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المملكة المغربية
Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiya

Kingdom of Morocco
Flag of Morocco Coat of arms of Morocco
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: الله، الوطن، الملك
(Allāh, al Waţan, al Malik = God, Country, King)
Anthem: Hymne Chérifien
Location of Morocco
Capital Rabat
34°02′N 6°51′W
Largest city Casablanca
Official language(s) Arabic - French is widely used as a second language
Government Constitutional Monarchy
 - King Mohammed VI
 - Prime Minister Driss Jettou
Independence  
 - From France March 2, 1956 
 - From Spain April 7, 1956 
Area  
 - Total 446,550 km² (57th)
  172,414 sq mi 
 - Water (%) Negligible
Population  
 - 2005 est. 31,478,000 (37th)
 - Density 70/km² (122nd)
181/sq mi 
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $135.74 billion (54th)
 - Per capita $4,503 (109th)
HDI (2003) 0.631 (124th) – medium
Currency Dirham (MAD)
Time zone UTC (UTC+0)
 - Summer (DST) UTC (UTC+0)
Internet TLD .ma
Calling code +212
All data excluding Western Sahara, much of which Morocco is also in de facto military control over. It views as this area as its 'Southern Provinces', though this is disputed by the United Nations. The UN holds that Western Sahara is a non-decolonized territory belonging to the Sahrawi people, still awaiting a decision on its final status

The Kingdom of Morocco (Arabic: Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiya - المملكة المغربية‎) is a country in North Africa. It has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Algeria to the east, the Mediterranean Sea and Spain to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to its west. The border to the south is disputed. Morocco claims ownership of Western Sahara and has administered most of the territory since 1975.

Morocco, a constitutional monarchy, is the only African country that is not currently a member of the African Union. However, it is a member of the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mediterranean Dialogue group, Group of 77 and major non-NATO ally.

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Name

The full Arabic name of the country (Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiya) translates to The Western Kingdom. Al Maghrib (meaning The West) is commonly used. For historical references, historians used to refer to Morocco as Al Maghrib al Aqşá (The Furthest West), disambiguating it from the historical region called the Maghreb. The name Morocco in many other languages originates from the name of the former capital, Marrakech.

History

Main article: History of Morocco

The area of modern Morocco has been inhabited since Neolithic times, at least 8000 BC, as attested by signs of the Capsian culture, in a time when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. Many theorists believe the Berber language probably arrived at roughly the same time as agriculture (see Berber), and was adopted by the existing population as well as the immigrants that brought it. Modern genetic analyses have confirmed that various populations have contributed to the present-day population, including, in addition to the main ethnic groups - Berbers and Arabs - Phoenicians, Sephardic Jews, and sub-Saharan Africans. The Berbers, often referred to in modern ethnic activist circles as "Amazigh," are more commonly known as Berber or by their regional ethnic identity, such as Chleuh. In the classical period Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should not be confused with the modern country of Mauritania.

Roman and sub-Roman Morocco

North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the late Classical period. The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the wider Mediterranean, as this strategic region formed part of the Roman Empire, as Mauretania Tingitana. In the 5th century AD, as the Roman Empire declined, the region fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then Byzantine Greeks in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high mountains of most of modern Morocco remained unsubdued, and stayed in the hands of their Berber inhabitants.

Early Islamic Morocco

By the 7th century AD, the Arabs were in full expansion. It was in 670 AD that the first Arab invasions of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascus. He swept with his army into what is now Morocco in the year 683. Which he called "Maghreb al Aqsa" or "The Western kingdom".

What became modern Morocco in the 7th century, was the area invaded by the Arabs, who brought their customs, culture, and Islam, to which most of the Berbers converted, forming states such as the Kingdom of Nekor. The country soon broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad under Idris ibn Abdallah who founded the Idrisid Dynasty. The Idrisids established Fez as their capital and Morocco became a centre of learning and a major regional power.

Morocco would reach its height under a series of Berber origin dynasties that would replace the Arab Idrisids. First the Almoravids, then the Almohads would see Morocco rule most of Northwest Africa, as well as large sections of Islamic Iberia, or Al-Andalus. Under Islamic rule, Spanish cities such as Sevilla and Granada were places where the citizenry prospered under a tolerant rule which also focused on scholarly advances in science, mathematics, astronomy, geography as well as medicine.

However, Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula ended with the fall of Granada to the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Under the Catholic Inquisition, troops pillaged Granada amongst other Islamic cities and persecuted its citizens, Muslims and Jewish. Rather than face persecution and possible execution, many Muslims and Jews fled to Morocco. The Inquisitors, eager to abolish any trace of Islamic culture, destroyed the libraries in Muslim Spain, where thousands of priceless texts were kept.

Smaller states of the region, such as the Berghouata and Banu Isam, were conquered. The empire collapsed, however, with a long running series of civil wars.

Morocco 1666-1912

The Alaouite Dynasty eventually gained control. Morocco was facing aggression from Spain and the Ottoman Empire that was sweeping westward. The Alaouites succeeded in stabilizing their position, and while the kingdom was smaller than previous ones in the region it remained quite wealthy. In 1684 they annexed Tangier.

Morocco was the first nation, in 1777, to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the Atlantic ocean. At this time, American envoys tried to obtain protection from European powers but to no avail. On December 20, 1777, Morocco's Sultan declared that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage.

The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty. Signed by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, it has been in continuous effect since 1786. After the organization of the American government under the Constitution, President George Washington wrote a now infamous letter to the Sultan Sidi Mohamed strengthening the ties between the two countries. The United States legation (consulate) in Tangier is the first property the American government ever owned abroad. The building now houses the Tangier American Legation Museum.

European influence

Successful Portuguese efforts to control the Atlantic coast in the 15th century did not profoundly affect the Mediterranean heart of Morocco. After the Napoleonic Wars, Egypt and the North African maghreb became increasingly ungovernable from Constantinople, the resort of pirates under local beys, and as Europe industrialized, an increasingly prized potential for colonization. The Maghreb had far greater proven wealth than the unknown rest of Africa and a location of strategic importance affecting the exit from the Mediterranean. For the first time, Morocco became a state of some interest in itself to the European Powers. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830. Recognition by the United Kingdom in 1904 of France's sphere of influence in Morocco provoked a German reaction; the crisis of June 1905 was resolved at the Algeciras Conference, Spain in 1906, which formalized France's "special position" and entrusted policing of Morocco to France and Spain jointly. A second Moroccan crisis provoked by Berlin, increased tensions between European powers. The Treaty of Fez (signed on March 30, 1912) made Morocco a protectorate of France. By the same treaty, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern Saharan zones on November 27 that year.

Many Moroccan soldiers (Goumieres) who served in the French army assisted European and American troops in both World War I and World War II.

Resistance

Nationalist political parties, which subsequently arose under the French protectorate, based their arguments for Moroccan independence on such World War II declarations as the Atlantic Charter (a joint U.S.-British statement that set forth, among other things, the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they live). A manifesto of the Istiqlal Party (Independence party in English) in 1944 was one of the earliest public demands for independence. That party subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement.

France's exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French protectorate all over the country. The most notable occurred in Oujda where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets. Operations by the newly created "Armée de Libération", were launched on October 1, 1955. "L'Armée de Libération" was created by "Comité de Libération du Maghreb Arabe" (Arab Maghreb Liberation Committee) in Cairo, Egypt to constitute a resistance movement against occupation like the National Liberation Front in Algeria. Its goal was the return of King Mohammed V and the liberation of Algeria and Tunisia as well. France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year.

All those events helped increase the degree of solidarity between the people and the newly returned king. For this reason, the revolution that Morocco knew was called "la révolution du Roi et du Peuple" (The revolution of the King and the People) and it is celebrated every August 20.

Independence

Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956 and on April 7 of that year France officially relinquished its protectorate in Morocco. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish colonial possessions through military action were less successful. The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956 (see Tangier Crisis). Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His rule would be marked by political unrest, and the ruthless government response earned the name "the years of lead". The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south became part of the new Morocco in 1969. Morocco annexed Western Sahara during the 1970s, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara.)

Tentative political reform in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997. Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status in June 2004 and signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.

In 2003, Morocco's largest city, Casablanca suffered from terrorist attacks. The attacks were targeted against Western and Jewish places and left 33 civilians dead and more than 100 people injured, mostly Moroccans.

In 2006, Morocco celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence.

Politics

Main articles on politics and government of Morocco can be found at the Politics and government of Morocco series.

Morocco is a de jure constitutional monarchy, with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco, with vast executive powers, can dissolve government and deploy the military, among other responsibilities. Opposition political parties are legal and several have arisen in recent years.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Regions of Morocco
Different maps used to illustrate the area of Morocco
Enlarge
Different maps used to illustrate the area of Morocco

Morocco is divided into 16 regions [2]. As part of a 1997 decentralization/regionalization law passed by the legislature, 16 new regions were created. These 16 regions are:

Due to the conflict over Western Sahara, the status of both regions of "Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra" and "Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira" is disputed.

Geography

Map showing the climate in and around Morocco [1]
Enlarge
Map showing the climate in and around Morocco [1]
Main article: Geography of Morocco

See also List of cities in Morocco and Western Sahara

Algeria borders Morocco to the east and southeast though the border between the two countries has been closed since 1994. There are also four Spanish enclaves on the Mediterranean coast: Ceuta, Melilla, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera and Peñón de Alhucemas, as well as several islands including Perejil and Chafarinas. Off the Atlantic coast the Canary Islands belong to Spain, whereas Madeira to the north is Portuguese. To the north, Morocco is bordered by and controls part of the Strait of Gibraltar, giving it power over the waterways in and out of the Mediterranean sea. The Rif mountains occupy the region bordering the Mediterranean from the north-west to the north-east. The Atlas Mountains run down the backbone of the country, from the south west to the north east. Most of the south east portion of the country is in the Sahara Desert and as such is generally sparsely populated and unproductive economically. Most of the population lives to the north of these mountains, while to the south is the desert. To the south lies the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975 (see Green March). Morocco claims that the Western Sahara is part of its territory and refers to that as its Southern Provinces.

Morocco's capital city is Rabat, 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, Tan-Tan.

Climate

The climate is Mediterranean, which becomes more extreme towards the interior regions where it is mountainous. The terrain is such that the coastal plains are rich and accordingly, they comprise the backbone for agriculture. Forests cover about 12% of the land while arable land accounts for 18%. 5% is irrigated.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Morocco
The Central bank of Morocco (Bank Al Maghrib)
Enlarge
The Central bank of Morocco (Bank Al Maghrib)

Morocco has signed Free Trade Agreements with the European Union (to take effect 2010) and the United States of America. The United States Senate approved by a vote of 85 to 13 on July 22, 2004 the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, which will allow for 98% of the two-way trade of consumer and industrial products to be without tariffs. The agreement entered into force in January 2006.

Morocco's largest industry is the mining of phosphates. Its second largest source of income is from nationals living abroad who transfer money to relatives living in Morocco. The country's third largest source of revenue is tourism.

Morocco ranks among the world’s largest producers and exporters of cannabis, and its cultivation and sale provide the economic base for much of the population of northern Morocco. The cannabis is typically processed into hashish. This activity represents 0.57 per cent of Morocco's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), estimated at US$ 37.3 billion. A UN survey[1] estimated cannabis cultivation at about 1,340 square kilometres (515 sq mi) in Morocco's five northern provinces. This represents 10 % of the total area and 27 per cent of the arable lands of the surveyed territory and 1.5 per cent of Morocco's total arable land. Morocco is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and in 1992 Morocco passed legislation designed to implement the Convention.

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Date Added: 22/08/2006 14:52:53
 
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