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Morocco is located in northern Africa and borders the Mediterranean to the north, the Atlantic to the west, Algeria to the east, and Mauritania is to the south. Morocco has an area of 274,152 sq. mi, with the Western Sahara accounting for 101,823 sq. mi (Blauer & Lauré, 1999). Morocco's southern border is the Western Sahara (Piazza, 2007). The population is 31,627,428 (Infoplease, 2013).
Morocco has four major regions: the Coastal Lowlands, the Interior Mountains, Sahara region, and the High Plateaus (Piazza, 2007). Four mountain ranges stretch across Morocco, which are the Rif Mountains and three sections of the Atlas Mountains: Anti-Atlas, Grand Atlas, and Middle Atlas. Jebel Toukbal, the highest mountain in North Africa, is located in the Grand Atlas (Blauer & Lauré, 1999).
Morocco's climate is Mediterranean with more extreme weather in the interior region (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013). There are year-round hot conditions in the south and east (Piazza, 2007). The rainy season is from about October to May, and the dry season, from May to October (Perkins, 2010).
Rabat, the capital, is home to the king's palace as well as the rest of its government (Piazza, 2007). Several large cities are Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakech (Infoplease, 2013). Casablanca is Morocco's industrial, commercial, and financial hub famous for its whitewashed buildings (Piazza, 2007). Marrakech is Morocco's main tourist attraction. Fez is Morocco’s spiritual and cultural center (Blauer & Lauré, 1999).
Morocco has a variety of flora and fauna such as olive trees, almond, citrus, and fruit trees, jackals, rabbits, porcupines, hedgehogs, wild boars, mountain cats, Barbary sheep, hawks, eagles, owls, hyenas, fennec, jerboas, sand rats, scorpions, and various snakes (Piazza, 2007). Morocco has the second-largest number of mules in Africa. People often use camels for desert transport (Blauer & Lauré, 1999).
The Berbers first arrived in Morocco in 2000 B.C. (Infoplease, 2013). They were mainly farmers and herders from Asia. The Roman Empire conquered Carthage and northern Morocco in the 40’s A.D. In the 429, a northern European people called the Vandals took control, but the Byzantine Empire defeated them.
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European nations started colonizing Morocco in the 1880’s (Blauer & Lauré, 1999). Spain ruled northern Morocco and a strip in the south. France ruled the rest of the country (Perkins, 2010). Moulay Hafid replaced his brother Abdul Aziz in 1908, and in 1912, he signed the Treaty of Fez, which made Morocco a French and Spanish protectorate. In 1921, the Rif Republic formed to fight against the French and Spanish, but the French and Spanish defeated them in 1926. The French appointed Mohammad V (Hafid’s nephew) in 1927, but instead of helping the French, he supported Moroccan rights and independence (Piazza, 2007). In 1943, the Istiqlal Party was formed to get independence. Mohammad V supported them, and in 1947, he urged Morocco to unite and become self-governed (Perkins, 2010). In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in Morocco in Casablanca to discuss war plans. Roosevelt promised to aid in their independence, but he was not in office after the war and was unable to help Morocco. The French exiled Mohammad to Madagascar in 1993, and they replaced him with his uncle, Sidi Mohammad Ben Moulay Arafa (Blauer & Lauré, 1999). To stop rising violence, France returned Mohammad in 1955. On March 2, 1956 France gave Morocco independence, and in April, Spain gave up its claims (Perkins, 2010).
After independence, Mohammed V organized a constitutional monarchy and assumed the title king in 1957 (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013). Mohammad V died in 1961 (Infoplease, 2013). Hassan II ruled after his father (Piazza, 2007). He created the first constitution in 1962, which involved a king, prime minister, cabinet, and elected legislature. Political unrest in 1965 forced Hassan to declare a state of emergency in which he took ultimate authority until 1970 when a new constitution and new legislature were approved (Perkins, 2010). After two coups in 1971 and 1972, Hassan took control again and tightened national security (Piazza, 2007). In 1992, Hassan passed another constitution that gave him more power (Blauer & Lauré, 1999). The Polisario Front began fighting for independence in the Western Sahara (Infoplease, 2013). A referendum was called to settle the dispute over the Western Sahara, but voter eligibility has indefinitely delayed the referendum (Perkins, 2010). Despite this uncertainty, Morocco will always consider the Western Sahara as part of itself (Blauer & Lauré, 1999). In 1997, Morocco adopted a bicameral legislature. Hassan died in 1999, and his son, Mohammad VI, succeeded him. In 2011, Mohammad VI created a new constitution that allowed new power to the parliament and prime minister. Mohammad closed human abuse prisons, released political prisoners, and gave the press freedom. Morocco and the U.S. began fighting terror after the al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001 (Piazza, 2007). In 2003, al-Qaeda placed bombs targeting Jewish, Spanish, and Belgium buildings in Casablanca. Mohammed VI also works for economic reform, women’s rights, and terrorism opposition (Infoplease, 2013).
The Kingdom of Morocco is a Constitutional Monarchy with a king and constitution that gives him command over armed forces, orders relating to force of law, and control of major government agencies (Perkins, 2010). The government has three branches. The Executive branch consists of the king, prime minister, and his cabinet. The king is hereditary and prime minister is elected (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013). There are two houses in the Legislature: the Chamber of Representatives who are elected by the people, and the Chamber of Councilors who are chosen by local governments, organizations, and other groups. The Judicial branch includes the Supreme Court and several lower courts (Perkins, 2010). The king influences the Supreme Court even though it is technically independent. The national legal system is based on Islamic codes and Berber laws (Piazza, 2007).
Blauer, E. & Lauré, J. (1999). Morocco: Enchantment of the world. New York: Children's Press.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2013). The world factbook: Morocco. Retrieved from http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mo.html.
Infoplease. (2013). Morocco. Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/country/morocco.html.
Perkins, K. J. (2010). Morocco. In The world book encyclopedia (Vol. 13, pp. 810-815). Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc.
Piazza, F. D. D. (2007). Morocco: In pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.