Africa :: Morocco
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Morocco
Map of Morocco
Introduction ::Morocco
In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, successive Moorish dynasties began to rule in Morocco. In the 16th century, the Sa'adi monarchy, particularly under Ahmad AL-MANSUR (1578-1603), repelled foreign invaders and inaugurated a golden age. In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco's sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country. A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were turned over to the new country that same year. Morocco virtually annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature, which first met in 1997. The country has made improvements in human rights under King MOHAMMED VI and its press is moderately free, but the government occasionally takes action against journalists who report on three broad subjects considered to be taboo: the monarchy, Islam, and the status of Western Sahara. Despite the continuing reforms, ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch.
Geography ::Morocco
Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates:
32 00 N, 5 00 W
Map references:
total: 446,550 sq km
country comparison to the world: 57
land: 446,300 sq km
water: 250 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than California
Land boundaries:
total: 2,017.9 km
border countries: Algeria 1,559 km, Western Sahara 443 km, Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Spain (Melilla) 9.6 km
1,835 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Current Weather
Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior
northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sebkha Tah -55 m
highest point: Jebel Toubkal 4,165 m
Natural resources:
phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
Land use:
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 2%
other: 79% (2005)
Irrigated land:
14,450 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
29 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 12.6 cu km/yr (10%/3%/87%)
per capita: 400 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
land degradation/desertification (soil erosion resulting from farming of marginal areas, overgrazing, destruction of vegetation); water supplies contaminated by raw sewage; siltation of reservoirs; oil pollution of coastal waters
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar
People ::Morocco
31,627,428 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.2% (male 4,531,463/female 4,400,521)
15-64 years: 65.7% (male 10,174,183/female 10,612,113)
65 years and over: 6% (male 865,663/female 1,043,485) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.5 years
male: 25.9 years
female: 27 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.077% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
Birth rate:
19.4 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
Death rate:
4.74 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 195
Net migration rate:
-3.88 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
urban population: 56% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.8% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 28.61 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 76
male: 33.52 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.69 years
country comparison to the world: 77
male: 72.63 years
female: 78.9 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.23 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
21,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 1,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
noun: Moroccan(s)
adjective: Moroccan
Ethnic groups:
Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%
Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%
Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.3%
male: 65.7%
female: 39.6% (2004 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 9 years (2005)
Education expenditures:
Government ::Morocco
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Morocco
conventional short form: Morocco
local long form: Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah
local short form: Al Maghrib
Government type:
constitutional monarchy
name: Rabat
geographic coordinates: 34 01 N, 6 49 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
15 regions; Grand Casablanca, Chaouia-Ouardigha, Doukkala-Abda, Fes-Boulemane, Gharb-Chrarda-Beni Hssen, Guelmim-Es Smara, Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Meknes-Tafilalet, Oriental, Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer, Souss-Massa-Draa, Tadla-Azilal, Tanger-Tetouan, Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate
note: Morocco claims the territory of Western Sahara, the political status of which is considered undetermined by the US Government; portions of the regions Guelmim-Es Smara and Laayoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra as claimed by Morocco lie within Western Sahara; Morocco also claims Oued Eddahab-Lagouira, another region that falls entirely within Western Sahara
2 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday:
Throne Day (accession of King MOHAMMED VI to the throne), 30 July (1999)
10 March 1972; revised 4 September 1992, amended September 1996
note: the amendment of September 1996 was to create a bicameral legislature
Legal system:
based on Islamic law and French and Spanish civil law systems; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: King MOHAMMED VI (since 30 July 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Abbas EL FASSI (since 19 September 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch following legislative elections
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Chamber of Counselors (or upper house) (270 seats; members elected indirectly by local councils, professional organizations, and labor syndicates to serve nine-year terms; one-third of the members are elected every three years) and Chamber of Representatives (or lower house) (325 seats; 295 members elected by multi-seat constituencies and 30 from national lists of women; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Counselors - last held on 3 October 2009 (next to be held in 2012); Chamber of Representatives - last held on 7 September 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: Chamber of Counselors - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PI 52, PJD 46, MP 41, RNI 39, USFP 38, UC 27, PPS 17, FFD 9, MDS 9, Al Ahd 8, other 39
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed on the recommendation of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, presided over by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders:
Action Party or PA [Mohammed EL IDRISSI]; Al Ahd (The Covenant) Party [Najib EL OUAZZANI]; Alliance des Libert'es (Alliance of Liberty) or ADL [Ali BELHAJ]; An-Nahj Ad-Dimocrati or An-Nahj [Abdellah EL HARIF]; Authenticity and Modernity Party or PAM [Mohamed Cheikh BIADILLAH, Secretary General]; Choura et Istiqlal (Consultation and Independence) Party or PCI [Abdelwahed MAACH]; Citizens' Forces or FC [Abderrahman LAHJOUJI]; Citizenship and Development Initiative or ICD [Mohamed BENHAMOU]; Constitutional Union Party or UC [Mohammed ABIED]; Democratic and Social Movement or MDS [Mahmoud ARCHANE]; Democratic Forces Front or FFD [Touhami EL KHIARI]; Democratic Socialist Vanguard Party or PADS [Ahmed BENJELLOUN]; Democratic Society Party or PSD [Zhor CHEKKAFI]; Democratic Union or UD [Bouazza IKKEN]; Environment and Development Party or PED [Ahmed EL ALAMI]; Istiqlal (Independence) Party or PI [Abbas EL FASSI]; Justice and Development Party or PJD [Abdelilah BENKIRANE]; Labor Party or PT [Abdelkrim BENATIK]; Moroccan Liberal Party or PML [Mohamed ZIANE]; National Democratic Party or PND [Abdallah KADIRI]; National Ittihadi Congress Party or CNI [Abdelmajid BOUZOUBAA]; National Popular Movement or MNP [Mahjoubi AHERDANE]; National Rally of Independents or RNI [Mustapha EL MANSOURI]; National Union of Popular Forces or UNFP [Abdellah IBRAHIM]; Popular Movement or MP [Mohamed LAENSER]; Progress and Socialism Party or PPS [Ismail ALAOUI]; Reform and Development Party or PRD [Abderrahmane EL KOUHEN]; Renaissance and Virtue Party or PRV [Mohamed KHALIDI]; Renewal and Equity Party or PRE [Chakir ACHABAR]; Social Center Party or PSC [Lahcen MADIH]; Socialist Democratic Party or PSD [Aissa OUARDIGHI]; Socialist Union of Popular Forces or USFP [Abdelwahed RADI]; Unified Socialist Left Party or PGSU [Mohamed Ben Said AIT IDDER]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Democratic Confederation of Labor or CDT [Noubir AMAOUI]; General Union of Moroccan Workers or UGTM [Abderrazzak AFILAL]; Moroccan Employers Association or CGEM [Hassan CHAMI]; National Labor Union of Morocco or UNMT [Abdelslam MAATI]; Union of Moroccan Workers or UMT [Mahjoub BENSEDDIK]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Aziz MEKOUAR
chancery: 1601 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 462-7979
FAX: [1] (202) 265-0161
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Samuel L. KAPLAN
embassy: 2 Avenue de Mohamed El Fassi, Rabat
mailing address: PSC 74, Box 021, APO AE 09718
telephone: [212] (37) 76 22 65
FAX: [212] (37) 76 56 61
consulate(s) general: Casablanca
Flag description:
red with a green pentacle (five-pointed, linear star) known as Sulayman's (Solomon's) seal in the center of the flag; red and green are traditional colors in Arab flags, although the use of red is more commonly associated with the Arab states of the Persian gulf; the pentacle represents the five pillars of Islam and signifies the association between God and the nation; design dates to 1912
Economy ::Morocco
Economy - overview:
Economic policies pursued since 2003 by King Mohammed VI have brought macroeconomic stability to the country with generally low inflation, improved financial sector performance, and steady progress in developing the services and industrial sectors. The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), a $2 billion initiative launched by the King in 2005, has improved social welfare through a successful rural electrification program, an overhaul of the tourism and agriculture sectors, and the gradual replacement of urban slums with decent housing. Despite the INDH's success, Morocco continues to grapple with a high illiteracy rate, a low education enrollment rate, and a high urban youth unemployment rate of around 30%. Moroccan exports have dropped sharply since mid-2008 as a result of the decline in global phosphates prices--the bulk of Moroccan exports by value--and the global economic slowdown. The recession in Europe--Morocco's main export market--also prompted a decline in the flow of foreign tourists and remittances, two primary sources of foreign currency. A record agricultural harvest, strong government spending, and domestic consumption, however, combined to offset losses from weak exports and helped GDP grow by 5.1% in 2009. Despite structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is only fully convertible for selected transactions. In 2006, Morocco entered a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, and in 2008 entered into an advanced status in its 2000 Association Agreement with the EU. Morocco's primary economic challenge is to accelerate and sustain growth in order to reduce high levels of unemployment and underemployment. Long-term challenges include improving education and job prospects for Morocco's youth, closing the income gap between the rich and the poor, confronting corruption, and expanding and diversifying exports beyond phosphates and low-value added products.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$146.7 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
$139.6 billion (2008 est.)
$131.5 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$91.84 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22
6.2% (2008 est.)
3.2% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$4,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
$4,500 (2008 est.)
$4,300 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 19.2%
industry: 31.3%
services: 49.4% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
11.46 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 44.6%
industry: 19.8%
services: 35.5% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate:
9.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
9.6% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line:
15% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 33.2% (2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
40.9 (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
39.5 (1999 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
31.8% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
revenues: $23.65 billion
expenditures: $25.59 billion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
55.1% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
56% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
3.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
3.25% (24 August 2009)
country comparison to the world: 126
3.32% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
6.5% (31 December 2008)
Stock of money:
$69.25 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 22
$67.42 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$18.98 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 54
$16.23 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$84.9 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 44
$71.9 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$64.48 billion (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 47
$65.75 billion (31 December 2008)
$75.49 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
barley, wheat, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, olives; livestock; wine
phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, leather goods, textiles, construction, energy, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
-0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
Electricity - production:
19.78 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
Electricity - consumption:
20.78 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
3.429 billion kWh (2009 est.)
Oil - production:
4,053 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
Oil - consumption:
187,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
Oil - exports:
17,420 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
Oil - imports:
195,800 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
Oil - proved reserves:
750,000 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
Natural gas - production:
60 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
Natural gas - consumption:
560 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
Natural gas - imports:
500 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.501 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
Current account balance:
-$3.427 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
-$5.659 billion (2008 est.)
$14.75 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
$20.33 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
clothing and textiles, electric components, inorganic chemicals, transistors, crude minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, citrus fruits, vegetables, fish
Exports - partners:
Spain 22.02%, France 20.22%, India 4.91%, Italy 4% (2009)
$31.22 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
$39.83 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
crude petroleum, textile fabric, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas and electricity, transistors, plastics
Imports - partners:
France 16.95%, Spain 14.72%, China 7.1%, Italy 6.76%, Germany 6.28%, US 5.66%, Saudi Arabia 5.11% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$23.58 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$22.72 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$20.06 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
$17.13 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$42.82 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
$41.08 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$696 million (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$1.021 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
Moroccan dirhams (MAD) per US dollar - 8.064 (2009), 7.526 (2008), 8.3563 (2007), 8.7722 (2006), 8.865 (2005)
Communications ::Morocco
Telephones - main lines in use:
2.991 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 51
Telephones - mobile cellular:
22.816 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 35
Telephone system:
general assessment: good system composed of open-wire lines, cables, and microwave radio relay links; principal switching centers are Casablanca and Rabat; national network nearly 100% digital using fiber-optic links; improved rural service employs microwave radio relay; Internet available but expensive
domestic: fixed-line teledensity is less than 10 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership reached 65 per 100 persons in 2008
international: country code - 212; landing point for the Atlas Offshore, Estepona-Tetouan, Euroafrica, Spain-Morocco, and SEA-ME-WE-3 fiber-optical telecommunications undersea cables that provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; microwave radio relay to Gibraltar, Spain, and Western Sahara; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria; participant in Medarabtel; fiber-optic cable link from Agadir to Algeria and Tunisia (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM NA, FM 15, shortwave NA (2009)
Television broadcast stations:
8 (2009)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
276,521 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 57
Internet users:
10.3 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 31
Transportation ::Morocco
58 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 81
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 32
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 26
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 8 (2009)
1 (2009)
gas 830 km; oil 439 km (2009)
total: 1,907 km
country comparison to the world: 74
standard gauge: 1,907 km 1.435-m gauge (1,022 km electrified) (2008)
total: 57,625 km
country comparison to the world: 78
paved: 35,664 km (includes 639 km of expressways)
unpaved: 21,961 km (2006)
Merchant marine:
total: 35
country comparison to the world: 81
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 6, container 8, passenger/cargo 13, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 4
foreign-owned: 16 (France 14, Germany 2)
registered in other countries: 4 (Gibraltar 4) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Agadir, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Safi
Military ::Morocco
Military branches:
Royal Armed Forces (Forces Armees Royales, FAR): Royal Moroccan Army (includes Air Defense), Navy (includes Marines), Royal Moroccan Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawyiya al Malakiya Marakishiya; Force Aerienne Royale Marocaine) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 8,167,760
females age 16-49: 8,599,418 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 6,960,026
females age 16-49: 7,307,491 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 300,262
female: 298,227 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
5% of GDP (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17
Transnational Issues ::Morocco
Disputes - international:
claims and administers Western Sahara whose sovereignty remains unresolved - UN-administered cease-fire has remained in effect since September 1991, but attempts to hold a referendum have failed and parties thus far have rejected all brokered proposals; Morocco protests Spain's control over the coastal enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera, the islands of Penon de Alhucemas and Islas Chafarinas, and surrounding waters; both countries claim Isla Perejil (Leila Island); discussions have not progressed on a comprehensive maritime delimitation, setting limits on resource exploration and refugee interdiction, since Morocco's 2002 rejection of Spain's unilateral designation of a median line from the Canary Islands; Morocco serves as one of the primary launching areas of illegal migration into Spain from North Africa
Illicit drugs:
one of the world's largest producers of illicit hashish; shipments of hashish mostly directed to Western Europe; transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; significant consumer of cannabis

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)