Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of over 32 million and an area of 446,550 km² (710,850 km² with Western Sahara). Morocco also administers most of the disputed region of the Western Sahara as the Southern Provinces(SONY PCG-5G2L battery). Morocco remains the only African state not to be a member of the African Union due to its unilateral withdrawal on November 12, 1984 over the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1982 by the African Union as a full member without the organization of a referendum of self-determination in the disputed territory of Western Sahara(SONY PCG-5G3L battery). Arabic name al-Mamlakat al-Maghribiyyah translates to "The Western Kingdom". Al-Maghrib, meaning "The West", is commonly used. For historical references, medieval Arab historians and geographers used to refer to Morocco as al-Maghrib al-Aqṣá and al-Maghrib al-Adná.
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers(SONY PCG-F305 battery), including the power to dissolve the parliament. Executive power is exercised by the government but the king's decisions usually override those of the government if there is a contradiction. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can also issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. The latest Parliamentary elections were held on November 25, 2011(SONY PCG-5J1L battery), and were considered by some neutral observers to be mostly free and fair. Voter turnout in these elections was estimated to be 43% of registered voters. The political capital of Morocco is Rabat, although the largest city is Casablanca; other major cities include Marrakesh, Tetouan, Tangier, Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador(SONY PCG-5J2L battery).
The Moroccan economy is generally diverse but very fragile. About 40% of Moroccans cannot read or write, and the country has high levels of extreme poverty and health care deprivation. Morocco also has a high level of economic inequality. The unemployment rates under the highly educated as well as the unskilled are very high and cause consistent social unrest in many cities and villages(SONY PCG-5K2L battery). In 2011, the UN's Human Development Index ranked Morocco as the 130th most developed country in the world.
Almost all Moroccans speak Berber, Moroccan Arabic or French as mother tongues. Hassaniya Arabic, sometimes considered as a variety of Moroccan Arabic, is spoken in the southern provinces (Western Sahara) in the country by a small population(SONY PCG-5L1L battery).
The full Arabic name al-Mamlakat al-Maghribiyyah (المملكة المغربية) translates to "The Western Kingdom". Al-Maghrib (المغرب), meaning "The West", is commonly used. For historical references, medieval Arab historians and geographers used to refer to Morocco as al-Maghrib al-Aqṣá (المغرب الأقصى, "The Farthest West"), disambiguating it from neighboring historical regions called al-Maghrib al-Awsaṭ (المغرب الأوسط, "The Middle West", Algeria) (SONY PCG-6S2L battery) and al-Maghrib al-Adná (المغرب الأدنى, "The Nearest West", Tunisia).
The English name "Morocco" originates from Spanish "Marruecos" or the Portuguese "Marrocos", from medieval Latin "Morroch", which referred to the name of the former Almoravid and Almohad capital, Marrakesh. In Persian Morocco is still called "Marrakesh". Until recent decades, Morocco was called "Marrakesh" in Middle Eastern Arabic. In Turkish, Morocco is called "Fas" which comes from the ancient Idrisid and Marinid capital, Fez(SONY PCG-6S3L battery).
The word "Marrakesh" is made of the Berber word combination Mour N Akoush (Mur N Akuc), meaning Land of God.
Main article: History of Morocco
The earliest well-known Moroccan independent state was the Berber kingdom of Mauretania under king Bocchus I. This kingdom of Mauretania (in northern Morocco, not to be confused with the present state of Mauritania) dates at least to 110 BC. The region remained a part of the Roman Empire until 429 AD when invading Vandals overran the area and Roman administrative presence came to an end(SONY PCG-6V1L battery).
Ruins of Chellah, Salé
Umayyad Muslims conquered the region in the 7th century, bringing their language, their system of government, and Islam, to which many of the Berbers slowly converted, mostly after the Arab rule receded. The first Muslim state, independent from the Abbasid Empire, in the area of modern Morocco, was the Kingdom of Nekor, an emirate in the Rif Mountains(SONY PCG-6W1L battery). It was founded by Salih I ibn Mansur in 710 AD, as a client state to the Rashidun Caliphate. According to medieval legend, Idris I fled to Morocco from the Abbasids' massacre against his tribe in Iraq and managed to convince the Awraba Berber tribes to break allegiance to the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. He founded the Idrisid Dynasty in 788 AD. Morocco later became a center of learning and a major regional power(SONY PCG-7111L battery). The Idrissids were dethroned in 927 by the Fatimid Caliphate and their Miknasa alies. The Miknasa princes, who had broken off relations with the Fatimids in 932, were removed from power by the Maghrawa of Sijilmasa in 980.
From the 11th century onwards, a series of powerful Berber dynasties arose. Under the Almoravid dynasty and the Almohad dynasty, Morocco dominated the Maghreb, Muslim-conquered Spain, and the western Mediterranean region(SONY PCG-71511M battery). In the 13th century the Merinids gained power over Morocco and strove to replicate the successes of the Almohads. In the 15th century the Reconquista ended Islamic rule in central and southern Iberia (modern day Spain + Portugal) and many Muslims and Jews fled to Morocco. Under the Saadi Dynasty, the first Moroccan dynasty initiated by ethnic Arabs since the Idrisids(SONY PCG-6W3L battery), the country would consolidate power and fight off Portuguese and Ottoman invaders, as in the battle of Ksar el Kebir. The reign of Ahmad al-Mansur brought new wealth and prestige to the Sultanate, and a massive invasion of the Songhay Empire was initiated.
However, managing the territories across the Sahara proved too difficult. After the death of al-Mansur the country was divided among his sons(SONY PCG-7113L battery). In 1666 the sultanate was reunited by the Alaouite dynasty, who have since been the ruling house in Morocco. The organization of the state developed with Ismail Ibn Sharif. With his Jaysh d'Ahl al-Rif (the Riffian Army) he seized Tangier from the English in 1684 and drove the Spanish from Larache in 1689(SONY PCG-7133L battery).
In 1912, after the First Moroccan Crisis and the Agadir Crisis, the Treaty of Fez was signed, effectively dividing Morocco into a French and a Spanish protectorate. In 1956, after forty-four years of occupation, Morocco regained independence from France and Spain as the "Kingdom of Morocco"(SONY PCG-7Z1L battery).
Population of Morocco
The area of present-day Morocco has been inhabited since Paleolithic times (at least since 200,000 BC, as attested by signs of the Aterian culture), a period when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. In Paleolithic ages, the geography of Morocco resembled a savanna more than the present-day arid landscape. In the classical period, Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should not be confused with the modern-day nation of Mauritania(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery). The suggested skeletal similarities between the robust Iberomaurusian "Mechta-Afalou" burials and European Cro-Magnon remains, as well as the case for continuity of the bearers of the Iberomaurusian industry from Morocco with later northwest African populations suggested by the dental evidence should be considered. Current scientific debate is concerned with determining the relative contributions of different periods of gene flow to the current gene pool of North Africans(SONY PCG-8Y1L battery). Anatomically modern humans are known to have been present in North Africa during the Upper Paleolithic 175,000 years ago as attested by the Aterian culture. With apparent continuity, 22,000 years ago, the Aterian was succeeded by the Iberomaurusian culture which shared similarities with Iberian cultures. The Iberomaurusian was succeeded by the Bell-Beaker culture in Morocco(SONY PCG-8Y2L battery).
Additionally, recent studies have discovered a close mitochondrial link between Berbers and the Saami of Scandinavia which confirms that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area of southwestern Europe was the source of late-glacial expansions of hunter-gatherers that repopulated northern Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum and reveals a direct maternal link between those European hunter-gatherer populations and the Berbers(SONY PCG-8Z2L battery).
Jewish people (whether of Hebrew or Berber descent) historically lived in Morocco. In any case, over the centuries, nearly all Berbers were Islamicized. Still, a large number of Berber Jews remained in Morocco especially after the arrival of Sephardi Jews following the Alhambra decree. In the early 20th century, numerous Moroccan Jews emigrated to the United States and Italy, after Italian Jews established study centers and schools to bring the Enlightenment to Moroccan Jews(SONY PCG-8Z1L battery).
In 1948, before the creation of Israel, Berber Jews numbered approximately 265,000 in Morocco. The hostilities and disruption of the war of independence and other wars in the Mideast caused more Jews to leave for Palestine, Europe and the United States. Seven thousand live there now (mostly in a few major cities) (SONY PCG-7112L battery). In relation to the commemoration of Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World, numerous academic studies were undertaken about the Moroccan Jews of Morocco. The late king Hassan II reached out internationally to descendants of Jews who had lived in the country and encouraged returns and visits, with recognition of their contributions to the nation, but there has not been markedly increased immigration(SONY PCG-6W2L battery).
Romans and Morocco
A Roman mosaic in Volubilis
North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the early Classical period. Major early substantial settlements of the Phoenicians were at Chellah, Lixus and Mogador, with Mogador being a Phoenician colony as early as the early 6th century BC. The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the wider Mediterranean(SONY PCG-5K1L battery), as this strategic region formed part of the Roman Empire, as Mauretania Tingitana. In the 5th century, as the Roman Empire declined, the region fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, 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(SONY VGP-BPL12 battery). Christianity was introduced in the 2nd century and gained converts in the towns and among slaves and Berber farmers.
The Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou, High Atlas. Built by the Berbers from the 14th century onwards, a Kasbah was a single family stronghold (as opposed to a Ksar: a fortified tribal village).
Islamic expansion began in the 7th century. In 670 AD, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi(SONY VGP-BPS12 battery), a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascus. After the outbreak of the Great Berber Revolt in 739, the region's Berber population asserted its independence, forming states and kingdoms such as the Miknasa of Sijilmasa and the Barghawata. Under Idris ibn Abdallah, who was appointed by the Awraba Berbers of Volubilis to be their representative, the country soon cut ties and broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalus(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery). The Idrisids established Fes as their capital and Morocco became a centre of Muslim learning and a major regional power.
Morocco would reach its height under a series of Berber dynasties that replaced the Idrisids after the 11th century. From the 13th century onwards the country saw an importation of Banu Hilal Arab tribes as Mercenaries. Their arrival was to have a critical effect on the nation(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery): due to them nomadism returned, urban civilization fell and the country's inhabitants were quickly becoming Ruined. The Almoravids, the Almohads, the Marinids, the Wattasids and finally the Saadi dynasty would see Morocco rule most of Northwest Africa, as well as large sections of Islamic Iberia, or Al-Andalus. Following the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, large numbers of Muslims and Jews were forced to flee to Morocco. (SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery)
The Sultan Abderrahmane of Morocco, by Eugène Delacroix
After the Saadi, 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. (SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery) The organization of the kingdom developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727), who, against the opposition of local tribes began to create a unified state. According to Elizabeth Allo Isichei, "In 1520, there was a famine in Morocco so terrible that for a long time other events were dated by it. It has been suggested that the population of Morocco fell from 5 to under 3 million between the early sixteenth and nineteenth centuries(SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery)."
Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation in 1777. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the Atlantic Ocean. On 20 December 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III declared that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery). The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.
Pre-1956 Tangier had a highly heterogeneous population that included 40,000 Muslims, 30,000 Europeans and 15,000 Jews.
Main articles: Portuguese Empire, French colonial empire, and Spanish Protectorate of Morocco
Successful Portuguese efforts to invade and control the Atlantic coast in the 15th century did not profoundly affect the Mediterranean heart of Morocco(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery). After the Napoleonic Wars, Egypt and the North African Maghreb became increasingly ungovernable from Istanbul, 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(SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery).
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 reaction from the German Empire; the crisis of June 1905 was resolved at the Algeciras Conference in Spain in 1906, which formalized France's "special position" and entrusted policing of Morocco jointly to France and Spain(SONY VGP-BPS21B battery). The Agadir Crisis provoked by the Germans, 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) served in the French army in both World War I and World War II, and in the Spanish Nationalist Army in the Spanish Civil War and after (Regulares) (SONY VGP-BPS21 battery).
Death of Spanish general Margallo during the Melilla War. Le Petit Journal, 13 November 1893.
Under the French protectorate, Moroccan natives were denied their basic human rights such as freedom of speech, the right of gathering and travel in their own country. French settlers built for themselves modern European-like cities called "villages" or "villes" (French for "city") next to poor old Arab cities called "Medinas"(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery). The French colonial system forbade native Moroccans from living, working, and traveling into the French quarters. The French education system taught a minority of noble native Moroccan families about French history, art and culture, while disregarding their native language and culture. Colonial authorities exerted tighter control on religious schools and universities, namely "madrassas" and Quaraouaine university(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery). The rise of a young Moroccan intellectual class gave birth to nationalist movements whose main goals were to restore the governance of the country to its own people.
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(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery), 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(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery).
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 and Spanish protectorates. The most notable violence occurred in Oujda where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery). Operations by the newly created "Jaish al-tahrir" (Liberation Army), were launched on October 1, 1955. Jaish al-tahrir was created by "Comité de Libération du Maghreb Arabe" (Arab Maghreb Liberation Committee) in Cairo, Egypt to constitute a resistance movement against occupation. 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(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery).
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 "Taourat al-malik wa shaab" (The revolution of the King and the People) and it is celebrated every August 20.
Further information: Insurgency in the Maghreb (2002–present)
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery)
On November 18, 2006, Morocco celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. 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(SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery). The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956. Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule were marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s ("Marcha Verde", Green March) after demanding its reintegration from Spain since independence(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery), but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara.)
Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997. Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status by the United States in June 2004 and has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.
Morocco has always been known for its Islamic liberalism and openness towards the Western world(SONY VGP-BPS14B battery). King Mohammed VI of Morocco with his ruling elite are democratically-minded, showing tolerance within the limits of territorial integrity and traditional laws and customs.
Bin el Ouidane Dam, Beni-Mellal
Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with three small Spanish-controlled exclaves, Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera), Algeria to the east, and Western Sahara to the south(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). Since Morocco controls most of Western Sahara, its de facto southern boundary is with Mauritania.
The internationally recognized borders of the country lie between latitudes 27° and 36°N, and longitudes 1° and 14°W. Adding Western Sahara, Morocco lies mostly between 21° and 36°N, and 1° and 17°W (the Ras Nouadhibou peninsula is slightly south of 21° and west of 17°) (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery).
The geography of Morocco spans from the Atlantic Ocean, to mountainous areas, to the Sahara (desert). Morocco is a Northern African country, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and the annexed Western Sahara.
A large part of Morocco is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains are located mainly in the center and the south of the country(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery). The Rif Mountains are located in the north of the country. Both ranges are mainly inhabited by the Berber people. At 172,402 sq mi (446,519 km2), Morocco is the fifty-seventh largest country in the world (after Uzbekistan). Algeria borders Morocco to the east and southeast though the border between the two countries has been closed since 1994(SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery).
Spanish territory in North Africa neighbouring Morocco comprises five enclaves on the Mediterranean coast: Ceuta, Melilla, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Peñón de Alhucemas, the Chafarinas islands, and the disputed islet Perejil. Off the Atlantic coast the Canary Islands belong to Spain, whereas Madeira to the north is Portuguese. To the north, Morocco is bordered by the Strait of Gibraltar(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery), where international shipping has unimpeded transit passage between the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The Rif mountains stretch over 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 northeast. Most of the southeast portion of the country is in the Sahara Desert and as such is generally sparsely populated and unproductive economically(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery). Most of the population lives to the north of these mountains, while 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(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery).
Morocco's capital city is Rabat; its largest city is its main port, Casablanca. Other cities include Agadir, Essaouira, Fes, Marrakech, Meknes, Mohammadia, Oujda, Ouarzazat, Safi, Salé, Tangier and Tétouan.
Morocco is represented in the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 geographical encoding standard by the symbol MA. This code was used as the basis for Morocco's internet domain, .ma. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery)
The climate is Mediterranean in the North and in some mountains (West of Atlas), which becomes more extreme towards the interior regions. The terrain is such that the coastal plains are rich and accordingly, they comprise the backbone for agriculture, especially in the North. Forests cover about 12% of the land while arable land accounts for 18%; 5% is irrigated(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ4000 battery). In the Atlas (Middle Atlas), there are several different climates: Mediterranean (with some more humid and fresher variants), Maritime Temperate (with some humid and fresher variants too) that allow different species of oaks, moss carpets, junipers, atlantic cedars and many other plants, to form extensive and very rich humid cloud forests. In the highest peaks a different climate may occur. On the other side of Atlas mountains (East Atlas), the climate changes(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ460E battery), due to the barrier/shelter effect of these mountainous system, turning it very dry and extremely warm during the summer (that can last several months), especially on the lowlands and on the valleys faced to the Sahara. Here it starts the big Desert Sahara and it is perfectly visible, for example, on the Draa Valley, on which it is possible to find oases, sand dunes and rocky desert landscapes. So the climate in this region is desert(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440N battery).
The Barbary lion, hunted to extinction in the wild, was a subspieces native to Morocco and is a national emblem
Morocco is known for its biodiversity; Avifauna being the most notable. The avifauna of Morocco includes a total of 454 species, five of which have been introduced by humans, and 156 are rarely or accidentally seen. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ440E battery)
The last Barbary lion in the wild was shot in the Atlas Mountains in 1922. The other two primary predators of northern Africa, the Atlas bear and Barbary leopard, are now extinct and critically endangered, respectively.
Further information: List of birds of Morocco, List of the Butterflies of Morocco, List of mammals of Morocco, List of reptiles of Morocco, Flora of Morocco, and List of ecoregions in Morocco(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ430E battery).
Imports and exports
Main article: Trade in Morocco
Farmers in Morocco’s fertile coastal plains grow sugar beets, grains, fruits, and vegetables in order to sell in Europe. Morocco’s major export is foods, all kinds of food, from nuts to meat to fruits. Many farmer raise livestock, mainly sheep. Although Morocco is rich in foods one of their major imports are manufactured goods, which may contain foods. They may also contain cloths, school supplies, etc(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ280E battery).
Moroccan trade is still dominated by its main import and export partner France, although France's share in Moroccan trade is declining, in favour of the US, the Gulf Region and China. If seen as a single entity, the EU is by far Morocco's largest trading partner. In recent years, Morocco has reduced its dependence on phosphate exports, emerging as an exporter of manufactured and agricultural products, and as a growing tourism destination(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery). However, its competitiveness in basic manufactured goods, such as textiles, is hampered by low labour productivity and high wages. Morocco is dependent on imported fuel and its food import requirement can rise substantially in drought years, as in 2007. Although Morocco runs a structural trade deficit, this is typically offset by substantial services earnings from tourism and large remittance inflows from the diaspora, and the country normally runs a small current-account surplus(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery).
Most Moroccans practice Sunni Islam and are of Arab and Berber ethnic background. Arabs and Berbers make up about 99.1% of the Moroccan population., which each one constituting about half the population of the state.
Morocco has been inhabited for at least the last 200,000 years. Berbers are the indigenous people and still make up the bulk of the population. Muslim Arabs conquered the territory that would become Morocco in the 7th and 11th centuries(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery), at the time under the rule of various late Byzantine Roman leaders and indigenous Berber and Romano-Berber principalities, laying the foundation for the emergence of an Arab-Berber culture. The Arab occupation was brief and was ended by revolting Berbers who later founded numerous Muslim Berber kingdoms. A sizeable portion of the population is identified as Haratin and Gnawa (or Gnaoua), black or mixed race(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery). Morocco's Jewish minority (265,000 in 1948) has decreased significantly and numbers about 5,500 (See History of the Jews in Morocco). Most of the 100,000 foreign residents are French or Spanish. Some of them are colonists' descendants, who primarily work for European multinational companies, others are married to Moroccans and preferred to settle in Morocco. Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million Europeans. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery)
According to The Medieval Legends, In the 12th and 13th centuries there was an invasion of Arab nomads from The Fatimid Empire located in North Eastern Africa, known as Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym tribes who were a bunch of Arabized Libyan Tribes founded in the Fayum Oasis in Egypt and Cyrenaica of Libya, swept the Eastern Maghreb, but recent studies make clear no significant genetic differences exist between (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery)Arabic speaking and non-Arabic speaking populations, highlighting that in common with most of the Arab World, Arabization was mainly via acculturation of non-Arab indigenous populations over time. The Moorish refugees from Spain settled in the coast-towns. According to the European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa were genetically closer to Iberians than to Black Sub-Saharan Africans and Middle Easterners(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery).
Ethnolinguistic Groups in Morocco
The largest concentration of Moroccan migrants outside Morocco is in France, which has reportedly over one million Moroccans of up to the third generation. The Netherlands hosts about 360,000 Moroccans and Belgium hosts about 300,000 Moroccans. There are also large Moroccan communities in Spain (about 700,000 Moroccans), the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Israel, Canada and the United States. Moroccan (Berber) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery) Jews are thought to constitute the second biggest Jewish ethnic subgroup in Israel.
Most people live west of the Atlas Mountains and north of the Rif Mountains, two mountain ranges that insulate the country from the Sahara Desert. Casablanca is the major center of commerce and industry and the leading port. Rabat is the seat of government; Tangier is the gateway to Morocco from Spain and also a major port(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery). Fes is the cultural and religious center of Arab-Muslim culture in Morocco. Agadir, Nador, and Al Hoceima are the major Berber cultural centers, in addition to their economic importance. Marrakesh is the top touristic city of the country and an international celebrity magnet.
There is a European professional expatriate and retiree population of about 60,000 especially in Casablanca and Marrakesh. They are mainly of French or Spanish descent. Many of them are teachers, technicians, international managers, in addition to the retirees(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery).
In Morocco, there are an estimated 15 to 18 million Berber speakers, making up about 50% to 65% of the population. The dubious 2004 population census, conducted by the government, says that only 28.07% of the total population actually speak Berber.
Berber intellectuals and activists who dispute this figure cite various counter-arguments such as the lack of linguistic training of the census officers(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery), lack of accurate linguistic census planning, absence of interest by the government in mother-tongue census and its focus on counting how many people speak French, and the difficulty or inability of census officers to distinguish between people who happen to master Moroccan Arabic as a second language and those who actually speak it as a mother tongue(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B battery).
On the other hand, it is generally accepted that the numbers of Berber speakers in Morocco was, and possibly still is, on a sharp decline due to the anti-Berber government's policies in education and media the deprived Berber from development and flourishing in urban areas. These anti-Berber policies came to an end in 2011 after the February 20th popular protests that lead to(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery), among many other things, the recognition of Berber as an official language of the country. Moreover, in the 20th century, mass migrations of Berber speakers occurred from the countryside to the cities where French and Arabic dominate and where Berber is not integrated in the economic and governmental institutions, forcing those migrants to learn another language and teach it to their children, who in turn would grow up in a city that doesn't speak Berber or doesn't encourage it(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery).
Main article: Languages of Morocco
An overview of the different Arabic dialects
Morocco's official languages are Arabic and the Berber. The country's distinctive group of Moroccan Arabic dialects is referred to as Darija. Approximately 89.84% of the whole population can communicate to some degree in Moroccan Arabic. The Berber language is spoken in three dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhit and Central Atlas Tamazight) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21M battery).
As it is in Algeria and Tunisia, the French language is widely used in governmental institutions, media, mid-size and large companies, international commerce with French speaking countries, and often in international diplomacy. French is taught as an obligatory language at all schools. It is the medium of education and the curriculum language of all science and economics programs at all universities except in the programs of Arabic language, law or theology(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38M battery). Al Akhawayn University is the only one that offers all programs in English.
Spanish is spoken by a very small population in the north of the country especially around the Spanish exclaves Melilla and Ceuta. While French language dominance in Morocco is a direct result of the French occupation, the Spanish occupation of large parts of Morocco for about half a century didn't result in any strong Spanish language presence(Sony VGN-NR11S/S Battery). Spanish today is almost invisible in the mainstream media and in the educational system.
According to the 2004 census, 2.19 million Moroccans spoke a foreign language other than French. English, while far behind French in terms of number of speakers, is the first foreign language of choice, since French is obligatory, among educated youth and professionals. As a result of national education reforms entering into force in late 2002(Sony VGN-NR11M/S Battery), English is taught in most public schools from the fourth grade on. French is still taught nationally from the earliest grades.
There are about 2 million Moroccan Berber-speakers living in Europe. They represent about 80% of all Moroccans in the Netherlands, about 70% of Moroccans in Belgium, about 50% of Moroccans in France, Germany, and Spain, and about 25% of all Moroccans in Italy(Sony VGN-NR260E/S Battery).
Linguistically, Berber belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family, and has many accents and dialects. Berber is known by Arabic-speaking Moroccans as "Shelha", "Rifiya", or "Susiya". Classical Arabic of the Middle East had used the word "al-Barbariyya" (The equivalent of "Berber" in English) since the first contacts between Berbers and Arabs 14 centuries ago. Although, there is a dominating trend, that occurred in the 2000s (decade) (Sony VGN-NR11Z/S Battery), among all Arabic-speaking media in both the Middle East and North Africa of using the word "al-Amazighiyya" to refer to the Berber language and "al-Amazigh" to refer to the Berbers, as the Arabic word "Barbari" means both "Berber" and "Barbaric"/"uncivilized". The strong campaigns and discourses of Berber cultural activists who master Arabic have managed to influenece Arab media and Arab intellectuals as far as the Persian Gulf(Sony VGN-NR11Z/T Battery). Berber activists and intellectuals have succeeded in promoting their own cultural terminology, their own symbols like the Berber flag, and their own identity keywords on a large scale in Arab and European media. This made the Berber language and Berber culture go from unnoticed to unavoidable(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21E battery).
Berber village in the Ourika valley, High Atlas
Distribution of Y haplotype E-M81 E1b1b1b in North Africa, West Asia and Europe.
Main article: Moroccan genetics
Recent studies make clear no significant genetic differences exist between Arabic and non-Arabic speaking populations, HLA DNA data suggest that most Moroccans are of a Berber origin and that Arabs who invaded North Africa and Spain in the 7th century did not substantially contribute to the gene pool. The Moorish refugees from Spain settled in the coast-towns. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21Z battery) According to a 2000 article in European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa were genetically closer to Iberians than to West Africans and Middle Easterners
The different loci studied revealed close similarity between the Berbers and other north African groups, mainly with Moroccan Arabic-speakers, which is in accord with the hypothesis that the current Moroccan population has a strong Berber background. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21J battery)
Main article: Politics of Morocco
For other political parties see List of political parties in Morocco. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Morocco.
The current King of Morocco, Mohammed VI
Morocco is a de jure constitutional parliamentary monarchy with an elected parliament. With the 2011 constitutional reforms, the King of Morocco still retains few executive powers whereas those of the prime minister have been enlarged(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11 battery). Opposition political parties are legal. Politics of Morocco take place in a framework of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister of Morocco is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives of Morocco and the Assembly of Councillors(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M battery). The Moroccan Constitution provides for a monarchy with a Parliament and an independent judiciary.
The constitution grants the king honorific powers; he is both the secular political leader and the "Commander of the Faithful" as a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. He presides over the Council of Ministers; appoints the Prime Minister from the political party that has won the most seats in the parliamentary elections(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S battery), and on recommendations from the latter, appoints the members of the government. The previous constitution(note constitution of 1996) theoretically allows the king to terminate the tenure of any minister, and after consultation with the heads of the higher and lower Assemblies, to dissolve the Parliament, suspend the constitution, call for new elections, or rule by decree, the only time this happened was in 1965(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E battery). The King is formally the chief of the military. Upon the death of his father Mohammed V, King Hassan II succeeded to the throne in 1961. He ruled Morocco for the next 38 years, until he died in 1999. His son, King Mohammed VI, assumed the throne in July 1999. Following protests in Morocco and elsewhere in the Arab world in early 2011, King Mohammed VI announced the establishment of a committee aimed at preparing the text of a new constitution(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21J battery), which included further limitations on the powers of the monarch.
Following the March 1998 elections, a coalition government headed by opposition socialist leader Abderrahmane Youssoufi and composed largely of ministers drawn from opposition parties, was formed. Prime Minister Youssoufi's government was the first ever government drawn primarily from opposition parties(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21L battery), and also represents the first opportunity for a coalition of socialists, left-of-center, and nationalist parties to be included in the government until October 2002. It was also the first time in the modern political history of the Arab world that the opposition assumed power following an election. The current government is headed by Abbas El Fassi(Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M battery).
The legislature's building in Rabat
Since the constitutional reform of 1996, the bicameral legislature consists of two chambers. The Assembly of Representatives of Morocco (Majlis an-Nuwwâb/Assemblée des Répresentants) has 325 members elected for a five-year term, 295 elected in multi-seat constituencies and 30 in national lists consisting only of women. The Assembly of Councillors (Majlis al-Mustasharin) has 270 members, elected for a nine-year term, elected by local councils (162 seats) (Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M/H battery), professional chambers (91 seats) and wage-earners (27 seats). The Parliament's powers, though still relatively limited, were expanded under the 1992 and 1996 and even further in the 2011 constitutional revisions and include budgetary matters, approving bills, questioning ministers, and establishing ad hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate the government's actions(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21M battery). The lower chamber of Parliament may dissolve the government through a vote of no confidence.
2011 Constitutional reforms
On 1 July voters approved the draft of a new constitution which entered into effect on 29 July 2011.
The constitutional reforms consisted of the following:
The Berber (Amazigh) language is an official state language along with Arabic.
The state preserves and protects the Hassānīya language (spoken by some 200,000 people in the Moroccan southern Sahara) and all the linguistic components of the Moroccan culture as a heritage of the nation(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21Z battery)
Since 2011, the king has the obligation to appoint a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections. Previously, he could appoint any person in this position regardless of the elections results.
The king is no longer "holy and sacred" but the "integrity of his person" is "inviolable", which means that he is still uncriticizable by anybody(Sony VAIO VGN-FW32J battery).
High administrative and diplomatic posts (including ambassadors, CEOs of state-owned companies, provincial and regional governors), are now appointed by the prime minister and the ministerial council which is presided by the king, previously the latter exclusively held this power.
The prime minister is the head of government and president of the council of government, he has the power to dissolve the parliament(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31E battery).
The prime minister will preside over the council of Government, which prepares the general policy of the state. Previously the king held this position.