Casablanca • Rabat • Fes • Sale • Marrakesh • Agadir • Tangier • Meknes • Oujda • Al Hoceima • Kenitra • Tetouan • Safi • Mohammedia • Khouribga • Beni Mellal • El Jadida • Taza • Nador • Settat • Larache • Ksar el Kebir • Khemisset • Guelmim • Berrechid • Oued Zem • Fkih Ben Salah • Taourirt • Berkane • Sidi Slimane • Sidi Qacem • Khenifra • Taroudant • Essaouira • Tiflet • Oulad Teima • Sefrou • Youssoufia • Tan-Tan • Ouazzane • Guercif • Ouarzazat • Tirhanimine • Dakhla • Tiznit • Azrou • Midelt • Skhirat • Souq Larb'a al Gharb • Jerada • Kasba Tadla • Sidi Bennour • Martil • Azemmour • Tinghir • Chefchaouene • El Aioun • Zagora • Taounate • Sidi Yahia el Gharb • Zaio • Asilah • El Hajeb • Mechra Belqsiri • Bouznika • Imzourene • Tahala • Sidi Ifni • Ahfir • Boujniba • Ifrane • Nouaseur • Figuig (Centre) • Mhamid • Gueltat Zemmour • Tarfaya •
|THE MOROCCO COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Morocco within the continent of Africa
Map of Morocco
Flag Moroccan Flag Meaning:
Green and red are traditional colors of Islam, which is Morocco's official religion. Red is also the color of the reigning Moroccan dynasty. The Seal of Solomon represents the link between God and the nation. Moroccan Flag History: The Moroccan flag was adopted on November 17, 1915. Morocco gained independence from France on March 2, 1956. The 'Seal of Solomon' was added to the red flag, previously used by the reigning Moroccan dynasty since the 17th century, to differentiate Morocco's flag from similar red flags of other nations.
Official name Al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyyah (Kingdom of Morocco)
Form of government constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses (House of Councillors ; House of Representatives )
Head of state King: Muhammad VI
Head of government Prime Minister: Abdelilah Benkirane2
Official languages Arabic; Tamazight2
Official religion Islam
Monetary unit Moroccan dirham (DH)
Population (2013 est.) 32,649,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 170,773
Total area (sq km) 442,300
- Urban: (2011) 57%
- Rural: (2011) 43%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2100) 73.9 years
- Female: (2011) 75.6 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2009) 69%
- Female: (2009) 44%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 3,030
1All seats indirectly elected.
2Per constitutional reforms adopted by referendum in July 2011.
Background of Morocco
In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, a series of Moroccan Muslim dynasties began to rule in Morocco. In the 16th century, the Sa'adi monarchy, particularly under Ahmad al-MANSUR (1578-1603), repelled foreign invaders and inaugurated a golden age. The Alaouite dynasty, to which the current Moroccan royal family belongs, dates from the 17th century. In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco's sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country. A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were turned over to the new country that same year. Sultan MOHAMMED V, the current monarch's grandfather, organized the new state as a constitutional monarchy and in 1957 assumed the title of king. Although Morocco is not the UN-recognized Administering Power for the Western Sahara, it exercises de facto administrative control there. The UN assists with direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front, but the status of the territory remains unresolved. Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature, which first met in 1997. Morocco enjoys a moderately free press, but the government has taken action against journalists who they perceive to be challenging the monarchy, Islam, or the status of Western Sahara. Influenced by protests elsewhere in the region, in February 2011 thousands of Moroccans began weekly rallies in multiple cities across the country to demand greater democracy and end to government corruption. Overall the response of Moroccan security forces was subdued compared to the violence elsewhere in the region. King MOHAMMED VI responded quickly with a reform program that included a new constitution and early elections. The constitution was passed by popular referendum in July 2011; some new powers were extended to parliament and the prime minister, but ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch. In early elections in November 2012, the Justice and Development Party - a moderate Islamist party, won the largest number of seats, becoming the first Islamist party to lead the Moroccan Government. In January 2012, Morocco assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2012-13 term.
Morocco, mountainous country of western North Africa that lies directly across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain.
The traditional domain of indigenous nomadic peoples—now collectively known as Berbers, but more correctly referred to as Imazighen (singular, Amazigh)—Morocco has been subject to extensive migration and has long been the location of sedentary, urban communities that were originally settled by peoples from outside the region. Controlled by Carthage from an early date, the region was later the westernmost province of the Roman Empire. Following the Arab conquest of the late 7th century ce, the broader area of North Africa came to be known as the Maghrib (Arabic: “the West”), and the majority of its people accepted Islam. Subsequent Moroccan kingdoms enjoyed political influence that extended beyond the coastal regions, and in the 11th century the first native Amazigh dynasty of North Africa, the Almoravids, gained control of an empire stretching from Andalusian (southern) Spain to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Attempts by Europeans to establish permanent footholds in Morocco beginning in the late 15th century were largely repulsed, but the country later became the subject of Great Power politics in the 19th century. Morocco was made a French protectorate in 1912 but regained independence in 1956. Today it is the only monarchy in North Africa.
Although the country is rapidly modernizing and enjoys a rising standard of living, it retains much of its ancient architecture and even more of its traditional customs. Morocco’s largest city and major Atlantic Ocean port is Casablanca, an industrial and commercial centre. The capital, Rabat, lies a short distance to the north on the Atlantic coast. Other port cities include Tangier, on the Strait of Gibraltar, Agadir, on the Atlantic, and Al-Hoceïma, on the Mediterranean Sea. The city of Fès is said to have some of the finest souks, or open-air markets, in all North Africa. Scenic and fertile, Morocco well merits the praise of a native son, the medieval traveler Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, who wrote “it is the best of countries, for in it fruits are plentiful, and running water and nourishing food are never exhausted.”
Geography of Morocco
Morocco borders Algeria to the east and southeast, Western Sahara to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. It is the only African country with coastal exposure to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Its area—excluding the territory of Western Sahara, which Morocco controls—is slightly larger than the U.S. state of California. Two small Spanish enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, are situated on the country’s northern coast.--->>>>Read More.<<<
At 172,402 square miles (446,550 sq. km), Morocco is comparable in size to Iraq and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of California. It has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco borders Algeria to the east, the Mediterranean Sea and a relatively thin water border with Spain to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to its west. Because Morocco controls part of the Strait of Gibraltar, it has power over the passage in and out of the Mediterranean. The border to the south is disputed. Morocco claims ownership of Western Sahara and has administered most of the territory since 1975.
There are four Spanish enclaves on the Mediterranean coast: Ceuta, Melilla, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Peñón de Alhucemas, as well as the Chafarinas islands and the disputed islet Perejil. Off Morocco's Atlantic coast the Canary Islands belong to Spain, whereas Madeira to the north is Portuguese.
The coastal area rises to the Rif Mountains, which occupy the region in the north bordering the Mediterranean, running from the northwest to the northeast. Farther south, the Atlas Mountains run down the backbone of the country, from the southwest to the northeast. Most of the southeastern portion of the country lies in the Sahara Desert and thus is sparsely populated and unproductive economically. Most of the population lives in the north. The fertile coastal plains comprise the backbone for agriculture. Forests cover about 12 percent of the land, while arable land accounts for 18 percent and 5 percent is irrigated.
Morocco's capital city is Rabat, and its largest city is the main port of Casablanca. Other cities include Agadir, Essaouira, Fes, Marrakech, Meknes, Mohammadia, Oujda, Ouarzazat, Safi, Salè, Tangier, Tiznit, and Tan-Tan.
The climate is quite varied, from Mediterranean on the coast to extreme heat and cold in the interior regions, where it is mountainous or desert. Rainfall occurs from October to May, and summers are dry. Rainfall varies from 15 to 29 inches (38 to 74 cm) in the north but averages only 4 inches (10 cm) in the Sahara.
Flora and fauna
Morocco is known for its wildlife biodiversity, with birds representing the most important fauna.  Morocco has a total of 487 species, of which 32 are rare or accidental. Lizards, chameleons, geckos, and snakes are common reptiles. Mammals are represented by wild boars, foxes, the Barbary ape (a type of monkey), and small mammals that can survive in the desert.
The country has a variety of habitats: from snow-covered mountain peaks to scorching, arid deserts to fertile plains. The slopes of the mountains are covered with evergreen oak and cedar. East and south of the Atlas Mountains, scrubby steppe and desert vegetation is found, including date palms.
Demography of Morocco
- Ethnic groups
Morocco is composed mainly of Arabs and Imazighen or an admixture of the two. Sizable numbers of Imazighen live mainly in the country’s mountainous regions—long areas of refuge for them where they can preserve their language and culture.
Some segments of the population are descendants of refugees from Spain who fled from the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century.
Trade and slavery brought a significant population of sub-Saharan Africans to Morocco; their descendants now live chiefly in the southern oases and in the larger cities. Jews constituted a fairly large minority until recently, when, in the aftermath of the foundation of Israel and the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict, many Jews felt compelled to leave the country—most emigrated to Israel, Europe, and South and North America.
Arabic, one of the national and official languages of Morocco, is spoken by two-thirds of the population, and Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools. The Amazigh language, known as Tamazight, became an official language in 2011. Having been preserved in Amazigh enclaves, it is spoken by roughly one-third of the people. Many Imazighen also speak Arabic, and Tamazight is taught in schools. French is an important secondary language, and Spanish is widely spoken. English is increasingly used as well.
Tamazight-speaking inhabitants are divided into three ethnolinguistic groups: the Rif people (also called Riffi, or Riffians) of the Rif Mountains, the people of the Middle Atlas, and the people of the High Atlas and the Sous valley. While there are differences among these dialects, they are mutually comprehensible.
Islam is the official state religion, and the vast majority of Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of the Mālikī rite. The royal house, the ʿAlawite dynasty, has ruled since the 17th century basing its claim to legitimacy on descent from the Prophet Muhammad. The royal family is revered by Moroccan Muslims because of its prophetic lineage. As in many Islamic countries, Sufism claims adherents, and forms of popular religion—including the veneration of saints and the visitation of tombs—are widely practiced. Moroccan law mandates freedom of religion, but few non-Muslims reside in the country. The country has no indigenous Christian population to speak of, and its Jewish community has dwindled to a few thousand.
- Settlement patterns
- TRADITIONAL REGIONS
Settlement patterns in Morocco correspond loosely to the three major environmental zones: the coastal plains and plateaus, the highland areas of the Rif and Atlas mountains, and the desert east and south of the Atlas.
The coastal plains and plateaus contain three-fourths of the country’s population and include most of its cities and virtually all of its modern commercial agriculture. It has been the home of settled farmers and seminomadic tribes for centuries. The main form of agriculture is rain-fed cereal production, with wheat and barley as the main winter crops. This is supplemented by stock raising and summer gardens producing pulses (legumes) and fresh vegetables.
The highland areas of the Rif and the Atlas contain about a fifth of the population and serve as centres of Amazigh culture. Traditional villages are built for defense and are commonly perched on hillsides or hilltops. Dwellings, often multistoried, are tightly clustered and are built of stone, adobe, or tamped earth. Level land is rare, and terraces are constructed to create arable fields along the nearby valley walls. The main subsistence crops are barley as a winter crop and corn (maize) and fresh vegetables as summer crops. Many villages specialize in cash cropping of nuts or fruits—such as olives, almonds, walnuts, figs, apples, cherries, apricots, or plums—that are well-adapted to a local microclimate. Raising of sheep or goats often supplements village agriculture. Some groups practice transhumance, migrating with their flocks or herds to summer pastures at higher elevations or winter pastures at lower elevations and living in dark-coloured tents (khaymahs) woven of goat hair.
The pre-Saharan and Saharan areas south of the Atlas contain a tiny proportion of Morocco’s population. Some settlements are made up of ḥarāṭīn, the descendants of sub-Saharan Africans, and many groups speak one of the Tamazight dialects.Virtually all settlement is in oases, most of which are created artificially either by diverting water from streams or by importing water from mountains—often over some distance—via underground tunnels (qanāts). Dates are the main crop, grown as both a subsistence and a cash crop. Alfalfa, corn, wheat, barley, vegetables, and other crops are grown in the date-palm understory. Much settlement in this region is in highly distinctive, fortified adobe villages known as ksour (Arabic: quṣūr, “castles”). Nomadic camel herding was once an important economic activity in the Saharan zone, but government policies, desert warfare, multiyear droughts, and other extenuating factors have caused this way of life to disappear almost completely.
- URBAN SETTLEMENT
More than half the Moroccan population now lives in urban areas. Most Moroccan cities retain at least some of their traditional character and charm. During the period of the French protectorate, colonial authorities did not tamper with the traditional urban centres, or medinas (madīnahs), which were usually surrounded by walls. Rather than modifying these traditional centres to accommodate new infrastructure for administration and economic development, they established villes nouvelles (“new towns”) alongside them. In addition, they shifted the focus of political and economic life from the interior of Morocco—where it had long revolved around the imperial cities of Fès, Meknès, and Marrakech—to the Atlantic coast. Under the protectorate, Casablanca was transformed from a small coastal village into a bustling metropolis. Rabat became the capital and centre of administration. By the 1930s, bidonvilles (literally, “tin can cities”), or shantytowns, were beginning to develop around major urban areas and have since become extensive.
- Demographic trends
Morocco’s population is growing at a slightly faster rate than that of countries outside Africa, but it is well below the average for those in the Middle East and North Africa. Nonetheless, Morocco has a large population for its size that is highly concentrated in the most habitable areas. About one-third of the population is under age 15. For some time the opportunity to emigrate to western European countries offered a partial solution to Morocco’s population pressure, and by the early 1980s some 600,000 Moroccan workers and merchants had established themselves in western Europe. Morocco’s population problem was only marginally relieved by migration to the labour markets in the Persian Gulf region during the oil boom that began in the late 20th century.
Economy of Morocco
As is true in many former African colonies, the Moroccan economy remains heavily dependent on the export of raw materials. Also of growing importance to the economy are modern sectors, particularly tourism and telecommunications. Altogether, the modern portion accounts for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP), even though it employs only about one-third of the country’s workforce.
Since the mid-1980s the Moroccan government has undertaken a vigorous program of privatization and economic reform, encouraged by major international lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Measures have included selling state-owned enterprises, devaluing the currency, and changing pricing policies to encourage local production. In 1999 the Moroccan government set up a loan fund to stimulate growth and competition among small businesses. Morocco’s sandy beaches, sunshine, diverse environments, and rich cultural heritage give it outstanding potential for tourism, which the government has been actively developing.
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
Morocco is endowed with numerous exploitable resources. With approximately 33,000 square miles (85,000 square km) of arable land (one-seventh of which can be irrigated) and its generally temperate Mediterranean climate, Morocco’s agricultural potential is matched by few other Arab or African countries. It is one of the few Arab countries that has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. In a normal year Morocco produces two-thirds of the grains (chiefly wheat, barley, and corn [maize]) needed for domestic consumption. The country exports citrus fruits and early vegetables to the European market; its wine industry is developed, and production of commercial crops (cotton, sugarcane, sugar beets, and sunflowers) is expanding. Newer crops such as tea, tobacco, and soybeans have passed the experimental stage, the fertile Gharb plain being favourable for their cultivation. The country is actively developing its irrigation potential that ultimately will irrigate more than 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares).
Nevertheless, the danger of drought is ever present. Especially at risk are the cereal-growing lowlands, which are subject to considerable variation in annual precipitation. On average, drought occurs in Morocco every third year, creating a volatility in agricultural production that is the main constraint on expansion in the sector.
Livestock raising, particularly sheep and cattle, is widespread. Morocco fills its own meat requirements and is also attempting to become self-sufficient in dairy products.
Morocco’s forests, which cover about one-tenth of its total land area (excluding Western Sahara), have substantial commercial value. Morocco satisfies much of its timber needs by harvesting the high-elevation forests in the Middle and High Atlas. Its eucalyptus plantations enable it to be self-sufficient in charcoal, which is used extensively for cooking fuel. Eucalyptus also provides the raw material needed for the country’s paper and cellulose industries. Paper pulp is a valuable export as is cork from the country’s plentiful cork oak forests.
The fishing grounds in the Canary Current off Morocco’s west coast are exceptionally rich in sardines, bonito, and tuna, but the country lacks the modern fleets and processing facilities to benefit fully from these marine resources. An important part of a major trade agreement Morocco concluded with the European Union (EU) in 1996 concerned fishing rights, by which the EU pays Morocco an annual fee to allow vessels (mainly Spanish) to fish Moroccan waters.
- Resources and power
With its acquisition of Western Sahara, Morocco came to possess some two-thirds of the world’s reserves of phosphates, used for the manufacture of fertilizers and other products. Low world prices for phosphates, however, have hindered production. Other minerals include iron ore and coal, mined for Morocco’s domestic use, and barite, manganese, lead, and zinc, which are exported in small quantities.
A major weakness in Morocco’s resource inventory is its shortage of domestic energy sources. Oil exploration has been disappointing, although the country possesses some natural gas reserves that have been exploited. Its hydroelectric potential is considerable and now being tapped. Morocco must cover the bulk of its growing energy needs through imports, principally crude petroleum, which is refined domestically. Thermal power plants produce much of the country’s electricity.
Manufacturing accounts for about one-sixth of GDP and is steadily growing in importance in the economy. Two particularly important components of the country’s industrial makeup are processing raw materials for export and manufacturing consumer goods for the domestic market. Many operations date to the colonial period. Until the early 1980s, government involvement was dominant and the major focus was on import substitution. Since then the emphasis has shifted to privatizing state operations and attracting new private investment, including foreign sources. Processing phosphate ore into fertilizers and phosphoric acid for export is a major economic activity. Food processing for export (canning fish, fresh vegetables, and fruit) as well as for domestic needs (flour milling and sugar refining) is also important, and the manufacture of textiles and clothes using domestically produced cotton and wool is a major source of foreign exchange. Morocco’s iron and steel manufacturing industry is small but provides a significant share of the country’s domestic needs.
Morocco’s central bank, the Bank al-Maghrib, plays a preeminent role in the country’s banking system. It issues the Moroccan dirham, maintains Morocco’s foreign currency reserves, controls the credit supply, oversees the government’s specialized lending organizations, and regulates the commercial banking industry. Privatization has stimulated activity on the Casablanca Stock Exchange (Bourse de Casablanca—founded in 1929—is one of the oldest exchanges in Africa), notably trade in shares of large former state-owned operations.
Government attempts to increase exports and control imports have had some success, and a chronic annual trade deficit has begun to narrow. By the 1990s Morocco had also significantly lowered its foreign debt. The three leading exports are agricultural produce (citrus fruits and market vegetables), semiprocessed goods and consumer goods (including textiles), and phosphates and phosphate products. Major imports are semimanufactures and industrial equipment, crude oil, and food commodities. Morocco’s largest trading partner is the EU. Because Morocco’s trade with Europe has been so significant, an important development of the 1990s was negotiating a formal association with the EU, including an agreement to create, over time, a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone. Other trade accords have also been negotiated to mitigate the dependence on Europe, including an agreement with North American Free Trade Agreement countries and bilateral arrangements with other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2004 a Free Trade Agreement was signed with the United States.
Services, including government and military expenditures, account for about one-fourth of Morocco’s GDP. Government spending alone, despite an ongoing effort on the part of the government to sell much of its assets to private concerns, accounts for fully half of the service economy. Since the mid-1980s tourism and associated services have been an increasingly significant sector of the Moroccan economy and by the late 1990s had become the country’s largest source of foreign currency. During that time the Moroccan government committed significant resources—by way of loans and tax exemptions—to the development of the tourist industry and associated services. The government also made direct capital investments in the development of the service sector, but since the early 1990s it has begun to divest itself of these properties. Several million visitors enter Morocco yearly, most of them from Europe. Tourists also arrive from Algeria, the United States, and East Asia, mainly Japan.
- Labour and taxation
Roughly one-third of the population is employed in agriculture, another one-third make their living in mining, manufacturing, and construction, and the remainder are occupied in the trade, finance, and service sectors. Not included in these estimates is a large informal economy of street vendors, domestic workers, and other underemployed and poorly paid individuals. High unemployment is a problem; the official figure is roughly one-fifth of the workforce, but unofficial estimates are much higher, and—in a pattern typical of most Middle Eastern and North African countries—unemployment among university graduates holding nontechnical degrees is especially high. Several trade unions exist in the country; the largest of these, with nearly 700,000 members, is L’Union Marocaine du Travail, which is affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
Tax revenues provide the largest part of the general budget. Taxes are levied on individuals, corporations, goods and services, and tobacco and petroleum products.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Morocco’s road network effectively integrates the country’s diverse regions. Established during the colonial period, the network has been well maintained and gradually expanded since. The railway system connects the principal urban centres of the north, and new rail links, together with improved roads, are being established to El-Aaiún (Laâyoune) in Western Sahara. Morocco has some two dozen ports along its lengthy coastline. Casablanca alone accounts for about half of all port tonnage handled, although port facilities in Tangier are of increasing significance. Other major ports include Safi, Mohammedia, Agadir, Nador, Kenitra, and El Jorf Lasfar. About a dozen airports capable of accommodating large aircraft service the country; the principal international airport is located near Casablanca. The state-owned Royal Air Maroc (RAM) airline provides regular service to Europe, North America, the Middle East, and western Africa.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s the government undertook a major expansion and modernization of the telecommunications system. This nearly quadrupled the number of internal telephone lines and greatly improved international communications. In 1996 the state-owned telecommunications industry was opened up to privatization by a new law that allowed private investment in the retail sector, while the state retained control of fixed assets. In 1998 the government created Maroc Telecom (Ittiṣālāt al-Maghrib), which provides telephone, cellular, and Internet service for the country. Satellite dishes are found on the roofs of houses in even the poorest neighbourhoods, suggesting that Moroccans at every social and economic level have access to the global telecommunications network. The Internet has made steady inroads in Morocco; major institutions have direct access to it, while private individuals can connect via telecommunications “boutiques,” a version of the cyber cafés found in many Western countries, and through home computers.
Government and Society of Morocco
- Constitutional framework
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses. According to the constitution promulgated in 2011, political power in Morocco is to be shared between the hereditary monarch and an elected bicameral parliament, consisting of the House of Councillors (Majlis al-Mustashārīn; upper chamber) and the House of Representatives (Majlis al-Nawāb; lower chamber). A prime minister heads the cabinet, which constitutes the executive.
Despite the existence of a constitution, a legislature, and a number of active political parties, however, the king continues to wield broad political authority, promulgating legislation, choosing the prime minister from the largest party in parliament, and approving government appointments. He holds absolute authority over religious affairs, the armed forces, and national security policy.
The overwhelming authority of the monarch in political life has been a subject of intense debate and criticism. Since the mid-1990s, political reforms to strengthen representative institutions, enhance the authority of the parliament and cabinet, increase political participation, and limit the king’s ability to manipulate political affairs have been enacted under pressure both from internal opposition groups and from groups outside the country. In July 2011, Moroccan voters approved a new constitution proposed by King Muḥammad VI. The new constitution expanded the powers of the parliament and the prime minister but left the king with broad authority over all branches of government. The constitution also featured a new section promoting cultural pluralism in Morocco and granted the Tamazight language recognition as an official language.
- Local government
At the local level, Morocco is subdivided into multiple levels of government, all directly under the Ministry of the Interior. At the top are 16 regions, which are further divided into several dozen provinces and urban prefectures, each ruled by a governor appointed by the king. Beneath this second-order subdivision are rural qaḍawāt (districts) and municipalities, governed by chefs de cercle. The fourth level comprises rural communes and autonomous urban centres, governed respectively by qāʾids (caids) and pashas. Lower-order officials are appointed either by the Ministry of the Interior or by the governors. Each level has popularly elected bodies whose primary function is to help determine local matters and priorities, such as initiating development projects and deciding budget expenditures. At the end of the 1990s, government policy was moving toward allowing greater decision making at the local level.
In theory, the Qurʾān is still the source of law. It is, in effect, exercised by the qāḍīs (Muslim religious judges) and is limited to matters relating to the personal status of Muslims. Rabbinical justice applies to Jews. All other matters, whether they concern Muslims, Jews, or others, are in the hands of secular courts that apply a French-inspired legal code. The highest legal authority is the Supreme Court, which supervises a legal system consisting of courts of appeal, regional tribunals, magistrates’ courts, and, at the lowest level, courts of first instance. All judges receive appointments from the king and are supervised by the Ministry of Justice. The legal system, however, has not been immune to pressures for reform. Moroccan women, in particular, have sought reforms in the Mudawwanah, or code of personal status and family law, in an effort to change inequities in inheritance, divorce, and other matters that have traditionally favoured men. In 2004 parliament issued a new, more liberal, personal status code.
- Political process
Members of the new 270-member House of Councillors are chosen for nine-year terms by local councils, trade unions, and professional associations. All 325 members of the House of Representatives are directly elected to five-year terms by popular vote. The constitution prohibits a one-party system, and many parties exist. Legislative elections held in 1997 marked a significant change in Moroccan politics: a Democratic Bloc comprising a coalition of socialist, nationalist, and left-wing parties won a plurality of seats, producing the first government by a former opposition group in years and introducing a new element of dynamism into a stagnated political system. The National Entente, comprising three parties formerly in the government, became the largest opposition party.
The Ministry of the Interior retains considerable power, as do the security forces. Islamist groups have remained active on the political front, presenting an ongoing challenge to the regime. Some of the more moderate factions were politically co-opted when their representatives were elected to the 1997 parliament, but extremist groups have retained a significant power base within the universities and among unemployed young people and have occasionally resorted to violence.
Although all citizens are franchised and have equal rights with respect to education, employment, private property, and the right to strike, in reality differences abound, especially with regard to women. There are few women involved in the legislative or ministerial levels of government. King Muḥammad VI has attempted to rectify this situation, however, by appointing women as department heads and as royal counselors.
Military service lasts for 18 months in Morocco, and the country’s reserve obligation lasts until age 50. The country’s military consists of the Royal Armed Forces—this includes the army (the largest branch) and a small navy and air force—the National Police Force, the Royal Gendarmerie (mainly responsible for rural security), and the Auxiliary Forces. Internal security is generally effective, and acts of political violence are rare (one exception, a terrorist bombing in May 2003 in Casablanca, killed scores). The UN maintains a small observer force in Western Sahara, where a large number of Morocco’s troops are stationed. The Saharawi group Polisario maintains an active militia of an estimated 5,000 fighters in Western Sahara and has engaged in intermittent warfare with Moroccan forces since the 1980s.
- Health and welfare
Morocco has a relatively favourable ratio of physicians and other trained medical personnel to population. The government has emphasized preventive medicine by increasing the number of dispensaries and health centres. More than half of the rural population, however, still lacks access to these facilities. In addition, only a small portion of the rural population and not all of the urban population have access to safe drinking water. Infant mortality rates remain high, and at least one-third of the population experiences malnutrition. Diseases such as hepatitis remain prevalent, and disorders such as schistosomiasis are becoming more frequent with the expansion of irrigation.
Housing in Morocco ranges from the traditional to the ultramodern. In rural areas, some Moroccans still reside in ksour and agricultural villages. Living conditions in these places remain severe. Despite efforts by the government and some private groups to renovate and modernize the traditional medinas, access to public utilities in numerous city centres likewise remains limited. For many years the government tried to discourage the development of bidonvilles and other spontaneous settlements. More recently, however, it has provided these communities with electricity, piped water, and other facilities and encouraged residents to improve their structures. The government, along with private developers, has also promoted the construction of new housing units throughout the country, but these are largely inhabited by the middle class. “Clandestine” or illegal housing of a more permanent nature has grown up on the urban periphery. The government is seeking ways to regularize this type of housing by bringing it up to an acceptable standard and by providing it with basic services, albeit after construction has occurred.
Morocco allocates approximately one-fifth of its budget to education. Much of this is spent on building schools to accommodate the rapidly growing population. Education is mandatory for children between the ages of 7 and 13 years. In urban areas the majority of children in this age group attend school, though on a national scale the level of participation drops significantly. About three-fourths of school-age males attend school, but only about half of school-age girls; these proportions drop markedly in rural areas. Slightly more than half of the children go on to secondary education, including trade and technical schools. Of these, few seek higher education. Poor school attendance, particularly in rural areas, has meant a low rate of literacy, which is about two-fifths of the population.
Morocco has more than four dozen universities, institutes of higher learning, and polytechnics dispersed at urban centres throughout the country. Its leading institutions include Muḥammad V University in Rabat, the country’s largest university, with branches in Casablanca and Fès; the Hassan II Agriculture and Veterinary Institute in Rabat, which conducts leading social science research in addition to its agricultural specialties; and Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, a public English-language university inaugurated in 1995 with contributions from Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Culture Life of Morocco
Moroccan woman in Marrakesh, 2005. Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization. Through Moroccan history, Morocco, home of nomadic Berber tribes, hosted many people coming from the east (Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews, and Arabs), south (Africans), and north (Romans, Vandals, Moors, and Jews). All those civilizations have had an impact.
Each region possesses its own uniqueness, contributing to forging a national culture. Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its legacy and the preservation of its cultural identity. Ethnically and culturally speaking, Morocco can be considered the least Arabic among Arab countries. Most of its population is of Berber origins.
Moroccan cuisine has long been considered one of the most diversified in the world because of the nation's interaction with the outside world for centuries. It is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Jewish, and African influences.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Chicken is the most widely eaten meat. The most commonly eaten red meat is beef although lamb is preferred despite being relatively expensive. Couscous is the most famous Moroccan dish along with pastilla, tajine, and harira. The most popular drink is green tea with mint.
Moroccan literature is written in Arabic, Berber or French. It also contains literature produced in Andalusia. Under the Almohad dynasty Morocco experienced a period of prosperity and brilliance of learning. The Almohad built the Marrakech Kutubiya Mosque, which accommodated twenty-five thousand people but was also famed for its books, manuscripts, libraries, and book shops, which gave it its name. The Almohad Caliph, Abu Yakub, had a great love for collecting book and founded a great library that was eventually turned into a public library.
Modern Moroccan literature began in the 1930s, when Morocco's status as a French and Spanish protectorate gave its intellectuals an opportunity to enjoy contact with other Arabic and European literature and to produce literary works freely.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Morocco was an artistic center and attracted writers such as Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, and William S. Burroughs. Moroccan literature flourished, with novelists such as Mohamed Choukri, who wrote in Arabic, and Driss Chraïbi, who wrote in French. Other important Moroccan authors include Tahar ben Jelloun, Fouad Laroui, Mohammed Berrada, and Leila Abouzeid.
Moroccan music is predominantly Arab, but Andalusian and other imported influences have had a major effect on the country's musical character. Rock-influenced chaabi bands are widespread, as is trance music with historical origins in Muslim music.
Morocco is home to Andalusian classical music that is found throughout North Africa. It probably evolved under the Moors in Cordoba, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention. There are three varieties of Berber folk music: village and ritual music and the music performed by professional musicians. Chaabi (popular) is music consisting of numerous varieties descended from the multifarious forms of Moroccan folk music. Chaabi was originally performed in markets but is now found at any celebration or meeting.
History of Morocco
Situated in the northwest corner of Africa and, on a clear day, visible from the Spanish coast, Morocco has resisted outside invasion while serving as a meeting point for European, Eastern, and African civilizations throughout history. Its early inhabitants were Tamazight-speaking nomads; many of these became followers of Christianity and Judaism, which were introduced during a brief period of Roman rule. In the late 7th century, Arab invaders from the East brought Islam, which local Imazighen gradually assimilated. Sunni Islam triumphed over various sectarian tendencies in the 12th and 13th centuries under the doctrinally rigorous Almohad dynasty. The Christian reconquest of Spain in the later Middle Ages brought waves of Muslim and Jewish exiles from Spain to Morocco, injecting a Hispanic flavour into Moroccan urban life. Apart from some isolated coastal enclaves, however, Europeans failed to establish a permanent foothold in the area. In the 16th century, Ottoman invaders from Algeria attempted to add Morocco to their empire, thus threatening the country’s independence. They, too, were thwarted, leaving Morocco virtually the only Arab country never to experience Ottoman rule. In 1578, three kings fought and died near Ksar el-Kebir (Alcazarquivir), including the Portuguese monarch Sebastian. This decisive battle, known as the Battle of the Three Kings, was claimed as a Moroccan victory and put an end to European incursions onto Moroccan soil for three centuries. The 17th century saw the rise of the ʿAlawite dynasty of sharifs, who still rule Morocco today. This dynasty fostered trade and cultural relations with sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Arab lands, though religious tensions between Islam and Christendom often threatened the peace.
By the late 17th century, Morocco’s cultural and political identity as an Islamic monarchy was firmly established. The figure of the strong sultan was personified by Mawlāy Ismāʿīl (1672–1727), who used a slave army, known as the ʿAbīd al-Bukhārī, to subdue all parts of the country and establish centralized rule. Subsequent monarchs often used their prestige as religious leaders to contain internal conflicts caused by competition among tribes. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Europe was preoccupied with revolution and continental war, Morocco withdrew into a period of isolation. On the eve of the modern era, despite their geographic proximity, Moroccans and Europeans knew little about each other.
Moroccan crises (1905–06, 1911), two international crises centring on France’s attempts to control Morocco and on Germany’s concurrent attempts to stem French power. In 1904 France had concluded ...>>>Read On<<<
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