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Berber language, capital of Morocco, Strait of Gibraltar, Berbers, constitutional monarchy

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Morocco, kingdom in North Africa. Morocco is a fabled destination for travelers, known for its spectacular mountain scenery, its colorful bazaars, and its ancient capitals at Fes and Marrakech. Even modern Moroccan sites carry a mystique: Think of Casablanca, made famous by a motion picture. In Arabic the country’s name is Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah, meaning “the kingdom of the West.”

Morocco is located at the crossroads of several worlds: African, Mediterranean, Christian, and Islamic. From these varied influences the country has forged a distinctive culture, apparent in its arts and architecture, language, cuisine, and outlook on the world. Spain lies directly across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco, only 13 km (8 mi) distant. For 44 years, from 1912 to 1956, Morocco was divided into protectorates and ruled by France and Spain. Even today, two Spanish enclaves—Ceuta and Melilla—on the Mediterranean coast remain within Morocco, and small islands off the coast also belong to Spain.

The people of Morocco are mainly Arabs and Berbers or of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry. Arabic is the official language of the country, but many people speak a Berber language, especially in rural areas. French is also spoken in the cities. Morocco’s economy is based largely on agriculture, but tourism contributes significantly.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, with a king as head of state and a prime minister as head of the government. Rabat, where the king lives, is the capital of Morocco. Casablanca, south of Rabat along the Atlantic coast, is the country’s largest city and commercial center. Morocco borders the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to its north and east, and the Sahara to its south. Also south of Morocco lies Western Sahara, a former overseas province of Spain that Morocco has claimed and administered since 1979. The country’s southeastern border with Algeria, in the Sahara, has never been precisely defined.



Cross, Mary. Morocco: Sahara to the Sea. Abbeville, 2000. Striking photographs of Morocco and its inhabitants.

Cunninghame Graham, R. B. Mogreb-El-Acksa: A Journey in Morocco. Marlboro, 1997. Vivid adventures of a late-19th-century English traveler; first published in 1898.

Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock. A Street in Marrakech. Doubleday, 1976. Reprint, Waveland, 1988. Experiences of an American family living in the Moroccan city.

Hermes, Jules The Children of Morocco Carolrhoda, 1995. Photo essay showcasing Moroccan children at home, at work, and at play. For younger readers.

Hoisington, William A. Lyautey and French Conquest of Morocco St. Martin's, 1995. Solider and administrator Louis Hubert Lyautey's dreams for cultural and political trade between France and North Africa, and the irony and tragedy of his attempts to make them reality.

Pennell, C. R. Morocco Since 1830: A History. New York University Press, 1999. A general history covering Morocco's colonial past and its drive to independence.

Rogerson, Barnaby. A Traveler's History of North Africa. Interlink, 1998. North African history from Carthaginian times to the kings, colonels, and presidents of the present. Includes a chronology of major events, historical maps, a list of rulers, and a gazetteer.


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