(from the web)
Morocco is in Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic
Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western
Algeria 1,559 km, Western Sahara 443 km, Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 km,
and Spain (Melilla) 9.6 km.
Size 446,550 sq km, slightly larger than California, US. Morocco
enjoys a Mediterranean climate, becoming more extreme in the
interior. The northern coast and interior are mountainous with
large areas of bordering plateaus. The rest of the country
consists of inter-montane valleys, and rich coastal plains. Its
lowest point is at Sebkha Tah -55 m; its highest point is Jbel
Toubkal 4,165 m in the High Atlas mountains.
Just over 32 million people live in Morocco. Life expectancy is
around 70 years. Birth rate is on average 2.8 per woman.
Literacy rate is 64% for males and 39% for females.
Arabic (official), Berber dialects, and French which is often
the language of business, government, and diplomacy.
Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%.
Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%.
Brief Political History:
Morocco's long struggle for independence from France ended in
1956. The internationalized city of Tangier was 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 in 1997. Parliamentary elections were
held for the second time in September 2002 and municipal
elections were held in September 2003.
Morocco faces the problems typical of developing countries -
restraining government spending, reducing constraints on private
activity and foreign trade, and achieving sustainable economic
growth. 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. Reforms of
the financial sector are being contemplated. Droughts depressed
activity in the key agricultural sector and contributed to a
stagnant economy in 2002. Morocco reported large foreign
exchange inflows from the sale of a mobile telephone license,
and partial privatization of the state-owned telecommunications
company and the state tobacco company. Favorable rainfall in
2003 led to a growth of 6%. Formidable long-term challenges
include: preparing the economy for freer trade with the EU and
US, improving education, and attracting foreign investment to
boost living standards and job prospects for Morocco's youth.
The most complete medieval city of the Arab world, Fes is a strange
and appealing mix of middle ages meets the modern world. The
extraordinary medina city of Fes El Bali is worth a few days walking
in itself. Other highlights include the Merenid tombs, the Royal
Palace and the Mellah (Jewish quarter). Fes was Morocco's capital
for more than 400 years and is still considered the religious and
cultural center of the country.
Situated at the foot of the Atlas mountains, the imperial city of
Marrakech is large, noisy, full of history, and beautiful. There's a
lot to see and do in Marrakech. Highlights include the central
square of Djemma el Fna; the Saadian Tombs, Marjorelle Gardens, and
the souqs (bazaars). Staying in a traditional Riad will really
enhance your visit to this fascinating city.
Tangier is the gateway to Africa for many travelers. While the city
doesn't have quite the charm it did in the 1940's and 1950's when
you could rub shoulders with the likes of Truman Capote, Paul Bowles
and Tennessee Williams there's still a lot to see. Highlights
include the medina, the Kasbah and the Ville Nouvelle. Tangier is
well known for its aggressive touts, but persevere and this unique
city will grow on you.