مَراکِش (به عربی: المغرب، به بربری: مُراکُش Murakuc / أمرّوک Amerruk)، کشوری است در شمال غربی آفریقا. مراکش ساحلی طولانی با اقیانوس اطلس دارد که از شمال به جبلالطارق و دریای مدیترانه میرسد. کشور مراکش از سوی خاور با کشور الجزایر، از غرب با اقیانوس اطلس، از جنوب با کشور موریتانی و از شمال با دریای مدیترانه همسایهاست.
پایتخت مراکش شهر رباط است.
نام مراکش در فارسی از نام پایتخت کهن یعنی شهر مراکش برگرفته شده است، که واژهای بربر به معنای "سرزمین خدا" است. نام Morocco در انگلیسی هم تغییر یافته واژه مراکش است. تا همین چند دهه اخیر هم این سرزمین در زبان عربی مراکش خوانده میشد.
نام «مراکش» در فارسی امروز معمولتر از «مغرب» است زیرا نام بینالمللی پادشاهی مغرب مراکو است که برگرفته از نام مراکش است بنابراین کاربرد نام مراکش بجای مغرب در زبان فارسی بهتر است بویژه اینکه دولت آن کشور نام رسمی بینالمللی مراکو را برسمیت میشناسد و نه نام عربی المغرب. ترکیه تنها کشور دنیا است که از پادشاهی مراکش با نام کشور فاس نام میبرد.
ابوالحسن نجفی در غلط ننویسیم مینویسد: «[این کشور] در قدیم مغرب نامیده میشده [...] مراکش فقط ایالتی از این کشور، [...] و نیز نام کرسی این ایالت است. علت این اطلاق جزء بر کلّ ظاهراً این بوده که در دوران اخیر کلمهٔ مغرب به کشورهای اروپا و آمریکا اطلاق شدهاست و در کتابهای فارسی، برای رفع ابهام، لفظِ مراکش را بر کلّ کشور مغرب تعمیم دادهاند. [...] باید دانست که هم در متون گذشتهٔ فارسی و عربی و هم در اصطلاح امروزهٔ کشورهای عربیزبان، نام این کشور مغرب است و نه مراکش.»
نوشتار اصلی: تاریخ مراکش
قبایل بربری یا آمازیغ ساکن منطقه شمال آفریقا از دیرباز دارای روابطی گسترده با ملل و تمدنهای کهن فنیقی، کارتاژی، رومانی، وندالی و بیزانسی بودهاند. با این وجود هیچ یک از این تمدنها توانائی تسلط کامل بر منطقه را نداشتند. چرا که قبایل ساکن آن دارای صفات متمایزی چون ایستادگی و مقاومت و همچنین آزادیخواهی و پایبندی به فرهنگ و زبان خود بودند.
با رسیدن دعوت اسلامی به آن منطقه در سال ۵۰ هجری قمری (برابر سال ۶۶۵ میلادی) ساکنان منطقه با اهداف اسلامی آشنا گشته و در نتیجه دین نوین اسلام را پذیرا شدند.
اسلام سرانجام در سال ۱۷۰ هجری قمری (برابر سال ۷۸۶ میلادی) و بطور مشخص پس از گریز یکی از نوادگان محمد، پیامبر اسلام، معروف به مولا ادریس بن عبدالله بن الحسن بن الحسن ابن علی از دست حاکمان عباسی بغداد به صورت ریشهای و بنیادین در منطقه گسترش یافته تا اینکه مراکشیان وی را به امیرالمؤمنین بودن برگزیده و پس از بیعت و اعلام وفاداری، با کمک او نخستین دولت اسلامی مستقل از خلافت مشرق عربی را بر پا نمودند که نام دولت ادریسیان را به خود گرفت.
ساکنان و حکمرانان مراکش، گذشته از تفاوتهای قبیلهای و ریشهای خود همواره کوشیده بودند تا دین اسلام را نه تنها در سراسر کشور بلکه در مناطق جنوب و دیگر سرزمینهای آفریقایی و همچنین در مناطق شمال و کشورهایی همچون اسپانیا، پرتغال و جنوب فرانسه گسترش دهند.
سالهای ۱۹۱۲-۱۸۷۳ مصادف با حکومتهای حسن اول، عبدالعزیز و مولای حفیظ است. این دوران در پرتو رقابت قدرتهای بزرگ استعماری، مراکش استقلال خود را حفظ میکند. لیکن در سال ۱۹۱۲ پس از موافقتنامههای الجزیره (۱۹۰۶ م)، فرانسه بخش عظیمی از مراکش را اشغال میکند و از این سال به بعد مبارزه علنی مردم علیه سلطه فرانسه تحت رهبری عبدالکریم خطاب آغاز میگردد. در سال ۱۹۲۷ میلادی، محمدبن یوسف (محمد پنجم) به تخت سلطنت مینشیند و بعلت مخالفت با سلطه فرانسویان بدون اینکه خواهان گسستن کامل از فرانسه باشد تبدیل به یک چهره ملی میگردد که در آینده به پدر استقلال مراکش شهرت مییابد. فرانسه که حاضر به پذیرش استقلال مراکش نبود کوشید از برخی گروهها علیه محمد پنجم استفاده نماید که در رأس آنها الجلاوی بود.
از اینرو به خواسته هواداران الجلاوی که خواستار عزل محد پنجم بودند جواب مثبت داد و محمدپنجم را بهمراه خانوادهاش به ماداگاسکار تبعید نمود. تبعید محمد پنجم نقش مثبتی در تحقق استقلال این کشور ایفاد نمود و مردم خواستار بازگشت وی و اعلام استقلال کشور شدند. از طرفی قیام الجزایر علیه فرانسه عاملی در جهت تضعیف حضور فرانسه در مراکش گردید و فرانسه بمنظور جلوگیری از سرایت این قیام بر تمامی منطقه و فشارهای مردمی در داخل بتدریج زمینه را برای پذیرش خواست عمومی مردم مراکش فراهم نمود. در ۱۶ نوامبر ۱۹۵۵ محمد پنجم به کشور بازگشت و در ۳ مارس ۱۹۵۶ فرانسه استقلال کشور مراکش را به رسمیت شناخت. پس از استقلال مراکش ملک محمد پنجم (تا مارس ۱۹۶۱)، ملک حسن دوم (تا ژوئیه ۱۹۹۹) بر تخت سلطنت مینشینند و از این پس تا کنون نیز ملک محمد ششم بر این کشور حکومت دارد.
پس از تشکیل دولت ادریسیان، بدین سوی، مراکش شاهد حکمرانی دودمانهای متعددی به شرح زیر بودهاست:
از سال ۱۶۶۰ میلادی سلسله شرفای علوی توسط مولای رشید در مراکش بنیان گذارده شدکه حکومت کنونی این کشور و حاکمان آن از همین دودمان بشمار میآیند.
کشور پادشاهی مراکش که در زبان عربی به آن «المملکه المغربیه» گفته میشود نخستین کشور شکل گرفته مغرب مسلمان است. این کشور در ایران به نام «مراکش» شناخته میشود. در سازمانهای بینالمللی از جمله سازمان ملل متحد برحسب مورد زبانی، بنام Maroc یا Morocco است چرا که واژه مغرب، مفهوم گسترده «مغرب بزرگ» (شامل کشورهای الجزایر، تونس و مراکش) را افاده میکند. مراکش نزدیکترین کشور آفریقایی به اروپا است که به وسیله تنگه جبل الطارق از آن جدا میگردد و در واقع فاصله میان مراکش و اسپانیا حدود ۱۵ کیلومتر است.
مهمترین بندرهای مراکش عبارتاند از: کازابلانکا (دارالبیضاء)، طنجه، ناظور، محمدیه، آسفی و اگادیر. مهمترین شهرهای مراکش نیز: رباط (پایتخت سیاسی _ اداری)، کازابلانکا (دارای مرکزیت اقتصادی _ تجاری)، فاس (دارای نوعی مرکزیت مذهبی - فرهنگی)، مراکش (دژ فرهنگ بربر)، طنجه، اگادیر (شهرهای توریستی)، ایفرن، مکناس، وجده، تطوان، محمدیه، قنیطره (کنیترا) هستند.
همچنین فهرست شهرهای مراکش را ببینید.
مراکش در دورترین قسمت شمال غربی قاره آفریقا واقع شدهاست. از شمال به دریای مدیترانه و جبل الطارق (۴۶۸ کیلومتر) و از غرب به اقیانوس اطلس (۲۷۰۰ کیلومتر) منتهی میشود. این کشور از شرق با الجزایر (۱۵۵۹ کیلومتر) و از جنوب با سرزمین مورد اختلاف صحرای غربی (۴۴۳ کیلومتر) هم مرز است. بر اساس نظر دولت و مردم مراکش که صحرای غربی را به طور تاریخی از آن خود میدانند، این کشور در جنوب با موریتانی هم مرز میگردد.
شایان ذکر است دو شهر سبته و ملیلا که مشرف بر دریای مدیترانه هستند در حاکمیت ۵ قرنی اسپانیا قرار دارند و از نظر دولت مراکش این دوشهر و چند جزیره کوچک دیگر متعلق به آنها است اما اسپانیا این سرزمینها را اسپانیایی میداند که در این صورت ۳/۶ کیلومتر به خاطر شهر سبته و ۶/۹ کیلومتر به خاطر شهر ملیلا مرز زمینی با اسپانیا وجود دارد.
بطور کلی مراکش دارای آب و هوایی معتدل و بارانی است. این کشور در مناطق شمالی تحت تأثیر آب و هوای مدیترانهای و در مناطق غربی و شمال غرب متأثر از آّب و هوای اقیانوس اطلس است. در مناطق داخلی، مراکش دارای آب و هوای قارهای بوده و در رشته کوههای اطلس بارش برف و باران بیشتر میشود. مناطق جنوبی دارای آب و هوای گرم و بیابانی است.
جمعیت مراکش (با احتساب صحرای غربی) حدود ۳۱ میلیون نفر است که ۸/۴۹ درصد را مردان و ۲/۵۰ درصد را زنان تشکیل دادهاند از این تعداد جمعیت ۴۳ درصد در مناطق روستایی و ۵۷ درصد در مناطق شهری زندگی میکنند. تراکم جمعیت در هر کیلومتر مربع ۴۱ نفر، میانگین نفرات خانوار ۴/۵ و نرخ رشد سالیانه جمعیت ۶۴/۱ درصد است. میزان بیسوادی در کشور نیز حدود ۵۰ درصد جمعیت است که نرخ بیسوادی در زنان ۶۲ درصد و در مردان حدود ۳۸ درصد است. نرخ بیکاری در این کشور بالغ بر۲۲ درصد جمعیت فعال است.
مراکش در ساحل جنوبی دریای مدیترانه و جنوب تنگه جبل الطارق قرار دارد که توسط آن ارتباط میان دریای مدیترانه و اقیانوس اطلس فراهم میشود. از سویی مراکش از جایگاهی راهبردی در میان کشورهای شمال آفریقا برخوردار است چرا که علاوه بر واقع شدن در حوزه جنوبی دریای مدیترانه و جنوب تنگه جبل الطارق و نزدیکی به اروپا (نزدیکترین کشور آفریقایی به اروپاست)، این کشور در مجاور اقیانوس اطلس است اندوخته عظیم ماهیان گوناگون در آبهای نزدیک به این سرزمین قرار دارند. دسترسی به دریای آزاد و وجود منابع عظیم فسفات و دیگر مواد کانی بر اهمیت مراکش میافزاید و چنانچه صحرای غربی را بهعنوان بخشی از این کشور در نظر بگیریم بر امکانات راهبردی آن افزوده میگردد چرا که صحرای غربی دارای ذخایر نفتی، فسفات و گاز است و ذخایر ماهیان اقیانوس اطلس در آبهای مجاور صحرای غربی بسیار غنی است.
شهرهای بزرگ مراکش[ویرایش]
نوشتار اصلی: ساختار سیاسی مراکش
برای اطلاعات بیشتر در مورد ساختار پارلمانی و احزاب در مراکش پارلمان و احزاب مراکش را ببینید.
همچنین مراکش عضو سازمانهای بینالمللی زیر است:
ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, EBRD, FAO, G-۷۷، IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory)، ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer)، OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE (partner)، PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNOCI, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
مراکش در فرایند تاریخی خود همواره از فرهنگی نسبتاً غنی و متنوع برخوردار بوده و هر نقطه آن نیز ضمن وابستگی به این میراث فرهنگی، ویژگیهای خاص خود را دارا بودهاست. جمعیت این کشور از دو قوم سامی عرب و بربرآمازیغ تشکیل شده که علاوه بر نقاط مشترک از جمله دین اسلام، میراث بر فرهنگ خاص خود هستند. بربرهای مراکش در تشکیل و تداوم فرهنگ و تمدن سازی کشور خود بمیزان اعراب شریک بودهاند. از لحاظ تاریخی، مراکش در زمان هارون الرشید از سلطه بغداد خارج شده و تحت تسلط ترکان عثمانی نیز درنیامد. از اینرو با حفظ عنصر اسلامی ـ ملی، بر فرهنگ مراکشی خود تأکید ورزیدهاست.
مراکش تنها کشور در جهان عرب است که از سوی امپراتوری عثمانی مورد هجوم و تسخیر قرار نگرفت. بطور کلی میتوان اذعان داشت که مراکش در مسیر تاریخی خود، از تبادلات فرهنگی با بیگانگان جز آنچه را که خودشان خواستهاند، سرباز زدهاند و هویت فرهنگی خویش را در اولویت اول قرار دادهاند. مردم مراکش همواره تلاش نمودهاند در گذر زمان به سنتهای مذهبی ـ ملی خود حتی در پوشیدن لباس سنتی خود، پایبند باشند. <! ===هنر در مراکش ===> <! === سینما در مراکش ===>
موسیقی در مراکش[ویرایش]
دین در مراکش[ویرایش]
مطابق اصل ششم قانون اساسی مراکش، دین رسمی کشور اسلام است. قانون اساسی در نوع مذهب سکوت اختیار کرده لیکن از دیرباز (قرن ۱۱ میلادی) مذهب مالکی (امام مالک بن انس) در این کشور مستقر گشته و اکثریت قریب به اتفاق مردم پیرو مکتب فقهی امام مالک هستند. حاکمیت نیز تأکید زیادی بر وحدت مذهبی بهعنوان یکی از پایههای وحدت مردم دارد. در مراکش تعداد اندکی مسیحی و یهودی زندگی میکنند. قسمت اعظم یهودیان مراکش حدود ۲۵۰ هزار نفر که در حال حاضرنسل آنها در اسرائیل به ۹۰۰ هزار نفر میرسد در زمان ملک حسن دوم به اسرائیل مهاجرت کردند. یهودیان فعلی در شهر کازابلانکا و مراکش مکناس و فاس و طنجه و صویره و رباط و سلا اقامت دارند. بر پایه اصل ششم قانون اساسی، دولت موظف است آزادی انجام امور مذهبی را برای همگان تضمین نماید.
شهر فاس از دیرباز و حتی از زمان تأسیس توسط دودمان ادریسیان، شهری مذهبی بوده و جهت آموزش فقه مالکی و علوم قرآنی بنیاد نهاده شدهاست. حوزه علمیه شهر فاس که «جامعه القرویین» نام دارد از بزرگترین حوزههای علمی مراکش است و طلاب تربیت شده در این حوزه به سراسر کشور و حتی دیگر نقاط اتحادیه مراکش بزرگ جهت تبلیغ مذهبی اعزام میشوند. حوزه علمیه دیگری بنام «مولای یوسف» در شهر مراکش که در واقع دژ فرهنگ اسلامی ـ بربری است، وجود دارد.
بدیهی است که علماء و فضلای برخاسته از این حوزههای علمیه بویژه در شهر فاس در حکومتها نقش و مشارکت داشتهاند. مشایخ صوفیه که عمدتاً از نژاد بربرند، دارای استقلال شخصی و نیز نفوذ و پایگاه مردمی دارند. مردم مغرب و مسلمانان مالکی نسبت به سایر شاخههای اسلام از تسامح و بردباری بیشتری برخوردارند این شاخه از اسلام با نمادهای شیعی ستیز ندارند و بطور کلی مردم عموماً نسبت به ایران احترام قائل هستند و آن را بلاد فارس و سرزمین سلمان فارسی میدانند و سلمان نزد آنها از احترام ویژهای برخوردار است.
الف - رادیو و تلویزیون: برنامههای رادیو و تلویزیون در حال حاضر اکثر مناطق پادشاهی مراکش را در بر میگیرد وقتی از چارچوب سرزمین ملی نیز فراتر رفته و برخی مناطق جهان را میپوشاند. پخش برنامه رادیویی مراکش از سال ۱۹۲۸ میلادی آغاز شدهاست و زبانهای پخش برنامه رادیویی عربی، فرانسه، اسپانیایی و بربری است همچنین یک رادیویی خصوصی تحت عنوان رادیو بینالمللی مدیترانه (RMI) در سال ۱۹۸۰ میلادی بر اساس اراده مشترک مراکش و فرانسه تأسیس شد که به دو زبان عربی و فرانسه برنامه پخش میکند. تلویزیون مراکش (TVM) نیز در سال ۱۹۶۲ میلادی راه اندازی رسمی گردید. همچنین کانال دوم تلویزیون مراکش (۲ M) در مارس ۱۹۸۹ میلادی تأسیس شد. این کانال از جهت کیفیت برنامه و نیز از جهت شکل ارائه برنامهها در حد بسیار بالایی است.
ب - مطبوعات: حدود ششصد و پنجاه عنوان نشریه به زبانهای عربی و فرانسوی منتشر میگردد که غالباً متعلق به احزاب و گروههای سیاسی یا دولتی است. نام روزنامههای اصلی و مهم مراکش در فهرست روزنامههای مراکش آمدهاند.
ج - خبرگزاری: خبرگزاری مغرب عربی«وکاله المغرب العربی» در سال ۱۹۵۹ تحت نظارت دولت تأسیس شده و زبانهای کاری اش عبارتست از: فرانسه، انگلیسی و اسپانیایی. همچنین آژانس خبری مراکش در سال ۱۹۵۸ توسط محمد پنجم گشایش یافت که درسال ۱۹۷۷ دولتی گردید و هم اکنون با افزایش شعبههای خود توانستهاست در ردیف خبرگزاریهای بزرگ جهان عرب و آفریقایی و کشورهای اسلامی قرار گیرد.
د - اینترنت: سایت مراکش در سال ۱۹۹۶ افتتاح شد. برای وارد شدن به وبگاه اطلاعاتی مراکش از آدرس زیر استفاده میشود: http://www.mincom.gov.ma. اطلاعات موجود در وبگاه مزبور به دو زبان فرانسه و انگلیسی است. کد اینترنتی کشور (.ma) است.کد تلفن کشوری ۰۰۲۱۲ است
واحد پول مراکش درهم میباشد
آثار تاریخی، باستانی و مراکز دیدنی[ویرایش]
آثار عمده تاریخی این کشور که عبارتاند از مساجد، آرامگاههای سلاطین و کاخها در سه شهر تاریخی فاس، مکناس و شهر مراکش واقع هستند. البته در شهرهای کازابلانکا و رباط و شمال کشور مثل طنجه آثار تاریخی و سیاحتی بسیاری وجود دارد. در زیر برخی از معروفترین آن آثار آورده میشود:
مراکش که در سال ۱۰۷۰-۷۲ توسط طایفه المراود بنا شد، مدتهای زیادی مرکز فرهنگی، اقتصادی و سیاسی کشور مغرب بودهاست. تأثیر این شهر بر تمامی دنیای اسلام در غرب، از شمال آفریقا تا اندلس، مشاهده میشد. بناهای شگفتانگیز از آن دوران به جای ماندهاست که از آن جمله: مسجد کتبیه، قصبات، برج و بارو، درهای بسیار بزرگ، باغها و غیره را میتوان نام برد. بعدها شاهکارهای معماری از قبیل کاخ Bandia، مدرسه بن یوسف، مقبرههای سعدیون، بناهای مسکونی و تئاتر روباز جامع الفنا به این مجموعه اضافه شد. این شهر تا حدودی به اصفهان ایران شباهت دارد. البته بناهای تاریخی اصفهان به مراتب از مراکش عظیم تر و مهم تر هستند.
پیوند به بیرون[ویرایش]
Morocco (Arabic: المغرب al-Maġrib, Berber: ⵍⵎⴰⵖⵔⵉⴱ Lmaġrib, French: Maroc[Notes 1]), officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Geographically, Morocco is characterized by a rugged mountainous interior and large portions of desert. The Arabic name al-Mamlakah al-Maġribiyah (Arabic: المملكة المغربية, meaning "The Western Kingdom") and Al-Maghrib (Arabic: المغرب, meaning "The West") are commonly used as alternate names.
Morocco has a population of over 33 million and an area of 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi). Its political capital is Rabat, although the largest city is Casablanca; other major cities include Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan, Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours. Its distinct culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, African, and European influences.
Morocco claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975, leading to a guerrilla war with indigenous forces until a cease-fire in 1991. Peace processes have thus far failed to break the political deadlock.
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Executive power is exercised by the government, while 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 issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. He can also dissolve the parliament after consulting the Prime Minister and the president of the Constitutional court.
The full Arabic name al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyyah (المملكة المغربية) translates to "Kingdom of the West"; although "the West" in Arabic is الغرب Al-Gharb. For historical references, medieval Arab historians and geographers sometimes referred to Morocco as al-Maghrib al-Aqṣá (المغرب الأقصى, meaning "The Farthest West") to distinguish it from neighboring historical regions called al-Maghrib al-Awsaṭ (المغرب الأوسط, meaning "The Middle West") and al-Maghrib al-Adná (المغرب الأدنى, meaning "The Nearest West").
The English name "Morocco" originates from, respectively, the Spanish and Portuguese names "Marruecos" and "Marrocos". These, in turn, derived from "Marrakesh", the medieval Latin name for the former Almoravid and Almohad capital. "Marrakesh" remains the name for Morocco in Persian, as it was, until the latter 20th century, in Middle Eastern Arabic. In Turkish, Morocco is known as "Fas", a name derived from its ancient capital Fes.
The word "Marrakesh" is made of the Berber word-combination Mur N'Akush meaning "Land of God".
Prehistory and antiquity
The area of present-day Morocco has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, sometime between 90,000 and 190,000 BC. During the Upper Paleolithic, the Maghreb was more fertile than it is today, resembling a savanna more than today's arid landscape. 22,000 years ago, the Aterian was succeeded by the Iberomaurusian culture, which shared similarities with Iberian cultures. Skeletal similarities have been suggested between the Iberomaurusian "Mechta-Afalou" burials and European Cro-Magnon remains. The Iberomaurusian was succeeded by the Beaker culture in Morocco.
Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) studies have discovered a close link between Berbers and the Saami of Scandinavia. This confirms theories that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area of southwestern Europe was the source of late-glacial expansions of hunter-gatherers who repopulated northern Europe after the last ice age.
North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean world by the Phoenicians, who established trading colonies and settlements in the early Classical period. Substantial Phoenician settlements were at Chellah, Lixus and Mogador. Mogador was a Phoenician colony as early as the early 6th century BC.[page needed]
Morocco later became part of a North African empire headquartered in Carthage. The earliest known independent Moroccan state was the Berber kingdom of Mauretania under king Bocchus I. This kingdom in northern Morocco, not to be confused with the present state of Mauritania, dates at least to 110 BC.
The Roman Empire controlled this region from the 1st century BC, naming it Mauretania Tingitana. Christianity was introduced in the 2nd century AD and gained converts in the Roman towns, among slaves and some Berber farmers.
In the 5th century AD, as the Roman Empire declined, the region was invaded from the north first by the Vandals and then by the Visigoths. In the 6th century AD, northern Morocco was nominally part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire. Throughout this time, the Berber inhabitants in the high mountains of the interior of Morocco remained unsubdued.
Early Islamic era
In 670 AD, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascus. The Umayyad Muslims brought their language, their system of government, and Islam to Morocco. Many of the Berbers slowly converted to Islam, mostly after Arab rule had receded. The first independent Muslim state in the area of modern Morocco was the Kingdom of Nekor, an emirate in the Rif Mountains. It was founded by Salih I ibn Mansur in 710, as a client state to the Rashidun Caliphate. After the outbreak of the Great Berber Revolt in 739, the Berbers formed other independent states such as the Miknasa of Sijilmasa and the Barghawata.
According to medieval legend, Idris ibn Abdallah had fled to Morocco after the Abbasids' massacre of his tribe in Iraq. He convinced the Awraba Berber tribes to break their allegiance to the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and he founded the Idrisid Dynasty in 788. The Idrisids established Fes as their capital and Morocco became a centre of Muslim learning and a major regional power. The Idrissids were ousted in 927 by the Fatimid Caliphate and their Miknasa allies. After Miknasa broke off relations with the Fatimids in 932, they 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, much of present-day Spain and Portugal, and the western Mediterranean region. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Merinids held power in Morocco and strove to replicate the successes of the Almohads by military campaigns in Algeria and Spain. They were followed by the Wattasids. In the 15th century, the Reconquista ended Muslim rule in central and southern Spain and many Muslims and Jews fled to Morocco. Portuguese efforts to control the Atlantic coast in the 15th century did not greatly affect the interior of Morocco. 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."
In 1549, the region fell to successive Arab dynasties claiming descent from the Islamic prophet, Muhammad: first the Saadi dynasty who ruled from 1549 to 1659, and then the Alaouite dynasty, who remained in power since the 17th century.
Under the Saadi Dynasty, the country repulsed Ottoman incursions and a Portuguese invasion at the battle of Ksar el Kebir in 1578. The reign of Ahmad al-Mansur brought new wealth and prestige to the Sultanate, and a large expedition to West Africa inflicted a crushing defeat on the Songhay Empire in 1591. However, managing the territories across the Sahara proved too difficult. After the death of al-Mansur the country was divided among his sons.
In 1666 Morocco was reunited by the Alaouite Dynasty, who have been the ruling house of Morocco ever since. Morocco was facing aggression from Spain and the Ottoman Empire lies pressing westward. The Alaouites succeeded in stabilizing their position, and while the kingdom was smaller than previous ones in the region, it remained quite wealthy. Against the opposition of local tribes Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727) began to create a unified state. 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.
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 in the Atlantic Ocean were subject to attack by the Barbary pirates. On 20 December 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III declared that American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage. The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, signed in 1786, stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.
French and Spanish protectorates
As Europe industrialized, North Africa was increasingly prized for its potential for colonization. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830, not only to protect the border of its Algerian territory, but also because of the strategic position of Morocco on two oceans. In 1860, a dispute over Spain's Ceuta enclave led Spain to declare war. Victorious Spain won a further enclave and an enlarged Ceuta in the settlement. In 1884, Spain created a protectorate in the coastal areas of Morocco.
In 1904, France and Spain carved out zones of influence in Morocco. Recognition by the United Kingdom of France's sphere of influence provoked a strong reaction from the German Empire; and a crisis loomed in 1905. The matter was resolved at the Algeciras Conference in 1906. The Agadir Crisis, increased tensions between European powers. The 1912 Treaty of Fez made Morocco a protectorate of France. Spain continued to operate its coastal protectorate. By the same treaty, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern Saharan zones.
Tens of thousands of colonists entered Morocco. Some bought up large amounts of the rich agricultural land, others organized the exploitation and modernization of mines and harbours. Interest groups that formed among these elements continually pressured France to increase its control over Morocco – a control which was also made necessary by the continuous wars among Moroccan tribes, part of which had taken sides with the French since the beginning of the conquest. Governor general, Marshall Hubert Lyautey, sincerely admired Moroccan culture and succeeded in imposing a joint Moroccan-French administration, while creating a modern school system. Several divisions of Moroccan soldiers (Goumiers or regular troops and officers) 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). The institution of slavery was abolished in 1925.
Between 1921 and 1926, a Berber uprising in the Rif Mountains, led by Abd el-Krim, led to the establishment of the Republic of the Rif. The rebellion was suppressed by French and Spanish troops.
In 1943, the Istiqlal Party (Independence Party) was founded to press for independence, with discrete US support. That party subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement.
France's exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa 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. France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year. In March 1956 the French protectorate was ended and Morocco regained its independence from France and Spain as the "Kingdom of Morocco". Spain kept its two coastal enclaves. Sultan Mohammed became king in 1957.
Reign of King Hassan II
Upon the death of King Mohammed, Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. Morocco held its first general elections in 1963. However, Hassan declared a state of emergency and suspended parliament in 1965. In 1971, there was a failed attempt to depose the king and establish a republic. A truth commission set up in 2005 to investigate human rights abuses during his reign confirmed nearly 10,000 cases, ranging from death in detention to forced exile. Some 592 people were recorded killed during Hassan's rule according to the truth commission.
The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was returned to Morocco in 1969. The Polisario movement was formed in 1973, with the aim of establishing an independent state in the Spanish Sahara. On 6 November 1975 King Hassan asked for volunteers to cross into the Spanish Sahara. Some 350,000 civilians were reported as being involved in the "Green March". A month later, Spain agreed to leave the Spanish Sahara, soon to become Western Sahara, and to transfer it to joint Moroccan-Mauritanian control, despite the objections and threats of military intervention by Algeria. Moroccan forces occupied the territory.
Moroccan and Algerian troops soon clashed in Western Sahara. Morocco and Mauritania divided up Western Sahara. Fighting between the Moroccan military and Polisario forces continued for many years. The prolonged war was a considerable financial drain on Morocco. In 1983, Hassan cancelled planned elections amid political unrest and economic crisis. In 1984, Morocco left the Organisation of African Unity in protest at the SADR's admission to the body. Polisario claimed to have killed more than 5,000 Moroccan soldiers between 1982 and 1985.
Algerian authorities have estimated the number of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria to be 165,000. Diplomatic relations with Algeria were restored in 1988. In 1991, a UN-monitored ceasefire began in Western Sahara, but the territory's status remains undecided and ceasefire violations are reported. The following decade saw much wrangling over a proposed referendum on the future of the territory but the deadlock was not broken.
Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997 and Morocco's first opposition-led government came to power in 1998.
Reign of King Mohammed VI
King Mohammed paid a controversial visit to the Western Sahara in 2002. Morocco unveiled an autonomy blueprint for Western Sahara to the United Nations in 2007. The Polisario rejected the plan and put forward its own proposal. Morocco and the Polisario Front held UN-sponsored talks in New York but failed to come to any agreement. In 2010, security forces stormed a protest camp in the Western Sahara, triggering violent demonstrations in the regional capital El Aaiún.
In 2002, Morocco and Spain agreed to a US-brokered resolution over the disputed island of Perejil. Spanish troops had taken the normally uninhabited island after Moroccan soldiers landed on it and set up tents and a flag. There were renewed tensions in 2005 as hundreds of African migrants tried to storm the borders of the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. Morocco deported hundreds of the illegal migrants. In 2006 the Spanish Premier Zapatero visited Spanish enclaves. He was the first Spanish leader in 25 years to make an official visit to the territories. The following year, Spanish King Juan Carlos visited Ceuta and Melilla, further angering Morocco which demanded the return of the enclaves.
In February 2003, a Casablanca court jailed three Saudi members of al-Qaeda for 10 years after they were accused of plotting to attack US and British warships in the Straits of Gibraltar. Three months later, more than 40 people were killed in the 2003 Casablanca bombings, when suicide bombers attacked several sites in Casablanca, including a Spanish restaurant and Jewish community centre.
Those responsible were believed to be Salafiya Jihadiya adherents linked to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. One of those extremists was Nourredine Nafia, leader of the GICM (Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group), who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the attacks.
In the 2007 Casablanca bombings, three suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up, a few weeks after a suicide blast in an internet cafe that injured three. More than 40 people were given long prison sentences for this bombing. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the US diplomatic offices in Casablanca.
In 2008, two Moroccan men, Abdelilah Ahriz and Hicham Ahmidan, were sentenced to 20 and 10 years in jail respectively in Morocco over the Madrid train bombings of 2004. Islamist Saad Housseini was given 15-year sentence in 2009 over the 2003 Casablanca bombings. He was also wanted in Spain over the Madrid bombings. Soon after, the alleged al-Qaeda leader in Morocco, Belgian-Moroccan Abdelkader Belliraj, was imprisoned for life on being found guilty of leading an Islamist militant group and committing six murders in Belgium.
In the April 2011 Marrakesh bombing, 17 people, mainly foreigners, were killed in a bomb attack on a Marrakesh cafe. The Maghreb arm of al-Qaeda denied involvement. A man was later sentenced to death for the bombing.
During the 2011–12 Moroccan protests, thousands of people rallied in Rabat and other cities calling for political reform and a new constitution curbing the powers of the king. In July 2011, the King won a landslide victory in a referendum on a reformed constitution he had proposed to placate the Arab Spring protests.
Despite the deep and understanding reforms made by Mohamed VI that answered most of the concerns raised by the international community, demonstrators continued to call for deeper reforms. Hundreds took part in a trade union rally in Casablanca in May 2012. Participants accused the government of failing to deliver on reforms.
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. 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°).
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. It is one of only three nations (along with Spain and France) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.
A large part of Morocco is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains are located mainly in the center and the south of the country. The Rif Mountains are located in the north of the country. Both ranges are mainly inhabited by the Berber people. At 446,550 km2 (172,414 sq mi), 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.
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, 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 northeast to the south west. Most of the southeast portion of the country is in the Sahara Desert and as such is generally sparsely populated and unproductive economically. 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.
Morocco's capital city is Rabat; its largest city is its main port, Casablanca. Other cities include Agadir, Essaouira, Fes, Marrakesh, Meknes, Mohammadia, Oujda, Ouarzazat, Safi, Salé, Tangier and Tétouan.
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. 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. The climate changes when moving east of the Atlas mountains due to the barrier, or shelter, effect of the mountain system, becoming very dry and extremely warm during the long summer, especially on the lowlands and on the valleys facing the Sahara. The Sahara Desert begins here, and it is perfectly visible, for example, on the Draa Valley, where it is possible to find oases, sand dunes and rocky desert landscapes.
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.
The Barbary lion, hunted to extinction in the wild, was a subspieces native to Morocco and is a national emblem. 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.
Morocco is 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.
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, 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 Abdelilah Benkirane.
The Moroccan Constitution provides for a monarchy with a Parliament and an independent judiciary. With the 2011 constitutional reforms, the King of Morocco retains few executive powers whereas those of the prime minister have been enlarged.
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, and on recommendations from the latter, appoints the members of the government.
The previous constitution of 1996 theoretically allowed 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. The King is formally the chief of the military.
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), 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. The lower chamber of Parliament may dissolve the government through a vote of no confidence.
The latest parliamentary elections were held on November 25, 2011, 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.
Compulsory military service in Morocco has been officially suppressed since September 2006, and the country’s reserve obligation lasts until age 50. The country’s military consists of the Royal Armed Forces—this includes the army (the largest branch) and Royal Moroccan Navy and air force—the National Police Force, the Royal Gendarmerie (mainly responsible for rural security), and the Auxiliary Forces. Internal security is generally effective, and acts of political violence are rare (with one exception, the 2003 Casablanca bombings which killed 45 people). The UN maintains a small observer force in Western Sahara, where a large number of Morocco’s troops are stationed. The Saharawi group Polisario maintains an active militia of an estimated 5,000 fighters in Western Sahara and has engaged in intermittent warfare with Moroccan forces since the 1980s.
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.
A dispute with Spain in 2002 over the tiny island of Perejil revived the issue of the sovereignty of Melilla and Ceuta. These small enclaves on the Mediterranean coast are surrounded by Morocco and have been administered by Spain for centuries.
Morocco has been given the status of non-NATO ally by the US government.
Morocco is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.
Western Sahara status
Due to the conflict over Western Sahara, the status of the Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro regions is disputed. The Western Sahara War saw the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement, battling both Morocco and Mauritania between 1976 and a ceasefire in 1991 that is still in effect. A United Nations mission, MINURSO, is tasked with organizing a referendum on whether the territory should become independent or recognized as a part of Morocco.
Part of the territory, the Free Zone, is a mostly uninhabited area that the Polisario Front controls as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Its administrative headquarters are located in Tindouf, Algeria. As of 2006, no UN member state has recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
In 2006, the government of Morocco has suggested autonomous status for the region, through the Moroccan Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS). The project was presented to the United Nations Security Council in mid-April 2007. The proposal was encouraged by Moroccan allies such as the United States, France and Spain. The Security Council has called upon the parties to enter into direct and unconditional negotiations to reach a mutually accepted political solution.
Morocco's economy is considered a relatively liberal economy governed by the law of supply and demand. Since 1993, the country has followed a policy of privatization of certain economic sectors which used to be in the hands of the government.
Government reforms and steady yearly growth in the region of 4–5% from 2000 to 2007, including 4.9% year-on-year growth in 2003–2007 helped the Moroccan economy to become much more robust compared to a few years ago. For 2012 the World Bank forecasts a rate of 4% growth for Morocco and 4.2% for following year, 2013.
The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, is an additional quarter. The industries that recorded the highest growth are tourism, telecoms, information technology, and textile.
Agriculture accounts for only around 14% of GDP but employs 40–45% of the Moroccan working population. With a semi-arid climate and an ill-developed irrigation system, it is difficult to assure enough irrigation. Morocco’s economy depends heavily on the weather, a typical characteristic of third-world countries.
The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphorus after China and the United States, and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco's economy.
Morocco suffers both from unemployment (9.6% in 2008), and a large external debt estimated at around $20 billion, or half of GDP in 2002.
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.
In 2008, about 56% of Morocco's electricity supply was provided by coal. However, as forecasts indicate that energy requirements in Morocco will rise 6% per year between 2012 and 2050, a new law passed encouraging Moroccans to look for ways to diversify the energy supply, including more renewable resources. The Moroccan government has launched a project to build a solar thermal energy power plant and is also looking into the use of natural gas as a potential source of revenue for Morocco’s government.
Cannabis has been cultivated in the Rif Region since the 7th century. According to the UN 2004 World Drugs Report, cultivation and transformation of Cannabis represents 0.57% of the national GDP of Morocco in 2002. According to a French Ministry of the Interior 2006 report, 80% of the cannabis resin (hashish) consumed in Europe comes from the Rif region in Morocco. In addition to that, Morocco is a transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe.
The Tangier-Casablanca high-speed rail link marks the first stage of the ONCF’s high-speed rail master plan, pursuant to which over 1,500 km (930 mi) of new railway lines will be built by 2035. The high speed train - TGV - will have a capacity of 500 passengers and will carry 8 million passengers per year. The work on the High Speed Rail project was started in September 2011. Construction of infrastructure and delivery of railway equipment will end in 2014 and the HSR will be operational by December 2015.
Most Moroccans are of Arab, Berber or mixed Arab-Berber descent. There is a significant minority of Sub-Saharan African and European people. Arabs and Berbers together make up about 99.1 percent of the Moroccan population. A sizeable portion of the population is identified as Haratin and Gnawa (or Gnaoua), black or mixed race descendants of slaves.
Berbers are the indigenous people and still make up the bulk of the population, although they've been largely Arabized. Morocco is home to more than 20,000 sub-Saharan African immigrants. Morocco's once prominent Jewish minority has decreased significantly since its peak of 265,000 in 1948, declining to around 5,500 today.
Most of foreign residents in Morocco are French or Spanish. Some of them are descendants of colonial settlers, who primarily work for European multinational companies, while others are married to Moroccans or are retirees. Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million Europeans.
Morocco has a large diaspora, most of which is located in France, which has reportedly over one million Moroccans of up to the third generation. There are also large Moroccan communities in Spain (about 700,000 Moroccans), The Netherlands (360,000), and Belgium (300,000). Other large communities can be found in Italy, Canada, the United States, and Israel, where Moroccan Jews are thought to constitute the second biggest Jewish ethnic subgroup.
In 2010, the religious affiliation in the country was estimated by the Pew Forum as 99.9 percent Muslim, with all remaining groups accounting for just 0.1 percent of the population. The most recent estimates put the size of the Rabat and Marrakesh Jewish communities at about 100 members each. The remainder of the Jewish population is dispersed throughout the country. This population is mostly elderly, with a decreasing number of young persons. Sunnis form the majority at 67% with non-denominational Muslims being the second largest group of Muslims at 30%.
The predominantly Roman Catholic and Protestant foreign-resident Christian community consists of approximately 5,000 practicing members, although some Protestant and Catholic clergy estimate the number to be as high as 25,000. Most foreign resident Christians reside in the Casablanca, Tangier, and Rabat urban areas. Various local Christian leaders estimate that there are 4,000 citizen Christians (mostly ethnically Berber) who regularly attend “house” churches and live predominantly in the south. Some local Christian leaders estimate that there may be as many as 8,000 Christian citizens throughout the country, but many reportedly do not meet regularly due to fear of government surveillance and social persecution.
There are an estimated 3,000 to 8,000 Shia Muslims, most of them foreign residents from Lebanon or Iraq, but also a few citizen converts. Followers of several Sufi Muslim orders across the Maghreb and West Africa undertake joint annual pilgrimages to the country. The Baha’i community, located in urban areas, numbers 350 to 400 persons.
Morocco's official languages are Arabic and Berber. The country's distinctive group of Moroccan Arabic dialects is referred to as Darija. Approximately 89.8% 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). In 2008, Frédéric Deroche estimated that there were 12 million Berber speakers, making up about 40% of the population. The 2004 population census reported that 28.1% of the population spoke Berber.
French 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. In 2010, there were 10,366,000 French-speakers in Morocco, or about 32% of the population.
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. Spanish is spoken by a small population in the north of the country, especially around the Spanish enclaves Melilla and Ceuta.
Moroccans are mostly mixed Arabs-berbers, some studies say there is no radical 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. 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.
Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization. Through Moroccan history, it has hosted many people coming from East (Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Arabs), South (Sub-Saharan Africans) and North (Romans, Vandals, Andalusians and Moors). All those civilizations have had an impact on the social structure of Morocco. It conceived various forms of beliefs, from paganism, Judaism, and Christianity to Islam.
Since independence, a veritable blossoming has taken place in painting and sculpture, popular music, amateur theatre, and filmmaking. The Moroccan National Theatre (founded 1956) offers regular productions of Moroccan and French dramatic works. Art and music festivals take place throughout the country during the summer months, among them the World Sacred Music Festival at Fès.
Each region possesses its own specificities, thus contributing to the national culture and to the legacy of civilization. Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its diverse legacy and the preservation of its cultural heritage.
Culturally speaking, Morocco has always been successful in combining its Berber, Jewish and Arabic cultural heritage with external influences such as the French and the Spanish and, during the last decades, the Anglo-American lifestyles.
Moroccan literature is written in Arabic, Berber and French. Under the Almohad dynasty Morocco experienced a period of prosperity and brilliance of learning. The Almohad built the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, which accommodated no fewer than 25,000 people, but was also famed for its books, manuscripts, libraries and book shops, which gave it its name; the first book bazaar in history. The Almohad Caliph Abu Yakub had a great love for collecting books. He founded a great library, which was eventually carried to the Casbah and turned into a public library.
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.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Morocco was a refuge and artistic centre and attracted writers as Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and William S. Burroughs. Moroccan literature flourished with novelists such as Mohamed Zafzaf and Mohamed Choukri, who wrote in Arabic, and Driss Chraïbi and Tahar Ben Jelloun who wrote in French. Other important Moroccan authors include, Abdellatif Laabi, Abdelkrim Ghallab, Fouad Laroui, Mohammed Berrada and Leila Abouzeid. It should be noted also, that orature (oral literature) is an integral part of Moroccan culture, be it in Moroccan Arabic or Amazigh.
Morocco is home to Andalusian classical music that is found throughout North Africa. It probably evolved under the Moors in Cordoba, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention. A genre known as Contemporary Andalusian Music and art is the brainchild of Morisco visual artist/composer/oudist Tarik Banzi, founder of the Al-Andalus Ensemble.
Chaabi ("popular") is a music consisting of numerous varieties which are descended from the multifarious forms of Moroccan folk music. Chaabi was originally performed in markets, but is now found at any celebration or meeting.
Morocco participated in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, where it finished in the penultimate position.
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 mainly Berber-Moorish, European, Mediterranean cuisines. The cuisine of Morocco is essentially Berber cuisine (sometimes referred to as the Moorish cuisine). It is also Influenced by Sephardic cuisine and by the Moriscos when they took refuge in Morocco after the Spanish Reconquista. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients such as saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. 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. Couscous is the most famous Moroccan dish along with pastilla, tajine, and harira. The most popular drink is "atai", green tea with mint.
Football is the country’s most popular sport, popular among the urban youth in particular. In 1986, Morocco became the first Arab and African country to qualify for the second round of the FIFA World Cup. Morocco will host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, and the host cities will include Tangier, Rabat, Agadir and Marrakesh.
At the 1984 Olympic Games, two Moroccans won gold medals in track and field. Nawal El Moutawakel won in the 400 metres hurdles; she was the first woman from an Arab or Islamic country to win an Olympic gold medal. Saïd Aouita won the 5000 metres at the same games. Hicham El Guerrouj won gold medals for Morocco at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the 1500 metres and 5000 metres and holds several world records in the mile run.
Spectator sports in Morocco traditionally centred on the art of horsemanship until European sports—football, polo, swimming, and tennis—were introduced at the end of the 19th century. Tennis and golf have become popular. Several Moroccan professional players have competed in international competition, and the country fielded its first Davis Cup team in 1999.
Kickboxing is also popular in Morocco. Badr Hari, heavyweight kickboxer and martial artist, is a former K-1 heavyweight champion and K-1 World Grand Prix 2008 and 2009 finalist.
Education in Morocco is free and compulsory through primary school. The estimated literacy rate for the country in 2013 was 73%. In September 2006, UNESCO awarded Morocco amongst other countries such as Cuba, Pakistan, India and Turkey the "UNESCO 2006 Literacy Prize".
Morocco has more than four dozen universities, institutes of higher learning, and polytechnics dispersed at urban centres throughout the country. Its leading institutions include Mohammed V University in Rabat, the country’s largest university, with branches in Casablanca and Fès; the Hassan II Agriculture and Veterinary Institute in Rabat, which conducts leading social science research in addition to its agricultural specialties; and Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, the first English-language university in North Africa, inaugurated in 1995 with contributions from Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The al-Qarawiyin University, founded in the city of Fez in 859 as a madrasa, is considered by some sources, including UNESCO, to be the "oldest university of the world". Morocco has also some of prestigious postgraduate schools, including: École Nationale Supérieure d'Électricité et de Mecanique (ENSEM), EMI,ISCAE, INSEA, National School of Mineral Industry, École Hassania des Travaux Publics, Les Écoles nationales de commerce et de gestion, École supérieure de technologie de Casablanca.
In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 5.19% of the country's GDP. In 2009, there were 6.46 physicians and 9.28 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants. The life expectancy at birth was 74 years in 2013, or 72 years for males and 76 years for females.