a flag for every occasion
Kingdom of Morocco
National name: al-Mamlaka al-Maghrebia
Ruler: King Muhammad VI (1999)
Prime Minister: Abderrahmane El Youssoufi (1998)
Area: 172,413 sq mi (446,550 sq km)
Population (2001 est.): 30,645,305 (average annual rate of natural increase: 1.8%); birth rate: 24.2/1000; infant mortality rate: 48.1/1000; density per sq mi: 178
Capital (1993 est.): Rabat, 1,220,000
Largest cities: Casablanca, 2,943,000; Marrakech, 602,000; Fez, 564,000; Salé, 521,000
Monetary unit: Dirham
Languages: Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects, Spanish
Ethnicity/race: Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%
Religions: Islam 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%
Literacy rate: 50% (1990)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1999 est.): $108 billion; per capita $3,600. Real growth rate: 0%. Inflation: 1.9%. Unemployment: 19% (1998 est.). Arable land: 21%. Agriculture: barley, wheat, citrus, wine, vegetables, olives; livestock. Labor force: 11 million (1997 est.); agriculture 50%, services 35%, industry 15% (1999 est.). Industries: phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, leather goods, textiles, construction, tourism. Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt. Exports: $7.1 billion (f.o.b., 1998): phosphates and fertilizers, food and beverages, minerals. Imports: $9.5 billion (f.o.b., 1998): semiprocessed goods, machinery and equipment, food and beverages, consumer goods, fuel. Major trading partners: France, Spain, India, Japan, Italy, U.S., Germany.
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 1.391 million (1998); mobile cellular: 116,645 (1998). Radio broadcast stations: AM 27, FM 25, shortwave 6 (1998). Radios: 6.64 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 35 repeaters) (1997). Televisions: 3.1 million (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 27 (1999).
Transportation: Railways: total: 1,907 km. Highways: total: 57,847 km; paved: 30,254 km (including 327 km of expressways); unpaved: 27,593 km (1998 est.). Ports and harbors: Agadir, El Jadida, Casablanca, El Jorf Lasfar, Kenitra, Mohammedia, Nador, Rabat, Safi, Tangier; also Spanish-controlled Ceuta and Melilla. Airports: 70 (1999 est.).
International disputes: claims and administers Western Sahara, but sovereignty is unresolved and the UN is attempting to hold a referendum on the issue; the UN-administered cease-fire has been in effect since September 1991; Spain controls five places of sovereignty (plazas de soberania) on and off the coast of Morocco—the coastal enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla which Morocco contests, as well as the islands of Penon de Alhucemas, Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and Islas Chafarinas.
Morocco, about one-tenth larger than California, lies across the Strait of Gibraltar on the Mediterranean and looks out on the Atlantic from the northwest shoulder of Africa. Algeria is to the east and Mauritania to the south. On the Atlantic coast there is a fertile plain. The Mediterranean coast is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains, running northeastward from the south to the Algerian frontier, average 11,000 ft (3,353 m) in elevation.
Morocco has been the home of the Berbers since the second millennium B.C. In A.D. 46, Morocco was annexed by Rome as part of the province of Mauritania until the Vandals overran this portion of the declining empire in the 5th century. The Arabs invaded circa 685, bringing Islam. The Berbers joined them in invading Spain in A.D. 711, but then revolted against them, resenting their secondary status. In 1086, Berbers took control of large areas of Moorish Spain until they were expelled in the 13th century.
The land was rarely unified, and was usually ruled by small tribal states. Conflicts between Berbers and Arabs were chronic. Portugal and Spain began invading Morocco, which helped to unify the land in defense. In 1660 Morocco came under the control of the Alawite dynasty. It is a sherif dynasty—descended from the prophet Muhammad—and rules Morocco to this day.
During the 17th and 18th centuries Morocco was one of the Barbary states, the headquarters of pirates who pillaged Mediterranean traders. European powers became interested in colonizing the country beginning in 1840, and there were frequent clashes with the French and Spanish. Finally, in 1904, France and Spain concluded a secret agreement that divided 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. Morocco became an even greater object of European rivalry by the turn of the century, leading almost to a European war in 1905 when Germany attempted to gain a foothold in the mineral-rich country. By terms of the Algeciras Conference (1906), the sultan of Morocco maintained control of his lands and France's privileges were curtailed. The conference was an telling indication of what was to come in World War I, with Germany and Austria-Hungary lining up on one side of the territorial dispute, and France, Britain, and the United States on the other.
In 1912, the sultan of Morocco, Moulay Abd al-Hafid, permitted French protectorate status. Nationalism began to grow during World War II. Sultan Mohammed V was deposed by the French in 1953 and replaced by his uncle, but nationalist agitation forced his return in 1955. On his death on Feb. 26, 1961, his son, Hassan, became king. France and Spain recognized the independence and sovereignty of Morocco in 1956. Sultan Sidi Muhammad formed a constitutional government, and in 1961 Moulay Hassan succeeded his father as Hassan II.
Maintaining excellent relations with the West, King Hassan became the second Arab leader to meet with an Israeli leader when, on July 21, 1986, Prime Minister Shimon Peres came to Morocco. Morocco was also the first Arab state to condemn the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In the 1990s King Hassan promulgated “Hassanian democracy,” which allowed for significant political freedom while at the same time retaining ultimate power for the monarch. In Aug. 1999, King Hassan II died after 38 years on the throne and his son, Prince Sidi Muhammad, was crowned King Muhammad VI. Since then Muhammad VI has pledged to make the political system more open, to allow freedom of expression, and to support economic reform. He has also advocated giving more rights to women, which has been opposed by Islamic fundamentalists. The entrenched political elite and the military have also been leery of some reform proposals. With about 20% of the population living in dire poverty, economic expansion is a prime goal.
Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara has been repeatedly criticized by the international community. In the 1970s, tens of thousands of Moroccans crossed the border into Spanish Sahara to back their government's contention that the northern part of the territory was historically part of Morocco. Spain, which had controlled the territory since 1912, withdrew in 1976, creating a power vacuum that was filled by Morocco in the north and Mauritania in the south. When Mauritania withdrew in Aug. 1979, Morocco overran the remainder of the territory. A rebel group, the Polisario Front, has fought against Morocco since 1976 for the independence of Western Sahara on behalf of the indigenous Saharawis. In 1981, King Hassan agreed to a cease-fire with a referendum under international supervision to decide the fate of the Sahara territory, but the dispute remains unresolved.
See Also: Morocco Statistics Directorate (In French Only) www.statistic.gov.ma/
(Source: www.infoplease.com )
(this website was designed using Microsoft Notepad, and is best viewed using a computer of some kind.) - Alex Martindale, for Kerry McGregor, 7/11/2001