Demographics of Morocco
Most Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of Arab, Berber, or mixed Arab-Berber stock. The Arabs invaded Morocco in the 7th and 11th centuries and established their culture there. Morocco's Jewish minority has decreased significantly and numbers about 7,000 (See History of the Jews in Morocco. Most of the 100,000 foreign residents are French or Spanish; many are teachers or technicians.
Arabic is Morocco's official language (it is the "classical" Arabic of the Qur'an, literature and news media). The country's distinctive Arabic dialect is the most widely spoken language in Morocco. Approximately 10 million Moroccans, mostly in rural areas, speak Berber--which exists in Morocco in three different dialects (Tarifit, Tashlehit, and Tamazight)--either as a first language or bilingually with the spoken Arabic dialect. French, which remains Morocco's unofficial third language, is taught universally and still serves as Morocco's primary language of commerce and economics; it also is widely used in education and government. About 20,000 Moroccans in the northern part of the country speak Spanish. English, while still far behind French and Spanish in terms of number of speakers, is rapidly becoming the foreign language of choice among educated youth. As a result of national education reforms entering into force in late 2002, English will be taught in all public schools from the fourth year on.
Most people live west of the Atlas Mountains, a range that insulates the country from the Sahara Desert. Casablanca is the center of commerce and industry and the leading port; Rabat is the seat of government; Tangier is the gateway to Morocco from Spain and also a major port; "Arab" Fez is the cultural and religious center; and "Berber" Marrakech is a major tourist center.
Education in Morocco is free and compulsory through primary school (age 15). Nevertheless, many children--particularly girls in rural areas--still do not attend school. The country's illiteracy rate has been stuck at around 50% for some years but reaches as high as 90% among girls in rural regions. Morocco has about 230,000 students enrolled in 14 public universities. The oldest and in some ways the most prestigious is Mohammed V in Rabat, with faculties of law, sciences, liberal arts, and medicine. Karaouine University, in Fez, has been a center for Islamic studies for more than 1,000 years. Morocco has one private university, Al-Akhawayn, in Ifrane. Al-Akhawayn, founded in 1993 by King Hassan II and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, is an English-medium, American-style university comprising about 1,000 students.
Population: 29,891,708 (September 2004 census)
0-14 years: 35% (male 5,372,393; female 5,175,114)
15-64 years: 60% (male 9,021,259; female 9,163,548)
65 years and over: 5% (male 632,698; female 757,338) (2000 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.4% (September 2004 census)
Birth rate: 24.6 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Death rate: 6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 49.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.13 years
male: 66.92 years
female: 71.44 years (2000 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.4 children born/woman (2004 est.)
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%
Religions: Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%
Languages: Arabic (official), Spanish, Berber dialects (Morocco does not recognise them as languages but as dialects), French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy.
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 43.7%
female: 31% (1995 est.)