A multi-cultural country with a fine landscape and near-tropical climate, Morocco is the result of several civilizations leaving their heritage in monuments, buildings and customs.

In short

Area: 446,550 km² -- Population: about 33 million -- Density: 70 per km² -- Government: Constitutional monarchy -- Capital: Rabat -- Language: Moroccan Arabic, French -- Religion: Muslim -- Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD) -- Telephone code: +212 -- Time Zone: Greenwich Time London (UTC+0) -- Internet suffix: .ma -- Member of: the UNO since 1956 -- Useful Links: Official website of the Kingdom of Morocco (available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese)


Administrative division

Morocco is divided into 16 regions, which are in their turn subdivided into 62 prefectures and provinces. Two of the regions, Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra and Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira, which form Western Sahara, are still disputed as Moroccan territory. The sixteen regions are:
Chaouia-Ouardigha (capital Settat), Doukkala-Abda (capital Safi), Fès-Boulemane (capital Fès), Gharb-Chrarda-Béni Hssen (capital Kénitra), Grand Casablanca (capital Casablanca), Guelmim-Es Semara (capital Guelmim), Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra (capital Laâyoune), Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz (capital Marrakesh), Meknès-Tafilalet (capital Meknès), Oriental (capital Oujda), Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira (capital Dakhla), Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer (capital Rabat), Souss-Massa-Draâ (capital Agadir), Tadla-Azilal (capital Béni Mellal), Tangier-Tétouan (capital Tangier), Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate (capital Al Hoceima)

The Territory

The country enjoys a better natural landscape in comparison to other North African nations. Mostly mountainous with the Atlante and Rif groups, has fertile plains and valleys between the mountains and the coast, the Tell, along the Mediterranean and the Meseta along the Atlantic.

The climate

Thanks to its position with coasts on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, all the coastal areas enjoy a Mediterranean, sub-tropical climate.


The earliest documented inhabitants of Morocco were the Amazigh in the Neolithic era, but it is not known if they were natives, came from the north Mediterranean, or the Arab Peninsula. Then in the 7th century BC the Phoenicians founded trading posts both on the Mediterranean, as Tangier and along the Atlantic coast, as Mogador, Sala and Lixus. Later on the Mediterranean outposts came under the influence of Carthage, which was defeated during the 3rd century BC by the Romans. The Roman Empire included the whole North Africa region and left many traces in Lixus, Volubilis and other towns.

With the advent of Islam, many dynasties succeeded one another. In 808 AD the Idrissids were the founders of the first Muslim state and Fez became their capital. In 1070 the Almoravids dynasty took over, and they founded Marrakesh; in 1147 they were followed by the Almohads, who kept Marrakesh as capital and started construction of the Koutoubia Mosque with the magnificent minaret still extant today. In 1269 the Merinid dynasty moved the capital back to Fez. Then there were the Cherifians and the Saadians in the 15th century that revived Marrakesh building the El-Badi Palace, and the Alaouites from 1666 to 1912.

European powers showed their interest in Morocco repeatedly in the centuries. The Portuguese established trading posts along the Atlantic coast but did not invade the hinterland. As the control of the Turkish Empire on the many Islamic nations of the Mediterranean lost strength during the 19th century, European influence started to gain force. In 1912 Morocco became a protectorate of France while Spain obtained protecting power over the northern and southern Saharan areas. After the Second World War a strong movement for independence obliged France finally to renounce its protectorate, and Morocco became officially independent from both France and Spain in 1956.

Cities and places of interest

Tangiers, with Gibraltar the key to the Mediterranean, is formed actually of two towns, one Arab and the other European, and has typical Arabic architectures in the Kasbah, which is the quarter in its higher part. Other important cities are Tetuan, the former Spanish capital; Fez, the former French capital, the heart of the country and main cultural and religious centre, that rose in the 11th century on an ancient Roman settlement, at the crossroads of the ancient itinerary that from the Atlantic coast proceeded towards Algeria, and the caravan routes directed to the south, another town with two souls, with the Arabic citadel surrounded by defence walls and the more recent European city with large avenues shaded by trees; Casablanca, with a large European population, the main port and commercial centre in the period of the French domination.

How to arrive

There are international airports in many Moroccan towns. At Casablanca the Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) has flights to worldwide destinations. Airports with flights to the main European capitals are the Al Massira Airport at Agadir, the Menara International Airport at Marrakech (RAK), at Tangier the Ibn Batouta International Airport (TNG), while many other airports connect to only some European capitals. Detailed information on all flights can be obtained at the official website of the airports of Morocco (only in French and Arabic).

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

logo Unesco
  • Volubilis, the capital of Mauritania founded in the 3rd century BC, an important Roman outpost and later the capital of Idris I, the founder of the Idrisid dynasty. The archaeological site is located in a fertile agricultural area and has well preserved ruins of the late Roman Empire period.
  • The Historic City of Meknes, originally a military settlement established in the 11th century by the Almoravids, became in the late 17th century the capital of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl, who embellished in the Spanish-Moorish style, a beautiful fusion of the Islamic and European heritages typical of the Maghreb area.
  • The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou in the Ouarzazate province of southern Morocco, a typical pre-Saharan settlement made of earthen houses surrounded by high defensive walls, reinforced with corner towers.
  • The Medina of Essaouira a late 18th-century fortified town and an important seaport linking Morocco with Europe and the rest of the world, which was planned by a French architect of the school of Vauban at Saint-Malo, a remarkable example of a European-style town in a North African context.
  • The Medina of Fez, founded in the 9th century AD, became the capital of the kingdom in the 13th century under the Marinid dynasty, and lost its political status only in 1912 when Rabat became the capital. The medina is an outstanding example of Arab town with madrasas, fondouks, palaces, mosques and fountains.
  • The Medina of Marrakesh, founded in the late 11th century by the Almoravid dynasty, Marrakesh was for centuries a political, economic and cultural centre of the Muslim world of of North Africa, and still today preserves remarkable monuments of the Middle Ages period as the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, as well as more recent, refined buildings as the Bandiâ Palace, the Saadian Tombs, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the open--air theatre called Place Jamaâ El Fna, and many impressive residences.
  • The Medina of Tétouan founded in the 8th century AD and for centuries a privileged contact point between Africa and Spain. After an early Islamic period, the town became the home of Andalusian refugees who rebuilt it in the typical Andalusian style. Tétouan is the most complete and almost original of the Moroccan medinas.
  • The Portuguese city of Mazagan , today included in the city of El Jadida, 90-km south-west of Casablanca, was built in the early 16th century in the Renaissance military style as a fortified colony on the Atlantic coast, then conquered by the Moroccans in 1769. This was one of the earliest settlements of the Portuguese explorers on their way to India, and still shows examples of the Manueline style in the cistern and the Church of the Assumption.