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State

Capital

Morocco

Rabat

Al Maghrib

Currency unit

Moroccan Dirham

Connections

Arabs

Democracy

Islam

Francophonia

North Africa

Spain

War

Western

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Part of modern Morocco was included in the Roman province of Mauretania (not the same as the state with the same name today). It was probably inhabited by the ancestors of the Berber people who form part of the population today. The Berber Language is not part of the Semitic family to which Arabic belongs, though related at an earlier period in the Afro-Asiatic group of languages. The Berbers may have been the original users of woad (often associated with the ancient inhabitants of Britain) and are genetically closer to Europeans than to most other Africans (frequently blue-eyed with blond hair). (Was there a period when the inhabitants of western Europe spoke a Berber language? There is no evidence.)

Phoenicians colonized the whole coastal area of N Africa. They also controlled Cadiz and parts of Sicily and Sardinia. There was Roman control from about 146 BC. There was a Vandal kingdom from 429 AD when 80,000 crossed from Spain, until 533 when Byzantine forces commanded by Belisarius reconquered the provinces. However, Byzantine control did not extend to Morocco and the Berber peoples were now in control. Some of these were nomadic, others were settled.

The Arabic name for Morocco (Maghrib) means "The West" . The first wave of Arab conquest spread westward until they met the Atlantic in 681. To most of the Arab peoples it is the Far West. The invaders conquered the local Berbers but only slowly did they settle the land in strength and even now there are large numbers of people speaking Berber languages, especially in the hills.

Arabs reached Sus by 683. But the area did not become Muslim until the final conquest in 703-11. From Morocco came the invasion of Spain by Tariq in 711. In 789 came the foundation of Fas, as a city of students open to the rest of the world including Cordoba and Kairouan. This was by the first Idrisid dynasty of kings (descendants of Ali, hence Sharifs). The area was under the influence of the Omayyad Khalifs at Cordoba in Spain.

The Almorabitun (Almoravides) conquered Morocco from Mauritania in 1059. (These were mostly Saharan Berbers). Yusuf ibn Tashfin conquered Muslim Spain in 1091. Southwards they reached ancient Ghana in 1076 (modern Senegal and Mali). The Almuwadihun (Almohades) conquered Morocco in 1159. They also conquered a diminished Muslim Spain. It was in this period that the Arabs began to migrate in large numbers into the Maghreb. They destroyed the forests and peasant farming with their nomadic habits.

The Portuguese settled at various points and raided the Atlantic coast from 1415 to 1486; Sa'di sharifs (related to the present royal family) came to power in 1551. They first conquered southern Morocco after being made leaders against Portuguese incursions in the area of Agadir.

Morocco became one of the important centers of Islamic culture and learning and was the diffusion point for the entry of Arab knowledge into Spain and the rest of Europe. The cities of Fas and Marrakesh are characteristic of North African Muslim culture. Jebel Tariq (Gibraltar) is visible from the northernmost coast of Morocco. The frontier between Spain and Morocco (perhaps due to be bridged or tunneled soon) is not an iron curtain, as many cultural influences such as similar architecture and music are found on both sides. Morocco's influence on Europe and America, through Spain has been considerable. The Muslim states of Spain were reinforced from Africa many times, and especially by the Almorabitun and al Muhades empires which ruled both sides of the strait.

Unlike the rest of north Africa, Morocco was never conquered by the Ottoman Turks.

In 1591 came the conquest of Songhai, including Gao and Timbuktu, by the Saidi Sultan Ahmad al Mansur. The expedition, including English slaves, destroyed the kingdom but did not replace it with a settled administration. The gold and salt trade then came into the hands of the Tuareg of the Sahara.

The Idrisid monarchy in its present form dates from 1689 but can trace its descent back to the original Sharifs. Like the Hashemites, they are descendants of the prophet. As Ibn Khaldun observed, this family emerged from the periphery, from the Oases of Tafilat where they had ruled for many years earlier. Mawlay al Rashid conquered Fez in 1666 giving him control of the whole country.

When Charles the second married Catherine of Braganza (a Portuguese princess) in 1662 her dowry included the Portuguese colony in India of Bombay (now Mumbai) (and also Tangier, now part of Morocco but this colony lasted only from 1662 until 1648 when the Moroccans made it untenable - see British Empire).

In 1912 French and Spanish protectorates were proclaimed under the treaty of Fas (Fez). The area around Tangier became a Spanish protectorate. Tangier itself had a separate International administration which in practice made it a Free Port (and open to many fugitives and illegal activities).

There was Portuguese activity in Morocco: Ceuta (Sebta) was conquered by the Portuguese in 1415, taken by Spain in 1580. Mellilla was conquered by Spain in 1497. Both these territories are still occupied by Spain - the last remaining European colonies in Africa.

Independence came in 1956 when the protectorates came to an end. Since then there has been a dispute with Algeria partly over the ownership of the former Spanish Sahara, and also over the phosphate deposits. Algeria adopted a revolutionary political approach whereas Morocco returned to traditional monarchy. The tension between the two countries seemed to be lessening recently as Algeria became more democratic, though the regime in Morocco remains dictatorial and Algeria itself threatens to succumb to civil war.

Morocco does not belong to the African Union, though it does to the Arab League and the Organisation of the Muslim Conference.

Languages

Semitic
Arabic

Afro-Asiatic
Berber langs.

Second languages
French
Spanish

 Interesting reading

Paul Bowles

Collected Stories & Later Writings (Library of America)

The Stories of Paul Bowles


Gesammelte Erzählungen 2


Tahir Shah - In Arabian Nights



Im Haus des Kalifen: Ein Jahr in Casablanca

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

The king is the source of all power. There is a parliament but its powers can be by-passed by the king if he wishes.

King Hassan was succeeded on his death in July 1999 by his son Mohammed. The new king appointed the leader of an opposition party as prime minister. Whether he really intends to democratise the political system remains to be seen.

By 2002 it was clear that he had no such intention and the regime remained as oppressive as before, expelling foreign journalists for example.

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt seem to have prompted the king to announce "reforms". But little of substance was offered.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Largely traditional, agricultural, with tourism. The poverty is mitigated by emigration, mainly to Spain, France and Belgium.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

High population growth rate, leads to emigration, especially into Europe via Spain.

Potentially this could be the site of OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) for energy and desalinated water, and also of spirulina hydroponics, using the desalinated water, to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

European solar thermal plants may become a large industry.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

There is imprisonment without trial and reports of routine torture and disappearances. Justice seems to be more or less at the whim of the king.

Climate effects

Last revised 8/09/11


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