamist politician, Abdelsalam Yassine, was imprisoned, and Istiqlal joined forces with an Islamist organization to form a substantial opposition party. In response, King Hassan proposed in 1996 to make all of parliament directly electedpreviously, one-third of the deputies were appointed, giving the king power to undermine any opposition majority. The king also proposed the creation of a second chamber of advisersa move seen by opposition parties as simply replacing one rubber stamp chamber with another. Still, the proposals were put to a vote on 13 September and approved by, officially, 99% of the population.

Elections for the new chambers were scheduled for 1997. In the months leading up to the elections, opposition skepticism waned as the government made repeated assurances that voting would be fair and the results would be respected. In June 1997 elections for 24,523 municipal council and commune seats were held and judged to be fair. The Bloc democratique won 31.7% of the seats, but control remained for the Entente nationale with 30.3% and the RNI, 26.4%.

Following the local elections, legislation in 1997 set up the new bicameral parliament approved in the 1996 constitutional referendum. The Chamber of Representatives would consist of 325 members directly elected for five-year terms. The Chamber of Advisors would be made up of 270 members selected by indirect election: 162 would represent local authorities, 81 trade chambers, and 27 employees' associations. In the same 1996 referendum 16 new regional councils, with members chosen for six-year terms by indirect election through an electoral college representing professions and local governments, had been established, and elections for these took place in October 1997.

The Chamber of Representatives elections took place on 14 November 1997. Fifty-eight percent of the voters participated. The Bloc democratique won 34.3% of the vote, the Entente nationale 24.8%, and the center-right parties 27.3%. In a direct appeal to young voters on the part of most of the parties, 43% of the new chamber was made up of members under 45 years of age. Indirect elections for the Chamber of Advisors were held on 5 December 1997. The right and center-right parties predominated, as was expected, winning 166 of the 270 seats. The new two-house parliament met for the first time in January 1998.

On 4 February 1998 King Hassan appointed Abd ar-Rahman el-Youssoufi, leader of the USFP, as prime minister. This was a groundbreaking event, as it was the first time an opposition member had been appointed prime minister. The Youssoufi government attempted to tackle corruption and promote transparency of government. Though results were, on the whole, disappointing, King Hassan praised the government in March 1999.

On 23 July 1999 King Hassan died of a heart attack. He was succeeded by his eldest son, as Mohammed VI. One of his first important moves was to dismiss King Hassan's longtime interior minister and advisor, Driss Basri. Basri had been considered the real power behind King Hassan, so this move gave a clear indication that Mohammed VI planned to reign in control of his government. Upon assuming the throne, he pledged his commitment to constitutional monarchy, political pluralism and economic liberalism. Mohammed VI claimed he would address problems of poverty, corruption, and Morocco's human rights record, and would engage in job creation. His supporters are reformers and the young, but he is opposed by many Islamic conservatives.

Like most Islamic countries of the world, Morocco's government feels under threat from an internal Islamist movement, which itself is divided. The various groups have moved to fill the perceived void in social services: blood banks and medical clinics, food pantries, homeless shelters, and schools. Parliamentary elections were held on 27 September 2002, and the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) trebled its seats, coming in third with 42 of 325 parliamentary seats; however, it was denied any ministerial posts in the governing coalition formed by the Socialist Union of Forces for Progress (which took 50 seats) and the nationalist Istiqlal Party (which won 48 seats). The PJD would like to see Islamic law applied nationwide, including a ban on alcohol and a provision to have women wear veils. Morocco's largest and most vocal Islamist organization, Justice and Charity, works outside of the electoral process. Justice and Charity formally rejects the king and the Moroccan constitution, and thus is prevented from participating in organized politics as a party. Justice and Charity's leader instructed his followers to boycott the elections entirely. The group is gaining in popularity; estimates place its membership from between 50,000 and 500,000, and it is especially popular among those under age 30.

Moroccan authorities began a crackdown against Islamist groups, including the Salafist Combatants, who committed crimes in the country. Mosques and bookshops were closed, and detentions and arrests of Islamists increased. Critics of the government's actions stated that the crackdown failed to address problems such as poverty and ignorance, which cause radicalism. In June 2002, three Saudis and seven Moroccan nationals, including three women, were arrested and accused of being part of an al-Qaeda plot to plan terrorist acts in Morocco and against Western ships crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.

On 11 July 2002, Moroccan frontier guards planted the national flag on the uninhabited island of Perejil (Leila in Arabic), claimed by Spain. Spain landed troops to "recapture" the island, which Morocco claimed was equivalent to an act of war. The eviction of the Moroccan soldiers took place without any casualties. The United States helped to negotiate a deal to remove all forces from the island. The incident was one of a series of disputes between Spain and Morocco over a number of issues, including fishing rights, illegal immigration by Moroccans to Spain, the Spanish occupation of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Morocco, and the status of Western Sahara. Full diplomatic ties were reestablished between Spain and Morocco in January 2003. In 2005, King Juan Carlos of Spain made a state visit to Morocco.

In May 2003, Morocco's largest city, Casablanca, experienced a suicide terrorist attack which left 45 people dead and more than 100 people injured. The bombings were a simultaneous attack on a hotel, two Jewish owned restaurants, and a Jewish cemetery. By August of that same year four men were sentenced to death, two were suicide bombers who survived, and 83 others were imprisoned as fear increased that Islamic extremism was spreading. An organization alleged to have ties to al-Qaeda, the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, was suspected of the Casablanca terrorist attack.

This group was also suspected in the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombing, leading to the pursuit and arrest of Moroccan suspects in Spain and throughout Europe.

Natural disaster struck in February 2004 as a 5.1 earthquake struck northern Morocco, killing over 600 people.

In 2003, King Mohammed VI announced an initiative aimed at modernizing Moroccan society by granting new rights to women. He also celebrated the birth of his first son and heir, named Hassan after his grandfather, by ordering the release of over 9,000 convicts and reducing the jail sentences of more than 38,000 inmates. By 2004 parliament passed legislation on women's rights. The king also continued to maintain close ties with other Arab nations, as did his father. In 2003, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah visited Morocco for talks about Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Mohammed VI further pursued his human rights agenda in 2004 by pardoning 33 prisoners, establishing a "truth commission," the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, headed by a former political prisoner. In hearings, about 200 people gave public testimony about past human rights abuses in Morocco.

After US designation of Morocco as a major non-NATO ally in 2004, Morocco's parliament approved a free trade agreement with the United States in 2005 that was scheduled to go into effect later that year. However, in mid-2005 a protectionist movement sprang up in Morocco as 22 civil-society groups formed a national coalition fighting against the free trade agreement with the United States. In August 2005, an 18-year-old Moroccan was arrested for the creation of the Zotob computer worm. Across the United States, the Zotob worm hindered computer operations of more than 100 companies as it acted on a flaw in the Windows 2000 operating system.

Regarding Western Sahara, efforts were undertaken in the late 1990s to register voters eligible for a referendum to be held in the region. Morocco stated that approximately 200,000 people were eligible as voters, while Polisario stated only 70,000 people were natives of the territory. In November 2001, King Mohammed VI declared the UN's plan to hold the referendum on Western Sahara "null." Negotiations between the two parties had taken place in 2000 and 2001 under the guidance of former US Secretary of State and current UN envoy to Western Sahara, James Baker, and a "Framework Agreement" was drawn up which would make Western Sahara an autonomous part of Morocco for a five-year period, after which a referendum would be held to determine if the region would become independent. Another option would allow for the division of the territory, with one part going to Morocco and the rest becoming an independent Western Saharan state. In January 2003, Polisario rejected a new proposal for the territory put forward by Baker, which did not guarantee enough autonomy for the group to relinquish its demand for a referendum on independence. However, by July they accepted a peace plan that Morocco still opposed. In September of that year the rebels released 243 Moroccan prisoners. In 2004, when South Africa formally recognized the Polisario, Morocco responded by recalling its ambassador from Pretoria. In a continuing effort to clear the way for a peace settlement in the Western Sahara, the Polisario released their last (404) Moroccan prisoners in August 2005.


The Moroccan crown is hereditary and is passed on to the oldest male descendant in direct line or to the closest collateral male relative. The king, claiming descent from the Prophet Mohammad, is commander of the faithful and the symbol of national unity. He makes all civil and military appointments and signs and ratifies treaties. He can dismiss the parliament (if in session) and bypass elected institutions by submitting a referendum to the people on any major issue or whenever parliament rejects a bill he favors. He presides over the cabinet, and if the integrity of the national territory is threatened or events liable to jeopardize the functioning of Morocco's national institutions occur, he may declare a state of emergency.

The constitution of 1992 was amended by referendum in 1996. The national legislature became bicameral with the lower house elected directly and the upper house consisting of two-thirds of its members elected and one-third appointed by the king. The Chamber of Representatives consists of 325 members directly elected for five-year terms. The Chamber of Advisors consists of 270 members selected by indirect election: 162 represent local authorities, 81 trade chambers, and 27 employees' associations. In an effort to include the opinions of young people, the voting age was lowered from 20 to 18 in 2002. Suffrage is universal.


Morocco has a well-developed multiparty system with varying numbers of officially recognized parties and remarkably stable and long-lived leadership.

The largest traditional party is the Istiqlal (Independence) Party, whose leader after its formation in 1943 was Alal al-Fasi. The Istiqlal, once a firm supporter of the throne, now follows a reformist program and backs the king on specific measures only; it had no representation in the government from 1963 to 1977.

The National Union of Popular Forces (Union Nationale des Forces PopulairesUNFP) was formed in September 1959, following a split in the ranks of the Istiqlal in January of that year. At that time, the UNFP was a coalition of left-wing ex-Istiqlalis, trade unionists, resistance fighters, and dissident members of minor political parties and drew support from the modern cities (Casablanca) and the Sous River Valley. Among its leaders were Mehdi bin Barka; Muhammad al-Basri, a leader of the Liberation Army in 195355; Abderrahim Bouabid; and Mahjub bin Sadiq, head of the Moroccan Labor Union (Union Marocaine du TravailUMT). The party was handicapped by factionalism and further weakened by the political neutrality of the UMT after 1963, by the kidnapping and disappearance of Bin Barka in France in 1965, and by other apparent instances of government repression, including the imprisonment of Bin Sadiq in 1967.

In 1970, the UNFP and Istiqlal, having lost some popular support, formed the National Front to boycott the elections. The Front was dissolved in 1972, by which time the split between the political and trade union wings of the UNFP had become open, and in 1973 many UNFP leaders were arrested and tried for sedition in connection with civil disorders and guerrilla activities. The UNFP formally split into two parties in 1974, the more radical trade union wing calling itself the UNFP and the political wing forming the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (Union Socialiste des Forces PopulairesUSFP).

The program of the Moroccan Communist Party has often been close to that of the UNFP. From 1969 to 1974, the Communist Party was banned, but since then it has appeared under various names. Two communist parties contested the 1997 elections, the Party of Renewal and Progress (PRP) and the Organization of Action for Democracy and the People (OADP), with the PRP obtaining nine seats in the lower house and seven in the upper house, while the OADP obtained four in the lower house and none in the upper house. The USFP, Istiqlal, PRP, and OADP formed the Democratic Block.

The National Entente block was made up of three parties: the conservative Popular Movement (MP), the conservative National Democratic Party (PND), and the centrist Constitutional Union.

The Center block was made up of the National Rally of Independents (RNI), the Democratic and Social Movement (MDS), and the National Popular Movement (MNP).

In addition, there are various other parties of liberal, socialist, or Islamist orientation, the latter represented by the moderate Constitutional and Democratic Popular Movement (MPCD), which changed its name at the end of 1998 to the Party of Justice and Development (PJD).

King Hassan II sometimes worked through the party system and sometimes ignored it. In 1963, royalist forces united into the Front for the Defense of Constitutional Institutions. A leading party in the Front was the Popular Movement (Mouvement PopulaireMP), the party of Berber mountaineers. Governments formed by Hassan II have consisted of MP members, followers of royalist front parties, and independents and technocrats loyal to the king. Following 1993 elections, which saw Istiqlal and the USFP winning a majority of the elected seats, the king used his power to appoint friendly deputies to the seats he controls. Opposition parties protested by refusing to participate in the government. In 1996, the king submitted for referendum revisions to the constitution allowing for direct election for all members of parliament, a move greeted with initial suspicion but ultimately heralded as democratic as the 1997 elections for the newly comprised body approached. The various parties formed into Blocks, as listed above, though maintaining separate candidate lists. The results showed 15 parties gaining seats in the lower house and 13 obtaining seats in the upper house.

Twenty-six political parties participated in the 27 September 2002 elections for the Chamber of Representatives. The USFP took 50 seats; Istiqlal won 48; the Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 42; the National Rally of Independents won 41 seats; the Popular Movement took 27; the National Popular Movement took 18; the Constitutional Union won 16; and 15 other parties were represented. Women were guaranteed 10% of the seats. Two new political parties were recognized by the government for the 2002 electionsthe Moroccan Liberal Party (PLM) and the Alliance of Liberties (ADL), which aimed to involve the youth and women in political action. The ADL won four seats in the Chamber of Representatives. The Islamist Justice and Development Party trebled the number of its seats in parliament, coming in third behind the USFP and Istiqlal. Justice and Charity, said to be the largest Islamist group, remains banned.

In the 2002 elections, parties were organized in the following blocks: the left-wing block, comprised of the USFP; the Party for Progress and Socialism (PPS), formerly the Communist Party; the Leftist Unified Socialist Party (PGSU), formerly the OADP; and the Socialist Democratic Party. The center-right block is comprised of the Istiqlal Party and the PJD. The Berberist block includes the Popular Movement (MP); the National Popular Movement (MNP); and the Social Democratic Movement (MDS). The conservative block consisted of the National Rally of Independents (RNI) and the Constitutional Union (UC). Driss Jettou was named prime minister. In the 2003 local and district elections, more than 30% of the 23,000 seats were won by the conservative Istiqlal Party and the left-wing USFP. The mainstream Islamist PJD party won less than 3% of the vote.


Local administration still follows many French and Spanish procedural patterns, but final authority rests with the king through the Ministry of the Interior. Morocco proper has 39 provinces and 8 urban prefectures (including 2 at Rabat-Salé and 5 at Casablanca). Each province and prefecture has a governor appointed by the king. The provinces and prefectures select councils or assemblies, which hold public sessions in the spring and fall. The assemblies are largely restricted to social and economic questions.

The provinces are divided into administrative areas, called cercles, each headed by a superqaid (caidat). Each cercle is subdivided into rural and urban communes, each headed by a qaid or a pasha, respectively, and assisted by a council. Councilors are elected for six-year terms, and each council is composed of 9 to 51 members, depending on the size of the commune. The council president, chosen by secret ballot, presents the budget and applies the decisions of the council. Real power, however, is exercised by the qaid or pasha. The communes are supervised by the Ministry of the Interior, which retains final decision-making authority. As of 2002, there were 1,544 communes in Morocco; 247 are urban and 1,297 are rural. In the 2003 local elections two polling systems dependent on the number of inhabitants were instituted. In communes with less than 25,000 inhabitants, councilors were elected based on a one-round relative majority; in communes exceeding 25,000 inhabitants, proportional representation was used.


Morocco has a dual legal system consisting of secular courts based on French legal tradition, and courts based on Jewish and Islamic traditions.

The secular system includes communal and district courts, courts of first instance, appellate courts, and a Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is divided into five chambers: criminal, correctional (civil) appeals, social, administrative, and constitutional. The Special Court of Justice may try officials on charges raised by a two-thirds majority of the full Majlis. There is also a military court for cases involving military personnel and occasionally matters pertaining to state security. The Supreme Council of the Judiciary regulates the judiciary and is presided over by the king. Judges are appointed on the advice of the council. Judges in the secular system are university-trained lawyers. Since 1965 only Moroccans may be appointed as judges, and Arabic is the official language of the courts.

There are 27 Sadad courts, which are courts of first instance for Muslim and Jewish personal law. Criminal and civil cases are heard, and cases with penalties exceeding a certain monetary amount may be appealed to regional courts. The Sadad courts are divided into four sections: Shariah; rabbinical; civil, commercial, and administrative sections; and criminal.


Total Moroccan active military strength in 2005 was 200,800 personnel with reserves numbering 150,000. The Army had 180,000 personnel, the Navy 7,800 (including 1,500 Marines), and the Air Force 13,500 active personnel. The Army was equipped with 540 main battle tanks, of which 200 were in storage, 116 light tanks, 384 reconnaissance vehicles, 70 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 765 armored personnel carriers and 2,892 artillery pieces. The Navy's major vessels included three frigates and 27 patrol/coastal ships and boats. The Air Force had 89 combat capable aircraft, including 66 fighters. The service also operated 19 assault helicopters. Paramilitary forces totaled 50,000 personnel, which included a 20,000 member gendarmerie force. The Polisario Front opposition forces were estimated between 3,0006,000. Moroccan troops were stationed in five countries on peacekeeping missions. The 2005 defense budget totaled $2.07 billion.


Morocco became a member of the United Nations on 12 November 1956 and participates in ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, ILO, IAEA, the World Bank, IMO, UNSECO, UNHCR, UNIDO, and the WHO. The nation is a member of the African Development Bank, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Maghreb Union, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), G-77, the Community of Sahel and Saharan States (CENSAD), and the Arab League. Morocco is an observer in the OAS and a partner in the OSCE.

In recent decades, Morocco has pursued a policy of nonalignment and has sought and received aid from the United States, Western Europe, and the former USSR. Relations with Algeria and Libya have been tense, especially since Morocco's takeover of the Western Sahara. In 1988, UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar negotiated with Morocco and Polisario (a group seeking sovereignty for the Western Sahara as the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic) to accept a cease-fire and to hold a referendum for the territory to determine whether it will be independent of integrate with Morocco. Although the vote was scheduled for 1992, it has been blocked by disagreements over voter eligibility, and sovereignty was unresolved as of 2005. The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO, est. 1991) is supported by 24 countries. In 1989, Morocco restored relations with Algeria; it maintains relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states and condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

In environmental cooperation, Morocco is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.


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 over 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. Following the expiration of the world multifiber agreement in 2005, however, the textile and apparel sector was expected to contract.

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 19992000. 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 high unemployment and a large external debt estimated at around $15.6 billion in 2005.

Morocco suffers from poverty, urban overcrowding, inadequate housing infrastructure, and illiteracy, which reaches 83% for women in rural areas. The unemployment rate was estimated at 10.4% at the end of 2004, but that figure masks higher rates in urban areas (18%) and among college graduates (24%). The inflation rate stood at 1.4% in 2004 and was forecast to reach 1.9% in 2005, due to higher food and fuel prices. The real GDP growth rate in 2005 was estimated at 1.8%, down from 3.7% in 2004 and 5.2% in 2003. This fall in the growth rate was largely due to a slowdown in the agricultural sector, which employs 43% of the population.

Morocco and the United States in 2004 negotiated a free trade agreement that immediately eliminated tariffs on 95% of bilateral trade, with the remaining tariffs to be eliminated over the next nine years. Morocco also has a free trade agreement with the EU. The country is pursuing privatization of state-owned enterprises, including in the energy, water, and telecommunications sectors. Between 1993 and 2005, 66 Moroccan state-owned enterprises were fully or partially privatized, including the tobacco distribution company Régie des Tabacs, Banque Centrale Populaire, and 35% of Maroc Telecom to Vivendi.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Morocco's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $139.5 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $4,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.8%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 21.7% of GDP, industry 35.7%, and services 42.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $3.614 billion or about $120 per capita and accounted for approximately 8.3% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $523 million or about $17 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.2% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Morocco totaled $28.60 billion or about $950 per capita based on a GDP of $43.7 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.9%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 33% of household consumption was spent on food, 16% on fuel, 5% on health care, and 15% on education. It was estimated that in 1999 about 19.0% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


Morocco's workforce was estimated in 2005 at 11.19 million. In 2003, an estimated 40% were in the agricultural sector, 45% in services, and the remaining 15% in industry. The unemployment rate was estimated at 10.5% in 2005.

Although the law provides for the right to form unions, the government interferes with the labor movement. Morocco's 17 trade unions are organized within three federations, and represent about half a million of the country's estimated nine million workers. Employees have the right to strike after engaging in arbitration. Work stoppages do occur, but security forces sometimes break up striking workers. Collective bargaining is utilized on a limited basis.

The 48-hour workweek is established by law, and overtime pay rates apply to all work in excess of 48 hours. At least one day of rest must be granted per week. In 2002, the minimum wage was $162 per month for industry and commerce and about $8 per day in agriculture. The minimum wage is not effectively enforced in the informal sector, and even the government pays less in the lowest civil service grades. There is also legislation covering health, sanitation, and safety standards for a small number of workers.


Some 9,376,000 hectares (23,168,000 acres), or 21% of the total land area, is arable (excluding Western Sahara). About 43% of arable land is devoted to cereals, 7% to plantation crops (olives, almonds, citrus, grapes, dates), 3% to pulses, 2% to forage, 2% to vegetables, 2% to industrial crops (sugar beets, sugarcane, cotton) and oilseeds, and 42% was fallow. The bulk of the indigenous population carries out traditional subsistence farming on plots of less than five hectares (12 acres). A temperate climate and sufficient precipitation are especially conducive to agricultural development in the northwest. In 2003, agriculture (together with forestry and fishing) accounted for 17% of GDP.

Morocco is essentially self-sufficient in food production. Grain plantings are typically triggered by autumn rainfall and last through mid-January. Irregularity in rainfall necessitates the importation of grains during drought years. As a result of the worst drought in decades, Morocco's cereal crop in 1995 was only one quarter of the average annual amount during the previous 10 years. Pulse, vegetable, and citrus production were also devastated. However, in 1996 Morocco received the highest levels of rainfall in 30 years, leading to record grain production. The principal export crops are citrus fruits and vegetables. The estimated output of principal crops (in thousands of tons) in 2004 was as follows: sugar beets, 4,560; wheat, 5,540; barley, 2,760; sugarcane, 992; tomatoes, 1,201; potatoes, 1,440; oranges, 719; olives, 470; corn, 224; sunflowers, 54; and peanuts, 49.

The government distributed some 500,000 hectares (1,235,500 acres) of farmland formerly owned by European settlers to Moroccan farmers in the late 1960s and the 1970s. To encourage Moroccans to modernize the traditional sector, the Agricultural Investment Code of 1969 required farmers in irrigated areas to meet the minimum standards of efficiency outlined by the government or lose their land. These standards applied to all farms of five hectares (12 acres) or more.

Dams and irrigation projects were begun under French rule and have continued since independence. In traditional areas, irrigation is by springs and wells, diversion of streams, and tunnels from the hills, as well as by modern dams and reservoirs. There are dams and irrigation projects on most of the country's major rivers, including the Sebou River in the northwest, which, along with its tributaries, accounts for some 45% of Morocco's water resources. Continued widespread variation in rainfall continues to produce serious droughts and occasional flash floods. In January 1994, the Kuwaiti Economic Development Fund agreed to lend $60 million to the Moroccan government to help finance an irrigation project in the Haouz and Tassaout region of southern Morocco, which will provide irrigation services for 200,000 small farmers. Morocco had 1.45 million irrigated hectares (3.6 million acres) of agricultural land in 2003.


Livestock raising contributes about one-third of agricultural income. Livestock fares poorly on the overgrazed pasture, and periods of drought reduce growth on an estimated 20.9 million hectares (51.6 million acres) of permanent pastureland as well as the output of fodder crops. In 2005, estimated livestock population was 17 million sheep, 5.3 million goats, and 2.7 million head of cattle. There were an estimated 985,000 donkeys, 525,000 mules, 36,000 camels, 8,000 pigs, and 137 million chickens in 2005. In 2005, production of beef and mutton was estimated at 148,000 tons; and poultry, 280,000 tons. Output of cow's milk was about 1.3 million tons in 2005, along with 230,000 tons of eggs. Even though most of the import licensing system has been abolished, licenses are still required for imported livestock and animal genetic materials, in an effort to protect local production.


Fishing, which has been a major industry since the 1930s, is centered in Agadir, Safi, and Tan-Tan. In some years, Morocco is the world's largest producer of the European sardine (Sardina pilchardus). Coastal fishing accounts for about 86% of production; deepsea fishing, 13%; and algae cultivation and aquaculture, 1%.

Landings from coastal waters totaled 885,131 tons in 2003, twenty-fourth in the world and the highest in Africa. Sardines accounted for 659,208 tons (74%) that year. The waters off Western Sahara are particularly rich in seafood. Coastal fishing supplies the Moroccan fish processing industry, which is concentrated in the southern cities of Layoun, Tan Tan, Tarfaya, and Agadir. The canning industry processes mostly sardines and to a lesser extent mackerels and anchovies. Many of the plants use obsolete equipment, and there is currently no government support to develop and introduce new technology to the industry.

The deep-sea catch consists mostly of cephalopods (such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish), hake, sea bream, sole, and shrimp. Cephalopod deep-sea landings in 2004 included 23,000 tons of octopus, 1,200 tons of squid, and 6,000 tons of cuttlefish. The deepsea cephalopod fishing fleet comprises some 290 active trawlers and accounts for two-thirds of the cephalopod catch. These trawlers can stay out to sea for up to three months. Nearly all deep-sea production is sorted, frozen in vessels, and exported upon arrival; Japan is the major buyer of Moroccan octopus.

Aquacultural production consists mainly of seabass, sea bream, oysters, tuna, and eel, which are produced for export to Europe. The principal aquaculture farms are located in Nador and Hoceima on the Mediterranean Sea, Oulidida on the Atlantic Ocean, and Azrou on an inland lake.

Much of the fish catch is processed into fish meal, fertilizer, and animal fodder. In 2003, $988.6 million of fish products were exported primarily to the EU nations, Japan, and the United States. Deep-sea fishing is expected to become more important, because the EU is committed to reducing its fishing fleet size. Moroccan fish companies are expected to play a larger role in the world cephalopod market in the future. There is concern, however, that overfishing during one year may result in smaller catches in the future.


Forests cover about 6.8% of the land area and provide subsistence for families engaged in cork gathering, wood cutting, and other forestry occupations. Cork, the principal forest product, is grown on 198,000 hectares (489,000 acres) of state-owned cork oak forests, which amounts to around 9% of the world's cork forest acre-age. Annual production is usually around 15,000 tons, 4% of world production. Other commercial trees are evergreen oak, thuja, argan, and cedar. Esparto grass and vegetable fiber are other important forest products. Artificial plantings of more than 45,000 hectares (111,000 acres) of eucalyptus trees furnish the raw materials for a rapidly expanding cellulose textile industry. Production of roundwood in 2004 was 885,000 cu m (31 million cu ft), with 42% used as fuel wood. Trade in forest products that year amounted to $455 million in imports and $126.4 million in exports.

Reforestation has become a major goal of the government; the 198185 development plan proposed to reforest about 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) annually; actual reforestation was about 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) per year. Between 1990 and 2000, the area of forests and woodlands remained essentially unchanged.


Morocco was the third-largest producer of phosphate rock (behind the United States and China), had 88.5 billion tons in proved reserves, and was the largest phosphate exporter. The 2003 output of phosphate rock, including by Western Sahara, was 222.877 million tons (gross weight). All phosphate was produced by the state-owned Office Chérifien des Phosphates, founded in 1920, which was responsible for managing and controlling all aspects of phosphate mining. The combined capacity of the main facilitiesat Youssoufia, Benguerir, BouCraa, Sidi Chenan, and Khouribgawas 27 million tons per year.

Morocco also had significant deposits of copper ore and produced 17,539 metric tons in 2003 (gross weight concentrates), down from 17,799 metric tons in 2002. Iron ore production (gross weight) in 2003 was 4,019 metric tons, down from 8,736 metric tons in 2002. Other minerals produced in 2003 included: lead (gross weight concentrate, 54,779 metric tons); barite (356,394 metric tons); rock salt (estimated at 200,000 metric tons); and acid-grade fluorspar (81,255 metric tons, down from 94,911 metric tons in 2002) In addition, Morocco produced antimony, cobalt, gold, mercury, silver, arsenic trioxide, bentonite, hydraulic cement, feldspar, fuller's earth (smectite), gypsum, mica, montmorillonite (ghassoul), phosphoric acid, marine salt, talc and pyrophyllite, and a variety of crude construction materials. Morocco also had the capacity to produce zircon, and had the only anthracite mine in the Mediterranean areaJerada, in the Oujda region.

Plans called for increased domestic processing of phosphate into phosphoric acid for export. The government owned the subsoil mineral rights for all minerals. Exploration and new discoveries of oil and gas would yield sulfur and ammonia, which were needed for phosphate fertilizers. A four-year plan to upgrade the country's railway network was launched in 2000 to handle increased ridership by tourists and the needs of the phosphate industry. The plan, financed by the European Investment Bank and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, would lay an extra track between Meknès and Fès.


Morocco has only small deposits of oil and natural gas. However, since many of its sedimentary basins have yet to be explored, those figures could rise.

Morocco, as of 1 January 2005, had proven crude oil and natural gas reserves of 1.6 million barrels, and 43 billion cu ft, respectively. In 2004, oil output totaled an estimated 500 barrels per day. Morocco has two oil refineries, the Samir and Sidi Kacem. The two facilities have a combined refining capacity, as of 1 January 2005, of 155,000 barrels per day. The Samir refinery produces 80% t6o 90% of the country's refined petroleum products. In 2002 there was an extensive fire and flood damage at the Samir refinery. Capacity was quickly restored to 60%, and in 2004 returned to near full-capacity production levels.

Coal imports in 2002 amounted to 5,648,000 million short tons, all of it hard coal.

Electricity production has grown rapidly, from 1.935 billion kWh in 1970 to 16.235 billion kWh in 2002, of which 93.6% was from fossil fuels and 5% came from hydropower, with the remainder from alternative sources. Electric power generating capacity in 2002 came to 4.878 million kW, of which 72% was dedicated to conventional thermal fuels and 26.6% to hydroelectric sources. Alternative sources accounted for the remaining capacity.


In 2004, industry accounted for 35.7% of GDP. Leading industrial sectors in 2006 were phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, leather goods, textiles, and construction. Morocco holds the world's largest phosphate reserves, and is the world's third-largest phosphate producer, after the United States and China.

The manufacturing sector produces light consumer goods, especially foodstuffs, beverages, textiles, matches, and metal and leather products. Heavy industry is largely limited to petroleum refining, chemical fertilizers, automobile and tractor assembly, foundry work, asphalt, and cement. Many of the processed agricultural products and consumer goods are primarily for local consumption, but Morocco exports canned fish and fruit, wine, leather goods, and textiles, as well as such traditional Moroccan handicrafts as carpets and brass, copper, silver, and wood implements.

There are two oil refineries, one at Mohammedia and one at Sidi Kacem, with a total refining capacity of 155,000 barrels per day. There are also several petrochemical plants, a polyvinyl chloride factory, and many phosphate-processing plants. The Mahgreb-EU pipeline has been operating since 1996. There are four plants assembling cars and small utility vehicles: Renault Moroc, Sopriam, Somaca, and Smeia. A number of cement factories are also in operation. The Safi industrial complex, opened in 1965, processes phosphates from Youssoufia, pyrrhotites from Kettara, and ammonia.

Ownership in the manufacturing sector is largely private, but the government owns the phosphate-chemical fertilizer industry and much of the sugar-milling capacity, through either partnership or joint financing. It is also a major participant in the car and truck assembly industry and in tire manufacturing.


Research institutions include the Scientific Institute (founded in 1920), in Rabat, which does fundamental research in the natural sciences, and the Scientific Institute of Maritime Fishing (founded in 1947), in Casablanca, which studies oceanography, marine biology, and topics related to development of the fishing industry. Nine universities and colleges offer degrees in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 41% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, Morocco's high technology exports totaled $439 million, or 11% of its' manufactured exports.


Consumer-ready products are freely traded by the private sector through companies that distribute them to wholesalers, distributors, or directly to retailers. The government intervenes directly in domestic trade through price subsidies at the retail level for staples such as flour, vegetable oil, and sugar. The government has planned to phase out these subsidies over an extended period in order to avoid social unrest. Support prices, once a major incentive to promoting government-supported crops, have been eliminated.

Casablanca, the chief port, is the commercial center of Morocco. Other principal distribution centers include Safi, Agadir, and Tangier. Wet markets are open-air produce markets common in rural and urban areas. Central markets are found in major cities and contain many small shops selling mainly domestic products. Numerous family-operated grocery outlets are scattered throughout the country and are where food products are typically sold in Morocco. There are also a growing number of supermarkets in major metropolitan areas; over half of them are in Casablanca and Rabat. Retail establishments include department stores in the main cities and shops and specialty stores. Bazaars cater especially to the tourist trade. The first franchise, Pizza Hut, was established in 1992. There are now about 85 franchise firms in the country offering a wide variety of goods and services. Principal advertising media are newspapers, motion picture theaters, radio, television, and posters.

Business hours are generally from 8 or 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, with a two-hour lunch break, but some shops stay open later. Large stores are open from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 to 7 pm. Souks are open Monday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 1 pm and from 2:30 to 6 pm.


As part of the government's trade liberalization process, a widespread antismuggling campaign has sharply reduced the amount of goods illegally entering Morocco. A large amount of hashish illegally exits the country.

The largest export receipts come from the garment sector. Morocco exports a large amount of foodstuffs, including shellfish, fruit and nuts, fish, and vegetables. Other exports include inorganic fertilizers and chemicals. Morocco produces about one-third of the world's crude fertilizers exports.

In 2004, exports were divided up into the following categories: food, beverages, and tobacco, 15.3%; semi-processed goods, 27.3%; and consumer goods, 37.2%. Imports were divided up as

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 8,777.2 14,230.6 -5,453.4
France-Monaco 3,004.7 2,927.2 77.5
Spain 1,566.0 1,764.2 -198.2
United Kingdom 639.3 560.2 79.1
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 452.2 1,013.1 -560.9
Germany 345.3 740.1 -394.8
India 273.3 164.1 109.2
United States 246.0 578.1 -332.1
Netherlands 221.7 338.8 -117.1
Belgium 193.3 278.2 -84.9
Brazil 181.9 268.2 -86.3
() data not available or not significant.

follows: food, beverages, and tobacco, 8.7%; energy and lubricants, 16.4%; capital goods, 22.6%; semi-processed goods, 23.3%; consumer goods 22.6%.

Morocco's major markets in 2004 were: the EU (75.4% of all exports), India (3.4%), the United States (2.9%), and Brazil (2.1%). Morocco's major suppliers in 2004 were: the EU (59.1% of all imports), Saudi Arabia (5%), and the United States (4.1%). Of Morocco's EU trading partners, France is the largest, absorbing 33.6% of Morocco's exports and providing 18.2% of its imports. Spain and Italy are Morocco's second- and third-largest EU trading partners.


Remittances from Moroccans working abroad, foreign aid, and a growing tourist industry have helped to offset chronic trade deficits.

Current Account 1,552.0
   Balance on goods -4,345.0
     Imports -13,117.0
     Exports 8,771.0
   Balance on services 2,617.0
   Balance on income -792.0
   Current transfers 4,073.0
Capital Account -10.0
Financial Account -3,316.0
   Direct investment abroad -13.0
   Direct investment in Morocco 88.0
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities 8.0
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -869.0
   Other investment liabilities -2,529.0
Net Errors and Omissions -288.0
Reserves and Related Items 2,062.0
() data not available or not significant.

In recent years, Morocco has turned increasingly to foreign borrowing to meet its financial needs.

In 2005, Morocco's exports were valued at $9.472 billion; imports were valued at $18.15 billion. The current-account balance was estimated at -$607.5 million.


The Bank of Morocco (Bank al-Maghrib), the central bank, has the sole privilege of note issue. It is required to maintain a gold or convertible-currency reserve equal to one-ninth of its note issue. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the organization of banking and the money market. In February 1996 the central bank gave clearance for banks and finance houses to issue corporate bonds. Consumer credit companies are expected to be the first to take advantage of the new ruling. Other reforms scheduled for 1996 included a secondary market in public debt, an interbank foreign exchange market, and the launch of privatization bonds and global depository receipts (GDRs). As of 1997, only the interbank foreign exchange market had been implemented. Commercial banks were permitted to buy and sell foreign currency at market-determined rates, where previously foreign exchange rates were fixed on a daily basis by the central bank. The dirham was fully convertible in 1999.

Commercial banks must have 51% domestic majority ownership; some foreign banks were Moroccanized in 1975. There were 16 commercial banks in 2002, most of which were partly owned by European banks. The largest private commercial bank is the Banque Commerciale du Maroc (BCM), which is 32% owned by foreign banks, including Banco Central Hispano, Credito Italiano, and Crédit Commercial de France. Another important commercial bank was Wafa Bank, with a 10% share of deposits in 1999. Wafa Bank owned half of a year 2000 banking venture with Senegal to offer services to ECOWAS countries. The three largest banks account for over 60% of banking assets and deposits.

Public sector financial organizations specializing in development finance include the National Bank for Economic Development, Moroccan Bank for Foreign Trade, National Agricultural Credit Bank, and Deposit and Investment Fund. Also instrumental in development finance is the Bureau of Mineral Exploration and Participation, which has participatory interests in the production of all coal, petroleum, lead, and manganese. The National Bank for Economic Development, established in 1959, has been particularly active in financing manufacturing. The Agricultural Credit Bank makes loans to credit organizations, public institutions, and cooperatives. Private individuals borrow from local agricultural credit banks or from the agricultural credit and provident societies.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $22.1 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $29.6 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4.44%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 4.71%.

The stock exchange (Bourse des Valeurs) at Casablanca, established in 1929, handles mostly European and a few North African issues. The Casablanca stock market underwent a program of reform designed to attract increased interest from overseas and local investors. In 1993 the government approved legislation to turn the bourse into a private company with stock held by brokers, to create new stock-trading bodies and to channel the funds of small savers into share issues and unit trusts. In 1995, France agreed to finance further improvements, modeling the exchange on the Paris bourse and introducing computerization. In 2001, the stock exchange had 55 companies listed and a $9.1 billion capitalization. As of 2004, a total of 52 companies were listed on the Bourse des Valeurs de Casablanca, which had a market capitalization of $25.064 billion.


In 1995, the government stepped in to rescue the ailing insurance industry after studies uncovered financial difficulties in a number of firms. The authorities stepped in to prevent collapses which could affect related financial services such as savings and investment, as well as the interlinked banking sector. However, in September 1995, the government abandoned its attempts to restructure five state insurance companies and put them into liquidation. The companies, then already in temporary receivership, were Compagnie Atlantique d'assurances et de réassurances, Arabia Insurance Co., Assurances la victoire, Assurances la renaissance, and Réunion marocaine d'assurances et de réassurances (Rémar). Their combined losses are estimated at up to $550 million, mostly accumulated through pay-outs on car insurance, where the high accident rate had not been adequately reflected in premiums. Outstanding policies were transferred to the state finance company, Caisse de dépôt et de gestion (CDG). A new code has since been drawn up for insurance companies establishing reserve requirements similar to those applying to the banking sector. In 2000, the insurance companies AXA-Al Amane and CAA announced a merger that created insurance giant AXA Assurance Maroc. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $1.288 billion, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $927 million

Revenue and Grants 102,436 100.0%
   Tax revenue 81,118 79.2%
   Social contributions 8,962 8.7%
   Other revenue 12,356 12.1%
Expenditures 112,488 100.0%
   General public services 45,563 40.5%
   Defense 14,530 12.9%
   Public order and safety 7,817 6.9%
   Economic affairs 9,070 8.1%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 505 0.4%
   Health 3,627 3.2%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 913 0.8%
   Education 20,003 17.8%
   Social protection 10,460 9.3%
() data not available or not significant.

AXA Assurance Maroc was Morocco's top nonlife and life insurer in 2003 with gross written nonlife premiums of $154.6 million, and gross written life insurance premiums of $88.1 million.


The Moroccan government announced plans in 1999/2000 to cut the budget deficit by one-third, in order to encourage investment and job creation. By 1998, only 56 of 114 companies slated for privatization had been sold, and the rest had been withdrawn from sale. The government did not depend on privatization revenues for funds, rather on the ownership of the phosphates industry. Nearly 50% of the state budget was spent on public sector salaries, and 25% on debt servicing in 1999. Some privatization has taken place in recent years, however, including the government's sale of 35% of the state operator Maroc Telecom and the liberalization of rules governing oil and gas exploration.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Morocco's central government took in revenues of approximately $12.9 billion and had expenditures of $16.7 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$3.8 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 72.3% of GDP. Total external debt was $15.6 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1999, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were dh102,436 million and expenditures were dh112,488 million. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$10,448 million and expenditures us$11,474 million, based on a official exchange rate for 1999 of us$1 = dh9.804 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 40.5%; defense, 12.9%; public order and safety, 6.9%; economic affairs, 8.1%; housing and community amenities, 0.4%; health, 3.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.8%; education, 17.8%; and social protection, 9.3%.


As of 2005, the professional profits and gains tax, at 35% since 1 January 1996 (except for insurance and banking institutions taxed at the previous rate of 39.6%), is the most important tax in Morocco, and can be assessed on either annual turnover or on net annual profits. The minimum tax in 2005 was 0.5% of turnover or 1,500 dirhams (about $162), whichever was greater. Nonresident companies under contractual arrangements can opt for an alternative tax amounting to 8% of their contracts. The capital gains are taxed at 35%. Dividends are subject to 10% withholding which can be used as a tax credit. Branches of foreign companies are subject to the same taxes as Moroccan companies.

All wage earners are liable to a progressive tax on salaries, remunerations, and allowances under the General Income Tax (IGR). There are several types of deductions that can be applied in calculating an individual's taxable base income. There are also social security taxes and supplementary taxes on professional and rental income.

The main indirect tax is Morocco's value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 20%, but with various reduced rates from 7% to 14% for more basic goods and services. As of 1 July 2001 imported barley was exempted from VAT.


The policy of import liberalization that began in 1967, has continued and new commodities have been added to the list of items not subject to quotas. In the 1970 general import program, items not subject to quotas accounted for 75% of the imports. Most goods do not require import licenses. As of 2005, duties were as low as 2.5% and as high as 329% for frozen lamb meat. Import duties on food average 80%, which makes the price of imported consumer foodstuffs unaffordable for the average Moroccan. Value-added taxes are levied at 020%. Certain transactions have lower rates of 7% and 14%. Import taxes on machinery and equipment are 2.5% or 10%. Export taxes were discontinued in 1971.

Agreements between Morocco and the European Community (now the European Union) have provided for mutual tariff concessions. Citrus tariffs were cut 80% by the European Community by the mid-1970s; tariffs on canned fruit and vegetables were reduced more than 50%; and fish products, wine, olive oil, and cereals were given special concessions. In return, Morocco reduced its minimum tariffs by 30% and adjusted quotas on imports to Morocco.

The import tariff does not apply within the free zone of the Port of Tangier.


Foreign investment declined somewhat during the 1960s and 1970s because of political uncertainty and the government's Moroccanization policy requiring majority Moroccan ownership of foreign banks, trading companies, insurance firms, and small manufacturing plants. Many foreign firms either sold out or closed down before 30 September 1974, the first deadline for compliance with Moroccanization policies. In an effort to attract foreign capital, the government passed a new investment code in August 1973 that offered substantial tax concessions to private investors. To encourage badly needed foreign investment, a revised code introduced in 1982 permitted foreign investors 100% ownership of local companies in certain sectors and unrestricted transfer of capital. The effective repent in 1990 of the Moroccanization law and regulatory changes, including tax breaks and streamlined approval procedures, led to a more than threefold increase in foreign investment inflows in the four years following its enactment.

A new investment code was passed in 1995 that provided income tax breaks for investments in certain regions, crafts and export industries; and import duty reductions; especially during the first five years of operation. It also contained foreign exchange provisions that favored foreign investors.

In 1997, annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows reached over $1 billion, but then fell to $333 million in 1998. FDI inflow in 1999 rose to a near-record of almost $850 million mainly accounted for by two large investments: Telefonica of Spain and Telecom Portugal for mobile phones and Coca-Cola for bottling plants at Fès and Marrakech. In 2000, there was a 76% decrease in FDI inflow to Morocco to $201 million, but in 2001 inward FDI was a record $2.66 billion, due primarily to Vivendi Universal's $2.1 billion purchase of a 35% share of Maroc Telecom.

The US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA), negotiated in 2004, is geared toward encouraging more US investors to take advantage of duty-free access to both the US and European markets. In addition to tariff elimination, the FTA with Morocco includes investment provisions and commitments to increase access to the Moroccan services sector for American firms.

FDI totaled $8.4 billion from 19672001. In 2003, FDI inflows amounted to $2.43 billion. Spain was by far the largest foreign private investor in Morocco in 2003 ($1.896 billion), followed by France ($316.9 million), the United States ($53.1 million), and Switzerland ($37.5 million).


Government policy stresses expansion and development of the economy, essentially through foreign investment. Morocco decided to abide by the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) Article VIII, thus beginning the privatization of 112 public entitiesmainly manufacturing enterprises, hotels, and financial institutionsslated for divestiture under the 1989 privatization law. Keeping major industries under government control, Morocco proceeded to open up investment only partially, keeping the majority of revenues from the phosphates and mining, banking and securities industries. Between 1993 and 2005, 66 Moroccan state-owned industries were fully or partially privatized, including the tobacco distribution company, Régie des Tabacs, Banque Centrale Populaire, and 35% of Maroc Telecom to Vivendi (an additional 16% was due to be sold in 2005).

Morocco instituted a series of development plans to modernize the economy and increase production during the 1960s. Net investment under the five-year plan for 196064 was about $1.3 billion. The plan called for a growth rate of 6.2%, but by 1964 the growth rate had only reached only 3%. A new three-year plan (196567) targeted an annual growth rate of 3.7%. The main emphasis of the plan was on the development and modernization of the agricultural sector. The five-year development plan for 196872 called for increased agriculture and irrigation. The development of the tourist industry also figured prominently in the plan. The objective was to attain an annual 5% growth rate in gross domestic product (GDP); the real growth rate actually exceeded 6%.

Investment during the 1970s included industry and tourism development. The five-year plan for 197377 envisaged a real economic growth of 7.5% annually. Industries singled out for development included chemicals (especially phosphoric acid), phosphate production, paper products, and metal fabrication. Tourist development was also stressed. In 1975, King Hassan II announced a 50% increase in investment targets to allow for the effects of inflation. The 197880 plan was one of stabilization and retrenchment, designed to improve Morocco's balance-of-payments position, but the 4% annual growth rate achieved was disappointing.

The ambitious five-year plan for 198185, estimated to cost more than $18 billion, aimed at achieving a growth rate of 6.5% annually. The plan's principal priority was to create some 900,000 new jobs and to train managers and workers in modern agricultural and industrial techniques. Other major goals were to increase production in agriculture and fisheries to make the country self-sufficient in food, and to develop energy (by building more hydroelectric installations and by finding more petroleum and other fossil fuels), industry, and tourism to enable Morocco to lessen its dependence on foreign loans. The plan called for significant expansion of irrigated land, for increased public works projects such as hospitals and schools, and for economic decentralization and regional development through the construction of 25 new industrial parks outside the crowded Casablanca-Kénitra coastal area. Proposed infrastructural improvements included the $2-billion rail line from Marrakech to El Aaiún; a new fishing port at Ad-Dakhla, near Argoub in the Western Sahara; and a bridge-tunnel complex across the Strait of Gibraltar to link Morocco directly with Spain. Large industrial projects included phosphoric acid plants, sugar refineries, mines to exploit cobalt, coal, silver, lead, and copper deposits, and oil-shale development.

Outstanding foreign debt commitments and their serving remain a significant obstacle to economic development. The 1992 financing requirements were mostly covered, largely because of grants and bilateral credit. Despite the cancellation by Saudi Arabia of $2.8 billion of debt, the total still exceeded $23 billion. Despite reschedulings through both the Paris Club of official creditors and the London Club of commercial creditors, servicing the debt accounted for 30% of exports of goods and services. The economic plan of 19992004 included the creation of jobs, promotion of exports and tourism, resumption of privatization, and infrastructure construction.

External debt stood at around $15.6 billion in 2005, but the country had strong foreign exchange reserves ($16.2 billion) and active external debt management, which was allowing it to service its debts. The government has begun to liberalize the telecommunications sector, as well as the rules for oil and gas exploration. Although Morocco has managed to maintain macroeconomic stability in recent years, the Moroccan monetary authorities must use monetary policy to keep the inflation rate differential between Morocco and the euro zone in check to maintain the competitiveness of Moroccan exports. The 2005 budget deficit was projected to be 4%. The public wage bill accounts for more than half of government expenditures; in part, this reflects the decision to expand the civil service to provide jobs for the well-educated.


The social security system covers employees and apprentices in industrial and commercial fields and the professions, as well as agriculture and forestry. There is also voluntary coverage for persons leaving covered employment, and voluntary complementary insurance is available. Benefits include maternity allowances, disability pensions, old age pensions, death allowances, and allowances for illness. Employees contributed 3.96% of earnings, and employers contributed 7.93% of payroll. Workers are also entitled to a family allowance for those with children under 12 years of age.

Women comprise about 35% of the work force and are employed mostly in the industrial, service, and teaching sectors. They have the right to vote and run for office, although they are much more likely to be illiterate than men. Women do not have equal status under Islamic family and estate laws. Under these codes, a woman can only marry with the permission of her legal guardian, which is usually her father. Husbands may initiate and obtain a divorce more easily than women, and women inherit less than male heirs. Child labor is common, particularly in the rug making and textile industries. Young girls often work as domestic servants. Employment of children under the age of 12 is prohibited by law. Domestic violence remains a widespread problem. In 2004 progress was made in public awareness of the issue, and national hotlines were set up to assist victims.

Progress was made in reducing human rights abuses by the authorities. The government organized the first human rights conference ever held in the Arab world. Prison conditions remain poor.


Health conditions are relatively poor, but programs of mass education in child and parent hygiene, as well as government-supervised health services in schools and colleges, have helped to raise standards. Campaigns have been conducted against malaria, tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and cancer. However, gastrointestinal infections, malaria, typhoid, trachoma, and tuberculosis remain widespread. The World Health Organizations and UNICEF have cooperated in the government's campaigns against eye disorders and venereal diseases. The health system is comprised of three sectors: a public sector consisting of both the Ministry of Public Health and the Health Services of the Royal Armed Forces, a semi public sector, and a private sector. These together have been responsible for the dramatic reduction in mortality rates. Reform is under way with financing coming from health insurance revenues and the budget of the Public Health Ministry. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 4.4% of GDP.

In 2004, there were an estimated 48 physicians, 100 nurses, eight dentists, and 17 pharmacists per 100,000 people. There were 12 university hospitals, 20 regional hospitals, 45 provincial hospitals, 11 local hospitals, 14 diagnostic centers, and 377 health centers. It was estimated that 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 75% had adequate sanitation. Approximately 70% of the population had access to health care services.

Children up to one year of age were vaccinated against tuberculosis, 93%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 87%; and polio, 87%. The crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 23.7 and 5.9 per 1,000 people. About 59% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception. Infant mortality was estimated at 41.62 per 1,000 live births in 2005. The total fertility rate in 2000 was 2.6 children per woman. The under-five mortality rate fell from 215 in 1960 to 54 children per 1,000 live births in 2000. The maternal mortality rate was estimated at 230 per 100,000 live births in 1998. The average estimated life expectancy was 70.66 years in 2005.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 15,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.


Since the 1950s, significant numbers of Moroccans (estimated at over four million) have moved from the countryside to the urban centers to escape rural unemployment. Housing and sanitation, consequently, have become urban problems. The government is engaged in a low-cost housing program to reduce the slum areas, called bidonvilles that have formed around the large urban centers, especially Casablanca and Rabat. Since 1995, the government has been working on a program to build 200,000 low-cost housing units. In 2001, a government official reported that about 320,000 families were living in slum areas.


The general school system includes modern secular public institutions, traditional religious schools, and private schools. Nine years of education are compulsory, but many girls leave school at a younger age than boys and girls are a minority in secondary as well as primary schools. Primary school covers six years of study, followed by three years of continued basic studies (college). Students may then attend a general secondary school (lycée) for three years or a technical school for two or three years. At about seventh or eight grade, some studies may opt for vocational school programs. The language of instruction in primary schools is Arabic during the first two years, and both Arabic and French are used for the next three years. French is partly the language of instruction in secondary schools. The traditional religious schools are attended by only a small fraction of students. The government is committed to a unified public school system but has permitted private schools to continue because of the lack of alternative resources.

In 2001, about 60% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 90% of age-eligible students; 92% for boys and 87% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 36% of age-eligible students; 38% for boys and 33% for girls. It is estimated that about 89.6% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 28:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 18:1.

Morocco has six universities. Al-Qarawiyin University at Fès, founded in 859, is reputed to be the oldest university in the world; it was reorganized in 196263 as an Islamic university, supervised by the Ministry of Education. The first modern Moroccan university, the University of Rabat (now the Muhammad V University), was opened in 1957. Other universities are Muhammad bin Abdallah (founded 1974), in Fès; Hassan II (1975), Casablanca; Cadi Ayyad (1978), Marrakech; and Muhammad I (1978), Oujda. There are about two dozen colleges and conservatories. In 2003, about 11% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program.

In efforts to combat illiteracy, the king has established learning centers in over 100 mosques where citizens between the ages of 15 and 45 can receive literacy courses on Islam, civic education, and hygiene. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 50.7%, with 63.3% for men and 38.3% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 6.5% of GDP, or 26.4% of total government expenditures.


The General Library and Archives (1920) in Rabat is the national library, with holdings of 600,000 volumes. Its notable collection of medieval books and manuscripts, of particular interest to Muslim scholars, contains 1,600 ancient manuscripts of famous Islamic writers, including an important treatise by Averroës and classical treatises on medicine and pharmacy. The Muhammad VI Library of the Al Akhawayn University has a collection of over 65,000 books as well over 450 national and international academic journals, magazines and newspapers. The University Sidi-Mohomed Ben Abdelleh, in Fès, holds 225,000 volumes. There are various European and Colonial institutes through the country holding small collections. Of the 18 public libraries in Morocco, the largest is in Casablanca, with almost 360,000 volumes.

The Division of Museums, Sites, Archaeology, and Historic Monuments of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs administers 11 museums in major cities and at the ancient Roman site of Volubilis, northwest of Meknès. In some cities, such as Fès and Marrakech, small houses of historic and artistic interest have been preserved as museums. The Museum of Moroccan Arts and the Museum of Antiquities are in Tangiers. Also in Tangiers is the Forbes Museum, which holds a collection of lead soldiers that belonged to the American Malcolm Forbes. There are archeological museums in Tétouan, Rabat, and Larache. The National Science Museum and the Postal Museum are in Rabat. There are Ethnographic Museums in Chefchaouen and Tétouan.


The postal, telephone, telegraph, radio, and television services are government operated. Telephone and telegraph services connect most towns, and cable service is available to France, Spain, and Gibraltar. In 2003, there were an estimated 40 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 243 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio diffusion Television Marocaine presents programs in Arabic, in Berber dialects, and in English, French, and Spanish. The television service, with studios in Casablanca and Rabat, presents daily programs in Arabic and French. A private television station, 2M International, began broadcasting in French and Arabic in 1989. As of 1999 there were 22 AM and 7 FM radio stations and 26 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 243 radios and 167 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 19.9 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 33 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 17 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The country's main press agency, Maghreb Arab Press, is owned by the government. It published the daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Anba'a (Information ), which had a 2002 circulation of about 15,000. Other leading daily newspapers published in Rabat (as of 2002) include the Arabic-language Al Alam (The Flag, circulation 100,000) and the French-language L'Opinion (60,000). The French-language Le Matin du Sahara (100,000) and Maroc Soir (50,000) are published in Casablanca. Al Ittahid Al Ichtiraki (Socialist Unity, 110,000) is a daily Arabic newspaper also published in Casablanca.

Press freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, and censorship of domestic publications was lifted in 1977, but criticism of Islam, the king, the monarchical system, or Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara is not permitted.


The Moroccan Trade, Industry, and Handicrafts Association encourages economic development. Chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture function in most Moroccan cities. British, French, Spanish, and international chambers of commerce are active in Tangier.

Morocco has several drama societies, music organizations (notably the Association for Andalusian Music), and artists' associations. The multinational Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization is based in Rabat. Professional organizations include societies of doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, and engineers. There are several other associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions. Societies have been formed to encourage the study of economics, geography, prehistory, sociology, and statistics. There are associations of primary- and secondary-school teachers, parents, older students, and alumni. The National Center for Planning and Coordination of Scientific and Technical Research was established in 1981.

There are at least two major student political groups: the National Union of Moroccan Students and the General Union of Moroccan Students. There are youth movements affiliated with political parties and religious institutions. Scouting programs are also active in the country. There are sports associations representing a wide variety of pastimes, such as tennis, tae kwon do, squash, yachting, and badminton.

The National Mutual Aid Society, a welfare organization with many subdivisions, is headed by Princess Lalla Aïcha, the king's sister. Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs International, are also present. The Red Crescent Society and Caritas are also active.


Morocco's scenic variety and beauty, fascinating medieval cities, and favorable climate contribute to a steadily increasing flow of tourists. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing areas of the Moroccan economy and a valuable foreign exchange earner. Casablanca and Marrakech are favorite tourist destinations. Coastal beach resorts offer excellent swimming and boating facilities. Sports associations are widespread, particularly for football (soccer), swimming, boxing, basketball, and tennis.

Most visitors require passports but not visas for stays of up to three months. There were 4,511,684 tourists in 2003, with expenditure receipts totaling almost $3.4 billion. Hotel rooms numbered 75,284 with 147,632 beds and an occupancy rate of 40%. The average length of stay was six nights.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Casablanca at $270; in Marrakech, $252; and in Tangier, $266.


Important leaders and rulers include Idris I (Idris bin 'Abdallah, r.78891), of the Umayyad dynasty, who came to Morocco and was able to consolidate much of the area. His son Idris II (r.791804) founded Fès, the early capital. Yusuf bin Tashfin (r.10611106), a religious reformer, conquered much of Spain and northern Africa. Muhammad bin Tumart (1078?1130) founded the Almohad sect and developed a democratic form of government. The founder of the Almohad dynasty, 'Abd al-Mumin bin 'Ali (1094?1163), conquered Morocco and parts of Spain. Yakub al-Mansur (r.118499), who controlled all of North Africa west of Egypt, encouraged architecture and scholarship. Ahmad al-Mansur (r.15781603) drove all foreign forces out of Morocco, conquered the western Sudan, and established commercial and other contacts with England and Europe. Mawlay Isma'il (r.16721727) reunited Morocco and organized a harsh but effective centralized government. A capable and strong ruler famous for his justice was Muhammad bin 'Abdallah (r.175790).

Morocco has attracted many great minds, and it has been said that none of the great names in western Arabic philosophy is unconnected with Morocco. Avicenna (Ibn Sina, or Abu 'Ali al-Husayn, 980?1037), a great Persian physician and philosopher and an author of long-used textbooks on medicine, who was born near Bukhoro (Bukhara), lived for a number of years in Morocco. So did Avenzoar (Ibn Zuhr, or Abu Marwan 'Abd al-Malik bin Abu'l-'Ala' Zuhr, c.1090?1162), physician and scholar, born in Sevilla, in Spain, and author of important medical treatises. Averroës (Ibn Rushd, or Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, 112698), greatest Arab philosopher of Spain, was born in Córdoba and lived in Morocco for many years. The doctor and philosopher Abubacer (Abu Bakr Muhammad bin 'Abd al-Malik bin Tufayl, d.1118) was likewise brought to the Moroccan court from Spain.

Among distinguished native-born Moroccans was Ahmad bin 'Ali al-Badawi (c.1200?76), a Muslim saint who was active principally in Egypt. The great traveler Ibn Battutah (Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad bin Battutah, 130468?) visited and wrote about many countries of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The poetry of Muhammad bin Ibrahim (d.1955) is read throughout the Islamic world.

A famous fighter for Moroccan independence was 'Abd al-Karim (Muhammad 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, 1882?1963), who led a long campaign in the 1920s against French and Spanish forces. King Mohammed V (190961) gave up his throne as a gesture for independence, was arrested and exiled by the French, and returned in 1955 to become the first ruler of newly independent Morocco. He was succeeded by his son Hassan II (19291999), who continued his father's modernization program and expanded Morocco's territory and mineral resources by annexing Western Sahara. Mohammed VI (b.1963) became king following his father's death in 1999.


Morocco has no territories or colonies.


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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Kingdom of Morocco
Region: Africa
Population: 30,122,350
Language(s): Arabic, Berber, French
Literacy Rate: 43.7%
Number of Primary Schools: 5,806
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.0%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 3,617
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 3,160,907
  Secondary: 1,442,049
  Higher: 294,502
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 86%
  Secondary: 39%
  Higher: 11%
Teachers: Primary: 114,406
  Secondary: 84,202
  Higher: 13,155
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 28:1
  Secondary: 17:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 74%
  Secondary: 34%
  Higher: 9%

History & Background

The Kingdom of Morocco is known locally as Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah or Al Maghreb. Morocco is an Arab-Islamic country located in North Africa. It is surrounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, on the east by Algeria, and on the south by Mauritania. In 1976 Morocco annexed the northern two-thirds of the Western Sahara, which was formerly known as the Spanish Sahara. Since the late 1970s, Morocco has been in political and military conflict over its claim to this large phosphate-rich region that has 443 kilometers of land border. The United Nations has managed a cease-fire since 1991. Spain continues to control five areas of sovereignty or plazas de soberania. These include the northern coastal cities of Ceuta (Sebta ) and Melilia (M'lilia ) as well as the islands of Penon de Alhucemas, Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and Islas Chafarinas. Full sovereignty of the Western Sahara remained unsettled in 2001, and the United Nations plans to hold a referendum on the matter.

Morocco is strategically located along the Strait of Gibraltar. The total coastline of Morocco is 1,835 kilometers excluding the coastal Sahara. Without the Western Sahara, Morocco occupies a total territory of 446,550 square kilometers. The total land area is 446,300 square kilometers.

Morocco is the world's third largest producer of phosphates. Other economic resources include iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, and salt. Morocco is concerned with a number of environmental issues: land degradation, desertification, and water contamination due to raw sewage and oil pollution. Morocco's global environmental-legal arrangements address climate change, desertification, biodiversity, endangered species, nuclear test ban, ozone layer protection, ship pollution, and wetlands.

In July 2000 Morocco's population was estimated to be 30.1 million people with 35 percent of the population aged 0 to 14 years, 60 percent between 15 and 64 years of age, and 5 percent above 65 years old. The life expectancy for males is 66.9 years and is 71.4 years for females. Ethnically, 99 percent of the population is Arab-Berber (South and Soussi, Middle and Atlassi, and North and Rifi), 0.7 percent is other, and 0.3 percent is Jewish. Most of the population is Muslim (98.7 percent), but 1.1 percent are Christians and 0.2 percent are Jewish. Arabic is the official language, but most Moroccans use Arabic-Berber dialects. French is the language most often used for law, government, business, and diplomacy.

Agriculture dominates the Moroccan economy, but industry, the service sector, and information technology are growing. Since 1956, the year of its independence from France, Morocco has adopted continuous economic plans to enhance its gross national product growth, local aggregate consumption, private investment projects, government and public infrastructure, and macro-interactions with the rest of the world. Most of these plans have been quinquennial (five-year plans). Erratic droughts and imported inflation, especially attributable to high costs of energy, have impacted the plans. The basic tenets of the Moroccan system address human capital formation and education, democracy and the rule of law, technology and resource productivity, inputs supply and cost, transparent governance and optimum public management, and free market economics.

Like its neighbors, Morocco was invaded by many cultures in its long and varied history. Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs all invaded what is now Morocco. The Arabs came at the end of the seventh century, bringing with them Islamic Openness (Infitah Islami ). During most of the medieval ages, the sixth through the thirteenth centuries, Moroccan legal scholars, philosophers, historians, geographers, architects, physicians, chemists, sociologists, and economists traveled over the Mediterranean. Learning declined with the rise of internal and external challenges and conflicts. The Renaissance movement in Europe and the domination of the Ottoman Empire over North Africa, except for Morocco, began in the sixteenth century. The Siba (political and legal chaos) movement was followed by French colonization between 1906 and 1956 (Le Régime de la Porte Ouverte or the Open Door Regime).

Throughout the French colonial period, constant efforts were made to Christianize and franchise the Moroccan society. Priests, missionaries, physicians, religious nurses (R'hibates ), teachers, administrators, and general residents encouraged and enforced an educational and cultural imperialism. Very few in the population benefited from this system. Less than 10 percent of the population, most of whom were males, enrolled or were allowed to enroll in this French system of education. When allowed, it was with the purpose of creating local bureaucrats. Islam, Arabic, and Islamic philosophy and sciences were not allowed.

After much resistance from the locals, one to two hours of formal Arabic a week were included in the French schools. Local freedom fighters (the Alaouite dynasty, Allal Fassi and the Independence (Istiqlal ) Party, Socialist and Liberation Movements, inter alia) adopted and competed with the French by launching several types of schools. Ulema schools taught Islamic theology. Qur'anic schools taught the Holy Qur'an. Madaressh schools taught Arabic and Islam as well as French, mathematics, geography, history, the arts, and the modern sciences.

In 1956 Morocco was politically liberated. The new national government, led by King Mohammed V, centered the public policy on massive education. After Mohamed V's death in 1961, his eldest son, King Hassan II, continued to emphasize the role, values, mandates, and the high socio-economic potential and priority of educating Moroccans. The first Moroccan macro-economic plan was developed for 1961 through 1965. King Hassan II recognized that multidisciplinary education in French and Arabic was paramount.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Immediately after gaining independence from France on March 2, 1956, Morocco opted for a constitutional monarchy form of government. Under this type of political structure, the king is a hereditary monarch. He is the head of state and appoints the government chief or prime minister (premier ministre ) and the cabinet (conseil de ministres ). King Hassan II accessed the throne on March 3, 1961, and reigned until his death in 1999. King Mohamed VI became king on July 23, 1999.

On March 10, 1972, and September 4, 1992, the Moroccan constitution was approved and expanded, and, in September 1996, it was amended to create a bicameral legislature. The upper house or Chamber of Counselors (Chambre de Conseillers ) is composed of 270 members who are indirectly elected by local councils (conseillers locaux ), professional organizations (organisations professionnelles ), and labor syndicates or unions (syndicats de travail ) for nine-year terms; one-third of the members are elected every three years. The lower house or Chamber of Representatives (Chambre de Représentants ) has 325 members who are elected directly by popular vote for five-year terms. Both males and females can vote at age 21.

There are more than 20 political parties, professional organizations, and unions in Morocco. Among the most prominent are the Independence (Istiqlal ) Party, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), the Organization of Democratic and Popular Action (OADP), the Democratic Socialist Party (PSD), the Constitutional Union (UC), the Labor Party (UT), the General Union of Moroccan Workers (UGTM), and the Democratic Trade Union (SD).

Judicially, the Moroccan legal system is equally multi-based. It is predicated upon Islamic law (Chari'a Islamya ) and French and Spanish civil laws. The highest court of the land is the Moroccan Supreme Court, which is located in Rabat, the country's political and administrative capital. Justices are appointed on the advisory of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary (le Conseil Judiciare Suprême ), which, in turn, is headed by the Moroccan king.

Morocco faces many of the typical challenges and opportunities of a developing nation. Since the early 1960s, the government has recognized the importance of education at all levels: preschool, primary, secondary, university, technical, and vocational.

Education SystemOverview

Some children attend non-compulsory, two-year preschool programs. Students begin Morocco's nine-year basic education program at age seven. The basic education program consists of five years of primary school (K1-K5) followed by four years of primary secondary school (K6-K9). The basic education program is followed by three years of general secondary or technical education (K10-K12) leading to the baccalaureate degree.

Prior to 2000, students wishing to enter a university took the baccalaureate examination, a national test that required three to four days to complete. This test was very competitive; approximately 10 to 20 percent scored high enough to enter a university with a national governmental scholarship that pays full tuition and provides a quarterly stipend to cover board, room, books, and incidental expenses. Since 2000, the national exam has been replaced by a correlating of the students' averages in the final year of secondary school with admittance into certain college programs.

The language of instruction at most elementary and secondary schools is formal Arabic, but at the university level French is the primary language of instruction. Approximately 40 percent of the elementary population is Berber and speak a Berber dialect (tachilhet, Tamazight ). Non-Berbers often speak Berber or a Moroccan dialect that is a mixture of Arabic, French, Berber, and Spanish. When children are enrolled in schools, they must learn one or more foreign languages, including classical Arabic. This language barrier causes some children not to attend school. Parents who can afford to usually enroll their children in private schools where classical Arabic, French, English, and Spanish are taught. A high percentage of these private school graduates are admitted to universities.

Morocco is keenly aware of the critical value of education to national socioeconomic development. In 2000, 50 percent of the Moroccan people were illiterate. Only 40 percent of the men and 30 percent of the women could read and write.

Education is the responsibility of the Supreme Council for Education (Conseil Supréme d'Education ). This council occupies a central position, along with the Supreme Council for National Development and Planning (Conseil Supréme du Développement National et de Plannification ), in the national government of the country. The king is at the top of the political hierarchy, followed by the Regency Council, the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister, 2 Ministers of State, 12 Ministries, and the Supreme Council for National Development & Planning. Parliament is comprised of the House of Representatives and the House of Counselors and is responsible for legislative matters. The Morocco judiciary system is comprised of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, the Supreme Court, 15 Courts of Appeals, and regional and local tribunals.

When Morocco became independent from France, the country's leaders recognized the need to place education at the center of its socioeconomic and political future. In 1956 there were approximately 2 million children in Morocco, but only 10 percent were enrolled in elementary schools (education primaire ), and only 15,000 boys were enrolled in secondary education. There were no girls enrolled at the secondary level in 1956. Only 350 students were enrolled at the university level.

In 1956 liberated Morocco had to develop a comprehensive education policy. First, anti-analphabetism schools (madares muharabat al umiya ) were set up. Second, the nine year basic education system was developed. At the end of the 1990s, primary education received 35.5 percent of the total education budget, secondary received 46 percent, and higher education received 18.5 percent. In 1968, these amounts were 49 percent for the elementary, 40.5 percent for the secondary, and 10.5 percent for higher education.

Preprimary & Primary Education

There are two types of non-compulsory, two-year preschooling: traditional Koran schools (Qur'anic ), where sacred texts are learned by rote, and modern private kindergartens.

Students begin Morocco's nine-year basic education program at age seven. The basic education program consists of five years of compulsory primary school (K1-K5) followed by four years of primary secondary school (K6-K9).

Subjects studied in primary schools include grammar, composition and reading, languages (Arabic, French, and Spanish), civics, and arithmetic. At the end of the fifth year, students take a national exam. Those who successfully complete the exam receive the primary studies certificate (certificat d'études primaires or CM2) and are eligible to continue their education, if their fami ly's socioeconomic conditions permits.

The number of students completing primary school has increased steadily. Since the 1980s, an annual average of 2.5 million children have enrolled in primary schools. In the early 1980s, there were approximately 1.0 million primary school graduates; at the end of the 1990s, there were approximately 1.4 million primary school graduates. Two of the 1990-1993 educational goals were to increase the annual primary school enrollment rate by approximately 8 percent and decrease the average class size. The annual enrollment grew by approximately 6.5 percent, and the average number of pupils per classroom decreased from 42 to 38. In 2000 the average class size was 28. In 2000, approximately 75 percent of primary school age children attended school, but only 55 percent of girls attended primary school.

Enrollments are lowest in rural areas where girls are needed for traditional tasks, such as household chores and agriculture, and boys are needed to harvest crops, care for livestock, or work at the traditional market centers. Rural schools are usually built a considerable distance from the villages, and the schools often lack boarding facilities, schooling supplies, staff, and reliable teachers. Even where schools are close to villages, only 20 percent of pupils from rural areas enter the fifth year of primary school education.

Secondary Education

Secondary education is divided into a four-year primary cycle (premier cycle d'education secondaire ) and, for those students who successfully complete the primary cycle, a three-year secondary cycle (deuxième cycle secondaire ). Vocational or technical training is available for those who do not enter the secondary cycle. Although progress is being made in reducing the size of classes, the average pupil to teacher ratio at the end of the 1990s was 38:1.

The primary secondary cycle (K6-K9) consists of additional fundamental education. The curriculum includes history, geography, mathematics, French, Arabic, religious studies, civics, and physical education. Students who successfully complete the fourth year, quatrième année secondaire or brevet, choose vocational or technical training or further secondary education at a lycée. The three years of this high school cycle (K10-K12) are the fifth or cinquième, sixth or sixième, and seventh or année de baccalauréat. Le Lycée provides advanced studies and training in humanities and letters, social sciences, economics and business, natural sciences, or mathematics. Since the early 1970s, English has become a major language taught in the secondary cycle. In addition to Arabic and French, students may alternatively choose among third languages such as Spanish, Russian, or German.

Prior to 2000, high school graduates who wanted to continue their academic studies had to score well on a very competitive national baccalaureate examination. Since 2000 the students' averages in seventh or année de baccalauréat determine their admittance into certain university programs. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of students enrolled in secondary public education increased. The average enrollment growth rate increased from 6 percent in 1979 to 9 percent in the 1990s, due primarily to the 1985 educational reform and the increase in the number of primary school graduates. The number of high school graduates increased from 33 percent in 1983-1984 to 54 percent in 1999-2000. Almost 60,000 students received their baccalauréat in 1999-2000.

Higher Education

Higher learning in Morocco has existed for centuries. In fact, Kairouyine University in Fez was built from 859 to 862 A.D. The Almoravid Dynasty, led by Youssef Ben Tachfin, spread knowledge and advanced Islam, philosophy, art, and science in Morocco, Andalussya, Algeria, Tunisia, and part of Libya. In the thirteenth century, Morocco entered the Merinid Dynasty rule for 200 years; several schools and university centers were built during this period. Chief among these is Ali Ben Youssef Medersa, an Islamic university in Marrakech, which was erected in the fourteenth century by Sultan Abou el Hassan and revamped in the mid-sixteenth century.

After its decolonization in 1956, Morocco began developing its modern university and college system. Since the 1960s, Morocco has emphasized the importance of colleges, institutes, higher learning centers, pedagogical facilities, and universities. In a March 3, 1997, televised royal discourse, King Hassan II stated: "The most precious good or resource of a nation is not its gold or currency reserves, as considerable as such might be. Neither are a nation's underground wealth or the power of its industry. The power of a nation rests on its human capital and health."

The number of college students has been steadily increasing. In the 1980s there were approximately 100,000 college students; by the end of the 1990s the number of college students had increased to more than 250,000. In 2000 more than 60,000 students were enrolled in higher education and training centers in the capital Rabat. Female university enrollment has increased significantly. At the end of the 1990s, 41 percent of the total enrollment was female. In some areas, such as medicine, dentistry, and the humanities, female enrollment is 51 percent. From 1985 to 2000 the annualized average growth rate in university enrollment was 6.3 percent. It has been projected that in 2000-2001 the annual rate of growth will be 3 percent in the scientific and technical areas; 4 percent in the economic, legal, administrative, and social fields; and 3 percent in pedagogy and teaching.

The higher education curriculum includes the humanities, arts and literature, social and behavioral sciences, economics and law, politics, economics, history, geography, biology and geology, medicine, pharmacology and pharmacy, biological and geological sciences, physics and chemistry, information technology, computer and information systems, military and technical studies, engineering, architecture, pedagogy and teachers' formation, and cadres' creation.

Prior to 2000, the baccalaureate examination, a national test that took three days to complete, was used to determine university admittance and to award national government scholarships. The tests were very competitive, and the students' scores were published in the national print media. Approximately 10 to 20 percent scored high enough to enter the university with a national governmental scholarship that paid full tuition and provided a quarterly stipend to cover board, room, books, and incidental expenses. During the 1960s and the 1970s, successful high school graduates (bacheliers and bachelières ) could choose to enroll in Moroccan universities and higher learning institutes or, if the college level field of study was not yet available in Morocco, they could enroll in French, Canadian, Russian, or other international schools and universities.

Since 2000, high school graduates average their senior year to determine which type of higher education programs they may enter. Those earning a Bac "A" may choose to study programs such as law; politics; letters and humanities; languages; behavioral sciences such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology; history; and geography. If they graduate from a lycée with a Bac "B," then they may study areas such as economics or business. Those graduating with a Bac "C" may pursue areas such as medicine, health sciences, or biology. Those graduating with a Bac "D" may enroll in engineering, physics, and/or chemistry colleges and institutes.

Since the 1960s there have been significant improvements in Morocco's material and socioeconomic-educational structures. Based on a 1997 university performance study, the National Report on Human Development, the ratio of professor to students was 1 to 27 in colleges and 1 to 6 in technical institutes. The report notes that Moroccan higher education has grown at an average annualized rate of 11 percent in the post-colonial period. In 2000 approximately 40,000 Moroccans held college degrees in contrast to a few hundred before 1960. This enormous growth mirrors the philosophy of decentralizing education, diversifying vocational and technical training, and constantly launching new colleges and institutes. In 1960-1961 there were 6 higher education institutions; in 2000 there were more than 70. Major public universities include the University Hassan II, University Cadi Ayyad, AlAkhawayn University, Moulay Ismail University, Agadir University, Oujda University, and Settat University. The University Mohammed V is Morocco's largest university both in student enrollments and the number of departments.

Graduate schools have not been easily accessible, and many institutions offered only undergraduate programs. At the end of the 1990s, approximately 92 percent of the college students were undergraduate students; however, only about 10 percent of the undergraduate population graduated. Approximately 80 percent of the students must repeat one or more academic years. Suggestions for improving the higher education program include reviewing students progress and university programs each term; examining the testing policies and grading standards; revising higher pedagogical delivery via students' portfolios and college-to-work programs; and examining the success of students during internships, externships, inter-African and middle Eastern exchanges, European exchanges, and global university exchanges. To implement many of these proposed changes, additional funds are needed.

In 2000 approximately 7,000 assistants, lecturers, professors, and researchers worked in Moroccan colleges, institutes, grandes écoles, and universities; 4 percent were teacher assistants, 61 percent master assistants, 11 percent lecturers, 17 percent professors, and 7 percent researchers. Approximately 72 percent of teachers were in the areas of law, literature, education, political science, social sciences, and economics. Only 28 percent specialized in the scientific, technical, and health care professions.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The National Report on Human Development states that the educational budgetary resources allocation has increased considerably. From 1981 through 1997, the budget grew by an average annualized affectation rate of 15 percent, whereas the government budget increased, for the same period, by an average of 11 percent.

From 1980 to 2000, the university system's operational costs averaged an 11 percent increase per annum. In 1980 the government spent 70 million dirhams (DH 10 is approximately US$1) or $7 million in new university investments and 680 million dirhams ($68 million) in operational costs. In 2000 the collegiate spending budget grew to 600 million dirhams ($60 million) in investments and over 2,000 million dirhams ($200 million) in operational costs. The average annualized cost per student, however, declined from 17,000 dirhams ($1,700) in 1983 to 12,000 dirhams ($1,200) in 2000.

There are 23 higher learning/formation facilities that cover all modern fields of study, research, and application. Some institutions award degrees for completion of two years programs. Others award degrees for doctorates. Students may receive a scholarship, a stipend, and/or financial aid. Once they graduate, they may be required to work for the Civil Service (le Service Civil ), for at least two years, at a relatively lower salary to serve their country and pay back Moroccan taxpayers' sponsorship.

Morocco supports studies and research overseas. Students may receive a stipend, a scholarship, and/or a fellowship. For example, students wishing to attend an American graduate schools (troisième cycle ) to pursue either a Masters or doctoral degree may apply to the Department of Higher Education and Scientific Research (Ministère de l'Ensignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique ) for a scholarship (une bourse ). Since 1980 more than 200 such scholarships have been allocated to Moroccan student candidates, primarily for Masters degrees in Business Administration, engineering, telecommunications, information technology, finance, agriculture, resource planning, and law. The average scholarship is $70,000 for 2 years, but students applying for a Masters in Business Administration program may receive $80,000. Students in a doctoral program may receive up to a $140,000 for a maximum period of 4 years. Tuition, board and room, books, and a round trip ticket are covered by these graduate scholarships.

To qualify for a graduate scholarship to study abroad, students must be Moroccan citizens; hold a Bachelors or an equivalent degree; receive 213 on the computerized or 550 on pencil and paper Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); and pass the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Instead of the GRE, students applying for a Masters in Business Administration program must score higher than 500 on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and have proof of at least 12 months of an a-priori professional experience. Additional requirements include three letters of recommendation, a medical clear health certificate, and an imperative to return to Morocco for at least two years after graduation. Moroccan students who hold dual citizenship with the United States and Morocco are not eligible to apply for scholarships. Scholarships are awarded based upon the compatibility of the graduate field to Morocco's developmental needs. Female applicants are given priority. At the end of the 1990s, approximately 40,000 Moroccan students were enrolled in higher education institutions abroad.

There are 14 scientific, technical, and military establishments that provide specialized economic and business, juridical, political and public management, social, behavioral studies and training, and research and development programs. These institutions award degrees equivalent to an Associate Degree (premier cycle or Diplôme d'Etudes Universitaires Fondamentales, DEUF ) as well as to the Bachelors, Masters, and doctoral degrees. Approximately one-third of the 2,750 faculty members are female professors.

Since the 1980s approximately 30 private, higher learning schools and institutes have been established in Morocco. Among these are the Higher School of Applied Informatics to Management (ESIAC); the Polyvalent School of Informatics and Electronics (EPSIEL); the International School of Management at Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, and Marrakech (ESIG); the Higher Institute of Economics and Social Sciences (IHEES); the Higher Institute of Biology and Biochemistry at Casablanca and Marrakech (ISBB); the Preparatory Higher Institute in Food Technologies (ISFORT); and, the Technical Higher Institute of Fishing.

Since 1995 approximately 10,000 Moroccans graduated with a scientific/technical degree. About 40 percent of these were females. In 1997-1998, a total of 2,867 male and 1,084 female students graduated in economics, law, public management, and behavioral sciences. In 1997-1998, approximately 321 graduates were foreign students from Africa, the Middle East, France, and the United States.

At the university level English is often offered as a one or two hour weekly subject, notably in those research-based subjects like physics and chemistry, medicine, economics, political science, or philosophy. College students may even select a four-year degree program, the English Section, and graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in English. The University of Mohammed V's College of Literature and Humanities is the main center of this English specialization and offers areas of specialization such as composition, reading, English as a second language, technical and business English, British literature, and American literature.

Additional English teaching/learning facilities include the American Cultural Association, composed of American language centers in main Morocco; the American School of Tangiers, pre-K through K12; Casablanca American School, K1 through K12; High Technology School of Rabat; Rabat American School, pre-K through K12; English Teachers in Morocco, a non-commercial and an unaffiliated digital association that supports TEFL and all English teachers in Morocco; the Al-Akhawayn University in Ifran, modeled after the United States, that collaborates with the University of Southern California in areas such as comparative studies, architecture, history, and social sciences; and The British Council of Morocco, which aims at spreading a wider knowledge and understanding of the United Kingdom in Morocco, British English, and other educational opportunities for Moroccans.

Even with a degree, it is difficult for some graduates to find work. In the late 1990s, 45 percent of college graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 were unemployed. In October 1999 the Special Commission on Education and Human Capital Formation in Morocco conducted a macro-education national project, Education and Formation National Chart Project (Projet de Charte Nationale d'Education et de Formation ). The project examined seven areas and made recommendations for each.

The section on Moroccan educational methodologies, rights, and obligations acknowledged that Moroccan culture and social ethics are based primarily on Islamic theology and faith; therefore, Moroccans should be taught and trained in virtuous individual excellence, responsible citizenship, rectitude, moderation, practical wisdom, tolerance, reciprocity, scientific spirit and inquiry, economic individual initiative and entrepreneurship, global friendship, courage, magnificence, generosity, and justice. They should also be taught to respect and appreciate other world religions and cultures. Students should learn to uphold their natural rights of worshiping God (Allah Almighty ), to pursue rational liberty and happiness, and to oblige by their civic and political duties national identity and constitutional monarchy. Use of Standard Arabic should be encouraged, both in writing and speaking, schools, cultural and religious settings, the work place, and the street. Learning foreign languages is encouraged. Positive religious, psychological, emotional, and aesthetic values and principles should be acquired from an early age through preschool programs and home education and incorporated into all levels of education and workplace environments. Education is the center of Morocco's social and economic expansion, progress, economic growth, and development. Moroccan pedagogy and educational-teaching-learning methodologies should be based on educational research and focus on active learning. College and university education should prepare and develop a productive human capital that stimulates national development and competes regionally and globally.

The second main section of the report examined Moroccan educational methodologies, rights, and obligations. All Moroccans are entitled to national schooling and training. Children, women, and the physically and mentally challenged must be encouraged to enroll in Moroccan educational institutions and training centers. More effort should be given to achieving urban-rural educational balance and harmony. Compulsory education, up to a working age, should be implemented gradually and forcefully. All citizens should be actively involved in and support the educational domestic mission. Parental movements and philanthropic organization should be encouraged to become more involved in education via governmental broadcasting and fiscal advantages and credits. Education must include all media: print, radio, television, and cyberspace. Continued education and voluntary teaching must fight illiteracy and learning stagnation. Multilateral dialectics, participatory education, collaborative learning, and fair testing are some of the cornerstones of an improved national educational system. Testing and examination should be polarized around learning performance, outcome objectives, seriousness, honesty, work ethics, discipline and time consciousness, and competitive learning acquisition.

The third area of the report focused on educational innovations and renovations. Educational programs from 2000 to 2019 should focus on the preschool, elementary (K1-K5), and junior secondary (K6-K9) levels. Education should reflect both Moroccan territorial integrity and Moroccan pluralistic educational philosophy. Education should receive the maximum budgetary and financial support. Moroccan education should reflect the needs and requirements of national economic and social development.

The fourth area examined education generalization, democratization, socio-economic development, and modernity. The report projects that by 2004, preschools will be available for three to six years olds; by 2005 a total of 90 percent of elementary students will hold elementary education certificates; by 2008 some 80 percent of the pupils will receive their K9 diploma (Brevet d'Etudes Secondaires ); by 2011 a total of 60 percent of the students will be preparing for a technical or vocational career; by 2002 there will be 10,000 graduates of vocational training programs; by 2006 there will be 50,000 graduates of vocational training programs; and by 2011 a total of 40 percent of the students will receive their high school diploma (le baccalauréat ). The report emphasized that laboratory work; modern technology, notably electronics and cyberspace; and school-to-work programs are needed to achieve these projections.

Another area of the report examined alphabetization, literacy, and various channels of learning. The report predicts that by 2011 less than 20 percent of Morocco's population will be illiterate. Special emphasis should be given to rural areas, girls, and seniors. The media, professional organizations, chambers of commerce, volunteers, and religious institutions should work to eliminate illiteracy. Literate training should be a component of Moroccan craftsmanship and artistry. Internships and externships areencouraged. Families and households should be involved in volunteer and tutorial programs.

The technical and higher learning training and education portion of the report endorsed vocational and school-to-work projects, especially in technical high schools (Baccalauréat d'Enseignment Technique et Professionnel ). High school graduates may enroll in a two-year associate degree program (Diplôme d'Etudes Universitaires Fondamentales or DEUF) or a four-year bachelors program. Hassanya University of Islamic (Chri'a Dar Hadith Hassanya ) or other similar theological institutes should provide theology programs. Information technology and distance learning should be developed. A variety of educational tools should be used: books, videos, Internet, television, and video-conferencing. Primary and secondary education programs should include 1,000 hours or 24 weeks of preuniversity schooling and should begin the second Wednesday of September; universities should open on September 15. Languages of instruction should include Scientific Arabic, French, English, Spanish, and Tamazight (Berber). Scholarships, fellowships, awards, and prizes should be available. Pedagogical centers should graduate the number of quality teachers needed in the sciences, economics, mathematics, and law. Research and development should continue at the Hassan II Academy of Sciences and Technology. Physical education and sports pedagogy should be equally available at universities, Pedagogical Regional Centers, and Higher Normal Schools. Colleges, universities, specialized schools, and institutes should continually train educational staff, administration, and management. Teachers for special education, child development, and the physically and mentally challenged students should receive special training.

The general and college education administration and governance section noted that special, autonomous government agencies (Services d'Etat Gérés de Manière Autonome or SEGMAs) are available to train and prepare education economists, administrators, managers, accountants, examiners, and monitors. University councils comprised of student representatives, professors, directors, deans, and business and community leaders should select college presidents for renewable four-year periods. All levels of public and private schools should implement the national educational plan. Tax credits, exemptions, and other monetary, banking, investment, fiscal, and regional cooperation provisions should be available.

Nonformal Education

In 1984 approximately 69 percent of Morocco's labor force did not have any degrees or certificates. In 2000, this number declined to 55 percent. In 1984 some 11 percent of the labor force held an elementary certificate versus 15 percent in 2000; 2 percent held a high school diploma compared to 4 percent in 2000; and 2 percent had a management degree compared to 5 percent in 2000. Several areas have seen some positive recruitment changes. Management and business increased from 15 percent in 1984 to 20 percent in 1995. During the same period, financial services rose from 1.5 to 2.5 percent, public administration from 10.5 to 14.5 percent, manufacturing from 25 to 26 percent, and transports from 4.4 to 6.0 percent. Overall, the labor force participation ratio increased from 47 percent in 1985 to 55 percent in 1998.

Community involvement in the learning process is being encouraged. Informal utilitarian education is presented via the media, the Internet, and other channels. Workshops, seminars, and productive eco-religious circles and meetings in mosques are being encouraged and supported.

Teaching Profession

Several pedagogical institutions train secondary level teachers. High school graduates who have an appropriate entrance exam score may enroll in a two-year program at Pedagogical Regional Centers (Centres Pédagogiques Régionaux or CPRs). These centers are geographically localized, based on the administrative, decentralized law of Morocco and its regional socioeconomic developmental needs and requirements. They are located in the Fez region in Boulmane; Tangier region in Tetouan; Souss region in Massa Daraa; the eastern region; Marrakech region in Tansift-Haouz; Tadla region in Azilal; the grand Casablanca region; and the Rabat region. Students enrolled at a CPR study specialized subjects ranging from languages, notably French and Arabic, to mathematics, the sciences, humanities, social sciences, physical education, and the arts. Students graduating from a CPR can teach only at the first cycle or junior high school.

High school graduates with appropriate entrance exam scores may enroll in Higher Normal Schools (Ecoles Normales Supérieures or ENSs). These four-year programs offer courses in pedagogy, the art of teaching, and a variety of academic subjects depending on the chosen field of teaching. Specialized academic areas include mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and geology, the health sciences, business and economics, literature and the humanities, the arts, social sciences, physical education, history and geography, theology, and philosophy. ENS graduates become secondary high school teachers. A specified priority-ranking and pedagogical needs determine the placement of the new teacher. Generally, after teaching a few years, teachers may request to be moved to another geographical area. At the end of the 1990s, there were 10 ENSs in Casablanca, Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, Rabat, and Tetouan.

Higher Normal Schools of Technical Education (Ecoles Normales Superiéures d'Enseignement Technique or ENSET) prepare students interested in technical fields (Bacs techniques) to teach in high schools. ENSET's are located in two main areas: the beach city of Mohammedia, which is about 20 miles north of Casablanca, and the capital Rabat. Training in the areas of technology and applied scientific knowledge include electronics, information technology, computing and information systems, home appliances, refrigeration, and auto-mechanic.

Teaching Examiners Formation Centers (Centres de Formation des Inspecteurs de l'Enseignement or CFIEs) prepare examiners to monitor, assess, and provide feedback on the quantity and quality in the pre-college teaching profession; relationships among schools, administrators, principals, and teachers; teaching market issues; pupil performance and learning objective outcomes; and even teaching material, building furniture, and school supplies.

Planning and Orientation Educational Centers (Centres d'Orientation et de Planification de l'Education or COPEs) are responsible for macro-, micro-, and mesoeducational aims, objectives, needs, and appropriately dynamic strategies and educational tactics. COPEs, in liaison with the national Supreme Council of Education, brainstorm the educational aggregates and needs. The following areas are among those considered: supply, demand, pedagogical needs, recruitment, costs, savings, educational investment infrastructure, educational socioeconomic infra-structure, educational bond issues and financing securities, and the role of education in national economic growth.

Employment in the educational profession has been steadily increasing. In the recent pedagogical triennium, the three-year period from 1996 to 1998, CPRs, ENSs, ENSETs, CFIEs, and COPEs supplied the following: 2,636 graduates in the academic year 1996-1997 (758 females); 2,453 newly accepted-enrolled (736 females) in 1997-1998; and 3,995 graduates (1083 females) in 1997-1998. In 1997-1998 there were 1,470 full-time faculty and 365 adjunct faculty at the CPRs, ENSs, ENSETs, CFIEs, and COPEs.


The Moroccan system of education is a progressive one. Since its liberation from French rule in 1956, Morocco has worked to establish an education system that will prepare its citizens to meet the country's needs and to compete in a world market. However, in 2000 more than 50 percent of the population was illiterate. Compulsory education is gradually being established, new perspectives on pedagogy and the art of teaching are being incorporated, and a focus on school-to-career programs is being adopted at all levels of education.

Morocco continues to face challenges: improving education; generalizing its impact, especially within the female population; equalizing urban and rural education; boosting multi-factorial productivity, particularly that of its youthful human capital; enhancing its peoples' lifestyle; creating jobs; liberalizing open macroeconomic relations; reforming many of its banking and financial structures; attracting foreign capital, direct and portfolio; alleviating its external debt; and diversifying its economic tissue beyond traditional agriculture and tourism. The constant reassessment and investment of its human capital, its employability, effective utilization, and pragmatic optimum training are central components of the country's long-term socioeconomic development.


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The. The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 July 2000. Available from

Gordon, Frances L., et al., eds. Morocco. Singapore: Times Editions, 1996.

Hargraves, Orin. Culture Shock: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Singapore: Times Editions, 1995.

Higher Learning Document. Rabat: Department of Moroccan Higher Learning & Scientific Research, 2000.

His Majesty Hassan II. Throne Holiday Official Discourse. Moroccan Radio & Television, 3 March 1997.

International Monetary Fund. 2001. Available from

Royaume du Maroc. The House of Morocco, 2001. Available from

Sarri, Samuel. Applied Financial Economics/Level I. Acton, MA: Copley Publishing, 2001.

. Ethics of the International Monetary Systems. Maryland: Lanham, 1998.

Sarri, Samuel, and James Gilbertie. 21st Microeconomics. Redding, CA: CAT Publishing, 2000.

Seward, Pat. Cultures of the World: Morocco. Tarrytown, NY: Benchmark, 1995.

Samuel Sarri

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Kingdom of Morocco
Al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyah



Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of the African continent. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and Algeria to the east and southeast. The Strait of Gibraltar separates it from Spain at its northern tip. Its southern border is the Sahara Desert. With an area of 446,550 square kilometers (172,413 square miles) and a coastline of 1,835 kilometers (1,140 miles), Morocco is slightly larger than California. Morocco's capital city, Rabat, is located in the northwest of the country overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Other major cities are Casablanca on the Atlantic Ocean, Marrakech (the business capital) in the center, and Tangier in the north, on the Strait of Gibraltar.


Morocco's population was estimated at 30,122,350 in July of 2000, an increase of 1.2 percent from the 1990 population of 24,043,000. In 2000, Morocco's birth rate stood at 24.6 births per 1,000, while the death rate was reported at 6.02 per 1,000. The majority of the population are Muslim. Almost one-third of the population are Berbers, who are mostly concentrated in the Rif and Atlas mountains. Morocco has a sizeable community (1.7 million) of expatriates living abroad, mostly in France, Spain, and Italy.

The growth rate of Morocco's population has slowed down since the 1990s, averaging 1.6 percent between 1995 and 1999, down from 2.5 percent in the preceding decade. With a projected growth rate of 1.4 percent between 2000 and 2015, the population is expected to reach 41 million by 2029. The population is generally young, with some 23 percent under the age of 15. Like people in many developing countries, a majority of Moroccans live in urban areas. The population of urban areas has grown significantly since the 1960s. Casablanca, Marrakech, and other major urban centers are home to some 54.5 percent of the country's people.


Morocco's domestic economy is relatively diversified. The agricultural sector plays an important role, accounting for 15 to 20 percent of the GDP, depending on weather conditions. In 1999, the sector accounted for 15 percent of the GDP and employed some 50 percent of the labor force . The sector's output, however, varies from one year to another, due to its dependence on rain-water for irrigation. The largest contributor to the GDP is the services sector. The well-developed tourism and services sectors accounted for 52 percent of the GDP and employed 35 percent of the labor force in 1999. The expanding industrial sector has also become a major contributor to the GDP in recent years, accounting for 33 percent of the GDP in 1999. Industrial exports include textiles, clothing, shoes, and, most important, raw phosphates and processed products, including phosphoric acid and fertilizers. Morocco is the world's largest exporter of raw and processed phosphates, but the phosphates sector contributes only 3 percent to the GDP. The fishing sector is also important, employing some 300,000 people.

Morocco entered the 20th century as a colony divided between France and Spain, with France dominating the larger area. It continued to be under French control during World War II, and its demands for independence were not recognized until 1956, when Sultan Mohammed V was declared king of Morocco. Spain relinquished its claims over Morocco around the same time but retained a small number of cities and territories. Mohammed's son, Hassan II, who succeeded his father in 1961 and ruled until 1999, is considered the father of modern Morocco.

Morocco is primarily a free-market country with some state control. The government has significantly reduced its role in the economy since the 1990s, removing trade barriers and selling several state-owned enterprises. Despite occasional political violence, it has a fairly stable, multiparty political system headed by the king, and it enjoys the strong political and economic support of the United States and the European Union. Economic growth has been sluggish since the 1990s, partly as a result of dependence on agriculture, which has been affected by recurring droughts. The GDP real growth rate was estimated to be 0.8 percent in 2000. Mining, mostly of phosphates, is concentrated in Khourigba, Youssoufia, and the Western Saharan mine of Boucraa. Manufacturing, retail trade, and services are centered in urban centers, mostly Rabat and Casablanca.

Neither the agricultural sector nor the emerging industrial sector is capable of providing enough jobs to counteract Morocco's long-standing high unemployment rate. The problem of unemployment especially high among university graduates is exacerbated by the rapid population growth. Unemployment reached 19 percent in 1998; by contrast the unemployment rate in the United States in 1999 was 4.2 percent. Unemployment in urban areas is estimated to be higher than 22 percent. Although the government has made it a priority issue, unemployment will present a serious challenge for some time to come.

Morocco's foreign debt in 1999 was estimated at US$18.7 billion. About 50 percent is owed to state creditors within the Paris Club, a group of developed countries that extends credit and loans to developing countries, 30 percent is owed to international institutions, and 15 percent is owed to commercial banks, while the remaining 15 percent is owed to other creditors. The largest fraction of the Paris Club debt is with France (48 percent), followed by Spain and the United States, who each account for 15 percent. Debt service represents 24.5 percent of exports of goods and services. The country's debt burden has declined steadily since the mid-1990s: In 1992, Morocco rescheduled its debt to the Paris Club, and in 1996, the French and Spanish governments agreed to relieve part of the country's debts by converting them into investments.

Morocco's economic difficultiestrade imbalance and high unemploymentare offset by tourism receipts, remittances from its migrant workers abroad, and foreign investments. Some 2.35 million tourists visited the country in 1999, an 18-percent increase over the preceding year. Also in 1999, Moroccan workers, mostly in Europe, contributed some US$1.94 billion, a decline of 1.6 percent over the preceding year. Income from foreign investments tripled that year, mostly as a result of the sale of a mobile-phone license to a Spanish company.

Government bureaucracy is a major impediment to the conduct of business in Morocco. Bureaucratic inefficiencies permeate all government ministries and the commercial court system. Corruption is widespread at all levels of the public sector , largely as a result of low wages and difficult living conditions.


After independence from France in 1956, a hereditary monarchy was established, which is now headed by King Mohammed VI, who succeeded his father and ruler of 38 years, King Hassan II, in July 1999. The country has had a multiparty system and an elected legislature since the 1970s. Morocco has more than a dozen legal political parties. The Constitutional Union (UC) Party and the National Rally of Independents (RNI) are the 2 largest. Both are conservative and pro-monarchy and together traditionally provide a near majority in parliament to back the government. Although the king tolerates the opposition, he is quick to suppress groups on the political fringe. Even members of legal political groups, such as the small, leftist Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), have been targeted periodically for crackdowns by security forces.

Ultimate power rests with the king, who is chief of state and appoints the prime minister, all cabinet ministers, and all supreme-court judges. A new constitution, designed by the late King Hassan II in 1996 and approved by a public referendum that same year, established a bicameral parliament, replacing the previous system in which two-thirds of a 333-member unicameral parliament (Majlis Anouwab) were elected by popular vote. Under the new constitution, all members of parliament are now elected.

A program to reform the economy was launched in 1992 with the help of the World Bank. The objective was to privatize state-owned companies, enhance the country's economic management, raise productivity, and reduce its soaring budget deficit . The program gained new momentum under the government of Abderrahmane Youssoufi, who has served as prime minister since 1998. The current government, a coalition of socialist , left-of-center, and nationalist parties and, for the first time in years, opposition parties, has launched a campaign to reform business laws and regulations and draft a new labor law. The judicial system and intellectual property rights legislation have already been revamped. Overall, however, the pace of Morocco's privatization program has been rather slow; only 60 out of 114 state companies identified for privatization in 1993 had been privatized by 2001. Plans are underway to sell off the government's shares in Maroc Telecom and Banque Centrale Populaire, the largest bank, primarily to a group of foreign investors.

Taxes and custom duties are a major source of government revenue, accounting for 42 percent of income. Customs duties account for 14 percent of revenue, while direct taxation accounts for the remaining 28 percent. Morocco's tax system, reformed in 1984, consists of a wide variety of taxes including the 20 percent value-added tax (VAT), which was instituted in December 1985, a 35 percent corporate tax, general income tax and return-on-shares tax, effective since December 1986.

One of the major items on Morocco's international agenda is its claim to the Western Sahara. The region is a vast stretch of inhospitable land containing large phosphate reserves. Ever since former colonial power Spain abandoned the region in 1975, it has been the site of an insurgency led by the pro-independence Popular Front for the Liberation of Saquia Al Hamra and Rio De Oro (Polisario). A United Nations vote on the future of the territory, originally scheduled for January 1992, has been repeatedly deferred due to unresolved arguments over voter eligibility and registration.


Morocco enjoys one of the most highly developed infrastructures in Africa. The country is served by a network of 57,847 kilometers (35,946 miles) of primary and secondary roads, of which 30,254 kilometers (18,800 miles) are paved. With growing numbers of licensed automobiles, the road system, especially in urban areas, has become highly congested. According to official statistics, road accidents claim up to 3,000 lives annually. Plans are currently underway to modernize the country's railway system, which plays an important role in the transport of phosphates and their derivatives.

Morocco has 70 airports, 11 of which are major and quite modern, and efforts are underway to modernize all of them in 2001. The largest of them, an international airport just south of Casablanca, offers flights to several destinations in Europe, the United States, Canada, the Middle East and Africa. It is serviced by more than 50 airlines that bring in most of the country's tourists. Rabat has 24 ports, which handle 98 percent of the Morocco's foreign trade. The port of Casablanca is a world-class port and the second largest in Africa. In addition to goods, Morocco's ports also service tourist ferries to and from Spain and France.

Electrical power is provided by the state-owned Office National de L'électricité (National Office of Electricity, ONE). Despite the recent discovery of modest amounts of oil reserves in Morocco, most electricity is produced from imported fuels, mainly from Saudi Arabia. Morocco's total power capacity is estimated at 13.16 billion kilowatts, 124 million of which are imported, mainly from Spain. Power shortages are common. The government is planning to build additional power plants and boost electric capacity by the end of 2010 to meet the increasing demands of industrial projects and extend electric services to currently unserved rural areas. About 80 percent of Morocco's rural areas are not electrified, and it is estimated that some 12 million rural inhabitants live without electricity.

Telecommunications services in Morocco are thoroughly modern and have greatly improved since the mid-1990s. Most telephone service is provided by the state-owned Maroc Telecom and Meditel, the country's two largest telephone companies. The country had 1,455,853 phone lines at the end of 1999. Mobile service is also available. In 1999, Morocco had 27 Internet Service Providers.


Morocco's economic sectors reflect the diversified and growing base of the economy. Its economy depends on output from the agricultural sector, rich fisheries, growing tourist and manufacturing industries, and a dynamic telecommunications sector.

In 1999, the agricultural sector accounted for 15 percent of the GDP and employed some 50 percent of the

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Morocco 26 241 160 N/A 4 0.7 2.5 0.28 50
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Egypt 40 324 122 N/A 1 0.5 9.1 0.28 200
Algeria 38 241 105 0.0 1 0.2 4.20 0.01 20
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

labor force. The sector's output varies from one year to another due to its dependence on rainwater for irrigation; in a good year, it can account for 20 percent of total the GDP. The largest contributor to GDP is the services sector. The well-developed tourism and services industries accounted for 52 percent of the GDP and employed 35 percent of the labor force in 1999. The expanding industrial sector has also become a major contributor to GDP in recent years, accounting for 33 percent of the GDP and employing 15 percent of the workforce in 1999. The most important industrial exports are raw phosphates and processed products, including phosphoric acid and fertilizers, but Morocco also exports textiles, clothing, and shoes. Although Morocco is the world's largest exporter of raw and processed phosphates, the phosphates sector overall contributes only 3 percent to the GDP. The fishing sector is also an important sector of the economy, employing some 300,000 people.

Despite its diverse and vibrant economic base, Morocco's economic growth has been sluggish since the mid-1990s, mainly due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture and other structural problems that affect economic performance, such as bureaucratic red tape and a soaring budget deficit. Recognizing these structural problems, the government has moved to deregulate the telecommunications sectors and to privatize several state-owned companies.



The labor-intensive agricultural sector is largely underdeveloped and inefficient, as a result of the high cost of energy, credit, and land, and a scarcity of investment. Only 1 million hectares of a total of 8.7 million hectares of cultivated land are irrigated. About 90 percent of the land, mostly comprised of small land holdings, is dependent on rainwater. A small fraction of the cultivated land, some 1 million hectares is comprised of modern export-oriented farms that produce 80 percent of Morocco's citrus and wine production, 33 percent of its vegetable output, and 15 percent of its cereals production. These irrigated farms, concentrated in the Gharb plain around Fez and Meknes, the Doukkala plain around Casablanca, and the Beni Mellal and Berkane areas, also produce tomatoes, potatoes, and beet and cane sugar, as well as oil and olive oil for export. In addition to legal agricultural products, Morocco is a major producer and exporter of cannabis (marijuana), which is mostly concentrated in the northern Rif region.

Major agricultural products include dairy products, meat, fruit, and vegetables, in which Morocco is self-sufficient. Morocco is also a producer of grains, which are grown on 68 percent of the cultivated land, plus sugar, oils and tea, but production is rarely sufficient to meet domestic demand. As a result, and depending on annual winter rainfall, Morocco imports the bulk of its cereals. According to the EIU, harvests range from around 10 million to under 2 million metric tons annually and have averaged 5.8 million metric tons since 1990. Agriculture production has dropped significantly since 1998, due to drought conditions, prompting the government to increase customs duties on wheat imports to protect local farmers.


The fishing industry is also a major contributor to the economy, accounting for an average of US$600 million in export earnings. Morocco's fishing industry is underdeveloped and is forced to compete with European companies. It is also overexploited, which has prompted the government to impose periodic bans on the harvesting certain types of fish. Since 1997, the government has been attempting to revamp and upgrade the fishing industry. Several new ports, at Dakhla, Boujdour and Layoun, among other places, are to be built as part of the plan, and the government is reportedly seeking joint ventures with foreign investors, mainly in Japan and France, to replace the government's fisheries agreement with the European Union, which expired at the end of 1999.



Phosphates account for 95 percent of Morocco's output by volume. mining. Phosphates, raw and manufactured, are the country's main exports, managed by the state-owned Office Cherifien des Phosphates. The export of phosphates and phosphate products accounted for US$1.4 billion in 1999, or about 18.5 percent of total earnings from exports. With three-quarters of the earth's phosphate reserves after the United States and Russia (11 billion metric tons of known reserves and 58 billion metric tons of probable reserves), Morocco is the world's third largest producer of phosphates and the largest exporter of phosphate rock. Phosphates are mined in Khourigba, Youssoufia, and the Western Saharan mine of Boucraa and Benguerir. A new mine at El Gantour, south of Rabat, will soon start production. Phosphate revenue has increased steadily since 1996, the first profitable year for the industry, reaching US$44 per metric ton in 1999, up from US$33-35 per metric ton in 1993-95. Mining and processing capacity have increased steadily over the past years, and a 30-percent expansion is planned in 2001. Since 1996, the government has shifted focus toward marketing its phosphate products through joint ventures with foreign companies, mainly French and Belgian.

In addition to phosphates, Morocco is a major producer and exporter of industrial minerals and base metals. It produces silver, zinc, cobalt, copper, fluorine, lead, barite, iron, and anthracite. In contrast to the state-controlled phosphate sector, the extraction and processing of most of these minerals is in private hands, and efforts are currently underway to privatize the rest, especially the silver and lead mines, by 2002. A comprehensive survey of minerals across the country is also underway with the help of French, British, South African, and Canadian companies


The manufacturing sector is an important and growing contributor to the Moroccan economy. The sector has steadily grown by an average of 1.9 percent a year between 1994 and 1998. Production increased by 2.8 percent in 1999 and is likely to maintain that upward trend in 2001. The government adopted a new investment law in 1981 to encourage domestic and foreign investment in the industrial sector. These efforts gained added momentum with the launch of the privatization program in the early 1990s. A plan to modernize the sector and upgrade existing companies to meet European standards was launched in 1997. These efforts have been largely successful in attracting foreign investment. Major U.S. companies, such as Microsoft, Compaq, and Oracle, have a presence in the country.

Manufacturing industries are mainly concentrated in Casablanca, Fez, Rabat, Tangier, and Settat. In recent years, considerable investment has been made in cement works and sugar factories to meet the major part of local demand. Plans are also underway to develop steel production in the city of Nador and the production of chemicals and fertilizers in the El Jadida region. Morocco's industrial base consists mostly of food processing, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and the processing of phosphate rock into phosphoric acid and fertilizers. Since the early 1980s, the output of textile production, mostly done under contract with European companies, has grown by 5 times, from US$120 million in 1980 to US$570 million in 1990. Growth in the clothing sector slowed down in the late 1990s, due to declining domestic purchasing power and lower world demand, but the sector is expected to continue to grow in the future. The pharmaceutical industry, which mostly relies on imported raw material, is also a growing sector, although most of its output is consumed domestically.



Tourism is important to the health of the Moroccan economy, generating approximately US$1.98 billion and employing some 600,000 people in 2000. Tourism is Morocco's second greatest foreign-currency earner after remittances by Moroccan expatriates and has been identified as the second most important growth sector in the country. The tourism sector's growth, however, has been stifled by a combination of factors, including the lack of investment in hotel capacity and personnel training. Regional events, such as the civil war in neighboring Algeria, have also adversely affected the sector, as evidenced in the decline in the number of tourists in 1991 out of concerns about the spillover of the conflict into Morocco.

Since the mid-1990s, however, the government has moved to revitalize the sector by attracting foreign capital, rescheduling part of hotel debts, and reducing the tax burden. The government also plans to set up a special tourist police force to insure safety. Several state-owned hotels were sold to private investors, mainly foreign companies from France and the United Kingdom. Worldwide hotel chains, such as the Sheraton, Hilton and Intercontinental, have a presence in Morocco, but the majority of hotels are locally owned. The government has been actively encouraging the development of tourism, mainly in the cities of Agadir and Marrakech. As a result, a 10 percent increase in the number of tourists visiting the country was recorded in 1998. Plans are currently underway to double the number of tourists to 4 million and raise gross revenue to US$6 billion by 2005.


Morocco's banking system is comprehensive. Despite government efforts since the early 1990s to reform the financial sector and improve banking regulations, restrictions continue to be in place, especially on the movement of capital. The conversion of the dirham into a fully convertible currency , originally set for 1997, has also been delayed. Morocco requires the majority shares in commercial banks to be owned by Moroccans. Most of the country's 14 commercial banks are partly owned by European banks. Since 1996, foreign banks have been able to buy and sell foreign currency at market rates, due to the new interbank foreign exchange market set up that same year.

Morocco has a single stock exchange, the Bourse Valeurs de Casablanca, which is the third largest in Africa after South Africa and Cairo. The market, managed by 13 brokerage companies, was privatized in 1996 and has been regulated by an independent commission since. Although full foreign participation in the market is allowed, foreign investments constitute only 10 percent of overall investment. At the end of 1999, the Casablanca stock exchange recorded a 5.2 percent correction, largely due to previous overvaluation. Efforts were underway in 2001 to attract foreign investment by upgrading its infrastructure .


The construction sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Growth in this sector has been fueled by public works (construction by the government) and the private construction of affordable housing units to alleviate the chronic shortages in housing, especially in urban areas. In 1994, the government launched an ambitious construction project to build 200,000 housing units. Although the program has failed to reach its target, the construction activity is likely to continue. New internationally funded initiatives were announced in 1999. These include a US$80 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to construct new housing to replace shantytowns in major cities and a US$75 million construction project to rehabilitate the city of Fez.


Morocco has a poorly developed retail sector. While the major cities sport a variety of retail stores, including fast-food franchises such as McDonald's, which operate alongside souks (traditional markets), most towns in the interior of the country have small family-owned shops, farmers' markets, and temporary roadside stands.


Over the past several decades, Morocco has relied more and more on imports, and has maintained a steady trade balance as a result. The value of imports in 1999 was estimated US$12.2 billion, but exports were estimated to be only US$7.6 billion in 2000. Capital goods (industrial and semi-finished products) account for well more than half of Morocco's imports, followed by food and beverages, consumer goods , and fuel. Morocco's export base is diversified, with phosphates and phosphate byproducts being the largest contributor, accounting for one-third of exports. Textiles and leather items come in second place, followed by fish and fish products.

Morocco exports and imports most of its goods from the European Union, with France being its largest trade partner, providing one-fifth of total imports and accounting for one-quarter of exports. Spain comes in second place, followed by the United States, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. Morocco initialed a free-trade accord with the European Free Trade Association in 1997, which stipulates the elimination of trade barriers in industrial goods by 2010.

The substantial and growing trade imbalance that Morocco endured over the years has been partially offset by tourist receipts and remittances sent home by Moroccans working abroad. Morocco is a member of the World Trade Organization, which has stipulated that tariffs on goods be lifted. The government has moved to gradually reform the trade sector and remove barriers to export by approving a new foreign trade law that minimizes the state's role in the export of goods and that liberalizes import practices. The government's dependence on tariffs largely explains its reluctance to proceed with the implementation of trade reform. As a result, Morocco continues to run a trade deficit that forces it to borrow heavily to pay for its consumption.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Morocco
Exports Imports
1975 1.543 2.567
1980 2.493 4.164
1985 2.165 3.849
1990 4.265 6.800
1995 6.881 10.023
1998 7.219 10.262
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Morocco
Moroccan dirhams per US$1
Jan 2001 10.590
2000 10.626
1999 9.804
1998 9.604
1997 9.527
1996 8.716
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].


The value of the Moroccan dirham has remained relatively stable since 1990, trading at an average of 8.54 against the U.S. dollar between 1990 and 1996. Until 1996, the central bank, Bank Al-Maghrib, set the exchange rate of the dirham against a group of currencies of its main trading partners. Since 1996, the government has allowed the exchange rate to fluctuate within certain limits based on the same group of foreign currencies. European currencies in the mix carry a larger weight than other currencies. This arrangement makes the dollar more volatile than the European currencies against the dirham. As a result of a stronger dollar, the value of the Moroccan dirham has depreciated by an average of 19 percent against the dollar, while the euro has fallen more than 27 percent against the dollar since January 1999. The government has refused to devaluate the dirham. In January 2000, the exchange rate was 10.051 dirhams to US$1.


Living standards in Morocco are low by international standards and have declined continually since the early 1990s. As a result, the number of Moroccans living below the poverty line has risen sharply in the last decade. Although poverty levels dropped to 13 percent in 1991, some 19 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in 2000. Despite widespread poverty, uneven development has led to the emergence of an affluent class that

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Morocco 956 1,114 1,173 1,310 1,388
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Egypt 516 731 890 971 1,146
Algeria 1,460 1,692 1,860 1,638 1,521
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Morocco
Lowest 10% 2.6
Lowest 20% 6.5
Second 20% 10.6
Third 20% 14.8
Fourth 20% 21.3
Highest 20% 46.6
Highest 10% 30.9
Survey year: 1998-99
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

controls most of the country's wealth and enjoys an elevated standard of living. In 1998, the wealthiest 20 percent of Moroccans controlled 46.6 percent of the country's wealth, while the poorest 20 percent controlled only 6.5 percent of wealth.

Poverty is more widespread in rural areas than in urban areas. Some 36 percent of Moroccans living in rural areas are poor, while poverty affects 24 percent of urban dwellers. Children under 15 are the most heavily impacted by poverty. Inequality in the distribution of wealth coincides with geographical regions. Historically, the Casablanca-Rabat axis has been more prosperous and has received more government attention than the predominantly mountainous northern provinces and the Western Sahara region. Although the latter region has received government attention since the 1990s because of its phosphate deposits, the northern provinces, which include the Rif Mountains, home to 6 million Moroccans, have been largely neglected. This region is a haven for the cultivation of cannabis. In 1998, the government launched a program to develop the northern region, largely with international help. Spain has shown particular interest in the development of the region, since its underdevelopment has fueled illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the Strait of Gibraltar.

The uneven development among Morocco's regions has also fueled a cycle of rural-urban migration that has shown no signs of slowing down. Currently, an estimated 60 percent of population live in urban areas, 35 percent higher than the urban population of 1971. Low standards of living have also forced many young Moroccans to seek employment opportunities abroad, especially in Spain and other parts of Europe.

Both Moroccan rural and urban poor have suffered from a long decline in the quality of social services, especially educational and medical. Despite this deterioration, 50 percent of primary-level students are enrolled in

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Morocco 33 11 16 5 15 6 16
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Egypt 44 9 7 3 17 3 17
Algeria N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

schools, and a government-funded system insures that all Moroccans have access to adequate health care.

Although the government continues to subsidize basic consumer goods and health products, the middle and lower classes have seen their living standards erode since the 1980s. The government's awareness of the political implications in a complete lifting of subsidies has slowed down the pace of the implementation of IMF-mandated price deregulation.


In the last few decades, Morocco's labor force has been growing at the very fast rate of 300,000 per year. In 1999, Morocco's labor force stood at 11 million, up from 8.9 million in 1990. The official unemployment rate for 1998 was 19 percent, a figure that is believed to be higher than unofficial figures. The CIA World Fact-book estimated that the unemployment rate was 23 percent in 1999. Unemployment rates have risen in recent years as a result of the restructuring of the economy, which has forced many companies to reduce the number of employees.

Morocco's labor force generally lacks proper job training and secondary education, which explains why much of the younger workforce cannot expect high-paying jobs. Despite higher rates of school enrollment since the 1960s, illiteracy in Morocco is one of the highest in the Arab world, standing at 56.3 percent in 1998 (69 percent for women and 43.3 percent for men). The educational sector remains overburdened and under-staffed, and shortages in technical skills are viewed as a major impediment to business operations. The official unemployment rate in urban areas for 1999 was 22 percent, up from 17 percent in 1997. Unemployment remains especially high in urban areas, especially for women and for all workers under 34 years of age. Unemployment is also higher for university graduates and diploma holders.

Moroccan trade unions played a crucial role in the independence movement. Approximately 450,000 workers are unionized, mostly in the public sector, representing 5 percent of the labor force. The influence of the Moroccan labor union movement has shrunk considerably since independence. The once powerful movement is comprised of 17 trade-union federations, but real political clout is in the hands of 3 unions only. Although labor laws protecting the right of workers have been in place for decades, regulations are rarely enforced, and working conditions in Morocco are far from ideal. Labor actions, strikes, slowdowns, and protests frequently disturb work life, and are often met with repressive governmental actions and police brutality.

The government of Morocco supports workers' rights promoted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and has set conditions governing industrial and human relations and established minimum-wage standards. The 5-day 48-hour workweek is the standard. The government-mandated minimum wage in the public sector is approximately US$165 a month. The government provides social-security benefits that include a retirement pension and pay for on-the-job injuries. Wages have increased steadily over the last few years and are expected to increase again, as the 2001-02 budget has allocated US$10 billion for public sector workers' salaries and bonuses. However, it was not until the late 1990s had the rate of increase in public wages has exceeded the rate of inflation .


1904. France and Spain conclude a secret agreement that divides Morocco into zones of French and Spanish influence, with France controlling almost all of Morocco and Spain controlling the small southwestern portion, which became known as Spanish Sahara.

1906. Algeciras Conference takes place. The sultan of Morocco maintains control of his lands, and France's privileges are curtailed.

1912. The sultan of Morocco, Moulay Abd al-Hafid, permits French protectorate status.

1953. Sultan Mohammed V is deposed by the French and replaced by his uncle.

1955. Sultan Mohammed V returns to power as a result of popular pressure.

1956. France and Spain recognize Morocco's independence.

1961. Sultan Mohammed's son, Hassan II, ascends to the throne.

1976. Spain withdraws from Western Sahara.

1979. Mauritania withdraws from the rest of the Western Sahara. The rebellious Polisario Front wages a war for independence and clashes with Moroccan police.

1981. King Hassan agrees to a ceasefire in Western Sahara.

1992. Government launches economic reform program.

1996. Association Accord is signed with the European Union.

1997. Parliamentary elections take place.

1998. King Hassan appoints a new leftist government headed by Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi.

1999. King Hassan II dies; his son, Prince Sidi Mohammed is crowned King Mohammed VI.


Morocco entered the 21st century in economic decline. For much of the last century, state control of the economy had reduced the economy to shambles. However, the economic reform programs of the early 1990s have set the stage for partial economic recovery. Some progress has been achieved as the government has curtailed spending, increased privatization, reduced trade barriers, and stopped direct credit and foreign exchange allocation. In addition, Morocco's trade position should improve as its major trade partners in Europe experience growth and the economic recovery in Asia.

The pace of Morocco's economic reform program, however, has been rather slow. Despite major reform efforts, the public sector continues to be an important force in the economy. Long-term challenges include servicing the country's external debt , further privatizing state-owned enterprises, and attracting foreign investment. More important, the government is faced with the daunting challenge of improving living standards, which have steadily declined over the last few decades, creating new job prospects for the youth, who account for over 50 percent of the population. If left unresolved, the problem of unemployment may potentially become a source of political instability and a credible challenge to the regime.


Morocco has no territories or colonies.


Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Morocco. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.

Horton, Brendan. Morocco: Analysis and Reform of Economic Policy. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1990.

"Morocco." Tradeport. <>. Accessed February, 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Morocco. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Reem Nuseibeh




Moroccan dirham (Dh). One Moroccan dirham equals 100 centimes. There are coins of 1, 5, and 10 dirhams, and 10, 20, and 50 centimes. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 dirhams.


Phosphates and fertilizers, food and beverages, minerals.


Semi-processed goods, machinery and equipment, food and beverages, consumer goods, fuel.


US$105 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$7.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$12.2 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Morocco
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 30,645,305
Language(s): Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French
Literacy rate: 43.7%
Area: 446,550 sq km
Number of Television Stations: 35
Number of Television Sets: 3,100,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 101.2
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 957,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 31.2
Number of Radio Stations: 58
Number of Radio Receivers: 6,640,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 216.7
Number of Individuals with Computers: 350,000
Computers per 1,000: 11.4
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 200,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 6.5

Background & General Characteristics

Between 1912 and 1956 Morocco was a protectorate within the French colonial empire of North Africa. After it won its independence, the kingdom of Morocco was left with a deeply rooted French cultural influence that went on to provide much of the framework for its judicial, political, and educational systems. Morocco also inherited a press formed and nurtured by French journalistic traditions. Historically, French newspapers reflect particular political viewpoints and social agendas. Rather than striving for factual and unbiased news reporting, they are essentially the journalistic expression of a given political ideology. Moroccan newspapers have continued this tradition and today provide their readers a steady flow of editorialized news. Each newspaper, whether nationally prominent or printing only a few thousand copies, reflects a given political tendency, encompassing varied political viewpoints from monarchist to communist. Morocco has also perpetuated a French concept of the freedom of the press, born out of the authoritarian regimes of the nineteenth century. Thus, the Moroccan government accepts mild forms of political criticism but tolerates no attack on the monarchy or Islam. Journalists and newspaper editors are considered professionals who must report the news, but they are also considered educated, patriotic citizens who should be mindful of their social responsibilities to the public. If newspapers in Morocco expect to remain in business, they must agree to exercise some form of restraint and to practice self-censorship. To guarantee that criticism of official policies remains within appropriate boundaries, the government grants a subsidy of 50 million dirhams to the press (approximately US$6 million) each year. Since advertising revenues and newsstand sales represent only a slim portion of the operating budget of most Moroccan newspapers, the yearly government subsidy provides an effective means to prevent the Moroccan press from operating with full autonomy.

Like other former French colonies of North Africa, Morocco enjoys the diversity of a bilingual press. Newspapers are published either in French or Arabic. Even after the country gained its independence in 1956, French was still used by the upper echelon of Moroccan society, while Arabic remained the spoken language of the masses. Since the 1970s, however, Arabic has gained a considerable popularity and Arabic-language newspapers have flourished, as Morocco underwent a process of reclaiming its cultural heritage. Today, French is still the language of the cultural elite in Morocco. It is the language of private schools, diplomats, and educated professionals, but Arabic newspapers now represent the majority of the Moroccan press. In 1983 the French-language newspaper Le Matin enjoyed the largest circulation of all Moroccan dailies, with 50,000 copies. That privilege belonged in 2002 to the Arabic-language newspaper Al Ittahid Al Ichtiraki, with a daily circulation of 110,000. In that year, Arabic dailies attracted a readership in excess of 260,000, while French-language newspapers reached about 200,000 people.

With a population of 30,645,395 (2002), a GDP of $108 billion, and a literacy rate of only 44 percent, Morocco publishes 22 major daily newspapers, with an aggregate circulation of 704,000 (circulation per thousand: 27.) The press consumes 19,000 metric tons of newsprint annually. Many new dailies have appeared since 1990, and their number continues to increase. Old vanguards of the past, such as the longest-running French language daily Maroc-Soir (established in 1908) and the promonarchist Arabic language newspaper Al Mithaq Al Watani (established in 1977), have disappeared. The most influential newspapers are published either in Rabat (the capital) or in Casablanca. In addition to the major national newspapers, Morocco also published a total of 644 dailies and weekly papers in 2001 (430 in Arabic, 199 in French, 8 in the Berber dialect, 6 in English, and 1 in Spanish) and over 700 periodicals with an aggregate circulation of 3,671,000.

In terms of circulation, the largest Moroccan daily newspapers were in 2001:

  • Al Ittihad Al Ichtiraki (1983), socialist, published in Arabic, circulation: 110,000.
  • Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb (1972), royalist, in French, circulation: 100,000.
  • Al Alam (1946), published by the pro-government Istiqlal party, in Arabic, circulation: 100,000.
  • L'Opinion (1965), published by the pro-government Istiqlal party, in French, circulation: 60,000.
  • Libé ration (1964), democratic left, in French, circulation: 20,000.
  • Al Anbaa (1963), official publication of the Moroccan Ministry of Information, in Arabic, circulation: 15,000.
  • Al Bayane (1971), communist, in French, circulation: 5,000.

Among the most popular periodicals are Maroc Hebdo International (French), Al Mouatine Assiyassi (Arabic), l'Economiste (French), Al Ayam (Arabic), and Jeune Afrique (published in France).

Economic Framework

In the past the majority of Moroccan newspapers did not represent actual commercial ventures or profit-making corporations, since they were essentially the written public outlet of political parties. As such they were owned by political interests and survived on contributions and government subsidies. In the last 10 years an influx of new capital has led to the creation of newspapers and periodicals that aspire to become commercially profitable. It should be noted, however, that the new publications are still heavily dependent on the government's budgetary allocations and that this reliance is inversely proportional to the professional autonomy of the younger generation of journalists. Out of the seven major Moroccan daily newspapers, four are pro-government (including one overtly royalist), two are issued by the Istiqlal coalition party, and another is published by the Moroccan Ministry of Information. The other three are in the opposition (center-left, socialist, and communist), but even that definition does not fully represent an independent political alternative. The new Moroccan prime minister is Abderrahamane Youssefi, who was once a left-wing activist, and a coalition of liberal royalist ideas and socialist tendencies seems to be the new political reality. The openly communist daily Al Bayane, a few far-left weeklies, and hard-line Islamic fundamentalist periodicals are the only means of true criticism in the Moroccan press. However, they are regularly harassed by the authorities, and their readership is quite limited. In terms of circulation, the pro-government dailies represent 75 percent of all major Moroccan newspapers, while the socialist, Arabic-language daily Al Ittihad Al Ichtiraki remains the most widely read paper in Morocco, with a circulation of 110,000.

Press Laws

The Moroccan press faces a double challenge when it seeks to operate within contemporary western standards of the freedom of the press. Political traditions inherited from the French and the authoritarianism of the monarchy have created a legal framework that allows the government to restrict the flow of information. Newspapers can be fined, suspended, or banned, and a journal-ist's freedom of expression limited for the purpose of guaranteeing social order or insuring national security. Morocco is a monarchy with a king possessing real and unchecked executive powers, and such a political construct is not easily compatible with the criticism and scrutiny of a free press. King Mohammed V instituted the first national press code in 1963 on the framework of the previous laws that had been in force under the French protectorate between 1912 and 1956. The code was later strengthened under his successor, King Hassan II. In 1999 the accession to the throne of his liberal-minded son, King Mohammed VI, had raised the hope of a radical reform of Moroccan press laws, but such aspirations have not been fully realized. The Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs and National Defense adopted a new national press code on February 8, 2002. Somewhat more lenient than its predecessor (it contains fewer criminal penalties for libel), the code still maintains sentences of three to five years imprisonment for defaming the king or the royal family (as compared with five to twenty years imprisonment in the previous code.) Article 29 also gives the government the right to shut down any publication "prejudicial to Islam, the monarchy, territorial integrity, or public order." Moroccan officials maintain that the kingdom enjoys a freedom of the press unparalleled in other Arab nations in the region. It is a fact that Morocco has never silenced political criticism in the press with the ruthlessness and violence evidenced in Algeria or the Sudan. King Mohammed VI and his ministers find themselves in the awkward position of moving Morocco into the twenty-first century, of being politically pro-western while exemplifying the values of a moderate Islamic nation. As the king declared in an interview he granted to Al Sharq Al Awsat in July 2001: "Of course I am for press freedom, but I would like that freedom to be responsible.I personally appreciate the critical role that the press and Moroccan journalists play in public debate, but we need to be careful not to give in to the temptation of the imported model. The risk is seeing our own values alienated. There are limits set by the law."


Mindful of the increasing popularity of Islamic fundamentalism in the poorer sectors of the country (20 percent of the population lives under the poverty level), Morocco is trying to build a modern economy that could lift it out of chronic stagnation. It must also avoid the risk of antagonizing conservative clerics and activists who do not share the elite's predilection for western values. The press is expected to exercise restraint and self-control when dealing with criticism of official government policies. According to Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), two international organizations dedicated to the protection of journalists' freedom of expression throughout the world, the actions of Moroccan officials against freedom of the press have increased in their severity since 2000. In its "Middle East and North Africa Report," the CPJ indicates that three Moroccan weekly newspapers, Le Journal, Al Sahiffa, and Demain were permanently banned by the government in December 2000. They had published articles questioning Morocco's military activities in a disputed part of the Western Sahara and had investigated the possible involvement of Prime Minister Youssefi in a plot to assassinate the late King Hassan II in 1972. In April 2000 the editors of Al Ousbou and Al Shamal were sentenced to jail, ordered to pay fines, and banned from journalism for three years for investigative articles published on Moroccan Foreign Minister Muhammed Ben Aissa. Reporters Without Borders also reports than in 2001 the managing editor of Le Journal Hebdomadaire was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of $200,000 for publishing a series of articles on the same foreign minister. These articles investigated allegations that the foreign minister misappropriated public funds while serving as ambassador to the United States.

State-Press Relations

In Morocco, state-press relations constitute a mutually grating and benefiting tug of war. The government supports the press with generous yearly subsidies, but it expects all journalists and editors to exercise restraint and to refrain from any negative criticism of the royal family, official state policies, or Islam. Investigative reporting is discouraged and most newspapers comply with the state's wishes by not addressing sensitive issues. In 2001 the Moroccan Ministry of Information allotted 20 million dirhams to be distributed among the major national newspapers. It also contributed ten million dirhams for the purchase of printing paper and international phone and fax bills. It paid another 10 million dirhams for the publication of legal and official announcements and an additional 10 million for various press-related expenses. The total budgeted amount for 2001 exceeded 50 million dirhams (US$6 million). Traditionally, that money is given for the encouragement and promotion of an independent press with high professional standards. By western standards, however, the very existence of such subsidies is difficult to reconcile with the establishment of an autonomous press. The Moroccan government also exerts another measure of control on the press by requiring every journalist, editor, or foreign correspondent to qualify for an official press card. The number of these cards has increased from 921 in 1992 to 1,097 in 1999.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

French newspapers and periodicals still attract a large number of readers in Morocco. Major Parisian newspapers, such as Le Figaro and Le Monde, are widely read among Moroccan professionals. English, Spanish, and American publications are also available, and they provide a welcome (if at times censored) source of alternate information, especially for sensitive or potentially damaging information dealing with Moroccan foreign policy or the royal family. The U.S. press, however, is largely seen among younger professionals and English-speaking students as presenting a unilateral, capitalistic, and pro-Israeli point of view. When searching foreign media for news dealing with the Arab world, Moroccan intellectuals are more likely to turn to French newspapers and periodicals, since the majority of French media is traditionally pro-Palestinian. American newspapers are often distrusted and suspected of being controlled by Jewish interests.

The success of the foreign press in offering Moroccan readers stimulating investigative reporting is illustrated by the vehemence of censorship and harassment it endures on a regular basis. In 2001 alone, the Spanish newspapers El País (7/22) and El Mundo (9/6), the Spanish weeklies Cambio (3/19) and Hola (11/23), the French daily Le Figaro (3/4) (7/5), and the French weeklies Le Canard Enchainé (10/31), VDS (3/7), Jeune Afrique (3/15), and Courrier International (5/17) were intercepted, blocked, seized, or otherwise removed from the newsstands by the Moroccan police. On November 4, 2001, Claude Juvénal, the Rabat bureau chief of Agence France-Presse (AFP), was ordered to leave the country because of his investigative reports on alleged corruption in the armed forces.

News Agencies

The Associated Press (AP) and Agence France-Presse (AFP) maintain active accredited bureaus throughout Morocco. The Maghreb Arab Press Agency (MAP), inaugurated in 1977, has become one of the largest news agencies in the Arab world. A state-owned corporation, it is headquartered in Rabat and has 10 regional and 17 international offices.

Electronic News Media

The development of the Internet has brought a new dimension to news reporting in Morocco. Many of the major dailies and weeklies can now be accessed on their own Web sites. The number of Internet users has dramatically increased to over 120,000 in 2002, with eight Internet Service Providers (ISP) in operation. In 1996 the government created Mincom Ilaycom, a large official Web site with a search engine, for the purpose of disseminating official information about Morocco ( It was followed by the launching of, another search engine and reference data bank particularly useful for its weekly review of the Moroccan press. In 2001 Morocco had 1,425,000 telephones (including 116,645 cell phones,) 27 AM and 25 FM radio stations (with 6.65 million sets), and 35 TV stations with 3.1 million TV sets. Satellite relays, optical cables, dish systems, and digital equipment now bring Arab, European, and American television programming into every region of the country.

Education & TRAINING

Moroccan journalists are trained at the Higher Institute of Journalism, established in 1980, which operates an influential alumni association (the ALISJ), and at the Higher Institute of Information and Communication (ISIC), established in 1996. Several professional press organizations also play an important role in setting standards and defending their members' rights: the National Union of the Moroccan Press (SNPM), established in 1963, which receives an annual government subsidy of 200,000 dirhams, the Moroccan branch of the International Union of French-Speaking Journalists (UJIPLF) and the Press Club, established in 1992, which also receives an official yearly subsidy of 200,000 dirhams.


The Moroccan press faces the challenges and the hopes that are common to developing North African nations. The press and the government are locked in a mutually dependent relationship that creates both encouraging opportunities and disturbing issues involving a journal-ist's need to report the news in an impartial and unhindered manner. The Moroccan press is growing and has made great strides since the 1960s toward achieving its autonomy. The government keeps controlling the press via generous subsidies and repeated censorship. It fosters a climate of subtle intimidation that seriously impairs Moroccan newspapers and periodicals from openly questioning government policies and established societal traditions. Morocco justifies this attitude by maintaining that it must moderately muzzle the press if it ever hopes to succeed as a pro-western, moderate Islamic nation in a region of the world where fanaticism is a constant menace to civil liberties.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 2001 World Factbook. Directorate of Intelligence, 2002. Available from

Committee to Protect Journalists. Available from

The Editor and Publisher International Yearbook. 81st edition. 2001.

Kingdom of Morocco. Available from Available from

Mohamed El Kobbi, L'Etat et la Presse au Maroc. Paris: L'auteur, 1992.

Mohammed Rhazi, Introduction á l'Etude de la Presse au Maroc, Dissertation: Université de Paris II. 1981.

Organisation Marocaine des Droits de l'Homme, Liberté de la Presse et de l'Information au Maroc: Limites et Perspectives. Rabat: OMDH, 1995.

Reporters without Borders. Available from

UNESCO Statistical Yearbook, 1999

Eric H. du Plessis

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Chicken Tajine with Almonds and Prunes.................... 56
Moroccan Mint Tea..................................................... 58
Mescouta (Moroccan Date Cookies)............................ 58
Bisteeya....................................................................... 59
Harira.......................................................................... 61
Fried Baby Carrots....................................................... 61
Chickpea, Feta, and Olive Salad .................................. 62
Moroccan "String of Doughnuts" ............................... 63
Mhalbi ........................................................................ 63
Sweet Grated Carrot Salad .......................................... 63


Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of Africa. Morocco is slightly larger in area than California, and its territory has three different regions. The northern coast along the Mediterranean Sea is made up of fertile land that rises to elevations of about 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). The Atlas Mountains run between the Atlantic coast in the southwest to the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast. Finally, the semiarid area in the south and east known as the Western Sahara connects Morocco with the vast African Sahara Desert.

Morocco faces a problem with desertification. Desertification is the process where fertile land becomes barren and desert-like. Desertification may be caused by forces of nature, such as lack of rainfall or drought. Humans contribute to desertification when they clear away all the trees or allow their livestock to graze too much so that they eat away all plants. These practices leave no plants to hold the soil in place, so wind and rain can carry away the fertile topsoil. Morocco also has a problem with water pollution from oil spills, poor sewage treatment practices, and the use of strong pesticides.

In the northwest, agriculture in Morocco thrives. Except in years when there is severe drought, Moroccan farmers are able to supply the country with enough food.


Nomads called Berbers were the first inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago. They used local ingredients, such as olives, figs, and dates, to prepare lamb and poultry stews. Over time, traders and conquering nations introduced new food customs. Among them were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. However, the strongest influence on native cooking was the Arab invasion in the seventh century a.d.

The Arabs brought with them new breads and other foods made from grains. They introduced spices including cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cumin, and caraway. They also introduced sweet-and-sour cooking, which they had learned from the Persians. Moors from Andalusia in southern Spain also influenced Moroccan cooking. The pastilla, or bisteeya, a popular pigeon pie in Morocco, was originally a Moorish dish. In modern times, the French and the British made contributions to Moroccan cuisine.


Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around lamb or poultry.

Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. The Moroccan national dish is the tajine, a lamb or poultry stew. Other common ingredients may include almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices including saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. The tajine's name is taken from the distinctive earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.

Sweets play a very important role in the Moroccan diet. Every household has a supply of homemade sweet desserts made from almonds, honey, and other ingredients. Mint tea is served with every meal in Morocco. It is sweetened while it is still in the pot.

Chicken Tajine with Almonds and Prunes


  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ½ teaspoon powdered saffron (optional)
  • 3 short cinnamon sticks
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2 large onions
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 strip lemon peel
  • 1 pound dried prunes
  • Blanched almonds
  • Fresh watercress or mint


  1. Combine the oil and ground spices in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the chicken into cubes and chop the onion finely. Put the chicken and onion into the bowl with the oil and spices. Combine well and let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the chicken, searing (browning) them lightly on all sides.
  4. Add any remaining marinade and enough water to cover. Simmer until chicken is tender (about 30 minutes).
  5. While the chicken is cooking, put the prunes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring the water to a bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and let them stand for 20 minutes.
  6. Drain the prunes, return them to the pan, and ladle a little liquid from the meat pan over the prunes. Simmer the prunes for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, and half the sugar to the prunes.
  8. Stir the remaining sugar into the meat.
  9. Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Add the prunes to the meat, and pour the sauce from the prunes over the meat and prunes.
  10. Boil the remaining liquid from the meat rapidly to reduce it by half and pour over the meat and prunes.
  11. Melt a small amount of butter in a saucepan and brown the almonds lightly. Garnish the tajine with the almonds and watercress or mint.
  12. Serve with rice or couscous.

Serves 10 to 12.

Moroccan Mint Tea


  • 1½ Tablespoons green tea (or 2 teabags of green tea)
  • Boiling water
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
  • Handful (about 2 Tablespoons) of fresh or dried spearmint leaves


  1. Put the tea in a 2-pint teapot and fill it with boiling water.
  2. Let the tea steep (soak) for 2 minutes.
  3. Add mint leaves and sugar to taste.


Muslim dietary restrictions prohibit the consumption of pork and alcohol. During the holy season of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day, a thick soup called harira is served at night. A bowl of harira, which is made with beans and lamb, is served with fresh dates. It is served both at home and in cafes. For the holiday Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, a holiday feast is prepared. A popular dish at this feast is bisteeya, made with pigeon meat wrapped in pastry dough. More than 100 layers of pastry dough may be used.

The Muslim feast day of Eid el Kebir takes place seventy days after Ramadan. For this holiday, a sheep is roasted on a spit and served whole at the table. Each person cuts off a piece and dips it into a dish of cumin. Rich date bars called mescouta are a popular dessert at many festive occasions.

Holiday Menus


Cashew bisteeya (pie made with phyllo dough)

Couscous with fennel

Mhalbi (custard)

Fresh seasonal fruit and dates

Mint tea


Assortment of salads

Tajine of potatoes, peas, and artichoke hearts


Dates stuffed with almond paste

Fresh seasonal fruit

Mint tea

Mescouta (Date Cookies)


  • 6 eggs, well beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter or margarine
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts or almonds, finely chopped
  • cup raisins, seedless
  • 3 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter or margarine by hand (or with an electric mixer) until well-blended (mix for about 3 minutes).
  3. Gradually stir in flour and baking powder, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to blend.
  4. Add dates, nuts, and raisins, and mix well.
  5. Pour mixture into greased 8- or 9-inch square cake pan.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. While still warm, cut into rectangular bars about an inch wide.
  8. Put 3 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar into a small dish.
  9. Roll each bar in confectioners' sugar.
  10. Store bars in a box with wax paper between layers.

Makes 24 to 30 bars.



  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed, or 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 2 large onions, grated
  • ½ cup almonds, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely-chopped or ½ cup dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, ground
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon, ground, or more as needed
  • 5 cups boneless, skinless chicken, cooked and cut into bite-size chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, more or less as needed
  • 5 eggs, beaten until frothy
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 pound package frozen phyllo dough (available in freezer section of most supermarkets), thawed according to directions on package
  • 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar, more or less as needed


  1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic, onions, almonds, parsley, ginger, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Stirring constantly, fry until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add cooked chicken and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well. Set aside.
  4. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine in medium skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add eggs, sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and stir well.
  6. Adding more butter or margarine if necessary to prevent sticking, stir constantly until eggs are soft scrambled, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add to chicken mixture and lightly toss together.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  9. Melt ½ cup butter or margarine in small saucepan.
  10. Brush bottom and sides of pie pan with melted butter or margarine.
  11. Remove sheets of phyllo from package and unfold; keep covered with clean, dampened paper towel.
  12. Center one phyllo sheet in buttered pie pan and gently press into the pan, leaving a generous overhang all around the top edge.
  13. Brush the first sheet with plenty of melted butter or margarine.
  14. Layer 5 more sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each one with melted butter or margarine.
  15. Fill crust with chicken mixture and cover with 3 more layers of phyllo, brushing each with butter or margarine.
  16. Roll overhanging edges together and tuck inside of pie pan rim.
  17. Brush top and edges with the remaining melted butter or margarine.
  18. Using fork, poke about 8 steam vents into top of crust.
  19. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  20. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon.

Serves 6 to 8.



  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 3 cans (approximately 6 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces (1¼ cups) green lentils, washed
  • 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Lemon juice (optional)


  1. In a large saucepan, heat half the oil. Add the onion and cook 10 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger, and cumin and cook a few more minutes.
  3. Stir in the stock and add the lentils and tomatoes.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
  5. Stir in the chickpeas, remaining olive oil, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice (if using), and simmer 5 more minutes.

Serves 8 to 10.

Fried Baby Carrots


  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Sprigs of mint, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the carrots in a single layer.
  2. Add the carrots and cook gently 15 minutes, shaking frequently.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes more until the carrots are tender and spotted with brown.
  4. Add the sugar and cook 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lemon rind and juice and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in the chopped mint and transfer to a serving dish.
  7. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

Makes 4 servings.


Moroccans eat their meals at low round tables, sitting on cushions on the floor. They eat with their hands instead of silverware, using the thumb and first two fingers of their right hands. They also use pieces of bread to soak up sauces and carry food to the mouth. Small warmed, damp towels are passed around before the meal to make sure everyone's hands are clean. Most meals consist of a single main dish, often a stew, a couscous dish, or a hearty soup. It is served with bread, salad, cold vegetables, and couscous or rice on the side. A typical breakfast might include beyssara (dried fava beans stewed with cumin and paprika), beghrir (pancakes), and bread. Two breakfast favorites that may sound exotic to Westerners are lambs' heads and calves' feet.

Although Moroccans love sweets, they are usually saved for special occasions. With everyday meals, the most common dessert is fresh fruit.

The sweetened mint tea that comes with every meal is served a special way. It is brewed in a silver teapot and served in small glasses. When the tea is poured, the pot is held high above the glasses to let air mix with the tea. Tea is served not only at home but also in public places. In stores, merchants often offer tea to their customers.

Morocco is famous for the wide range of delicious foods sold by its many street vendors. These include soup, shish kebab, roasted chickpeas, and salads. Both full meals and light snacks are sold. A favorite purchase is sugared doughnuts tied together on a string to carry home.

Chickpea, Feta, and Olive Salad

Ingredients for salad

  • 2 cans (15-ounce each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces pitted black olives
  • 4 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley
  • Lettuce or other salad greens

Ingredients for dressing

  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and add the feta cheese cubes.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half if necessary, to make them bite-sized.
  3. Add tomatoes to the chickpeas and feta cheese mixture. Add the black olives, parsley, and lettuce.
  4. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Pour over chickpea mixture, toss gently, and chill.
  6. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 8.

Moroccan "String of Doughnuts"


  • One box doughnuts (may be regular or "mini" size)
  • Clean heavy string (such as kitchen twine)
  • Large safety pin


  1. Cut several 2-foot pieces of string.
  2. Tie the safety pin to the end of the string.
  3. Using the safety pin as a "needle," thread the string through the center holes of 3 or 4 doughnuts.
  4. Remove the safety pin and tie the ends of the string together.
  5. Repeat, making several strings of donuts to share as a snack with friends.



  • cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup almond, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons orange flower water (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, dilute the cornstarch with ½ cup of the milk. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy, medium saucepan, bring the remaining 2½ cups milk, sugar, and cinnamon stick to a boil.
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture.
  4. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.
  6. Optional: stir in the orange flower water. Pour into 5 dessert bowls and let cool.
  7. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 5.

Sweet Grated Carrot Salad


  • 4 to 6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1½ teaspoons confectioners' sugar
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1¾ pounds carrots, grated


  1. Mix the chopped parsley with the cinnamon, sugar, and orange juice in a salad bowl.
  2. Add the grated carrots and mix well.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve slightly chilled.

Serves 10 to 12.


According to a report by the World Bank, about 5 percent of the total population of Morocco are undernourished, and 58 percent of the total population have access to adequate sanitation (clean, sanitary toilet facilities). Some Moroccan children do not receive adequate nutrition. Ten percent of children under five are underweight for their age, while 24 percent are short for their age. Both of these statistics reflect poor nutrition for the youngest children in Morocco.



Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Helou, Anissa. Café Morocco. Chicago: Contemporary Books. 1999.

Mackley, Lesley. The Book of North African Cooking. New York: HP Books, 1998.

Morse, Kitty. North Africa: The Vegetarian Table. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1996.

Seward, Pat. Cultures of the World: Morocco. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995.

Walden, Hilaire. North African Cooking. Edison, N.J.: Chartwell, 1995.

Webb, Lois Sinaiko. Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1995.

Web Sites

Epicurious. [Online] Available (accessed February 7, 2001).

Happy Menu. [Online] Available (accessed February 12, 2001).

Moroccan Gateway. [Online] Available (accessed February 12, 2001).

SOAR (online recipe archive). [Online] Available (accessed February 7, 2001).

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Official name: Kingdom of Morocco

Area: 446,550 square kilometers (172,414 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Toubkal (4,165 meters/13,665 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sebkha Tah (55 meters/180 feet below sea level)

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: Noon = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,809 kilometers (1,124 miles) from northeast to southwest; 525 kilometers (326 miles) from southeast to northwest

Land boundaries: 2,081 kilometers (1,254 miles) total boundary length; Algeria 1,559 kilometers (969 miles); Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles); Spain (Melilla) 9.6 kilometers (6.0 miles); Western Sahara 443 kilometers (275 miles)

Coastline: 1,140 miles (1,835 kilometers)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Morocco is located at the northwest corner of the African continent, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, Algeria, and the Western Sahara. The Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara also borders on Mauritania. With an area of about 446,550 square kilometers (172,414 square miles), the country is slightly larger than the state of California. Morocco is divided into thirty-seven provinces and two wilayas (special districts).


The Western Sahara is claimed and administered by the government of Morocco; surrounding countries challenge Morocco's claim, however. The Western Sahara covers an area of about 252,120 square kilometers (97,344 square miles).


Morocco has two climatic zones: coastal and interior. Temperature variations are relatively small along the Atlantic coast, while the interior is characterized by extreme variations. The north and central areas have a Mediterranean climate, moderate and subtropical, cooled by the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. These areas characteristically have warm, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The average temperature hovers around 20°C (68°F). In the northern part of the interior, the climate is predominantly semiarid. Winters can be quite cold, and summers can be very hot. In the mountain ranges temperatures can drop as low as -18°C (0°F). Mountain peaks in both the Atlas and Er Rif mountain ranges are snow-capped throughout most of the year.

The western slopes of the Atlas Mountains receive a great deal of rain, but at the expense of the interior, since the mountains block the central areas from the Atlantic or Mediterranean. The two rainy seasons are in April and May and in October and November. A maximum annual rainfall of 75 to 100 centimeters (30 to 40 inches) occurs in the northwest. Other parts of the country receive much less precipitation. Half of all of the arable land receives no more than 35 centimeters (14 inches) of rain per year.


Morocco has four distinct geographic regions. In the north, there is a fertile coastal plain along the Mediterranean. The Atlas Mountains, extending across the country from southwest to northeast and into Algeria, comprise another region. A third area is a wide arc of coastal plains lining the country's western seaboard, bounded by the Er Rif and Atlas mountain ranges. Finally, south of the Atlas Mountains are semiarid grasslands that merge with the Sahara Desert along the southeastern borders of the country.

Morocco provides habitats for dozens of bird species, from large raptors to woodpeckers, waterfowl, and songbirds.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

The Mediterranean Sea is north of Morocco. It is an almost completely landlocked body of water that lies between southern Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia. Morocco's western coast faces the Atlantic Ocean.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean and separates Morocco from Spain.

Coastal Features

The Mediterranean coast between Tangier and Nador has a string of creeks, bays, sheltered beaches, and cliffs, all of which are ideal for recreational use. The Atlantic coast is often rocky, but it also has some long stretches of fine sand and calm bays, including the harbors at Rabat and Casablanca.


Lake Semara is in the Western Sahara. Lake Chiker, near Taza, is usually dry during the summer months. The Middle and High Atlas Mountains contain mountain lakes that reach impressive depths, including Tigalmamine (16 meters/53 feet); Sidi Ali (65 meters/213 feet); and Isti (95 meters/311 feet).


Morocco has the most extensive river system in North Africa. The principal rivers flowing south or westward into the Atlantic Ocean are the Rebia (555 kilometers/344 miles long), Sebou (Sebu; 500 kilometers/ 310 miles long), Bouregreg (250 kilometers/ 155 miles long), Tensift (270 kilometers/167 miles long), and Drâa (1,200 kilometers/744 miles long). The Drâa is Morocco's longest river, but it is seasonal. It marks part of the border with Algeria and is sometimes dry, since it runs through the desert.

The Ziz and Rheris both flow south out of the Atlas Mountains into the heart of the Sahara. The Moulouya (Muluya) flows 560 kilometers (347 miles) northeast from the Atlas to the Mediterranean, making it the longest river in the country that consistently reaches the sea.


Morocco lies within the border of the Sahara Desert. The Sahara Desert, which covers an area of 9,065,000 square kilometers (3,500,000 square miles) is the largest desert in the world. It covers the entire region of North Africa, from the Atlantic coast in the west to the Red Sea in the east. It borders the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlas Mountains in the north and extends into a southern region known as the Sahel and the Sudan. Scientists believe that during the Ice Age (about fifty thousand to one hundred thousand years ago), the Sahara was covered with shallow lakes that provided water for large areas of lush vegetation.

The Western Sahara, as part of the greater Sahara Desert, has a terrain that is composed mostly of sand, gravel, or small stones. It is relatively flat except for a region of rocky highlands in the east.


With the exception of the Er Rif, all of Morocco north of the Atlas Mountains is a fertile plain. This area is also known as the Taza Depression. There are also some semiarid grasslands in the south beyond the Atlas Mountains. These eventually give way to the Sahara Desert. Semiarid plains can also be found in northern Western Sahara.


The Atlas Mountains are the largest and most important mountain range in North Africa, extending from Morocco to Tunisia for about 2,400 kilometers (1,488 miles) in a series of creased mountain chains. Morocco's portion of the Atlas Mountains includes the Middle Atlas, High Atlas, and Anti-Atlas.

The High Atlas (also called Western Atlas or Great Atlas) is the highest of the three, stretching for more than 644 kilometers (400 miles), with ten peaks of over 3,965 meters (13,000 feet). Mount Toubkal, south of Marrakech, reaches to 4,165 meters (13,665 feet)the highest point in the country. The Middle Atlas stretches for 251 kilometers (156 miles) east of the High Atlas, extending into Algeria. Mount Bounaceur is the highest point in the Middle Atlas, at 3,326 meters (10,909 feet). West and south of the High Atlas is the Anti-Atlas range. Although not as tall as the High Atlas, the terrain in the Anti-Atlas is very rugged. It is about 403 kilometers (250 miles) long. South of the Atlas is the Sirwa, a volcanic outcropping and a ridge of black lava that connects the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas. The Sirwa reaches a maximum height of 2,822 meters (9,254 feet).

The Er Rif Mountains near the northern coast are not part of the Atlas ranges. They are made up of steep cliffs. The highest peak in the Er Rif is Tidghine (2,465 meters/8,085 feet), south of Ketama.


Toghobeit Cave is located in the Er Rif cliffs. At 722 meters (3,918 feet) deep it is one of the most fantastic open caverns in the world.

The Ziz River cuts through the Atlas Mountains to form the Ziz Gorge. At the southern end of the gorge, there are artificial lakes created by the Hassan Addakhil Dam. At the northern end is the Tunnel de Légionnaire, which creates a passageway from the Ziz Mountains to the Ziz Valley.

The Todra Gorge is also in the Atlas Mountains, near the town of Tinerhir. The gorge has steep rock faces that rise as much as 300 meters (984 feet) and has become a popular site for rock climbers.


Kasbah, or Casbah, is a term often heard in association with Morocco. Rather than being a specific place or region, it is a term that usually refers to the oldest section of a city. Often, this is the marketplace of the city. Sometimes the term refers to an ancient castle or palace.


There are no plateau regions in Morocco.


Morocco relies very heavily on its system of river dams and reservoirs for drinking water, irrigation, and electricity. Some of the main dams in the country are the Bin El Ouidane, Moulay Youssef, and Moulay Hassan I. The Al Wahda Dam, at 90 meters (295 feet) high, is the second-largest dam in Africa.



Demeude, Hugues. Morocco. Köln, Germany: Evergreen, 1998.

Italia, Bob. Morocco. Minneapolis, MN: Abdo Publications, 2000.

Solyst, Annette. Morocco. New York: Friedman/Fairfax, 2000.

Jacobshagen, H. Volker, ed. The Atlas System of Morocco: Studies on Its Geodynamic Evolution. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1988.

Wilkins, Frances. Morocco. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2001.

Web Sites

Association for Freedom & Regulation of the Western Sahara (ARSO): Western Sahara Geography. (accessed April 4, 2003).

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Country statistics


446,550sq km (172,413sq mi) 28,705,000

capital (population):

Rabat (658,000)


Constitutional monarchy

ethnic groups:

Berber 59%, Arab 40%


Arabic (official), French


Sunni Muslim 99%, Christian 1%


Moroccan dirham = 100 centimes

Kingdom in nw Africa. The narrow Strait of Gibraltar separates Morocco from Europe. The majority of Moroccans live on the narrow w coastal plain, which includes the capital Rabat, the largest city and port Casablanca, and the cities of Tangier and Agadir. The Atlas mountains dominate central Morocco, and Djebel Toubkal (in the Haut Atlas) is the highest peak in North Africa, at 4165m (13,665ft). The Rif Atlas lie in the far n. Between the Atlas mountains and the coastal plain lies a plateau, which includes the cities of Fez and Marrakech. Southern Morocco forms part of the Sahara Desert, which continues into the disputed territory of Western Sahara.


The Canaries Current cools the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Inland, summers are hot and dry. During the mild winters (October to April), sw winds from the Atlantic bring moderate rainfall and snow on the Haut Atlas.


The Sahara is barren. Forests of cedar, fir and juniper swathe the mountain slopes. The coastal plain is a fertile region.


Berbers settled in the area c.3000 years ago. Jewish colonies were established under Roman rule. In 685, Arab armies invaded Morocco, introducing Islam and Arabic. In 711, Moroccan Muslims (Moors) invaded Spain. In 788, Berbers and Arabs united in an independent Moroccan state. Fez became a major religious and cultural centre. In the mid-11th century, the Almoravids conquered Morocco, and established a vast Muslim empire. The Almohad dynasty succeeded the Almoravids. In the 15th century, the Moors retreated from Spain, and Spain and Portugal made advances into Morocco. The present ruling dynasty, the Alawite, came to power in 1660, and soon reclaimed most of the European-held territory.

In the mid-19th century, Morocco's strategic and economic potential began to attract European imperial interest, especially France and Spain. In 1912, Morocco divided into French Morocco, and the smaller protectorate of Spanish Morocco. Nationalist resistance was strong. Abd al-Krim led a revolt (1921–26) against European rule. In 1942, Allied forces invaded Morocco and removed the pro-Vichy colonial government. In 1947, the Sultan, Sidi Muhammad, called for the reunification of French and Spanish Morocco, but France refused and exiled the Sultan in 1953. Continuing civil unrest forced the French to accede to the return of the Sultan in 1955.

In 1956 Morocco gained independence, although Spain retained control of two small enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. In 1957, Morocco became an independent monarchy when Sidi Muhammad changed his title to King Muhammad V. In 1961, Muhammad's son succeeded as King Hassan II. During the 1960s, Morocco faced external territorial disputes (especially with Algeria) and internal political dissent. In 1965, Hassan II declared a state of emergency and assumed extraordinary powers. While the 1972 constitution reduced royal influence, Morocco remains only nominally a constitutional monarchy, and effectively the King wields all political power.

In 1976, Spain finally relinquished its claim to Spanish Sahara, and the region became known as Western Sahara. Western Sahara divided between Morocco and Mauritania. In 1979, Mauritania withdrew from Western Sahara, and Morocco assumed control of the phosphate-rich region. It met fierce resistance from independence movements.


The collapse of several coalition governments in 1993 led to King Hassan's appointment of an administration. In 1994, Morocco restored diplomatic links with Israel. In 1995, Hassan formed a new government of technocrats and members of the Entente National. In 1996, a referendum approved the establishment of a bicameral legislature, with a directly elected lower chamber. A new coalition government emerged from elections in 1997. In 1999 Hassan died, and his son succeeded as Muhammad VI.


Morocco is a lower-middle-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$3500). The post-independence exodus of Europeans and Jews from Morocco created an economic vacuum. The cost of war in Western Sahara further strained Morocco's scant resources. Its main resource is phosphate rock, which is used to make fertilizers. Morocco is the world's fourth-largest phosphate producer and processes 75% of the world's reserves. The principal mines are near Khouribga.

Agriculture employs 46% of the workforce. In the mountains, peasant farmers or nomadic pastoralists undertake most agriculture. The chief commercial farming areas are the Atlantic coastal plains and the inland plateaux, where extensive irrigation makes farming possible. The main crops include barley, beans, citrus fruits, grapes, maize, olives, sugar beet, and wheat. Fishing is also an important activity. In May 2003, a series of suicide bombings in Casablanca killed 41 people. The bombings were linked to al-Qaeda.

Casablanca, the chief manufacturing city and largest port, is a thriving tourist centre. Morocco is a popular tourist destination; the annual number of visitors exceeds 4 million (2000), and contributes more than US$2000 million in annual receipts (2000). Tourist areas include the Atlantic Coast resorts, the Atlas Mountains, and the historic cities of Marrakech, Fez, and Rabat. In 1996, as part of a rapidly improving infrastructure, Morocco and Spain agreed to build a tunnel linking the two countries. Morocco applied for membership of the European Union (EU).

Political map

Physical map


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morocco (type of leather)

morocco, goatskin leather, dyed on the grain side and boarded by hand or machine to bring up the grain in a bird's-eye effect. It probably originated with the Arabs in North Africa as an alum-tanned product typically dyed red. The process later spread to the Levant, to Turkey, and along the Mediterranean, where sumac was used for tanning. Today the term is also applied to chrome-tanned goat leather whether boarded or embossed to show the characteristic grain; it is often crushed and glazed. Hard, but pliable, it is valued especially for bookbindings and purses. Levant morocco is larger grained; French morocco is a sheepskin imitation.

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Morocco (country, Africa)

Morocco (mərŏk´ō), officially Kingdom of Morocco, kingdom (2005 est. pop. 32,726,000), 171,834 sq mi (445,050 sq km), NW Africa. Morocco is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea (N), the Atlantic Ocean (W), Western Sahara (S), and Algeria (S and E). Ifni, formerly a Spanish-held enclave on the Atlantic coast, was ceded to Morocco in 1969. Two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, and several small islands off the Mediterranean coast remain part of metropolitan Spain; at various times in history Moroccans have sought, through force or diplomacy, to gain control of these enclaves. Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara although sovereignty remains unresolved. Rabat is the capital and Casablanca the most populous city.

Land and People

Central Morocco consists largely of the Atlas Mts., which rise to 13,671 ft (4,167 m) in Jebel Toubkal in the southwest and which dominate most of the country. In the south lie the sandy wastes of the Sahara desert. In the north is a fertile coastal plain. The population of Morocco is concentrated in the coastal region and the mountains, where rainfall is most plentiful. In parts of the Rif Mts. in the northeast some 40 in. (102 cm) of rain fall each year. There are no important rivers in the country, but dams on several coastal streams are used for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The vast majority of Moroccans are Muslims of Arab-Berber ancestry. There are also small Christian and Jewish minorities. Arabic and Amazigh (Berber) are official languages, but French (often used in business and government) also is spoken. More than half of all Moroccans live in urban areas.


Agriculture employs about 40% of Morocco's workforce, which suffers from a high (as much as 20% locally) unemployment rate. In the rainy sections of the northeast, barley, wheat, and other cereals can be raised without irrigation. On the Atlantic coast, where there are extensive plains, olives, citrus fruits, and wine grapes are grown, largely with water supplied by artesian wells. Morocco also produces a significant amount of illicit hashish, much of which is shipped to Western Europe. Livestock are raised and forests yield cork, cabinet wood, and building materials. Part of the maritime population fishes for its livelihood. Agadir, Essaouira, El Jadida, and Larache are among the important fishing harbors.

Casablanca is by far the largest port and an important industrial center. Significant industries include textile and leather goods manufacturing, food processing, and oil refining. In the northern foothills of the Atlas Mts. there are large mineral deposits; phosphates are the most important, but iron ore, silver, zinc, copper, lead, manganese, barytine, gold, and coal (the only sizable coal deposits in North Africa) are also found. Marrakech, Meknès, and Fès are the most important centers in the mineral trade. A few oases in southern Morocco, notably Tafilalt, are all that relieve the desert wastes. Tourism also is important economically, as are cash remittances from Moroccans working in France.

Morocco's coastal areas and the mineral-producing interior are linked by an expanding road and rail network, and port facilities are being further developed. The main exports are clothing, fish, inorganic chemicals, transistors, minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, fruits, and vegetables. The chief imports are crude petroleum, textiles, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas, electricity, and plastics. France, Spain, and Italy are the leading trade partners.


A constitutional monarchy, Morocco is governed under the constitution of 1972 as amended. The king, who is the head of state, holds effective power and appoints the prime minister, who is the head of government. The bicameral Parliament consists of the 270-seat Chamber of Counselors, whose members are elected by indirect vote for nine-year terms, and the 325-seat Chamber of Representatives, whose members are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 15 regions.


Early History to the Nineteenth Century

Berbers inhabited Morocco at the end of the 2d millennium BC In Roman times Morocco was roughly coextensive with the province of Mauretania Tingitania. In the 3d cent. AD four bishoprics were created in the province. Jewish colonies were also established during Roman rule. The Vandals were the earliest (5th cent.) of barbarian peoples to take the area as the Roman Empire declined.

The Arabs first swept into Morocco c.685, bringing with them Islam. Christianity was all but extirpated, but the Jewish colonies by and large retained their religion. Many Moroccans served in the Arab forces that invaded Spain in the early 8th cent. Later, Berber-Arab conflict fragmented the region.

Morocco became an independent state in 788 under the royal line founded by Idris I. After 900 the country again broke into small tribal states. Warfare between the Fatimids of Tunisia and the Umayyads of Spain for control of the region intensified the already-existing political anarchy, which ended only when the Almoravids overran (c.1062) Morocco and established a kingdom stretching from Spain to Senegal. The Almohads, who succeeded (c.1174) the Almoravids, at first ruled both Morocco and Spain, but the Merinid dynasty (1259–1550), after some triumphs, was limited to Morocco. Rarely, however, was the country completely unified, and conflict between Arabs and Berbers was incessant.

Spain and Portugal, after expelling the Moors (i.e., persons from Morocco) from the Iberian Peninsula, attacked the Moroccan coast. Beginning with the capture of Ceuta in 1415, Portugal took all the chief ports except Melilla and Larache, both of which fell to Spain. The Christian threat stimulated the growth of resistance under religious leaders, one of whom established (1554) the Saadian, or first Sherifian, dynasty. At the battle of Ksar el Kebir (1578) the Saadian king decisively defeated Portugal. The present ruling dynasty, the Alawite, or second Sherifian, dynasty, came to power in 1660 and recaptured many European-held strongholds. Morocco, like the other Barbary States, was, from the 17th to the 19th cent., a base for pirates preying upon the Mediterranean trade.

Colonial Struggles

In the 19th cent. the strategic importance and economic potential of Morocco excited the interest of the European powers. France, after beginning war with Algeria, defeated (1844) Sultan Abd ar-Rahman, who had aided the Algerians. Spain invaded in 1860. In 1880 the major European nations and the United States decided at the Madrid Conference to preserve the territorial integrity of Morocco and to maintain equal trade opportunities for all.

Political and commercial rivalries soon disrupted this cordial arrangement and brought on several international crises. France sought to gain Spanish and British support against the opposition of Germany. Thus, in 1904, France concluded a secret treaty with Spain to partition Morocco and secretly agreed with Great Britain (the Entente Cordiale) not to oppose British aims in Egypt in exchange for a free hand in Morocco. In 1905, after France had asked the sultan of Morocco for a protectorate, Germany moved quickly: Emperor William II visited Tangier and declared support for Morocco's integrity. At German insistence the Algeciras Conference (Jan.–Mar., 1906) was called to consider the Moroccan question. The principles of the Madrid Conference were readopted and German investments were assured protection, but French and Spanish interests were given marked recognition by the decision to allow France to patrol the border with Algeria and to allow France and Spain to police Morocco.

Under the claim of effecting pacification, the French steadily annexed territory. In 1908 friction arose at Casablanca, under French occupation, when the German consul gave refuge to deserters from the French Foreign Legion. This dispute was settled by the Hague Tribunal. Shortly afterward in a coup Abd al-Aziz IV was unseated and his brother, Abd al-Hafid, installed on the throne. He had difficulty maintaining order and received help from France and Spain, especially in a revolt that broke out in 1911. In this situation the appearance of the German warship Panther at Agadir on July 1, 1911, was interpreted by the French as a threat of war and speeded a final adjustment of imperial rivalries.

On Nov. 4, 1911, Germany agreed to a French protectorate in Morocco in exchange for the cession of French territory in equatorial Africa. Finally, at Fès (Mar. 30, 1912), the sultan agreed to a French protectorate, and on Nov. 27 a Franco-Spanish agreement divided Morocco into four administrative zones—French Morocco, nine-tenths of the country, a protectorate with Rabat as capital; a Spanish protectorate, which included Spanish Morocco, with its capital at Tétouan; a Southern Protectorate of Morocco, administered as part of the Spanish Sahara; and the international zone of Tangier. The French protectorate was placed under the rule of General Lyautey, who remained in office until 1925.

The Struggle for Independence

A strong threat to European rule was posed (1921–26) by the revolt (the Rif War) of Abd el-Krim. In 1934 a group of young Moroccans presented a plan for reform, marking the beginning of the nationalist movement. In 1937 the French crushed a nationalist revolt. Francisco Franco's successful revolt against the republican government of Spain began in Spanish Morocco in 1936.

During World War II, French Morocco remained officially loyal to the Vichy government after the fall of France in 1940. On Nov. 8, 1942, Allied forces landed at all the major cities of Morocco and Algeria; on Nov. 11, all resistance ended (see North Africa, campaigns in). In Jan., 1943, Allied leaders met at Casablanca. During the war an independence party, the Istiqlal, was formed. After the war the nationalist movement gained strength and received the active support of the sultan, Sidi Muhammad, who demanded a unitary state and the departure of the French and Spanish. Vast numbers of Jews emigrated to the newly formed state of Israel in the early 1950s, although a small number remained.

Faced with growing nationalist agitation, the French outlawed (1952) the Istiqlal and in Aug., 1953, deposed and exiled Sidi Muhammad. These measures proved ineffective, and under the pressure of rebellion in Algeria and disorders in Morocco, the French were compelled (1955) to restore Sidi Muhammad. In Mar., 1956, France relinquished its rights in Morocco; in April the Spanish surrendered their protectorate; in October Tangier was given to Morocco by international agreement. Spain ceded the Southern Protectorate in 1958.

Modern Morocco

The sultan became (1957) King Muhammad V (Sidi Muhammad) and soon embarked on a foreign policy of "positive neutrality," which included support for the Muslim rebels in Algeria. After the king's death (Feb., 1961), his son Hassan II ascended the throne. He soon enacted a new constitution that established a bicameral parliament. Border hostilities with Algeria in 1963 cost both sides many lives; final agreement on the border was reached in 1970.

In June, 1965, following a political crisis that threatened to undermine the monarchy, King Hassan declared a state of emergency and took over both executive and legislative powers. The country returned to a modified form of parliamentary democracy in 1970, with a revised constitution that strengthened the king's authority. Opposition groups, later called the National Front, rejected the constitution and boycotted legislative elections. An attempt on Hassan's life by military leaders took place on July 10, 1971. Hassan announced a new constitution in Feb., 1972, which lessened the king's powers. In August another assassination attempt took place, when the airplane carrying King Hassan was strafed on its way back from France. The king continued to rule in isolation and maintained relative order through a policy of suppression.

In 1974, Morocco pressed its claim to sovereignty over Spanish Sahara, and in Nov., 1975, Hassan lead the "Green March" of over 300,000 unarmed Moroccans to the disputed region. In 1976, Spain relinquished control of the area, ceding it to Morocco and Mauritania as Western Sahara. However, the Polisario Front, a group of Western Saharan guerrillas with Algerian and Libyan backing, fought for independence for the territory. Morocco took over Mauritania's portion of Western Sahara in 1979 and continued to battle the Polisario throughout the 1980s. In 1983, when Morocco experienced political and economic troubles, Hassan canceled legislative elections.

Normalization of relations between Morocco and Algeria in 1988 cut off Algerian support for the rebels, and in 1991 the Polisario and Morocco agreed to a cease-fire. A UN-sponsored referendum to decide the territory's permanent status was ordered for the early 1990s. Disputes regarding who would be permitted to vote delayed any referendum into the 21st cent., during which time the region was integrated administratively into Morocco. Constitutional amendments in 1996 established a bicameral legislature, and elections the following year led to the first government (1998) in which opposition parties were dominant.

King Hassan died in 1999 and was succeeded by his son Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed, as Muhammad VI. Initially extremely popular, the new king revealed himself to be a strong advocate of social change and economic improvement, but the monarchy nonetheless remained the unquestioned center of power in the country. In July, 2002, Morocco occupied an uninhabited islet off Ceuta that is claimed by Spain, drawing international attention to the disputed Spanish enclaves along Morocco's Mediterranean coast. After Spanish forces removed the Moroccans, both sides agreed to leave the islet unoccupied. The Moroccan elections of 2002 and 2007 returned the governing coalition to power, though the Socialist Union of People's Forces was supplanted as the dominant party by the conservative, nationalist Independence party in 2007. The visit of the Spanish king to Ceuta and Mellila in 2007 soured Moroccan-Spanish relations.

In Feb., 2011, there were proreform demonstrations in several of Morocco's cities; the following month, the king pledged that there would be constitutional reforms. The reforms approved in a referendum in July included transferring some of the king's governing powers to the prime minister and parliament and making Berber an official language, but the king retained his foreign policy, military, and religious primacy. The unusually high turnout and vote in favor of the changes led those who criticized the reforms as inadequate to question the credibility of the referendum. Subsequently progress toward enacting significant human-rights reforms was limited, and outspoken opponents of the government faced repression in subsequent years.

In the Nov., 2011, parliamentary elections the moderately Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) won the largest bloc of seats, and PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane became prime minister of the broad coalition government formed in Jan., 2012. In July the Independence party withdrew from the government, objecting to proposed subsidy and pension reforms. A new government was formed in October, with the National Rally of Independents replacing the Independence party; although Benkirane remained prime minister, the new cabinet reduced the influence of the PJD.


See S. Bernard, The Franco-Moroccan Conflict, 1953–1956 (1968); R. F. Nyrop et al., Area Handbook for Morocco (1972); R. Le Tourneau, The Modern History of Morocco (1973); W. Spencer, Historical Dictionary of Morocco (1980); E. DeAmicis, Morocco (1984); A. M. Findlay et al., ed., Morocco (1984); D. Porch, The Conquest of Morocco (1986).

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Berbers make up about 34 percent of the population, and Arabs, 66 percent. In the past, the Jewish community played a significant role in the economic life of Morocco, but its numbers have decreased as many have emigrated to Israel since it was established in 1948. In 1992, some 60,000 foreign citizens, mostly French, Spanish, Italian, and Algerians, were living in Morocco.

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mo·roc·co / məˈräkō/ • n. (pl. -cos) fine flexible leather made (originally in Morocco) from goatskin tanned with sumac, used esp. for book covers and shoes: a volume bound in red morocco | [as adj.] morocco leather.

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Morocco applied to things originating in the country of north-west Africa so named, esp. to leather of goatskin. XVII. — It. Marocco, f. the name of the chief city Marrakesh.

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This entry consists of the following articles:

morocco: overview

morocco: constitution

morocco: political parties in

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Moroccotacho, taco, tobacco, wacko •blanco, Franco •churrasco, fiasco, Tabasco •Arco, Gran Chaco, mako •art deco, dekko, echo, Eco, El Greco, gecko, secco •flamenco, Lysenko, Yevtushenko •alfresco, fresco, Ionesco •Draco, shako •Biko, Gromyko, pekoe, picot, Puerto Rico, Tampico •sicko, thicko, tricot, Vico •ginkgo, pinko, stinko •cisco, disco, Disko, Morisco, pisco, San Francisco •zydeco • magnifico • calico • Jellicoe •haricot • Jericho • Mexico • simpatico •politico • portico •psycho, Tycho •Morocco, Rocco, sirocco, socko •bronco •Moscow, roscoe •Rothko •coco, cocoa, loco, moko, Orinoco, poco, rococo •osso buco • Acapulco •Cuzco, Lambrusco •bucko, stucco •bunco, junco, unco •guanaco • Monaco • turaco • Turco

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Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.