Morocco Travel Information

Photo Morocco's long struggle for independence from France ended in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier was turned over to the new country that same year. Morocco virtually annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997.

PEOPLE

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 numbers about 7,000. Most of the100,000 foreign residents are French or Spanish; many are teachers or technicians.

HISTORY

Morocco's strategic location has shaped its history. Beginning with the Phoenicians, many foreigners were drawn to this area. Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, and Byzantine Greeks successively ruled the area. Arab forces began occupying Morocco in the seventh century A.D., bringing their civilization and Islam. The Alaouite dynasty, which has ruled Morocco since 1649, claims descent from the Prophet Muhammad.
The Kingdom of Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored. The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south became part of Morocco in 1969. Spain, however, retains control over the small enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the north.

ECONOMY

Macroeconomic stability coupled with relatively slow economic growth characterize the Moroccan economy over the past several years. The present Youssoufi government has introduced a number of important economic reforms over the past several years. The economy, however, remains overly dependent on the agriculture sector. Morocco's primary economic challenge is to accelerate growth in order to reduce high levels of unemployment.
The current government has introduced a series of structural reforms in recent years. The most promising reforms have been in the liberalization of the telecommunications sector. This process started with the sale of a second GSM license in 1999. In 2001, the process continued with the privatization of 35% of the state operator Maroc Telecom. Morocco has announced plans to sell two fixed licenses in 2002. Morocco also has liberalized rules for oil and gas exploration and has granted concessions for many public services in major cities. The tender process in Morocco is becoming increasingly transparent. Many believe, however, that the process of economic reform must be accelerated in order to reduce urban unemployment below the current rates above 20%.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Morocco is a moderate Arab state which maintains close relations with Europe and the United States. It is a member of the UN and belongs to the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), INTELSAT, and the Non-Aligned Movement. King Mohamed is the chairman of the OIC's Al-Qods (Jerusalem) committee.
The United States has consistently supported the cease-fire and the UN's efforts at finding a peaceful settlement. While recognizing Morocco's administrative control of Western Sahara, the United States has not endorsed Morocco's claim of sovereignty.

U.S.-MOROCCAN RELATIONS

Moroccans recognized the Government of the United States in 1777. Formal U.S. relations with Morocco date from 1787, when the two nations negotiated a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Renegotiated in 1836, the treaty is still in force, constituting the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history. As testament to the special nature of the U.S.-Moroccan relationship, Tangier is home to the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world, and the only building on foreign soil that is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the American Legation in Tangier (now a museum).
The Peace Corps has been active in Morocco for about 40 years, with the first group of volunteers arriving in the country in 1963. The more than 130 Peace Corps volunteers currently in Morocco are working on projects in health care, education, agriculture, and the environment.

Important: Travel to Morocco may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Morocco visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Kingdom of Morocco
Capital city: Rabat
Area: 446,550 sq km
Population: 32,309,239
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, other 1%
Languages: Arabic
Religions: Muslim 99%
Government: constitutional monarchy
Chief of State: King MOHAMMED VI
Head of Government: Prime Minister Abdelilah BENKIRANE
GDP: 163.5 billion
GDP per captia: 5,100
Annual growth rate: 4.9%
Inflation: 0.9%
Agriculture: barley, wheat, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, olives
Major industries: phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, leather goods, textiles, construction, energy, tourism
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Trade Partners - exports: France 19.7%, Spain 18.2%, India 6.2%, Brazil 5%, US 4.6%
Trade Partners - imports: France 13.6%, Spain 11.2%, US 8.6%, Saudi Arabia 6.8%, China 6.5%, Italy 5.1%, Russia 4.7%, Germany 4.4%