Morocco is home to one of the largest deserts in the world and also has a beautiful coastline. It is culturally important in both the African and Arab worlds, yet it’s just a hop away from Europe. So where is Morocco?
Morocco is located in the Maghreb Region of North Africa.
Morocco Interesting Facts
- The oldest continually operating university in the world is in Fes, Morocco.
- The city of Ouarzazate in Morocco is known as the “Hollywood of Africa.”
- Morocco was the first country to formally recognize the United States.
Precise Location Coordinates of Morocco
The DMS (Degrees, Minutes, Seconds) coordinates for the center of Morocco are:
- 31° 47′ 30.13” N
- 7° 5′ 33.43” W
The latitude and longitude of Morocco are:
- Latitude: 31.791702
- Longitude: -7.09262
You can see the location of Morocco on the world map below:
Morocco Neighboring Countries
Morocco shares foreign borders with three countries and two major bodies of water. The country’s longest foreign border is shared with Algeria, and there are Spanish enclaves within Morocco’s territory.
Disputed borders are a reality in Morocco — it claims the territory of the Spanish enclaves as its own, and the land designated as Western Sahara is claimed by both Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Morocco controls the majority of Western Sahara, which makes Mauritania the de facto southern boundary of Morocco.
The neighboring countries of Morocco (MA) are:
- Algeria (DZ)
- Spain (ES)
- Western Sahara (EH)
- Mauritania (MR) – if Western Sahara is considered part of Morocco
Morocco’s maritime borders include the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Along with Spain and France, Morocco is one of only three nations to have an Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline.
Administrative Divisions of Morocco
Morocco consists of 12 regions that can be further divided into 62 provinces and 13 prefectures. The current 12 regions have been defined since 2015, one of which lies completely within the territory of Western Sahara. Each region in Morocco is governed by a directly elected regional council.
The most populous region in Morocco is Casablanca-Settat, which has a population of nearly 7 million. The capital of Morocco, Rabat, is located in the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra region, which is the second-most populous in the country.
Geography of Morocco
Morocco covers a total land area of 446,300 km2 (172,300 mi2) without including Western Sahara, or 710,850 km2 (274,460 mi2) not including Western Sahara.
The geography of Morocco is diverse; there are mountains, there is a long, ocean coastline, and there is desert. One of the most dominating features of Morocco’s geography is certainly the portion of the Sahara Desert that lies within its borders.
The Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the world, and it is separated from Morocco’s largest cities by the Atlas Mountains, which are located in the central and southern sections of the country. The Rif Mountains are located in the northern part of Morocco.
Visitors to Morocco that want to partake in one of many tours available into the Sahara will usually have to cross the Atlas Mountains from one of Morocco’s major cities closer to the coast.
History of Morocco
The history of humans in the area of modern-day Morocco stretches back many thousands of years to at least the Paleolithic Era between 190,000 and 90,000 BCE, maybe even earlier.
The Berber people are indigenous to the area, still make up a significant portion of Morocco’s population, and established the Kingdom of Mauretania in the 3rd century BCE. Centuries later, it became part of the Roman Empire and then was conquered by Arab leaders. During this time it became an important center of Islamic culture and tradition.
The Alaouite Dynasty came into power in the 17th century and has remained the ruling power in Morocco to this day.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Morocco had to deal with the occupation of its territories by France and Spain, the latter of which still has enclaves within Morocco. Spain established a coastal protectorate in Morocco in 1884, and the Treaty of Fes in 1912 made Morocco a protectorate of France.
Before Morocco gained its independence in 1956, tens of thousands of European colonists entered the country, purchasing land and capitalizing on the modernization of mines and harbors in the country.
Since gaining independence, many political and economic reforms have been made in Morocco, and it has become a modern constitutional monarchy.
People and Culture of Morocco
The two largest ethnic groups in Morocco are Arabs and Berbers, the former accounting for a slightly larger portion of the country’s 37 million people, though many Moroccans can claim both Arab and Berber ancestry. Most of the foreign-born residents of Morocco are French or from West African countries and Algeria.
The Berber people refer to themselves as Amazigh (singular) or Imazighen (plural), as the term Berber is considered by some to be derogatory.
The dominant religion in Morocco is Islam, with almost the entire population identifying as Sunni Muslims. A very small minority of Muslims in the country identify as Shia Muslims, and only around 1% of the population identifies as non-Muslim.
Linguistically, Arabic and Berber are the official languages of Morocco. The Moroccan dialect of Arabic is called Darija, which almost 90% of the country can use to communicate. There are three different dialects of Berber spoken in the country, and French is often used in government, media, commerce, and international relations.
In Morocco, food is a central part of life, and the country’s cuisine is something special. It draws on a range of diverse influences like Arab, Berber, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines. Couscous is one of the most well-known Moroccan foods, and beef is commonly served in a tagine along with vegetables.
Commonly used spices include saffron, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, and several others. The consumption of alcohol and pork is rare due to religious restrictions.
The arts scene in Morocco is strong and varied, drawing on the diverse interaction of cultures that make up its history. Theater, visual art, literature, filmmaking, and other art forms are being produced at high levels in Morocco.
The Moroccan National Theater was established in 1956, the same year the country gained independence, and offers regular performances of Moroccan and French works.
Some of the most popular music festivals in Morocco are the Mawazine Rhythms of the World Festival in Rabat, the World Sacred Music Festival in Fes, and the Transahara Festival near Merzouga.
Biggest Cities in Morocco
Here are the largest cities in Morocco based on 2021 data:
|Casablanca||4,370,000||El Kelaa des Srarhna||1,450,021||Fes||1,112,072||Tangier||947,952||Marrakech||928,850||Sale||850,403||Rabat||572,717||Meknes||520,428||Oujda-Angad||494,252||Kenitra||431,282|
Map of Morocco with the Largest Cities
Morocco Economy Facts
|World Bank Income Group||Lower middle income|
|World Bank Region||Middle East & North Africa|
|Currency||Moroccan Dirham (MAD)|
|GDP in 2020||$114.7 (billions of USD)|
World Rank: 58
|GDP per capita in 2020||$3,059|
World Rank: 133
|Major Industries / Economic Sectors||Manufacturing, services, agriculture, energy|
|Top 5 Import Countries||China, France, Spain, United States, Italy|
|Top 5 Export Countries||France, Spain, United States, India, Italy|
Government and Politics in Morocco
According to the Moroccan constitution, the government consists of a monarchy with a Parliament and an independent judiciary. In other words, the government of Morocco is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
The King of Morocco has significant powers in Morocco and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, though his executive powers were limited in 2011 constitutional reforms.
Tourist Attractions in Morocco
There are plenty of reasons to visit Morocco, and it’s no surprise that tourism is a key industry in Morocco’s economy, generating billions of dollars each year. Below are some of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
The Medina in Marrakech is one of the most iconic tourist sites in the country. It’s the city’s old town and a bustling center of activity that features a labyrinthine system of market stalls and entertainers like traditional musicians and snake charmers.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance and noteworthy architecture.
The blue and white traditional houses in Chefchaouen have earned it the nickname “the Blue Pearl.” It’s a city in the Rif Mountains of northwestern Morocco and is a popular spot for tourists interested in wandering around the city and admiring its beauty.
There isn’t much to do in Chefchaouen other than explore on foot and admire the atmosphere, but this is enough for many who visit.
The Dunes of Erg Chebbi
Dunes in the Sahara Desert are often associated with Morocco, and many tourists visit the country with a desire to see them for themselves. Guided tours into the desert are possible, and one of the most popular destinations is Erg Chebbi, one of the desert’s seas of sand dunes.
Activities at Erg Chebbi include dune surfing, camel trekking, and exploring in a 4×4 vehicle. Stargazing opportunities are also stunning in the desert.
Transportation and Infrastructure of Morocco
Morocco is fairly well connected to the rest of the world via several international airports and ferry lines. The busiest airport in the country is the Casablanca Mohammed V Airport. Most foreign tourists arrive in Morocco by an international flight, but ferries from Spain or France are also options.
Once in Morocco, the most common form of travel within cities is by taxi. These use meters, so you shouldn’t need to haggle with the price. Another option, especially for inter-city travel, is to rent a car in Morocco.
The cities of Casablanca and Rabat have modern tram systems, and there is a national railway service, ONCF, that connects most of the country’s major cities.
Climate and Weather of Morocco
The majority of Morocco north of Western Sahara experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. There is more precipitation at higher elevations in the Rif and Atlas Mountains, where snow is common at (6,500 feet).
The rainy season in Morocco typically lasts from October to April, with more precipitation falling in the northern part of the country.
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Morocco Key Facts
|Country Codes||Alpha 2: MA|
Alpha 3: MAR
|Country Flag Emoji||🇲🇦|
|Int. Phone Prefix||+212|
|Country Area||716,550 sq km|
World Rank: 40
|Major languages||Arabic (official), Berber languages (Tamazight (official), Tachelhit, Tarifit), French (often the language of business, government, and diplomacy)|
|UTC/GMT Time||Number of time zones: 1|
|Biggest Airport||Casablanca-Mohammed V (CMN)|
|Average temperature||17.10 °C|
|Administrative Divisions||12 regions 62 provinces 13 prefectures|
|Political system||Constitutional monarchy|