Morocco is located in North Africa, bordered to the north by the Mediterranean Sea and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The Strait of Gibraltar lies in a middle point between both coasts. Morocco shares borders with Mauritania in the south and with Algeria in the east.
There are two mountain ranges in Morocco: the Rif Mountains and the Atlas. The Rif Mountains reach the Mediterranean coast, with its highest peak Tidirhine (2,456 m). The Atlas Mountain range consists of the Middle Atlas (the northwestern range), the High Atlas which is connected to the southern range – the Anti-Atlas. In the High Atlas, which separates the Atlantic coast from the Sahara, lies the highest peak of North Africa (Djebel Toubkal 4,165 m).
The total area of the Kingdom of Morocco is 710,850km2. The coastline is 3,500km long. The climate in Morocco is generally mild, particularly in the north area, where rains are heavier in winter. Morocco experiences a typical Mediterranean climate with mild wet winters and hot dry summers. The Atlas Mountain temperatures are much lower comparing to the rest of the country, with heavier rains and snowfalls during winter months. Summer temperatures in Morocco are high, with little, or no rain. In the Sahara region – the largest sandy desert in the world the average daily temperatures range from 35 Celsius (95F) to 14 Celsius (55F) at night. The varied climate in Morocco led to a variety of plants including olives, almonds, walnuts, figs, apples, cherries, apricots, or plums. The north is known for cedar forests, green oak, cork trees, and Argan trees, while the arid or semi-arid zone and oases are known for halva plants, palm trees, dates, and cactus.
Morocco’s population is around 35 million according to the latest statistics. The Amazigh (Berber) population is about 80%. Morocco has been the home of the Berbers since neolithic times. The rest of the population are descendants of Arab, Andalusian, Jewish, African, and European origins. A quarter of the population is made up of indigenous Berber tribes, coming from the Rif and Atlas mountains, and Sub Saharan regions.
In 2002, 55% of the Moroccan population lived in cities. The greater part of the Moroccan population lives on the fertile plains along the coast. South and east of the Atlas Mountains are dry steppes and deserts.
The official languages are Tamazight (Berber) recognized in 2011, Arabic, and French, all of them used by the government and by the official administration.
Morocco’s official religion is Islam. However, a significant population of indigenous Berber tribes living mainly in the country’s mountainous and desert regions still practice old pre-Islamic beliefs and preserves their language and culture. Ninety percent of the Muslim population in Morocco are Sunni Muslims. There is also a Christian and Jewish minority that coexisted for centuries with the other religious groups in the Moroccan society.
The Kingdom of Morocco is the only monarchy in North Africa. Present King Mohammed VI became a monarch in 1999, following his father Hassan II. King Mohammed VI initiated political and economic changes and an investigation into human rights abuses. A key reform was the Mudawana, a law that grants more rights to women. During the “Arab Spring” of 2010, a new constitution was introduced, expanding the powers of parliament and the prime minister but leaving the king with authority over the government.
Moroccan economy depends mainly on export, agriculture, and tourism. The country exports citrus fruits and early vegetables to the European market and has 24 ports, of which there are 11 trade and fishing ports. The most important ports are Tangier, Casablanca, Safi, Mohammedia, Agadir, Nador, and Jorf Lasfar. The growing importance of tourism becomes a crucial part of the country’s economy. The Moroccan government set up numerous loan funds to stimulate growth and competition among small businesses. Morocco’s sunny weather, secluded beaches, diverse landscape, and rich cultural heritage create an outstanding potential for tourism, which the government has been actively developing.
Morocco is a mixture of cultures, religions, ancient traditions, and heritage. It’s one of the more liberal countries of Africa. Morocco combines the ancient and modern side of the African, European, and Middle East cultures. Each city has a distinctive and different character. The unique blend of big cities such as Casablanca, Rabat or Agadir boasts a variety of diversions, including cinemas, restaurants, and shopping in modern boutiques, while Marrakech and southern parts of Morocco provides travellers with the open-air ancient markets in which merchants sell a wide array of local arts and crafts items alongside foods and imported goods from former caravan routes.
The blend of ancient and modern is home to a wide range of attractions in Morocco, many of them listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beyond cities, the diverse landscape of Morocco awaits. From the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast, through the rocky mountains, red canyons, fertile valleys, palm oases to the rocky and sandy deserts of the southern regions, Morocco offers a variety of activities for a wide range of travellers.
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