Morocco -- Geography --
Official Name: Kingdom of Morocco
Capital City: Rabat
Official languages Arabic, others commonly used unofficially.
Currency Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Ethnic groups : 99.1% Arab-Berber, 0.7% other, 0.2% Jewish
Population: 2007 estimate 33,757,175
Land Area: Total 446,550 sq km
Land Divisions: 16 regions, 62 prefectures and provinces.
Morocco -- History --
The area of present-day Morocco has been inhabited since Neolithic times (at least since 8000 BC, as attested by signs of the Capsian culture).
Roman and pre-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.
What became modern Morocco in the seventh century, was an area of Berbers influenced by the Arabs, who brought their customs, culture, and Islam, to which most of the Berbers converted, forming states and kingdoms , sometimes after long-running series of civil wars.
Alaouite Dynasty 1666–1912
On December 20, 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. 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.
Morocco became a state of some interest in itself to the European Powers in the 1830’s, when France showed a strong interest .Later on the Treaty of Fez 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 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.
Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. 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 -- Politic --
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco, with vast executive powers, can dissolve government and deploy the military, among other prerogatives. Opposition political parties are legal, and several have been formed in recent years.
Morocco's history after independence and at the beginning of the reign of Hassan II was marked by a period of political tensions between the monarchy and opposition parties. Those years of tension are labeled by the opposition as the Years of Lead.
Many new laws and codes concerning all aspects of life are being or have been passed, most notable of which was the creation of the Mudawana - a code that gives women more rights. The Moroccan parliament is due to vote on these issues in spring 2007.
The 2003 Casablanca bombings and the need to fight the terrorist threat have led the government to pass a controversial anti-terrorism law that cracked down on terror suspects.
In mid-February 2007, a study published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that Morocco provides a valuable lesson in political and economic reform, which others in the Arab world can look upon.
Morocco -- Economy --
According to the African Development Bank, the GDP of Morocco accounts for 7% of the African continent. Morocco is the fifth economic power of Africa with a 2006 GDP of $152.5 billion at PPP ($58.1 billion at official exchange rates), after South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria (2001).
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; 7.45 million tourists visited the country in 2007.
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 about 0.5% of Morocco's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A UN survey estimated cannabis cultivation at about 1,340 square kilometres in Morocco's five northern provinces. This represents 10% of the total area and 27% of the arable lands of the surveyed territory and 1.5% 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.
Morocco has an unemployment rate of 7.7% (2006 Data) and a 1999 estimate by the CIA puts 19% of the Moroccan population under the poverty line.
Though working towards change, Morocco historically has utilized child labor on a large scale. In 1999, the Moroccan Government stated that over 500,000 children under the age of 15 were in the labor force.
Morocco has signed Free Trade Agreements with the European Union (to take effect 2010) and the United States. 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.
Morocco -- Culture --
Moroccan cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. This is a result of the centuries-long interaction of Morocco with the outside world. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Corsican, Portuguese, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and African cuisines.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Morocco. The most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco is beef; lamb is preferred, but is relatively expensive. The most popular drink is green tea with mint. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.
Modern Moroccan literature began in the 1930s. Two main factors gave Morocco a pulse toward witnessing the birth of a modern literature. Morocco, as a French and Spanish protectorate left Moroccan intellectuals the opportunity to exchange and to produce literary works freely enjoying the contact of other Arabic literature and Europe.