MOROCCO, LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE: The Kingdom of Morocco is located in the Northwest of Africa. It bas an area of approximately 280,000 squares miles (711,000 square kilometers) and boasts a coastline of approximately 2,120 miles(3,350 kilometers). Its topography is extremely varied and is dominated by rugged mountain ranges (the Rif and the Atlas) that rise to over 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) and form the country's backbone. The coastal plane between the mountains and the sea is fertile and receives adequate rainfall to support the important agricultural industry which, together with most of the large cities, is concentrated mainly in this region. The area to the South and East of the mountains is largely arid, much of it forming part of the Sahara Desert. The climate varies considerably from region to region and from one season to the next. The coastal plane enjoys a temperate Mediterranean-type climate, with temperatures ranging from 46°F to 63°F (8°C to 17°C) in winter and from 66°F to 81°F (19°C to 27°C) in summer. The mountainous areas are generally cooler, and above a height of about 5,250 feet (1,600 meters), receive considerable snowfall in winter. To the South and East of the mountains, rainfall diminishes, becoming negligible in the desert areas, where the range of temperatures is significantly wider- from a minimum of 37'F (3'C) to a maximum of 111°F (44°C).The major cities are Rabat (capital), Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech, Meknes, Tangiers, Agadir, Oujda and Laayoun.
HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT: Morocco bas a rich and varied history. For several centuries before the arrival of the Arabs in 681 AD, the Northern part of the country was inhabited only by Berbers, who were to some extent urbanized. The Arabs brought with them a new language, Arabic, and a religion, Islam, which was soon accepted by the majority of the population. The region has since been ruled by a number of dynasties whose authority extended over areas of varying size, including, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, most of Portugal and Spain. Many coastal cities (Tangiers, Casablanca, Eljadida, and Essaouira) were occupied at different times for many years by European powers, notably Portugal, Span, and England. Internal difficulties in Morocco at the beginning of the twentieth century induced France and Spain to intervene. In 1912, Southern and Northern Morocco became French and Spanish protectorates.
POPULATION: The population in Morocco, is estimated at some 28 million inhabitants with 51 percent being urban. Morocco's population is young, of fact, according to the last census, held in 1993, 60 percent of the people are under the age of 25 years. The workforce represents 56 percent. Practically the entire population is Muslim, and there is a small jewish community.
RESOURCES: Morocco possesses nearly three-quarters of the world's estimated reserves of phosphates. Other minerals of lesser importance are also extracted, including, iron,ore, barite, lead, zinc, copper,and coal. The phosphate industry has been a major source of phosphate rock, however,export earning have been depressed over the last decade due to low world market prices.This situation is being offset by the increasing emphasis placed on the export of phosphate derivatives, particularly phosphoric acid. Mining provides 5 percent of metallic and non metallic mineral production for expert in 1995 excluding phosphates.Given its temperate maritime climate, Morocco has developed agriculture, improved irrigation projects,undertaken the construction of several dams, and experimented modernized farming methods.The principal agriculture exports are fruits and vegetables. The Moroccan coastal waters are rich in fish, and commercial fishing is an important sector of the economy.
EDUCATION: There is an universal system of free education up to university level. Education is compulsory for children up to the age of 14. In 1993 , the number of people enrolled in primary schools was 3.8 million, while secondary school enrollment was 400,000. There were over 225,000 students in the country 's institutions of higher education in 1994. AI Akhawayn University - a U.S. style University- with courses in English and Arabic, opened in 1995 in lfrane. A large number of Moroccan students also attend universities abroad.
LANGUAGE: While the official language is Arabic, business is conducted in French, English and Spanish.
MANUFACTURING: Manufacturing industries are mainly Limited in Casablanca, Fez, Rabat, Tangiers, and Settat. In recent years, considerable investment bas been made in cement works and sugar factories to meet the major part of local demand. Ambitious plans exist to develop Nador, where a steel rolling mill has been in operation since 1984, and to increase the production of chemical and fertilizers in the El jadida region. Manufacturing, which contributes about 19 percent of GDP, is centered mostly on food processing for export and domestic consumption, textiles and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, chemical and fertilizers, cement and building materials, and vehicle assembly.
SERVICE INDUSTRIES The service industry is an important economic sector. It represents 40 percent of GDP and employs the same proportion of the total working population. The government is actively encouraging the development of tourism mainly in Agadir and Marrakech. The creation of an offshore zone in Tangiers will expand bank activities and management services.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS: Morocco possesses one of the best road networks in Africa, with virtually all parts of the country readily accessible by well paved roads, including several four-lane highways, The railroad system has a total length of 1,900 miles of which 62 percent (1,182 miles) are exploited.. A rapid commuter service operated with modern trains is in operation between Rabat, Casablanca, El Jadida, and Marrakech. Work bas begun on the Marrakech-Agadir extension, and plans are being made to link the Meskala phosphate project with the port of Essaouira Among the 21 Moroccan seaports, 9 are international. In 1995, seaport activity bas evolved in a favorable economic climate , increasing by 35 percent; and particular efforts are being made concerning: · The maintenance of some ports, extensions and improvements of others, · The adjustment of infrastructure and equipment to traffic requirements, 60 percent of available credits are invested in equipment and infrastructure projects, · The quality improvement of harbour services. There are 1 1 major international airports, which maintain regular flights to Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and Africa. Casablanca is just 6 1/2 bouts flight from New York, 2 112 bouts from Paris and 3 bouts from London and Frankfurt. Frequent ferry links permit easy access between Europe and Morocco, and it is possible for European visitors to bring their own cars.