Geography of Morocco

Learn About the African Nation of Morocco

Ait Benhaddou Kasbah at dawn, Morocco

Cyrille Gibot/Moment/Getty Images

Morocco is a country located in Northern Africa along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is officially called the Kingdom of Morocco and is known for its long history, rich culture, and diverse cuisine. Morocco's capital city is Rabat but its largest city is Casablanca.

Fast Facts: Morocco

  • Official Name: Kingdom of Morocco
  • Capital: Rabat
  • Population: 34,314,130 (2018)
  • Official Language: Arabic
  • Currency: Moroccan dirhams (MAD)
  • Form of Government: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
  • Climate: Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior
  • Total Area: 172,414 square miles (446,550 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Jebel Toubkal 13,665 feet (4,165 meters)
  • Lowest Point: Sebkha Tah -193 feet (-59 meters) 

History of Morocco

Morocco has a long history that has been shaped over decades by its geographic location on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians were the first people to control the area, but the Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, and Byzantine Greeks also controlled it. In the seventh century BCE, Arabic peoples entered the region and their civilization, as well as Islam, thrived there.

In the 15th century, the Portuguese controlled the Atlantic coast of Morocco. By the 1800s, though, several other European countries were interested in the region because of its strategic location. France was one of the first of these and in 1904, the United Kingdom officially recognized Morocco as part of France's sphere of influence. In 1906, the Algeciras Conference established policing duties in Morocco for France and Spain, and then in 1912, Morocco became a protectorate of France with the Treaty of Fes.

Following the end of World War II, Moroccans began to push for independence and in 1944, Istiqlal or Independence Party was created to lead the movement for independence. According to the United States Department of State, in 1953 the popular Sultan Mohammed V was exiled by France. He was replaced by Mohammed Ben Aarafa, which caused Moroccans to push for independence even more. In 1955, Mohammed V was able to return to Morocco and on March 2, 1956, the country gained its independence.

Following its independence, Morocco grew as it took over control of some Spanish-controlled areas in 1956 and 1958. In 1969, Morocco expanded again when it took control of the Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south. Today, however, Spain still controls Ceuta and Melilla, two coastal enclaves in northern Morocco.

Government of Morocco

Today, the government of Morocco is considered a constitutional monarchy. It has an executive branch with a chief of state (a position that is filled by the king) and a head of government (the prime minister). Morocco also has a bicameral Parliament which consists of the Chamber of Counselors and the Chamber of Representatives for its legislative branch. The judicial branch of government in Morocco is made up of the Supreme Court. Morocco is divided into 15 regions for local administration and has a legal system based on Islamic law as well as that of the French and Spanish.

Economics and Land Use of Morocco

Recently, Morocco has undergone several changes in its economic policies that have allowed it to become more stable and grow. It is currently working to develop its service and industrial sectors. The main industries in Morocco today are phosphate rock mining and processing, food processing, the making of leather goods, textiles, construction, energy, and tourism. Since tourism is a major industry in the country, services are as well. In addition, agriculture also plays a role in Morocco's economy and the main products in this sector include barley, wheat, citrus, grapes, vegetables, olives, livestock, and wine.

Geography and Climate of Morocco

Morocco is geographically located in Northern Africa along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Algeria and Western Sahara. It also still shares borders with two enclaves that are considered a part of Spain—Ceuta and Melilla. The topography of Morocco varies as its northern coast and interior regions are mountainous, while its coast features fertile plains where much of the country's agriculture takes place. There are also valleys interspersed between Morocco's mountainous areas. The highest point in Morocco is Jebel Toubkal, which rises to 13,665 feet (4,165 m), while its lowest point is Sebkha Tah at -193 feet (-59 m) below sea level.

The climate of Morocco, like its topography, also varies with location. Along the coast, it is Mediterranean with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Farther inland, the climate is more extreme and the closer one gets to the Sahara Desert, the hotter and more extreme it gets. For example, Morocco's capital of Rabat is located on the coast and it has an average January low temperature of 46 degrees (8˚C) and an average July high temperature of 82 degrees (28˚C). By contrast, Marrakesh, which is located farther inland, has an average July high temperature of 98 degrees (37˚C) and a January average low of 43 degrees (6˚C).


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Briney, Amanda. "Geography of Morocco." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Briney, Amanda. (2021, February 16). Geography of Morocco. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Geography of Morocco." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).