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. Improvements in human rights have occurred and there is a largely free press. Despite the continuing reforms, ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch.

 

Geography:
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 5 00 W
People:
Population: 32,309,239 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.8% (male 4,514,623/female 4,382,487)

15-64 years: 66.1% (male 10,335,931/female 10,785,380)

65 years and over:  6.1% (male 881,622/female 1,068,318) (2011 est.)

Government:
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
Capital: name: Rabat

geographic coordinates: 34 01 N, 6 49 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 3.749 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular:  31.928 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 56 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 31

over 3,047 m: 12

2,438 to 3,047 m: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 8

914 to 1,523 m: 4(2012)

Military:
Military branches: Royal Armed Forces (Forces ArmeesRoyales, FAR): Royal Moroccan Army (includes Air Defence), Navy (includes Marines), Royal Moroccan Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawyiya al MalakiyaMarakishiya; Force Aerienne Royale Marocaine) (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; service obligation – 18 months (2010)

Economy:

Moroccan economic policies brought macroeconomic stability to the country in the early 1990s but have not spurred growth sufficient to reduce unemployment – nearing 20% in urban areas – despite the Moroccan Government’s on-going efforts to diversify the economy. Morocco’s GDP growth rate slowed to 2.1% in 2007 as a result of a draught that severely reduced agricultural output and necessitated wheat imports at rising world prices.

 

Continued dependence on foreign energy and Morocco’s inability to develop small and medium size enterprises also contributed to the slowdown. Moroccan authorities understand that reducing poverty and providing jobs are key to domestic security and development. In 2005, Morocco launched the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), a $2 billion social development plan to address poverty and unemployment and to improve the living conditions of the country’s urban slums. Moroccan authorities are implementing reform efforts to open the economy to international investors.

Transnational Issues:

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 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