Morocco Review


The Kingdom of Morocco is located in North Western Africa. It is bordered to the North by the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean sea, to the West by the Atlantic coast. Its neighboring country to the East is Algeria and to the South is Mauritania.

The territory of Morocco is approximately 710,8S0 square Kilometers. The Moroccan coast extends over 3,500 Km.

Morocco has primarily a Mediterranean climate. The Atlas region has sufficient rainfall with frequent snow. In the South, a desert climate prevails.

Main river: Draa (1,200 Km); Oum Rbia (600 Km); Sebou (500 Km); Moulouya (450 Km); Bouregreg (250 Km).

Main Mountains: Rif (2, 465 m); Middle Atlas (3,326 m); High Atlas (4,165 m); Anti Atlas (2,531 m).


The Population is approximately 25 million (1991) and it is concentrated in the largest cities:Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakesh, Fes, Tangier and Laayoun.

Arabic is the National language but French is widely spoken in the North and the South.

Islam is the State religion. Except for a rather small Jewish community, all Moroccans are Muslim. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion and states that the King is the "Amir Al Muminin" (the Commander of the faithful). Morocco has been known for centuries as a land of religious tolerance where Churches, Synagogues and Mosques coexist in peaceful harmony. Churches and Synagogues thrive especially in the large cities which now accommodate a large foreign community.


Before the arrival of the Arabs, the country was inhabited by Berbers who were influenced by Rome. In the year 681, the Arabs (led by Okba Ibn Nafi), brought with them a new language, Arabic, and a new religion, Islam. The Muslim troops, convinced that there was no more land beyond Morocco's Atlantic coast to conquer in the name of God, started to spread Islam throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. The Muslims, led by Tarik Ibn Ziad, crossed the Straight of Gibraltar, conquered Spain and Portugal but were stopped in Poitier (South of France).

In 788, Moulay Idriss created the Idrissid Dynasty and the first Muslim State in the West. The country has since been ruled by a number of dynasties (The Almoravides, The Almohades, The Merinides, and the Saadians).In 1660, the current ruling Alaouite Dynasty succeeded in keeping out invaders. Many coastal cities like Tangier, El Jadida, and Essaouira were occupied at different times by European powers, mainly Spain and Portugal.

In 1912, Morocco became a French protectorate while Spain occupied the North and the South of the country. After World War I, Tangier became an International Zone (occupied by over 20 Western countries, including the USA).

Morocco finally gained its Independence in 1956. The Saharan provinces (under Spanish control) were returned to the Kingdom after the "Green March" organized by King Hassan II in 1975. In spite of Moroccan independence, two cities (Sebta and Mellilia), in Northern Morocco are still administered by Spain.


In 1787, Morocco became the first nation to recognize the newly independent United States of America. A letter was addressed By the Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah to George Washington to tell him that he had instructed his naval vessels to respect and protect the ships of the American colonies. After the American Revolution, the United States concluded a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Morocco, still in effect today, which makes it the longest standing unbroken treaty that the United States has had with any nation.


The Kingdom of Morocco is an Islamic, Democratic and Social Constitutional Monarchy. It is an African country and belongs to the Maghreb region. Since the enthronement of His Majesty King Hassan II in 1961, Morocco has played a dynamic role in major international and regional organizations (The United nations, the Arab Maghreb Union, The Arab League, the Al Qods committee etc.)

The Constitution: the 1972 Moroccan Constitution, revised on September 4, 1992, guarantees : the freedom of movement, equal rights to education and to employment, multiple political parties, the right to strike and the respect of human rights as they are universally recognized.

The Government

The Executive Branch: - The Ring is the Head of State and the Spiritual Leader of the Nation. He appoints the Prime Minister, promulgates the laws and is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

The Government is composed of a Prime Minister and a Cabinet of Ministers (appointed by the King upon proposition of the Prime Minister). It is responsible to the King and the House of Representatives. It enacts the laws and oversees the bureaucracy.

The Legislative Branch: The Legislative branch consists of a Parliament elected for 6 years. There are 333 deputies including 2 women. Two-thirds of the members are elected by universal direct suffrage and one-third by indirect vote (municipal, labor and professional electoral college).

The Judiciary Branch: The Judiciary authority is independent from the Legislative and the Executive branches.

The judges are nominated by the King upon the proposal of the Higher Judiciary Council


Morocco's economy has become more diversified under the 1983 structural adjustment program which reoriented the Moroccan economy toward the private sector and created a more favorable climate for foreign investment.

Currency: the Dirham (DH) is the unit of currency ($1 US is currently valued at 9.50 DH). The Central Bank (Banque du Maroc) adjusts, on a daily basis, the rate of exchange of the dirham with respect to a "basket" of 20 foreign currencies.


Industry: mainly canned food and textile industries but also metallurgy, wood, chemicals and vehicle assembly.

Energy: efforts are being made to develop the production of energy in order to achieve self-sufficiency. Morocco is exploring the development of new sources of energy such as uranium and solar energy. The gas pipeline planned to link Algeria with Spain via Morocco will also be an important energy source.

Mining: Phosphates are considered to be Morocco's greatest natural resource (Morocco is the third largest producer and the world's first exporter of phosphates). Morocco also has large reserves of Phosphate rocks and produces enough lead, copper, coal and zinc for domestic consumption.

Agriculture: Morocco's agricultural production has two major parts : dry-land and irrigated farming. Dry- land farming occupies over 80~ of the arable land and is dominated by the production of cereals (wheat) and vegetables. Some of Morocco's greatest agricultural successes include:
- citrus (Morocco is the world's second exporter of citrus);
- large scale production of sugar beet and sugar cane;
- the development of early vegetables for export.


Exports more than doubled from approximately US $2 billion in 1990 to over US $4 billion in 1991. As a result of the 1983 structural adjustment program, almost 50 of Morocco's exports are consumer and semi-manufactured goods with a significant reduction of mineral and agricultural products.


This sector is considered to be one of the most dynamic sectors in Morocco's social and economic activity. The development of tourism in Morocco is linked to several factors: scenic variety, mild climate, the hospitality of its people and the numerous historic sites and monuments in the Imperial Cities (Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Marrakesh).


Both public and private school systems are available in Morocco. Public education is mandatory from 7 to 13 years of age. Education is free from primary to University level and is in general, bilingual (after Arabic, French is taught starting from third grade).

The school year starts in mid September and ends in June. It is divided in three trimesters (with a two-week school break both at the end of December and March).

The lengths of the different levels of education are as follows:

*Pre-school: 2 years
*Basic education: 6 years of primary school and 3 years of preparatory school.
*High school: 3 years

The school hours are 30 hours per week in primary school and between 30 and 34 hours in high school. The students who graduate from high school are awarded a diploma called "Baccalaureate" which enables them to attend the Universities or to take the entrance examination to one of the institutes of higher education.


Morocco is equipped with one of the most modern and competitive sports facilities. Some moroccan athletes achieved international recognition: Nawal Al Moutawakil (400 m hurdles gold medalist, 1984 Olympic Games), Said Aouita (5000 m, declared world champion in Cross Country for 1990-91 and gold medalist at the Los Angeles Olympic Games); Brahim Boutaib, (gold medalist at the Barcelona Olympic Games 1992). The Moroccan national soccer team took part in several world cup competitions (1970- 1982-1986) and is qualified for the World Cup USA'94.


National Holidays

January 1: New Year (Gregorian calendar)
January 11: Independence Manifesto
March 3: Throne Day
May 1: Labor Day
May 23: National Day (Amendment of the Constitution)
July 9: Youth Day (King's Birthday)
August 14: Commemoration of Oued Eddahab
August 20: Revolution of the King and the People
November 6: Commemoration of the Green March
November 18: Independence Day

Religious Holidays

They are observed for 2 working days. Since they are based on the Lunar calendar, their dates vary each year and are fixed after the sight of the moon.

1st of Moharram: New Year (Muslim calendar)
12th of Rabi Al Awal: Aid El Mawlid (Birth of the Prophet Mohamed)
1st of Shawwal: Aid El Fitr (end of Ramadan)
10th of Dhu Al Hijja: Aid El Adha (Commemoration of Abraham's sacrifice)