Morocco country profile

Map of Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco is the westernmost of the North African countries and is known as the Maghreb – the “Arab West”. It has Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, a rugged mountainous interior and a history of independence that its neighbors have not shared.

The rich culture is a mix of Arab, Berber, European and African influences.

Morocco was a French protectorate from 1912 to 1956, when Sultan Mohammed became king. He was succeeded in 1961 by his son Hassan II, who reigned for 38 years and played a prominent role in the quest for peace in the Middle East. He also ruthlessly suppressed domestic opposition.

King: Mohammed VI

King Mohammed VI of Morocco

King Mohammed VI of Morocco

Mohammed VI became king in 1999. He initiated political and economic changes and an investigation into human rights violations during his father’s reign.

An important reform was the Mudawana, a law that gives women more rights. The king has said it is in line with the principles of the Quran, but religious conservatives have opposed it.

After push for reforms inspired by the 2010 “Arab Spring”, a new constitution was introduced, which expanded the powers of parliament and the prime minister, but gave the king broad authority over all branches of government.

Prime Minister: Aziz Akhannouch

Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch

Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch

The liberal National Rally of Independents party led by oil and gas billionaire Aziz Akhannouch narrowly won the September 2021 election, ousting the conservative Islamist PDJ party that had led governments for a decade.

According to Moroccan political analysts, a declining economy undermined support for the PDJ.

A kiosk in Morocco

A kiosk in Morocco

The broadcast media is dominated by the state or reflects the official line. However, the private press has managed to break taboos on a number of sensitive topics, including allegations of high-level corruption.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders notes that “religion, the king and monarchy in general, the country and its territorial integrity cannot be questioned”.

The government owns or has an interest in RTM and 2M, Morocco’s main TV networks. Satellite dishes are widely used and provide access to French and pan-Arabic channels.

7th and 8th century AD – Arab invasion; Idris founds the first great Islamic dynasty.

A market in Marrakesh

A market in Marrakesh

10-17th century – Dynasties and religious movements come and go, including the Almoravid movement which, at its height, controlled Morocco and parts of present-day Algeria and Spain.

1904 – France and Spain divide zones of influence.

1912 – Morocco becomes a French protectorate under the Treaty of Fez.

1956 – End of the French protectorate after unrest and strong nationalist sentiment. Spain retains its two coastal enclaves. Sultan Mohammed becomes king in 1957.

1961 – Death of King Mohammed; King Hassan II comes to power.

1975-76 – Morocco annexes Western Sahara, but faces an ongoing guerrilla struggle for independence.

King Hassan II of Morocco

King Hassan II of Morocco

1998 – Morocco’s first opposition-led government comes to power.

1999 – King Hassan II is succeeded by his son Mohammed VI.

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