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Morocco officially the Kingdom of Morocco is a country located in North Africa. It has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with two small Spanish autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla), and Mauritania to the south via its Western Saharan territories.

Background History

In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, successive Moorish 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. 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. Morocco virtually annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, but final resolution on 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. Improvements in human rights have occurred and there is a largely free press. Despite the continuing reforms, ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Kingdom of Morocco
  • conventional short form: Morocco
  • local long form: Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah
  • local short form: Al Maghrib


  • name: Rabat
  • population: 1,770,000
  • geographic coordinates: 34 01 N, 6 49 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 2 March 1956 (from France)

Government Type:

  • Constitutional Monarchy

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: King Mohammed VI (since 30 July 1999)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane (since 29 November 2011)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
  • elections: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch following legislative elections

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: Bicameral Parliament consists of the Chamber of Counselors (or upper house) and Chamber of Representatives (or lower house) (395 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court (judges are appointed on the recommendation of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, presided over by the monarch)

People & Society


  • 32,309,239 (global rank: 38)
  • growth rate: 1.054% (global rank: 112)


  • noun: Moroccan(s)
  • adjective: Moroccan

Largest Cities:

  • Casablanca: 3.245 million; Rabat (capital): 1.77 million; Fes: 1.044 million; Marrakech: 909,000; Tangier: 768,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Arab-Berber: 99%, other: 1%


  • Muslim: 99% (official), Christian: 1%, Jewish: ~6,000


  • Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French (often the language of business, government, and diplomacy)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 76.11 years (global rank: 79)
  • male: 73.04 years
  • female: 79.32 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 26.49 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 75)
  • male: 31.16 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 21.59 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2009 est.) (global rank: 143)
  • people living with AIDS: 26,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 71)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 52.3%
  • male: 65.7%
  • female: 39.6%


Overview: Morocco has capitalized on its proximity to Europe and relatively low labor costs to build a diverse, open, market-oriented economy. In the 1980s Morocco pursued austerity measures and pro-market reforms, overseen by the IMF. Since taking the throne in 1999, King Mohammed VI has presided over a stable economy marked by steady growth, low inflation, and generally declining government debt. Industrial development strategies and infrastructure improvements - most visibly illustrated by a new port and free trade zone near Tangier - are improving Morocco's competitiveness. Key sectors of the economy include agriculture, tourism, phosphates, textiles, apparel, and subcomponents. In 2006 Morocco entered into a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United States; it remains the only African country to have one. In 2008 Morocco entered into an Advanced Status agreement with the Euripean Union. Despite Morocco's economic progress, the country suffers from high unemployment and poverty. In 2011, high food and fuel prices strained the government's budget and widened the country's current account deficit. Key economic challenges for Morocco include fighting corruption, reducing government spending, reforming the education system and judiciary, addressing socioeconomic disparities, and building more diverse, higher value-added industries.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $163 billion (global rank: 59)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $5,100 (global rank: 146)
  • real growth rate: 4.6% (global rank: 88)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 16.6%, industry: 32.3%, services: 51%


  • currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 8.081


  • population below poverty line: 15%
  • unemployment rate: 9.2%

Agricultural Products:

  • barley, wheat, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, olives, livestock, wine


  • phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, leather goods, textiles, construction, energy, tourism

Export Commodities:

  • clothing and textiles, electric components, inorganic chemicals, transistors, crude minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, citrus fruits, vegetables, fish

Import Commodities:

  • crude petroleum, textile fabric, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas and electricity, transistors, plastics



  • Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara


  • total: 446,550 sq km
  • land: 446,300 sq km
  • water: 250 sq km
  • comparative: slightly larger than California


  • Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior

Land Use:

  • arable land: 19%
  • permanent crops: 2%
  • other: 79%

Natural Resources:

  • phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt

Current Environmental Issues:

  • land degradation/desertification (soil erosion resulting from farming of marginal areas, overgrazing, destruction of vegetation); water supplies contaminated by raw sewage; siltation of reservoirs; oil pollution of coastal waters

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: claims and administers Western Sahara whose sovereignty remains unresolved; Morocco protests Spain's control over the coastal enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera, the islands of Penon de Alhucemas and Islas Chafarinas, and surrounding waters; both countries claim Isla Perejil (Leila Island); discussions have not progressed on a comprehensive maritime delimitation, setting limits on resource exploration and refugee interdiction, since Morocco's 2002 rejection of Spain's unilateral designation of a median line from the Canary Islands; Morocco serves as one of the primary launching areas of illegal migration into Spain from North Africa; Algeria's border with Morocco remains an irritant to bilateral relations, each nation accusing the other of harboring militants and arms smuggling; the FLN's assertions of a claim to Chirac Pastures in southeastern Morocco is a dormant dispute.
  • illicit drugs:one of the world's largest producers of illicit hashish; shipments of hashish mostly directed to Western Europe; transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; significant consumer of cannabis

Published: Monday, September 08, 2008