Morocco's long struggle for independence fromFrance ended in 1956. The internationalized city ofTangier was 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 in 1997.GeographyLocation:
Northern Africa, bordering theNorth Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara Geographic coordinates:
32 00 N, 5 00 WArea:
total: 446,550 sq km; land: 446,300 sq km; water: 250 sq kmClimate:
Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior
31,167,783 (July 2002 est.) Population growth rate:
1.68% (2002 est.) Nationality:
adjective: MoroccanEthnic groups:
Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%
Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy
Morocco faces the problems typical of developing countries - restraining government spending, reducing constraints on private activity and foreign trade, and achieving sustainable economic growth. Following structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is now fully convertible for current account transactions, and reforms of the financial sector have been implemented. Droughts depressed activity in the key agricultural sector and contributed to a stagnant economy in 1999 and 2000. During that time, however, Morocco reported large foreign exchange inflows from the sale of a mobile telephone license and partial privatization of the state-owned telecommunications company. Favorable rainfall in 2001 led to a growth of 5%. Formidable long-term challenges include: servicing the external debt; preparing the economy for freer trade with the EU; and improving education and attracting foreign investment to boost living standards and job prospects forMorocco's youth.Industries:
food processing; construction; phosphate and gold mining Agriculture products
: barley, wheat, citrus, wine, vegetables, olives; livestock
COMMUNICATIONS Telephones main lines in use:
1.391 million (1998) Telephones - mobile cellular:
:6.64 million (1997) Television broadcast stations:
35 (plus 66 repeaters) (1995) Televisions:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (2000)Internet users:
total: total: 1,907 km ; standard gauge: 1,907 km 1.435-m gauge (1,003 km electrified; 540 km double-tracked) (2001)Highways:
total: 57,847 km
paved: 30,254 km (including 327 km of expressways)
unpaved: 27,593 km (1998)Waterways:
Conventional long form:Kingdom ofMorocco
conventional short form: Morocco
local short form: Al Maghrib
local long form: Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah Government type
: constitutional monarchyCapital
: Rabat Administrative divisions:
37 provinces and 2 wilayas*; Agadir, Al Hoceima, Azilal, Beni Mellal, Ben Slimane, Boulemane, Casablanca*, Chaouen, El Jadida, El Kelaa des Sraghna, Er Rachidia, Essaouira, Fes, Figuig, Guelmim, Ifrane, Kenitra, Khemisset, Khenifra, Khouribga, Laayoune, Larache, Marrakech, Meknes, Nador, Ouarzazate, Oujda, Rabat-Sale*, Safi, Settat, Sidi Kacem, Tanger, Tan-Tan, Taounate, Taroudannt, Tata, Taza, Tetouan, Tiznit
note: three additional provinces of Ad Dakhla (Oued Eddahab), Boujdour, and Es Smara as well as parts of Tan-Tan and Laayoune fall within Moroccan-claimed Western Sahara; decentralization/regionalization law passed by the legislature in March 1997 created many new provinces/regions; specific details and scope of the reorganization not yet availableIndependence:
2 March 1956 (fromFrance)Constitution:
10 March 1972, revised4 September 1992, amended (to create bicameral legislature) September 1996Legal system:
based on Islamic law and French and Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of Supreme Court
Chief of state: King MOHAMED VI (since 23 July 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Driss JETTOU (since 9 October 2002)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch following legislative elections
: Supreme Court (judges are appointed on the recommendation of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, presided over by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders:
Action Party or PA [Muhammad EL IDRISSI]; Alliance of Liberties or ADL [Ali BELHAJ]; Annahj Addimocrati or Annahj [Abdellah EL HARIF]; Avant Garde Social Democratic Party or PADS [Ahmed BENJELLOUN]; Citizen Forces or FC [Abderrahman LAHJOUJI]; Citizen's Initiatives for Development [Mohamed BENHAMOU]; Constitutional Union or UC [Mohamed ABIED (interim)]; Democratic and Independence Party or PDI [Abdelwahed MAACH]; Democratic and Social Movement or MDS [Mahmoud ARCHANE]; Democratic Socialist Party or PSD [Aissa OUARDIGHI]; Democratic Union or UD [Bouazza IKKEN]; Environment and Development Party or PED [Ahmed EL ALAMI]; Front of Democratic Forces or FFD [Thami EL KHYARI]; Istiqlal Party (Independence Party) or IP [Abbas El FASSI]; Justice and Development Party (note - formerly the Party of Justice and Development) or PJD [Abdelkrim EL KHATIB]; Moroccan Liberal Party or PML [Mohamed ZIANE]; National Democratic Party or PND [Abdallah KADIRI]; National Ittihadi Congress Party or CNI [Abdelmajid BOUZOUBAA]; National Popular Movement or MNP [Mahjoubi AHERDANE]; National Rally of Independents or RNI [Ahmed OSMAN]; National Union of Popular Forces or UNFP [Abdellah IBRAHIM]; Parti Al Ahd or Al Ahd [Najib EL OUAZZANI, chairman]; Party of Progress and Socialism or PPS [Ismail ALAOUI]; Party of Renewent and Equity or PRE [Chakir ACHABAR]; Party of the Unified Socialist Left or GSU [Mohamed Ben Said AIT IDDER]; Popular Movement or MP [Mohamed LAENSER]; Reform and Development Party or PRD [Abderrahmane EL KOUHEN]; Social Center Party or PSC [Lahcen MADIH]; Socialist Union of Popular Forces or USFP [Abderrahman EL-YOUSSOUFI]
Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%
Unlike other North African nations,Morocco has been largely occupied by one group people for as long as recorded history can recall. The Berbers, or Imazighen (men of the land), settled in the area thousands of years ago and at one time controlled all of the land between Morocco and Egypt.
The early Berbers were unmoved by the colonizing Phoenicians, and even the Romans did little to upset the Berber way of life after the sack of Carthage in 146 BC.
Islam burst onto the world stage in the 7th century when the Arab armies swept out of Arabia. Quickly conquering Egypt, the Arabs controlled all of North Africa by the start of the 8th century. By the next century much ofNorth Africa had fragmented, with the move towards unitedMorocco steadily growing. A fundamentalist Berber movement emerged from the chaos caused by the Arab invasion, overrunningMorocco and Muslim Andalusia (in Spain). The Almoravids founded Marrakesh as their capital, but they were soon replaced by the Almohads.
After a number of short-lived dynasties rose and fell, the Alawite family secured a stranglehold in the 1630s that remains firm to this day. Although it was rarely a smooth ride, this pragmatic dynasty managed to keep Morocco independent for more than three centuries.
Enter the European traders in the late 19th century, and a long era of colonial renovations. Suddenly France, Spain and Germany were all keen on hijacking the country for its strategic position and rich trade resources. France won out and occupied virtually the entire country by 1912. Spain clung to a small coastal protectorate and Tangier was declared an international zone.
Mohammed V promoted himself to king in 1957 and was succeeded four years later by his son, Hassan II. This leader minds by staging the Green March into the Western Sahara, an area formerly held by Spain. With a force of 350,000 volunteers, Hassan's followers overcame the indigenous Sahrawis to claim the mineral-rich region as their own.
But by the 1960s it had become clear that the 100,000 or so inhabitants of the 'territory' wanted independence.Western Sahara's Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia al-Hamra andRio de Oro (Polisario) didn't take kindly to the invasion and embarked on a long and gruesome war of independence against Morocco. In 1991, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire and more recently decided to 'remain seized of the matter'. In other words,Western Sahara's official status remains in question thanks toMorocco's continued muscle flexing. While the Moroccan masses applauded the southern invasion, it left nearby Algeria about as happy as the Western Saharans themselves. Morocco's relations with this particular war-torn neighbour have been poor ever since.
In July 1999 King Hassan II, who had served as absolute monarch (despite recent, semi-democratic changes to the constitution) for 38 years, was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince sidi Mohammed. King Mohammed VI has promised to purge corruption from the government, allow more freedom of the press and institute the odd democratic reform just as soon as he gets a chance. A baker's dozen of dad's cronies have indeed gotten the axe, and Mohammed did pardon a couple of journalists imprisoned for questioning the prime minister's policies, although seven newspapers were subsequently shut down after they mistook the king's leniency for true editorial autonomy. Much-anticipated democratic reforms are a rocky proposition in this country still stuck in a feudalist rut, but it looks like the young king may well give it his best shot.Taken From: