country profile - MOROCCO
Background: In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, a series of Moroccan Muslim 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. The Alaouite Dynasty, to which the current Moroccan royal family belongs, dates from the 17th century. 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. Sultan MOHAMMED V, the current monarch's grandfather, organized the new state as a constitutional monarchy and in 1957 assumed the title of king. Since Spain's 1976 withdrawal from what is today called Western Sahara, Morocco has extended its de facto administrative control to roughly 80% of this territory; however, the UN does not recognize Morocco as the administering power for Western Sahara. The UN since 1991 has monitored a cease-fire between Morocco and the Polisario Front - Western Sahara's liberation movement - and leads ongoing negotiations over the status of the territory. King MOHAMMED VI in early 2011 responded to the spread of pro-democracy protests in the region by implementing a reform program that included a new constitution, passed by popular referendum in July 2011, under which some new powers were extended to parliament and the prime minister but ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch. In November 2011, the Justice and Development Party - a moderate Islamist party - won the largest number of seats in parliamentary elections, becoming the first Islamist party to lead the Moroccan Government.
geography  
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Area: total: 446,550 sq km
land: 446,300 sq km
water: 250 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 2,362.5 km
border countries (3): Algeria 1,900 km, Western Sahara 444 km, Spain (Ceuta) 8 km, Spain (Melilla) 10.5 km
note: an additional 75-meter border segment exists between Morocco and the Spanish exclave of Penon de Velez de la Gomera
Coastline: 1,835 km
Climate: Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
people  
Population: 33,322,699 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.41% (male 4,469,461/female 4,330,904)
15-24 years: 17.42% (male 2,886,637/female 2,919,324)
25-54 years: 42.13% (male 6,788,601/female 7,249,887)
55-64 years: 7.6% (male 1,262,634/female 1,271,492)
65 years and over: 6.43% (male 964,900/female 1,178,859) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 28.5 years
male: 27.9 years
female: 29.1 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 1% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 18.2 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 4.81 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -3.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Moroccan(s)
adjective: Moroccan
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, other 1%
Religions: Muslim 99% (official; virtually all Sunni, <0.1% Shia), other 1% (includes Christian, Jewish, and Baha'i), Jewish about 6,000 (2010 est.)
Languages: Arabic (official), Berber languages (Tamazight (official), Tachelhit, Tarifit), French (often the language of business, government, and diplomacy)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 68.5%
male: 78.6%
female: 58.8% (2015 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)
daylight saving time: +1 hr, begins last Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in September
Administrative divisions: 12 regions;
Béni Mellal-Khénifra, Dakhla-Oued Ed Dahab, Draâ-Tafilalet, Fes-Meknes, Grand Casablanca-Settat, Guelmim-Oued Noun, Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra, Marrakech-Safi, Oriental, Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Souss-Massa, Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima
Independence: 2 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday: Throne Day (accession of King MOHAMMED VI to the throne), 30 July (1999)
Legal system: mixed legal system of civil law based on French law and Islamic law; judicial review of legislative acts by Constitutional Court
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal (as of January 2003)
Executive branch: chief of state: King MOHAMMED VI (since 30 July 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Abdelillah BENKIRANE (since 29 November 2011)
cabinet: Council of Ministers chosen by the prime minister in consultation with Parliament and appointed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch from the majority party following legislative elections
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Chamber of Advisors (90-120 seats; members indirectly elected by an electoral college of local councils, professional organizations, and labor unions; members serve 6-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives (395 seats; 305 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 90 directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms); note - in the national constituency, 60 seats are reserved for women and 30 reserved for young people
elections: Chamber of Advisors- last held on 3 October 2009 (next scheduled for fall 2015); Chamber of Representatives - last held on 25 November 2011 (next to be held in 2016)
election results: Chamber of Advisors- percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PJD 107, PI 60, RNI 52, PAM 47, USFP 39, MP 32, UC 23, PPS 18, other 17
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court or Court of Cassation (consists of 5-judge panels organized into civil, family matters, commercial, administrative, social, and criminal sections); Constitutional Court (consists of 12 members)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the Superior Council of Judicial Power, a 20-member body presided by the monarch and including the Supreme Court president, the prosecutor general, representatives of the appeals and first instance courts - among them 1 woman magistrate, the president of the National Council of the Rights of Man, and 5 "notable persons" appointed by the monarch; judges appointed for life; Constitutional Court members - 6 designated by the monarch and 6 elected by Parliament; court president appointed by the monarch from among the court members; members serve 9-year non-renewable terms
subordinate courts: courts of appeal; High Court of Justice; administrative and commercial courts; regional and sadad courts (for religious, civil and administrative, and penal adjudication); first instance courts
Political parties and leaders: Action Party or PA [Mohammed EL IDRISSI]
Al Ahd (The Covenant) Party [Najib EL OUAZZANI]
An-Nahj Ad-Dimocrati or An-Nahj [Abdellah EL HARIF]
Authenticity and Modernity Party or PAM [Mustapha BAKKOURY]
Choura et Istiqlal (Consultation and Independence) Party or PCI [Abdelwahed MAACH]
Citizens' Forces or FC [Abderrahman LAHJOUJI]
Constitutional Union Party or UC [Mohammed ABIED]
Democratic and Social Movement or MDS [Mahmoud ARCHANE]
Democratic Forces Front or FFD [Touhami EL KHIARI]
Democratic Socialist Vanguard Party or PADS [Ahmed BENJELLOUN]
Democratic Society Party or PSD [Zhor CHEKKAFI]
Democratic Union or UD [Bouazza IKKEN]
Environment and Development Party or PED [Ahmed EL ALAMI]
Istiqlal (Independence) Party or PI [Hamid CHABAT]
Labor Party or LP [Abdelkrim BENATIK]
Moroccan Liberal Party or PML [Mohamed ZIANE]
National Democratic Party or PND [Abdallah KADIRI]
National Ittihadi Congress Party or CNI [Abdelmajid BOUZOUBAA]
National Popular Movement or MNP [Mahjoubi AHERDANE]
National Rally of Independents or RNI [Salaheddine MEZOUAR]
Neo-Democrats Party [Mohamed DARIF]
Party of Justice and Development or PJD [Abdelillah BENKIRANE]
Popular Movement or MP [Mohamed LAENSER]
Progress and Socialism Party or PPS [Nabil BENABDELLAH]
Reform and Development Party or PRD [Abderrahmane EL KOUHEN]
Renaissance and Virtue Party or PRV [Mohamed KHALIDI]
Renewal and Equity Party or PRE [Chakir ACHABAR]
Social Center Party or PSC [Lahcen MADIH]
Socialist Union of Popular Forces or USFP [Driss LACHGAR]
Unified Socialist Party or GSU [Nabila MOUNIB]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Democratic Confederation of Labor or CDT [Noubir EL AMAOUI]
General Union of Moroccan Workers or UGTM [Mohamed KAFI CHERRAT]
Justice and Charity Organization or JCO [Mohammed ben Abdesslam ABBADI]
Moroccan Employers Association or CGEM [Miriem BENSALAH-CHAQROUN]
National Labor Union of Morocco or UNMT [Mohamed YATIM]
Union of Moroccan Workers or UMT [Miloudi EL MOUKHARIK]
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, CAEU, CD, EBRD, FAO, G-11, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club (associate), PCA, SICA (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNOCI, UNSC (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag description: red with a green pentacle (five-pointed, linear star) known as Sulayman's (Solomon's) seal in the center of the flag; red and green are traditional colors in Arab flags, although the use of red is more commonly associated with the Arab states of the Persian gulf; design dates to 1912
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 2.49 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 44.1 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 134 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: good system composed of open-wire lines, cables, and microwave radio relay links; principal switching centers are Casablanca and Rabat; national network nearly 100% digital using fiber-optic links; improved rural service employs microwave radio relay; Internet available but expensive
domestic: fixed-line teledensity is roughly 10 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 100 per 100 persons
international: country code - 212; landing point for the Atlas Offshore, Estepona-Tetouan, Euroafrica, Spain-Morocco, and SEA-ME-WE-3 fiber-optic telecommunications undersea cables that provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; microwave radio relay to Gibraltar, Spain, and Western Sahara; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria; participant in Medarabtel; fiber-optic cable link from Agadir to Algeria and Tunisia (2011)
Radio broadcast stations: FM 15 (2009)
Television broadcast stations: 8 (2009)
Internet country code: .ma
Internet hosts: 276,521 (2009)
Internet users: 19.9 million (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 55 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 31
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 24
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 5 (2013)
Heliports: 1 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 944 km; oil 270 km; refined products 175 km (2013)
Railways: total: 2,067 km
standard gauge: 2,067 km 1.435-m gauge (1,022 km electrified) (2014)
Roadways: total: 58,395 km
paved: 41,116 km (includes 1,080 km of expressways)
unpaved: 17,279 km (2010)
Merchant marine: total: 26
by type: cargo 1, chemical tanker 3, container 6, passenger/cargo 14, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 14 (France 3, Germany 1, Italy 1, Spain 9)
registered in other countries: 4 (Gibraltar 4) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Casablanca, Jorf Lasfar, Mohammedia, Safi, Tangier
container port(s) (TEUs): Tangier (2,093,408)
LNG terminal(s) (import): Jorf Lasfar
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: claims and administers Western Sahara whose sovereignty remains unresolved; 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; both countries claim Isla Perejil (Leila Island); 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; Algeria's border with Morocco remains an irritant to bilateral relations, each nation accusing the other of harboring militants and arms smuggling; the National Liberation Front's assertions of a claim to Chirac Pastures in southeastern Morocco is a dormant dispute
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Morocco is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Moroccan adults and children are exploited for forced labor and forced prostitution in the Middle East and Europe; some Moroccan girls recruited to work as maids experience conditions of forced labor, while some Moroccan boys experience forced labor when working as apprentices in the artisan and construction industries and in mechanic shops; women and children from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia who voluntarily enter Morocco are subsequently coerced into prostitution or, less frequently, forced domestic service
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Morocco does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; nevertheless, in 2013, the government did not demonstrate progress in investigating, prosecuting, convicting, and adequately punishing trafficking offenders and provided limited law enforcement data; the government did not develop or employ systematic procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims and provided limited to no social or protective services, relying heavily on NGOs to supply care ; Morocco continues to lack a single comprehensive anti-trafficking law (2014)
Illicit drugs: one of the world's largest producers of illicit hashish; shipments of hashish mostly directed to Western Europe; transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe; significant consumer of cannabis
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html