The Kingdom of Morocco (Arabic المملكة المغربية) is a country in northwest Africa. It has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Algeria to the east, though the Algerian border is closed, Western Sahara to the south, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to its west. Morocco claims ownership of Western Sahara and has administered most of the territory since 1975. The status of Western Sahara is disputed, pending a United Nations referendum.
The full Arabic name of the country translates to The Western Kingdom. Al Maghrib (meaning The West) is commonly used. For historical references, historians used to refer to Morocco as Al Maghrib al Aqşá (The Furthest West). The name Morocco in most other languages originates from the name of the former capital, Marrakech.
Main article: History of Morocco
Morocco became a French protectorate by the signing of the Treaty of Fez on March 30, 1912. The northern area of Morocco was under a Spanish protectorate concurrently. The Alaouite dynasty lasted through this period and upon independence in 1956, Sultan Mohammed V adopted the title of 'King' and Morocco became an independent Kingdom. Morocco then recovered Tangier, formerly an international city. Morocco annexed Western Sahara in the 1970s, which had been a colony under the Spaniards since the 19th century. Previous to that it had been an area of Moroccan influence, but this annexation has not been recognized by any nation.
Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States in 1777 and has the oldest non-broken friendship treaty with the country, the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, which has been in effect since 1783. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the American signatories. The United States legation (consulate) in Tangier, is the first property the U.S. owned abroad. It now houses the Tangier American Legation Museum. Morocco was granted Major Non-Nato Ally status in June 2004 and signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.
Main article: Politics of Morocco
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, with a popularly-elected parliament. The King of Morocco can dissolve government, and deploy the military among other responsibilities. Opposition political parties are legal and several have arisen in recent years.
See also: List of political parties in Morocco
Main article: Provinces of Morocco
Morocco is divided into 37 provinces and 2 wilayas:
As part of a 1997 decentralization/regionalization law passed by the legislature, 16 new regions were created, although the full details and scope of the reorganization are limited. These 16 regions are:
Main article: Geography of Morocco
Algeria borders Morocco to the east and southeast. There are also four Spanish enclaves on the Mediterranean coast: Ceuta, Melilla, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera and Peñón de Alhucemas, as well as several islands including Perejil and Chafarinas. Off the Atlantic coast the Canary Islands belong to Spain, whereas Madeira to the north is Portuguese.To the north, Morocco is bordered by and controls part of the Straits of Gibraltar, giving it power over the waterways in and out of the Mediterranean sea. Most of the South East portion of the country is in the Sahara Desert and as such is generally sparsely populated and unproductive economically. The High Atlas Mountains run down the backbone of the country, from the south west to the north east. Most of the population lives to the north of these mountains, while to the south is the desert.
Main article: Economy of Morocco
Morocco has signed Free Trade Agreements with the European Union (to take effect 2010) and the United States of America. The United States Senate approved by a vote of 85 to 13 on July 22, 2004 the Free Trade Agreement with Morocco, which, now in effect, allows for 95% of the two-way trade of consumer and industrial products to be without tariffs.
Morocco's largest industry is the mining of phosphates. Its second largest source of income is from nationals living abroad who transfer money to relatives living in Morocco. The country's third largest source of revenue is tourism.
Morocco ranks among the world’s largest producers and exporters of cannabis, and its cultivation and sale provide the economic base for much of the population of northern Morocco. The cannabis is typically processed into hashish. This activity represents 0.57 per cent of Morocco's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), estimated at US$ 37.3 billion, being Morocco's primary source of hard currency. A UN survey [] estimated cannabis cultivation at about 134,000 hectares in Morocco's five northern provinces. This represents 10 per cent of the total area and 27 per cent of the arable lands of the surveyed territory and 1.5 per cent of Morocco's total arable land. Morocco is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and in 1992 Morocco passed legislation designed to implement the Convention.
Though working towards change, Morocco historically has utilized child labor on a large scale. In 1999 the Moroccan Government admitted that over 500,000 children under the age of 15 were in the labor force.
Main article: Demographics of Morocco
Morocco is the third most populous Arab country, after Egypt and Sudan. 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.
Morocco's official language is classical Arabic. The country's distinctive Arabic dialect is called Moroccan Arabic. Approximately 10 million (1 third of the population), mostly in rural areas, speak Berber --which exists in Morocco in three different dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhiyt, and Tamazight)-- either as a first language or bilingually with the spoken Arabic dialect. French, which remains Morocco's unofficial second 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 as a second language in paraller with Tarifit. 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; Fez is the cultural and religious center; and the dominantly "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 University" in Rabat -along with Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (a private university)-, with faculties of law, sciences, liberal arts, and medicine. 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. University of Karueein, in Fez, has been a center for Islamic studies for more than 1,000 years.
On October 6, 2005 six Sub-Saharan Africans were killed trying to climb the barrier to the Spanish enclave of Melilla, on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast. This followed a related incident a week earlier in the neighbouring Spanish enclave of Ceuta, when an apparent combination of police gunfire and a mass stampede of 600 people led to the death of five immigrants.  UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan asked the two countries to treat the immigrants humanely 
Main article: Culture of Morocco
Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2002 U.S. Department of State website.
- allAfrica - Morocco news headline links
- Maghreb Arabe Presse government news agency
- The North Africa Journal financial news
- Arab Gateway – Morocco
- BBC News – Country Profile: Morocco
- CIA World Factbook – Morocco
- Background note of the US Dept. of State on Morocco, Oct. 2004.
- GlobalAdrenaline – Morocco
- LookSmart – Morocco
- MoroccoLinks.com directory
- Open Directory Project – Morocco
- University of Pennsylvania – African Studies Center: Morocco
- Morocco Forums Discussion Board
- Moroccan raioo culture in bits & bytes (English)
- Morocco365 portal
- Moroccans on the world portal (French)
- Portal of Moroccans in the U.S.
- Higher education and professional training in Morocco (in French)
- The EU's relations with Morocco
- The American Legation in Tangier
- Moroccan American Trade Council
- Description of the Moroccan-American FTA and components
- Final text of the Moroccan-American FTA
- Description of benefits of the Moroccan-American FTA
- Moroccousafta a site about the Morocco/US Free Trade Agreement
- Guest houses Guide of Morocco travel guide
- Lexicorient – Morocco travel site
- The Magic Morocco travel guide
- Moroccan Culture Series – observations by an American woman living in Morocco
- Pictures from a backpacker's trip through Morocco in 2000
- Visting Jewish Morocco A very complete and informative site about history and culture of Moroccan Jews
- Photos of cannabis cultivation in Morocco (Rif) on www.geopium.org
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