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Friday 24th May
Morocco Information - Page 2
Prehistoric remains and stone circles show that Morocco was connected to the megalithic cultures of Europe. In 814 the Phoenicians founded their colony of Carthage bringing trade and the alphabet to North Africa. The Carthaginians and then the Romans both fought against the Berbers, Morocco's original inhabitants, and Morocco became part of the Roman province of Mauretania. Invasions by the Vandals in the early fifth century put an end to Roman rule but in time the Eastern Roman Empire, based in Byzantium, reconquered the region.

In the seventh and eighth centuries the Arab conquests swept through all of North Africa and on into Spain, almost as far as the Pyrennes.

The Arabs brought Islam their religion and their commitment to learning that led to great advances in mathematics, chemistry and other sciences and arts.

By the eleventh century Morocco and the other North African Arab countries had become separated from the Islamic powers of the Middle East.

In the thirteenth century the Spaniards began to push the Arabs back, retaking Seville and Cordoba. The Moors (Arabs) from Andalusia in Spain were expelled to Morocco where they had a major effect on the architecture and culture of the region.

For many years from then Morocco came under the influence of the Portuguese, the Spanish and eventually the French.

In 1912 Morocco became a French Protectorate, though Spain reclaimed control of certain territories. Tangiers was an international city ruled by the main European powers.

After many years of struggle, France finally conceded Morocco's independence in 1956. Hassan II became king in 1961 and in 1969 Tangiers returned to Moroccan control. The provinces of the Spanish Sahara were taken over in the Green March of 1975 when thousands of people marched to assert Morocco's control of the region.

Morocco is one of North Africa's leading countries in terms of top companies. Leading companies include Attijariwafa Bank and Maroc Telecom. Tourism has increased greatly, especially with government investment following the Covid pandemic.

Morocco introduced economic reforms in 1983; banking and foreign currency regulations were lifted and the stock market developed. In 1993 a privatization programme was started with the aim of raising revenue from the sale of public assets and to increase competition and encourage greater foreign investment. Policies initiated in 2003 brought stability to the economy.

Agriculture employs a significant percentage of the labour force. The crops grown include barley, potatoes, tomatoes and pulses. Olives, oranges, lemons, almonds, dates and grapes are all-important revenue earners.

There are major fishing ports at Agadir, Safi, Essaouira, Casablanca and Tan Tan.

An economically important mineral found in Morocco is phosphate used as fertilizer. There are also significant deposits of iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc and salt. Morocco is also well supplied with hydroelectric power.

Industries include construction materials, footwear, textiles and processed food. The handicrafts industry is a significant earner. Morocco is famous for its leather work as well as carpets, wood carving, silver filigree, ceramics, weaving and pottery.

Tourism earns foreign exchange with millions of tourists a year visiting Morocco. Another important source of foreign currency is the money remitted from the many Moroccan citizens working abroad.

Music and dance play a large part in Moroccan culture.

The great traditions of Islamic art and architecture have generated a wealth of national treasures from the past and are still followed today.

Soccer is a very popular national sport in Morocco but there are opportunities for a wide range of activities.

The Marathon des Sables (MdS) is an annual event attracting over a 1000 like-minded individuals from around the world to Morocco, where they take on the heat and sand dunes of the Sahara.

The mountains of the High and Middle Atlas are snow-covered for part of the year and provide good skiing. The long coastlines of the Atlantic and Mediterranean make a variety of water-sports possible such as swimming, sailing, surfing, water-skiing and scuba diving.

Climbing, trekking and white-water rafting or canoeing are all possible in Morocco's four mountain ranges. Finally, with the worldwide fame of Arab horses it is not surprising that riding is also a popular sport.

Throughout the year there are festivities celebrating local events or natural resources, such as the almond tree and rose festivities in February and May and the camel and horse festivals in July and September. Moussems are festivals devoted to the memory of important holy men.

New Year's Day, the end of the month of Ramadan, National Day, the Anniversary of The Green March and Independence Day are among the National celebrations.

News from Morocco is available from Newslink.

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