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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. Parliamentary elections were held for the second time in September 2002 and municipal elections were held in September 2003.


Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara

Geographic coordinates:

32 00 N, 5 00 W


total: 446,550 sq km
land: 446,300 sq km
water: 250 sq km

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


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)

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

Geography - note:

strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar


33,241,259 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 31.6% (male 5,343,976/female 5,145,019)
15-64 years: 63.4% (male 10,505,018/female 10,580,599)
65 years and over: 5% (male 725,116/female 941,531) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 23.9 years
male: 23.4 years
female: 24.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.55% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

21.98 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

5.58 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.87 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 40.24 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 43.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 36.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 70.94 years
male: 68.62 years
female: 73.37 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.68 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

15,000 (2001 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: may be a significant risk in some locations during the transmission season (typically April through November) (2005)


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: 51.7%
male: 64.1%
female: 39.4% (2003 est.)

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



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 claims another region, Oued Eddahab-Lagouira, which falls entirely within Western Sahara


2 March 1956 (from France)

National holiday:

Throne Day (accession of King MOHAMED VI to the throne), 30 July (1999)


10 March 1972; revised 4 September 1992, amended (to create bicameral legislature) September 1996

Legal system:

based on Islamic law and French and Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of Supreme Court


18 years of age; universal (as of January 2003)

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of an upper house or Chamber of Counselors (270 seats; members elected indirectly by local councils, professional organizations, and labor syndicates for nine-year terms; one-third of the members are renewed every three years) and a lower house or Chamber of Representatives (325 seats; 295 by multi-seat constituencies and 30 from national lists of women; members elected by popular vote for five-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Counselors - last held 6 October 2003 (next to be held in 2006); Chamber of Representatives - last held 27 September 2002 (next to be held in 2007)
election results: Chamber of Counselors - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RNI 42, MDS 33, UC 28, MP 27, PND 21, PI 21, USFP 16, MNP 15, PA 13, FFD 12, other 42; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - USFP 50, PI 48, PJD 42, RNI 41, MP 27, MNP 18, UC 16, PND 12, PPS 11, UD 10, other 50

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (judges are appointed on the recommendation of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, presided over by the monarch)

Economy - overview:

Moroccan economic policies brought macroeconomic stability to the country in the early 1990s but have not spurred growth sufficient to reduce unemployment that nears 20% in urban areas. Poverty has actually increased due to the volatile nature of GDP, Morocco's continued dependence on foreign energy, and its inability to promote the growth of small and medium size enterprises. Despite structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is only fully convertible for current account transactions and Morocco's financial sector is rudimentary. Moroccan authorities understand that reducing poverty and providing jobs is key to domestic security and development. In 2004, Moroccan authorities instituted measures to boost foreign direct investment and trade by signing a free trade agreement with the US and selling government shares in the state telecommunications company and in the largest state-owned bank. The Free Trade agreement went into effect in January 2006. In 2005, GDP growth slipped to 1.2% and the budget deficit rose sharply - to 7.5% of GDP - because of substantial increases in wages and oil subsidies. Long-term challenges include preparing the economy for freer trade with the US and European Union, improving education and job prospects for Morocco's youth, and raising living standards, which the government hopes to achieve by increasing tourist arrivals and boosting competitiveness in textiles.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$140.9 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$51.56 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.2% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$4,300 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 21.7%
industry: 35.7%
services: 42.6% (2004 est.)

Labor force:

11.19 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 40%
industry: 15%
services: 45% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

10.5% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

19% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 30.9% (1998-99)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

40 (2005 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.1% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

23.5% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $12.94 billion
expenditures: $16.77 billion; including capital expenditures of $2.19 billion (2005 est.)

Public debt:

72.3% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

barley, wheat, citrus, wine, vegetables, olives; livestock


phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, leather goods, textiles, construction, tourism

Electricity - production:

17.35 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

17.58 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

1.45 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

300 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

158,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

100 million bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

5 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

650 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

1.218 billion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

-$607.5 million (2005 est.)


$9.472 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

clothing, fish, inorganic chemicals, transistors, crude minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, fruits, vegetables

Exports - partners:

France 33.6%, Spain 17.4%, UK 7.7%, Italy 4.7%, US 4.1% (2004)


$18.15 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

crude petroleum, textile fabric, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas and electricity, transistors, plastics

Imports - partners:

France 18.2%, Spain 12.1%, Italy 6.6%, Germany 6%, Russia 5.7%, Saudi Arabia 5.4%, China 4.2%, US 4.1% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$16.2 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$15.6 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

ODA, $218 million (2002)

Currency (code):

Moroccan dirham (MAD)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

1,308,600 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

9,336,900 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: modern system with all important capabilities; however, density is low with only 4.6 main lines available for each 100 persons
domestic: good system composed of open-wire lines, cables, and microwave radio relay links; Internet available but expensive; principal switching centers are Casablanca and Rabat; national network nearly 100% digital using fiber-optic links; improved rural service employs microwave radio relay
international: country code - 212; 7 submarine cables; 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 (1998)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 27, FM 25, shortwave 6 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

35 (plus 66 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

2,538 (2005)

Internet users:

3.5 million (2005)


60 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 25
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 35
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 11 (2005)


1 (2005)


gas 695 km; oil 285 km (2004)


total: 1,907 km
standard gauge: 1,907 km 1.435-m gauge (1,003 km electrified) (2004)


total: 57,694 km
paved: 32,551 km (including 417 km of expressways)
unpaved: 25,143 km (2002)

Merchant marine:

total: 41 ships (1000 GRT or over) 382,994 GRT/285,435 DWT
by type: cargo 5, chemical tanker 6, container 9, passenger/cargo 13, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 5
foreign-owned: 5 (France 1, Germany 2, Switzerland 1, UK 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Agadir, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Nador, Safi, Tangier

Military branches:

Royal Armed Forces: includes Army, Navy, Air Force (Force Aerienne Royale Marocaine)

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; discussions have not progressed on a comprehensive maritime delimitation setting limits on 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:

illicit producer of hashish; shipments of hashish mostly directed to Western Europe; transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe