Morocco, the Kingdom of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Morocco, the Kingdom of


(Arabic, al-Mamlaka al-Maghribyya, or Maghrib al-Aqsa, literally, “far west”).

A state in northwest Africa, Morocco is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the north, by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Algeria on the east and southeast, and by the Spanish Sahara on the south. The strait of Gibraltar separates Morocco from Europe. Its area is 446,500 sq km, and its population is 15,830,000 (1972, estimate). The capital is Rabat. For administrative purposes, Morocco is divided into 22 provinces and two prefectures (see Table 1).

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy; its present constitution was adopted on Mar. 1, 1972. The head of state and of government is a hereditary king. The king appoints and dismisses members of the government, is the commander in chief of the armed forces, issues edicts (dahirs), concludes and ratifies international treaties, appoints judges, and declares war and states of emergency.

The highest legislative body is a unicameral parliament, the House of Representatives, whose members are elected for four-year terms; two-thirds of the representatives are elected in direct general elections and one-third are chosen by an electoral college composed of deputies from communal, provincial, and prefectural councils and members of agricultural, business, industrial, and artisans’ organizations and trade unions. All citizens who have attained the age of 21 and who have not been deprived of their civil and political rights are entitled to vote.

Table 1. Administrative subdivisions (1972)1
 Area (sq km)Population (1971)Administrative center
Beni Mellal14,100663,700Beni Mellal
Ksar el-Souk100471,600Ksar el-Souk
Tangier (Tanger)400215,500Tangier (Tanger)
1 Data on Morocco’s area do not include Ifni and certain border territories, for which there are no data. In 1973 the new provinces of Khemisset, Khenifra, and el-Kelaa des Srarhna were formed.

The provinces are headed by governors, the prefectures by mayors, and the communes by caids. All these local officials are appointed by the king. The communes have elective self-governing bodies with limited authority, called communal councils in rural areas and municipal councils in cities; the councillors are popularly elected for six-year terms.

The judicial system includes the Supreme Court, which also exercises constitutional review, appellate courts, and the sadad, or magistrates tribunals (courts of the lowest instance). Labor tribunals have been established to resolve labor and certain other disputes in the private commercial sector.


Coastline. Much of the Mediterranean coast is rocky and precipitous, with a narrow strip of beach and many inlets. The Atlantic coast—mostly low-lying and in places swampy—lacks the natural conditions suitable for the establishment of ports.

Terrain. Morocco is a mountainous country, dominated by middle-altitude and high mountains and high plains and plateaus (mesetas). The Atlas Mountains, stretching from southwest to northeast, include the High Atlas (rising to 4,165 m), Middle Atlas, and Anti-Atlas ranges. The Rif Mountains extend along the Mediterranean coast in the north. Along the Atlantic coast there are large low-lying plains (Rharb, Abda, and Sous). In the northwest lie the plains and plateaus of the Moroccan Meseta, and in the northeast extend the plateaus of the Algerian-Moroccan Meseta (elevations 1,100-1,200 m), with the basins of large chotts. South of the Anti-Atlas Mountains is a rocky plateau that in the southeast and south gives way to the sandy and stony plains of the Sahara. There is considerable seismic activity, and destructive earthquakes are frequent.

Geological structure and minerals. Geologically, Morocco is subdivided into three latitudinal zones. In the south are the Anti-Atlas Mountains, with a Precambrian basement and Paleozoic mantle crumpled into folds. In the central portion of the country are the Atlas Mountains, whose basement is a Hercynian folded region, covered by a Mesozoic mantle with folds. In the north is the Rif zone, which is part of the alpine folded region, formed by a system of complex tectonic overlapping mantles extending in a north-south direction. The mantles consist primarily of strata of clay shale, flysch strata, marls, and limestones of the Mesozoic and Paleogene. The Rif is separated from the Atlas Mountains by a piedment downwarp filled with Miocene deposits.

The principal minerals are phosphorites of the Paleocene and Eocene, found near Khouribga and Youssoufia. Rock salt is found in Triassic deposits and lead ores in Jurassic deposits. Deposits of cobalt, copper, zinc, and iron ores are associated with Paleozoic and Precambrian strata. The Jerada coal basin lies in eastern Morocco, and in the downwarp adjacent to the Rif there are small deposits of oil and gas.


Climate. Most of the country has a subtropical climate. In the north the climate is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and humid, mild winters; the average July temperature is 24°-28°C, and the average January temperature, 10°-12°C. Along the Atlantic coast the climate is milder, with slight temperature variations. Moving inland from the coast, the climate becomes more continental, particularly in intermontane depressions. In the mountains there may be 100 or more days a year with temperatures below 0°C, and above 2,000 m the ground is snow-covered in winter. The climate is arid in the south and southeast. Precipitation totals about 1,000 mm in the north and in the mountains, 200 mm in the south, and less than 100 mm in areas adjoining the Sahara, where at times there is no rainfall for several years. In the south there are frequent sandstorms.

Rivers and lakes. There are few permanent rivers. The largest rivers—the Moulouya, Sebou, Oum el-Rbia, and Tensift—rise in the Atlas Mountains and flow into the Atlantic and Mediterranean. These rivers flood after rains in autumn and winter and become extremely shallow in summer. All other rivers are wadis, of which the largest is Draa in the south. Dams with large reservoirs and hydroelectric power plants have been constructed in the north on the deepest rivers, the Oum el-Rbia and Sebou. Most lakes are saline; in the east there are seasonally dry salt lakes (sebkha}, and on the Atlantic coast, swampy lagoons (merja).

Soils and flora. The zonal soils are the cinnamonic soils of dry forests and scrub. The most fertile soils are the sandy, sandy-clayly, and clay black soils of the coastal plains and intermontane hollows and valleys in the north. Brown mountain-forest soils predominate in the mountains, cinnamonic calcareous and gray-cinnamonic soils occur on the plateaus and southern plains, and primitive desert soils are found in the extreme south.

The zonal type of flora is evergreen hardleaf forest. As a result of human activity, however, these forests have for the most part either disappeared entirely or been replaced by secondary flora, such as maquis and shibliak (deciduous bush formation). Forests survive primarily in the mountains and in the northwest and cover about 12 percent of the country’s total area. There is altitudinal zonation in the mountains. The lower zones of coastal regions, the slopes of hills, and the low mountains of the north are covered with thickets of wild olive and mastics, dwarf palms, and forests of cork and evergreen oak; in the coastal section oak forests are found at elevations of 400-1,500 m. Conifers and junipers grow in the mountains at elevations of 1,500-2,000 m. Cedars survive in the more humid parts of the Rif and Middle Atlas. At the same altitudes in the arid regions of the eastern Rif Mountains and Middle and High Atlas, thuja and junipers take the place of cedars; junipers form a solid belt in the central sections of the High Atlas at elevations of 2,000 to 3,000 m. Sparse low shrubs and grasses grow above 3,000 m, and at elevations of 4,000 m and higher mountain peaks are almost entirely barren. In the southwest, there are sparse growths of xerophytic argan trees, and in the southern part of the Anti-Atlas grow acacias yielding gum arabic. Vast areas of the dry grassy steppes and semideserts are occupied by esparto grass, wormwood, and drinn. Halophytic flora, such as saltworts and the saltbush Atriplex halimus, is found on saline soils.

Fauna. The fauna has been greatly altered as a result of human economic activity. The last lions and many species of antelopes were exterminated by the early 20th century. Among commonly found mammals are rabbits, boars, and jackals; reptiles include snakes and tortoises; and there are many amphibians, birds, insects, and scorpions. The mountain regions are inhabited by macaques, hyenas, and panthers (encountered rarely), and the mountain rivers abound in trout. Bustards, rabbits, jerboas, and, among predators, jackals, hyenas, lynxes, caracals, and foxes may still be found in the eastern semidesert and desert areas. South of the High Atlas, Egyptian cobras and horned vipers are frequently encountered, as are numerous gerbils and jerboas. Pests include such insects as the locust and Moroccan locust and large colonies of rodents, which cause epidemics. The coastal waters, particularly the Atlantic Ocean, are rich in valuable species of fish, including sardines, tuna, mackerel, and whiting.

Preserves. The largest national parks for the protection of wildlife and plants are Toubkal in an almost inaccessible part of the High Atlas and Tazzeka in the northeastern part of the Middle Atlas.


Moroccans of Berber and Arab origin make up about 99 percent of the population. The majority consider themselves Arabs, adhere to Arabic cultural traditions, and speak Arabic. Most Berbers, including the Rifians, Tamazigt, and Shluh, live in the foothills and mountains; they have retained the Berber language, although many also speak Arabic. The remainder of the population consists of Europeans (chiefly French and Spanish), totaling more than 100,000 persons in 1971, and Moroccan Jews, many of whom have emigrated to other countries. The official language is Arabic, and the state religion is Islam. The official calendar is the lunar Hegira, although the Gregorian calendar is also used.

The annual rate of population growth averaged 3 percent between 1963 and 1970. Out of a work force of 3.6 million, 65 percent were employed in agriculture in 1971. The greatest population density is in the valleys and foothills and along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. The country’s mountain and desert border areas are the most sparsely settled. The rural population consists for the most part of fellahin (peasants), including sharecroppers and hired agricultural laborers. Some rural inhabitants are employed in mines, forestry, and other industries. There are many large and middle landowners. Seminomads and nomads inhabit eastern and southern Morocco.

In 1971 there were 350,000 unemployed men in the cities, and more than 700,000 were partially unemployed. Many Moroccans migrate abroad in search of work; of the 300,000 Moroccans working abroad in 1973, about 150,000 were living in France. The urban population constituted 35.1 percent of the total in 1971, as compared with 29.3 percent in 1960. In 1971 there were ten cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants: Casablanca (1,506,000) Rabat (410,000; with Sale, 530,000), Marrakech (333,000), Fes (325,000), Meknes (248,000), Tangier (188,000), Oujda (175,500), Kenitra (139,000), Safi (129,000), and Tetouan (139,000).

The period of the primitive communal system and the formation of class relations (to the eighth century). The territory of present-day Morocco has been settled since earliest times. Tribes of Libyans, the ancestors of the modern Berbers, lived here in ancient times. The chief occupations were hunting and livestock raising, although there was some farming in the mountain and river valleys. The primitive communal system lasted for several thousand years. A number of Phoenician colonies were founded along the coast at the end of the second millennium B.C., subsequently coming under the rule of Carthage. After the collapse of Carthage in the second century B.C., northern Morocco fell under Roman influence, and in 27 B.C. it was conquered by the Romans. By A.D. 45, northwestern Morocco had been made the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana, with Tingis (Tangier) as its capital, and the northeast, together with northwestern Algeria, had become Mauretania Caesariensis, with its capital at Caesarea (Cherchel). Intensive colonization by the Romans led to the disintegration of primitive communal relations in part of Morocco, the development of class (slaveholding) relations, the introduction of large landholding, and the growth of cities (Sale, Banasa, Volubilis). However, the tribal-clan system prevailed throughout most of Morocco. In the fifth century northern Morocco was conquered by the Vandals, and in the sixth century by Byzantium. The lands captured by the Byzantines were handed over to descendants of the former Roman owners. The seizure of land and heavy taxation provoked numerous uprisings of the indigenous population, which contributed to the consolidation of tribal confederations and the establishment of states.

The rise of feudal relations and the formation of a state (eighth through 14th centuries). Between 702 and 711, Morocco was conquered by the Arabs and incorporated into the Caliphate, and the Arabic language and Islam spread throughout the country. The formation of feudal relations began in the northwestern and western regions. The levying of a poll tax (haraj) and other imposts on the nomadic and agricultural tribes in these areas led to the rise of a resistance movement among the Berber population in 739, which took the form of the Kharidjite heresy. Kharidjite communities emerged in the middle of the eighth century. In 788 the Idrisid state was founded in northwestern Morocco—the first state to unite the Berber tribes in the northwestern part of the country under the rule of a local Arab dynasty. In the 820’s the Idrisid state disintegrated into several principalities, and in the tenth century Morocco became part of the Fatimid Caliphate. Between the mid-11th century and the 1260’s, Morocco was the nucleus of two feudal military-theocratic states: the Almoravid state, with its capital at Marrakech, from which the country’s present name was derived, and, later, the Almohad state. In the second half of the 13th century, control over Morocco passed to the Berber Merinid dynasty (1195-1465), which ruled in Morocco from 1269. This period was marked by rapid development in agriculture, extensive economic ties with Europe and West Africa, and the flowering of feudal culture with its center in Fes. The Merinids were weakened by feudal civil wars and antifeudal uprisings of peasants and nomads, which intensified from the 1360’s. The country broke up into feudal holdings, of which the most important were the principalities of Fes and Marrakech.

European penetration and the struggle against foreign invasion (15th to early 19th centuries). European incursions began in the 15th century. The Portuguese seized Ceuta, Asilah, and Tangier; by the late 15th century, they had monopolized trade in Morocco, and in the early 16th century they founded the ports of Agadir and Mazagan (el-Jadida). Gradually they took possession of the entire Atlantic coast and raided the interior, intending to seize it. At the same time the Spanish occupied the port of Melilla and the island of Penon de Velez. The Europeans plundered the tribes, carried off grain and livestock, and enslaved their prisoners. The Moroccan tribes struggled against the European colonialists, and by the end of the 16th century had expelled them from most of the coastal cities. They successfully resisted the attempts of the Ottoman Empire to subjugate Morocco in the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries the struggle to drive out the Europeans was led by the dynasty of Filali sharifs. Under the sultans Ismail (ruled 1672-1727) and Sidi Muhammad ibn Abdullah (ruled 1757-90), the country’s entire coastline was liberated, with the exception of Ceuta and Melilla, which the Spanish retained. Ismail succeeded in unifying a large part of the country. However, constant feudal strife and palace coups, which intensified after Ismail’s death, weakened the central government, which by this time controlled only the main cities and their environs.

The beginning of bourgeois relations and the formation of a national market; the national liberation struggle against foreign expansion (19th to early 20th centuries). Armed invasions by the European powers began in the 1840’s. Claiming that AbdalKadir, the leader of the Algerian national liberation movement, was being harbored in Morocco, the French bombarded Tangier and Mogador (Essaouira) in 1844. After defeating the Moroccan forces on the Isly River, France imposed an unequal treaty on Morocco in September 1844, and in 1845 it imposed a treaty demarcating the boundary between Morocco and Algeria, which had been almost entirely conquered by France. A large part of the Algerian-Moroccan border was not defined precisely, giving France an excuse to violate the treaty repeatedly. Thus, in 1851 the French bombarded Sale, and in 1859 they sent a military expedition to Morocco. Spanish forces invaded Morocco near Tetouan in 1859 but were repulsed by the Moroccans. Spain was obliged to limit itself to a money indemnity and minor territorial acquisitions.

Seeking to prevent further penetration by the Western European powers, overcome feudal separatism, and suppress constant antifeudal uprisings (1873-74, 1875-78), Sultan Hassan I, who ruled from 1873 to 1894, carried out a series of reforms, including modernization of the army. Munitions plants and new ports were constructed. The reforms and expanding foreign economic ties brought about the formation of a domestic national market, overcoming feudal fragmentation, in the late 19th century. A Moroccan, essentially commercial, bourgeoisie arose.

However, the expansion of the European powers in Morocco did not cease. The capitulations imposed on Morocco by the European powers and the USA in the 19th century facilitated the import of foreign commodities, which undermined local handicraft production and impoverished the masses. The Madrid Conference of 1880 legalized the privileged position of foreigners in Morocco. In 1901-02, France compelled Sultan Abd al-Aziz (ruled 1894-1908) to sign new agreements permitting the presence of French troops in Morocco on the pretext of “aiding the sultan.” In 1907, French forces occupied the Oujda region in northeastern Morocco and later Casablanca and the Chaouia region. Spain seized the area around Melilla. These events precipitated an anticolonial uprising.

In the early 20th century Germany and Great Britain also became involved in the struggle for Morocco. The imperialist powers’ struggle for Morocco caused international conflicts. A Franco-Moroccan treaty was concluded on Mar. 30, 1912, and a Franco-Spanish treaty on November 27 of that year. The Franco-Moroccan treaty provided for the establishment of a French protectorate over Morocco; under the Franco-Spanish treaty a small part of Morocco passed to Spain.

French and Spanish rule; the development of capitalist relations in the protectorate; the national liberation struggle against the French and Spanish aggressors and the achievement of independence (1912-56). Morocco was divided into three zones: a French zone, comprising about 80 percent of the area and 90 percent of the population; a Spanish zone consisting of a small portion of Moroccan territory in the north and extreme south (called Spanish Southern Morocco, the southern portion became part of Spanish Sahara); and an international zone (Tangier). Power passed to the French resident general in the French zone of Morocco and to the Spanish high commissioner in the Spanish zone. The sultan of Morocco and his viceroy in Spanish Morocco, the caliph, retained only formal authority. The people of Morocco responded to the establishment of the protectorate with a general uprising, which began in Fes in April 1912 and soon engulfed the central and western parts of the country. The French resident general, Marshal Lyautey, and his successors conducted continual military operations against the Moroccan tribes of the Middle Atlas, the Sous Valley, and other regions. The rule of the imperialist powers and the growing economic exploitation of the country provoked further resistance among the masses.

Under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, there was an upsurge in the national liberation movement. In July 1921, Rif tribes in the Spanish zone, led by the national hero Abd al-Karim, destroyed the Spanish army at Anoual and drove the Spanish from the Rif region. The independent Rif Republic was established. By 1924 only a few settlements on the coast remained in the hands of the Spanish colonialists. After the Spanish suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the Rif tribes, France entered the war, fearing an expansion of the national liberation movement throughout North Africa. After a bitter struggle against the united forces of France and Spain, the Rif Republic was crushed in 1926. However, the tribes of the French zone continued to resist the colonialists. The French conducted military operations in Taza Province in 1926, in the Tafilalt region in 1928, in the Tadla region in 1929, and in the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountains in 1932-34.

By the 1930’s, the key positions in the country’s economy had gradually been taken by foreign, chiefly French, capitalists, such as the monopolistic groups Bane de Paris et de Pays Bas and Bane de l’Union Parisienne. Along with the traditional semisubsistence farming and small-scale production, the colonial capitalist sector also developed, including mining, the fuel and power industry, transportation, and a number of manufacturing industries. These branches of the economy basically served the needs of the mother countries and assured high profits (25 percent and more) to foreign capital. The Moroccan bourgeoisie owned only a negligible share of the capitalist sector, controlling not more than 5 percent of the stock. More than 1 million hectares (ha) of fertile land were confiscated from the local population and given to European colonists.

The creation and growth of capitalist foreign enterprises through the predatory exploitation of natural and human resources resulted in further class differentiation, the development of cities, and the formation of an urban middle class and a working class. In the 1930’s, large cities played an increasingly important role in the national liberation movement. Leadership in the movement passed from tribal or feudal chiefs to the Moroccan national bourgeoisie and intelligentsia. The first political demonstrations of the Moroccan working class date from the 1930’s.

In May 1930 the French colonial administration promulgated the Berber dahir (edict) “on the preservation of the customary law of the Berbers” with the aim of dividing Moroccans of Berber and Arab descent. The protest movement against the dahir began in Fes and Sale and spread throughout the country, including the northern section occupied by the Spanish. The first political organizations were established at this time. In 1934, Moroccan bourgeois nationalists and members of the patriotic intelligentsia established the Moroccan Bloc for National Action (Action Committee). The committee worked out a program on Dec. 1, 1934, and demanded that Moroccans be allowed to participate, in the governing of the country. After the committee was banned in March 1937, illegal organizations were established, the most important being the National Party for the Realization of the Demands. The National Party became the basis for the Istiqlal Party founded in 1943. In the fall of 1937 there were peasant disturbances and demonstrations in the cities. The French authorities countered with new repressions. The National Party was disbanded, and there was a wave of arrests.

In the northern Spanish zone the national movement developed under extremely complex circumstances. The Spanish administration used Moroccan troops in the struggle against the Spanish Republic (1936-39), but there were also antifascist demonstrations: in June 1938 an antifascist demonstration was held in Tetouan, and in September 1938 a large uprising broke out in the Ksar el-Kebir region.

During World War II, French Morocco came under the authority of the Vichy government after France’s surrender in June 1940. The military bases in the French zone were handed over to the German command, which used them for air raids against British lines of communication around Gibraltar and for other operations. In 1940, Tangier was captured by Spain and incorporated into the Spanish zone of Morocco. On Nov. 8, 1942, allied Anglo-American troops landed on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The USA established its own military bases in French Morocco, in Kenitra and elsewhere. The French administration remained in power.

During the war years the liberation movement gathered force. The Moroccan Communist Party (MCP), founded in 1943, and the Istiqlal Party called for independence. Sultan Sidi Muhammad ben Yusuf, who succeeded to the sultanate in 1927, also supported independence. On Jan. 11, 1944, the Istiqlal Party submitted to the sultan, the French authorities, and the Allied command a declaration demanding independence. The declaration was supported by mass demonstrations. The repressions that followed provoked still greater disturbances and even armed clashes, which were brutally suppressed by the French.

After World War II the protectorate regime was preserved without change, and international status was reestablished in Tangier in 1945. The USA sought to strengthen its position in Morocco. Despite the conclusion of military operations, American troops remained in Morocco, and the American military bases were not closed. There was some liberalization of political life: leaders of the political parties were released from prison and returned from exile, and the publication of the organs of the Istiqlal Party and the MCP was permitted. However, by the summer of 1947 repression of left-wing forces was resumed.

France’s entry into NATO in 1949 resulted in the construction of a number of new French and American military bases in Morocco. Under the Franco-American agreement of 1950, the USA was permitted to establish six large air force bases in Morocco and to expand its base in Kenitra.

The crushing defeat of fascism in World War II, the creation of the world socialist system, and the deepening crisis in the colonial system in the postwar period contributed to a new upsurge in the national liberation movement in Morocco. The working class, which had expanded and grown stronger during the war and in the postwar years, played an increasingly important role in the struggle for independence. In August 1946, the Central Committee of the MCP issued a manifesto calling upon the people to organize a Moroccan national liberation front that would struggle for the independence and unity of Morocco, the abolition of the protectorate and unequal treaties, and the convocation of a constituent assembly and formation of a national government. The Istiqlal Party, whose influence had grown considerably by this time, also demanded the abolition of the protectorate.

In 1950 the sultan of Morocco, Muhammad ben Yusuf presented to the president and government of France memorandums demanding that Morocco be granted full sovereignty. The memorandums were rejected, and a broad popular protest movement engulfed the country. In March 1952 there were mass demonstrations and clashes with troops in the cities on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the protectorate treaties. The authorities of the French protectorate persecuted the participants in the national liberation movement. In September 1952 the general secretary of the MCP, Ali Yata, was arrested. On Dec. 8, 1952, a mass demonstration in Casablanca was fired on; hundreds were killed and thousands arrested, including the leaders of trade unions. On Dec. 11, 1952, the French authorities banned the MCP and the Istiqlal. On Aug. 20, 1953, the protectorate authorities, with the support of reactionary feudal lords, overthrew and exiled Sultan Sidi Muhammad ben Yusuf, replacing him with their protege, Ben Arafa. Armed resistance to the French colonialists broke out; detachments created from among the local population attacked military trains, military ware-houses, and motor transport columns.

In 1954 and 1955 strikes and demonstrations were held throughout the country. Under the influence of the national democratic revolution that began in Algeria on Nov. 1, 1954, armed resistance to the protectorate regime intensified. The Soviet Union and other progressive forces of the world actively supported the national liberation movement of the Moroccan people in the UN and other international organizations. These developments compelled France to restore Sidi Muhammad ben Yusuf to power in November 1955, to agree to the establishment of a national government (Dec. 7, 1955), to abolish the protectorate in the French zone, and to recognize the national independence and territorial integrity of Morocco (Mar. 2, 1956). On Apr. 7, 1956, the protectorate over the Spanish zone of Morocco was abolished, and on Oct. 29, 1956, the international status of Tangier was ended (Tangier became part of Morocco on Jan. 1, 1957). On Nov. 12, 1956, Morocco was admitted to the UN.

Independence (since 1956). After independence various state institutions were created; a national army was formed in May 1956, and a diplomatic service was established in April 1956. King Muhammad V (the title assumed by Sidi Muhammad ben Yusuf in August 1957) announced a policy of national revival, the creation of a national economy, and liberation from economic and political dependence on foreign capitalist powers. The Charter of Public Liberties, which proclaimed freedom of assembly, speech, and union, was promulgated on Nov. 15, 1958. In practice, the charter was frequently violated by the government, as evidenced by its decision of Sept. 10, 1959, to ban the MCP. After the death of Muhammad V on Feb. 26, 1961, his son Hassan II succeeded to the throne. In June 1961 the Fundamental Law, a provisional constitution, was adopted, and in December 1962, Morocco’s first constitution was promulgated. The first parliamentary elections were held on May 17, 1963. The exacerbation of social contradictions resulting from the people’s declining living standard and the consistently high level of unemployment increased tensions within the country. This was manifested in the frequent change of cabinets, a split in the Istiqlal Party (in 1959 the party’s left wing formed the National Union of Popular Forces [NUPF]), the transformation of the Istiqlal and NUPF into opposition parties in 1963, and the spread of the strike movement. In 1964-65 strikes broke out and mass rallies were held in the major cities to demand better living conditions and basic socioeconomic reforms. These actions were suppressed by armed force, and a state of emergency was declared on June 7, 1965. The king accepted the resignation of the government, disbanded parliament, and assumed all legislative and executive power. The demonstrations and strikes continued.

Organized in July 1968, the progressive democratic Party of Liberation and Socialism (PLS) was banned in August 1969. The state of emergency was lifted in July 1970, and elections to parliament were held on Aug. 21 and 28, 1970. On July 27, 1970, the two leading bourgeois nationalist opposition parties, the National Union of Popular Forces and the Istiqlal, created the National Front (al-Kutla al-Wataniyya), which drew up a program of democratic reforms, called the Charter. The Charter called for “political, economic, and social democracy,” nationalization of key sectors of the economy, and agrarian reform (by the summer of 1972 the National Front had disintegrated). On July 10, 1971, and again on Aug. 16, 1972, the army staged unsuccessful coups. In the early 1970’s, there were numerous trials of participants in conspiracies and representatives of opposition forces. The government also took steps to stabilize the internal situation and strengthen the regime. It initiated a campaign against corruption, consulted with opposition parties so as to draw them into the government, and reorganized the army. On Mar. 1, 1972, a referendum was held which ratified a new constitution somewhat expanding the rights of the parliament and government. In August 1974 the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) was legalized.

In 1958, Morocco succeeded in liberating from Spanish rule Tarfaya Province, part of former Spanish Southern Morocco. By November 1961, French forces had been completely withdrawn from the country, and French military bases closed; American military bases were evacuated shortly thereafter. In 1969, Morocco reestablished sovereignty over Ifni. On Nov. 14, 1975, Morocco and Mauritania concluded an agreement in Madrid under which Spain transferred to them the Spanish Sahara, and the two countries sent their troops into the region.

Internationally, the Moroccan government sought to pursue an independent neutralist policy, supporting the Algerian people’s struggle for national independence from 1954 to 1962. Morocco initiated the Casablanca Conference of African Countries in 1961, which adopted the Casablanca Charter. Morocco was also one of the founders of the Organization of African Unity.

Soviet-Moroccan diplomatic relations were established in 1958. Between 1958 and 1974 a number of agreements on economic, technical, and scientific cooperation and several trade agreements were concluded between the two countries.


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N. S. LUTSKAIA, G. N. UTKIN (to 1956), and G. P. CHUBAROV (since 1956)

The Istiqlal (al-Hizb al-Istiqlal, Independence Party), founded in 1943, is an influential bourgeois nationalist party; it has been an opposition party since 1963. The National Union of Popular Forces (al-Ittihad al-Watani li al-Quwwat al-Shaabiyya), established in 1959 by radical figures who left the Istiqlal, is also in the opposition. The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki li al-Quwwat al-Shaabiyya), founded in September 1974, represents primarily the interests of the democratic intelligentsia, the petite bourgeoisie, and part of the working class. The Popular Movement (al-Haraka al-Shaabiyya), formed in 1957, represents primarily the interests of the Berber feudal-tribal elite. The Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS; Hizb al-Taqaddum wa al-Ishtirakiyya) was formed in August 1974. The Moroccan Labor Union, organized in 1955, is the largest trade union association, numbering about 650,000 in 1972. The General Union of Moroccan Workers, established in 1960 by the Istiqlal Party, had about 100,000 members in 1972. The Society of Friendship with the USSR was founded in 1970.

Morocco is an agricultural country with a comparatively well-developed mining industry. Agriculture and mining accounted for two-fifths of the country’s gross national product of 13.3 billion dirhams in 1972. Agricultural produce provides about 30 percent of Morocco’s national income and accounts for one-third of exports. Most of the output of the mining industry is exported.

Along with large farms producing mainly for the market and modern industrial enterprises, the backward traditional sector continues to hold an important place in the economy. The traditional sector—semisubsistence and small-scale peasant farms in agriculture and small handicraft enterprises in industry—continues to employ most of the country’s population. After independence the government adopted a policy of developing modern branches of the economy, limiting foreign monopoly capital, and strengthening the state sector. In order to protect and encourage the development of national industry and agriculture, the government imposed new tariffs and created special agencies to administer various branches of the state sector. In 1959, Morocco left the franc zone, introducing a national monetary unit, the dirham.

Programs and plans for the country’s economic development were initiated in 1958. In May 1973 a five-year development plan (1973-77) was adopted, providing for an average annual increase of 7.5 percent in the gross national product and investments amounting to 26 billion dirhams (of which 12.5 billion dirhams were to come from the state budget). Foreign capital remains the chief source of financing.

The economy is still heavily dependent on foreign, particularly French, capital; French capital accounted for as much as 64 percent of all foreign investments in 1972. Half the manufacturing enterprises belonged to French firms, which controlled 60 percent of the output of the wine industry and half the production of citrus fruits. American capital plays a significant role in the development of the infrastructure, particularly the construction of roads and in the financing of irrigation works and agricultural projects. The government’s policy of Moroccanization has decreased the amount of foreign capital in industrial and other enterprises.

Table 2. Area and yield of main crops
 Area (hectares)Yield (tons)
Millet and sorghum194,000132,00069,00097,00080,00054,000
Citrus fruitsnanana165,000538,000864,000
1Yearly average Na: not available

Agriculture. Agriculture is the main branch of the economy. In 1971 a large part of the country’s 8 million ha of cultivated land (about 20 percent of the total area) was planted to cereals. The amount of cultivated land varies from year to year, depending on weather conditions and other factors. The main farming region is the northwestern half of the country, in the Chaouia and Doukkala regions and the Rharb Valley.

The bulk of the market crops and almost all export crops are raised on modern commercial farms. Large farms range from several thousand ha to 100-200 ha. Farms belonging to landlords and prosperous peasants account for 10 percent of all farms and 60 percent of the cultivated land. Some 33 percent of the peasants are landless, and 54 percent have plots of less than 4 ha. A gradual takeover of land, with compensation, from the European colonists and its transfer to the peasants was announced in 1963. By 1973, 150,000 ha of land had been distributed among 15,000 peasant households. Under the edict of 1973 providing for the recovery of all land from foreign landowners with indemnity, another 250,000 ha were handed over to the peasants. Cooperatives have been established on the confiscated land.

Agricultural methods are backward in the traditional sector. Fertilizers and agricultural machinery are employed primarily on large farms. The absense of proper soil management and soil erosion have caused substantial loss of fertile agricultural land. Often peasants have been obliged to leave their farms, swelling the ranks of the unemployed in the large cities. Cereals account for more than half the farm output. Other important crops are potatoes, sugar beets, tomatoes, cotton, grapes, and legumes, and there are large plantings of olive and citrus trees. Morocco is a major producer and exporter of citrus fruit, exporting more than 600,000 tons in 1972-73. Of the 1.15 million hectoliters of wine produced in 1971-72, 70 percent was exported. (See Table 2 for the area and yield of the main crops.)

Stock raising is backward and extensive. The principal animals raised are cattle (3.6 million head in 1972), mostly in the northwest and the mountains and foothills of the Middle Atlas, sheep (17.5 million), goats (8.9 million), and camels (200,000). Wool, hides, and meat are exported. Other exports include the bark of the cork oak (22,400 tons of cork were produced in 1971), eucalyptus wood, and leaves of the dwarf palm. About 60,000 tons of esparto grass, a valuable raw material for the paper and pulp industry, are harvested annually in the eastern parts of the country.

Industry. Industry contributes about 30 percent of the national income. In 1972 there were about 2,000 manufacturing enterprises, employing more than 350,000 people, of whom 7,000 were foreigners, primarily French. Most enterprises are small, including the handicraft industries. Mining is the principal and most developed industry, accounting for one-third of all industrial output. Morocco is the second largest producer and the largest exporter of phosphates in the capitalist world (14.1 million tons were exported in 1972). The phosphate industry is controlled by the state; the main deposits being worked are near Khouribga and Youssoufia. A large proportion of the phosphates, as well as of other minerals, is exported to Western Europe. Iron ore is mined at Beni Bou Ifrour and Ait Ammar, manganese ore at Imini-Tiouine and Bou Arfa, and zinc and lead ores near Bou Beker and Mibladene. A cobalt deposit is being worked at Bou Azzer, on the southern slopes of the Anti-Atlas. There is coal mining near Jerada, and petroleum (28,000 tons in 1972) and natural gas (52 million cu m) are extracted near Essaouira, at Sidi Rhalem, Kechoulah, and Jeer. (See Table 3 for the output of the most important minerals.)

Table 3. Output of principal minerals (tons)
1 1972 2 By metal content 3 Including cobalt
Phosphate rock3,814,0007,950,00016,100,0001
Iron ore2842,000815,000433,000
Nickel ore2,3120258200
Manganese ore2196,300263,20079,800
Lead ore281,00089,60076,600
Zinc ore235,30040,80012,500

In 1972, 2.3 billion kW-hrs of electricity were produced, of which 1,596,000,000 kW-hrs were generated by hydroelectric power plants. Imported petroleum is refined at two plants; 1.86 million tons of oil were refined in the country in 1972.

Manufacturing enterprises are located in the large cities along the Atlantic coast (about 80 percent of all enterprises), in the cities of Fes, Meknes, Marrakech, and Oujda. The food industry, employing about 38,000 persons, is the most highly developed processing industry. In 1972 there were 55 fish canneries and 18 fish-processing plants, of which about half are located in Safi, one-third in Agadir, and the rest in Essaouira and Casablanca. About 250,000 tons of fish are caught and processed annually, as well as oysters, shrimp, lobsters, and spiny lobsters. Morocco is the world’s largest producer of canned sardines. Fish canneries export 80 percent of their output. Canned vegetables and fruits, juices, and jam are also produced. The vegetable oil, sugar, and flour milling industries are well developed.

The textile industry, employing about 33,000 persons, produces cotton cloth and thread, woolen and silk materials, decorative fabrics, and rugs. The leather and footwear industry is represented by both modern enterprises and small handicraft workshops. The country’s single pulp factory exports almost its entire output to Western Europe. The newest branches of industry are metalworking and electrical engineering (together employing about 17,500 persons), as well as the production of chemicals and building materials (more than 16,500 workers). In Casablanca are located a government-owned automobile assembly plant and truck assembly lines; equipment and spare parts for motor vehicles are also produced. The electrical engineering industry produces electric cables, televisions sets, radio receivers, refrigerators, and washing machines. There are chemical plants producing soda, hydrochloric and phosphoric acid, and mineral fertilizers in Casablanca and Kenitra. A pharmaceutical industry is developing.

Transportation. The government-owned railroad network covers 1,780 km, of which 730 km are electrified (1973). Most of the lines are single-track; there are 200 km of double-track lines. The main line—linking Marrakech, Casablanca, Fes, and Oujda—is part of the trunkline passing through Algeria to Tunis; the second most important line connects Fes with Tangier. Morocco has one of the best road networks in Africa. Of a total of about 51,000 km of roads in 1973, some 27,000 km were paved. In 1971 the country had more than 330,000 motor vehicles, of which two-thirds were automobiles. The merchant fleet consists of 11 ships with a total capacity of 32,900 tons (1973). The principal port is Casablanca, one of the largest ports in Africa, accounting for 80 percent of Morocco’s foreign trade shipments. In 1971 the freight turnover at Casablanca was 13,757,000 tons. Other major ports are Safi, Mohammedia, and Tangier. The largest airports are at Casablanca-Anfa, Casablanca-Nouasseur, Rabat-Sale, Fes-Sais, al-Hoceima, Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir, Meknes, and Oujda.

Foreign trade. In 1972 exports totaled 2.9 billion dirhams and imports 3.5 billion dirhams, as compared with 2.3 billion and 2.8 billion, respectively, in 1968. Foodstuffs (canned fish, wine) account for 51 percent of the value of exports, minerals for 31 percent (chiefly phosphates and ores of nonferrous metals), agricultural products (chiefly citrus fruit and fresh vegetables) for 7 percent, semiprocessed goods (including cork and thread) and finished products for 6 percent, and consumer goods for 5 percent. Semiprocessed and finished products account for 25 percent of imports; industrial equipment for 23 percent; tea, coffee, sugar, and tobacco for 17 percent; consumer goods for 16 percent; agricultural products, primarily wheat and dairy products, for 11 percent; fuel oil and lubricants for 6 percent; agricultural equipment for 1 percent; and rolled ferrous and nonferrous metal products for 1 percent.

In 1971, France accounted for about one-third of Morocco’s exports and imports, and the USA supplied 14 percent of its imports and bought 1.5 percent of its exports. Other important trading partners in 1971 were the Federal Republic of Germany (7.6 percent of imports and 8.5 percent of exports), Italy (5.9 percent and 4.7 percent), and Great Britain (4.1 percent and 5 percent).

The socialist countries supplied more than 15 percent of Morocco’s imports and bought 13-16 percent of its exports. In 1971 the total value of trade with the COMECON countries was about 72 million rubles, including 47 million rubles with the USSR. The USSR exports machinery and equipment (about 40 percent of its total exports to Morocco), oil and oil products (more than 40 percent), and lumber, and it imports citrus fruit, raw cork, canned sardines, and wine. The Soviet Union has aided the construction of a number of industrial projects, including the Nourbaz dam and hydroelectric power plant and the thermal electric power plant at Jerada; other projects are under construction, and mineral prospecting is under way.

The chief tourist centers are Agadir, Fes, Marrakech, Tangier, and Tetouan. More than 1 million foreign tourists visited Morocco in 1972, and earnings from tourism exceeded 800 million dirhams.

The monetary unit is the dirham; according to the exchange rate of the State Bank of the USSR, on Jan. 1, 1974, 100 dirhams equaled 17 rubles 78 kopeks.


Gornung, M. B., and G. N. Utkin. Marokko. Moscow, 1966.
Avakov, R. Marokko. Moscow, 1957.
Gavrilov, N. I. Marokko. Moscow, 1958.
Ayache, A. Marokko. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from French.)

The armed forces of Morocco consist of ground troops, an air force, and a navy. The commander in chief is the king, and overall direction is exercised by the higher defense council and the general staff. The armed forces are recruited by universal conscription, and the period of active service is 18 months. Personnel are trained by instructors from the USA and France. In addition to the armed forces of about 57,500 men (1972), security forces include a gendarmerie of about 3,500 men and a national police force of about 20,000 men. The ground forces, numbering about 52,000, are organized into five brigades and several battalions and groups. The air force of about 4,000 men has 130 planes, and the navy of about 1,500 men is equipped with several patrol and landing vessels.

Medicine and public health. In 1971 the birth rate was 47 per 1,000 and the mortality rate 17 per 1,000; the infant mortality rate is high—149 per 1,000 live births. Infectious and parasitic diseases constitute the main public health problem. Trachoma, measles, dysentary, typhus and paratyphoid, venereal diseases, diphtheria, and leprosy are found everywhere. The most common parasitic diseases are malaria and urinary schistosomiasis. The latter is especially widespread in the south, where breeding grounds are found at elevations of up to 1,300-1,400 m, chiefly in the wadis of Draa, Ziz, Guir, and Gheris (on the southern slopes of the High Atlas) and in the Sous Valley. In central Morocco, the Tensift Valley is a breeding ground of urinary schistosomiasis, and in northern Morocco, the disease is endemic in the Sebou basin.

In 1970 there were 135 hospitals with 22,600 beds, or 1.5 per 1,000 inhabitants. In 1970 the country had 1,300 doctors (one for every 13,000 persons), of whom 613 were in state service; 138 dentists (eight in state service); 349 pharmacists (32 in state service); and 5,400 intermediate medical personnel (about 5,000 in state service). Doctors are trained at the Medical School of the University of Rabat (since 1962) and the medical school in Casablanca (since 1959). In 1963, there were 18 schools and 26 programs for training intermediate medical personnel.

In 1972 public health expenditures amounted to 4.9 percent of the national budget. In 1971, Morocco received $249,300 in public health aid from the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. A program to eradicate malaria has been initiated with the help of the World Health Organization.


Veterinary services. In 1971 there were 26 outbreaks of malignant anthrax, 515 of rabies, 54 of emphysematous carbuncle, 216 of tuberculosis of cattle, 18 of brucellosis, and 366 of sheep pox. Trypanosomiasis of horses, swine plague, Newcastle disease, and foot-and-mouth disease are recorded annually, and Q fever and leptospirosis are known to occur. The numerous stray dogs are a frequent cause of the spread of rabies. Helminthiases, particularly fascioliasis, echinococcosis, and cysticercosis, cause considerable damage. Veterinary services are under the jurisdiction of the Central Service for Livestock Raising; local veterinary inspections are provided. Scientific research is conducted at the Research Laboratory in Casablanca and the Institute of Animal Biology in Rabat. There were 64 veterinarians in the country in 1972.

Prior to France’s conquest of the country, education was restricted to Islamic schools. Two types of state secular schools were established under French rule: schools for French children and schools for the native population; instruction was in French. At the time of independence (1956), only 17 percent of Moroccan children attended school. After Morocco embarked on a path of independent development, the government’s policies were aimed at eradicating illiteracy and training national specialists. The first compulsory education law was adopted in 1963.

The present system of public education includes a five-year elementary school and a six-year secondary school consisting of two cycles of three years each (the second cycle has general, technical, and commercial divisions). In addition to the state schools, there are a small number of private schools. The languages of instruction are French and Arabic. In 1971-72, 1.2 million pupils were enrolled in elementary schools and 250,000 in secondary schools. Vocational and technical education is provided by the technical divisions of secondary schools. Elementary school teachers are trained in teachers colleges; candidates who have completed the elementary school are required to enroll in a three-year course of study, and those who have graduated from the first cycle of the secondary school receive one year of training. Secondary school teachers are trained at the Ecole Normal Superieur and the universities. In 1968-69 about 14,000 persons were enrolled in vocational and technical programs, and about 1,800 were receiving teacher training.

The higher educational institutions are the Muhammad V University in Rabat, founded in 1957, with faculties of law, philology, natural science, and medicine; the Moroccan School of Administration; the Engineering School in Rabat; and the Muslim Karaouine University in Fes, the oldest university in Africa (founded in 859). The Karaouine University has been modernized, offering political economy, modern languages, and comparative law; it has faculties in Rabat, Marrakech, and Tetouan. In 1971-72 more than 10,000 students were attending higher educational institutions.

The largest library is that of the state archive in Rabat, founded in 1920 and containing 208,000 volumes. There are museums of archaeology in Rabat and Tetouan and a museum of weapons in Fes.


The main scientific institutions were established in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but for decades the development of research was retarded for lack of national specialists. Studies were conducted by European specialists, chiefly on behalf of the protectorate’s administration. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, they published works on history, sociology, and linguistics. In the early 1950’s, research on geography and geology was begun, and a geographic atlas of Morocco was published between 1955 and 1965.

After independence, efforts were made to train national scientists. Some were educated in Morocco and others in Europe. The leading research institute in the natural sciences is the Sharifian Scientific Institute for applied research in entomology, zoology, geology, and geophysics, founded in Rabat in 1920. Rich collections of the flora and fauna of Morocco have been assembled at the institute, as well as paleontological materials and rock specimens. Attached to the institute are a station for the study of the regions adjoining the Sahara and biological and seismological stations. A geology division, founded in 1930, functions as Morocco’s geological survey and as an interdepartmental agency coordinating the prospecting and working of mineral deposits. The National Institute of Agronomy Research, founded in Rabat in 1924, studies problems of ecology, climatology, phytopathology, and fruit growing. In 1962 the Center for Scientific Research of the Muhammad V University was opened. Learned societies include a geographic society, founded in 1916, and a physics and natural sciences society, founded in 1920. The main center for the study of the humanities is the Muhammad V University. The Bureau of Arabization of the League of Arab States in Rabat conducts research in linguistics and publishes dictionaries and reference works.

There are also branches of several foreign research institutes and services, notably, the laboratories of the French office of Scientific and Technical Research Overseas in Casablanca and Rabat, the French Institute of Earth Physics in Rabat, and the Pasteur Institute in Tangier.

In 1975 the national press included 14 dailies with a total circulation of 243,000 and 80 periodicals with a total circulation of 314,000. The main ones wereAlAnba (published since 1963, circulation about 15,000, published in Arabic by the Ministry of Information), Le Matin (since 1971, circulation about 40,000, published in French), Maroc Soir (since 1971, circulation about 30,000, published in French), Al Alam (since 1946, circulation 30,000, published in Arabic, organ of the Istiqlal Party), L ’Opinion (since 1965, circulation about 60,000, published in French, close to the Istiqlal Party), and Al Bayan(since 1972, published in Arabic and French, total circulation 12,000). The official news agency is the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), founded in 1959. The government-owned Moroccan Radio and Television was formed in 1962. Radio broadcasts are in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Berber, and television broadcasting is in Arabic and French.

Moroccan literature exists in Arabic, Berber, and French. All the major genres of classical Arabic literature were represented in Moroccan Arabic literature of the classical period. Independent features appeared in the 11th and 12th centuries with the spread of Zahirism, which became the official form of Islam in the Almohad state of the 12th and 13th centuries. The sermons and polemical speeches of the religious figures ibn Tumart (died 1128) and Qadi Jyaddh (1083-1149) influenced the literary style. In poetry, political satire and panegyrics were written by ibn Habbus (1107-75), ibn Khabbazah (died 1239), ibn al-Murrahhal (1207-99), and ibn Rushayd (1253-1321). In prose, the geographic writings of al-Idrissi (1100-61 or 1165) are noteworthy. Geographic works contributed to the development of the rihla genre, descriptions of voyages and of distant lands, whose main exponent was ibn Battuta (1304-77).

Chronicles first appeared in the early 13th century (A. W. al-Marrakushi) and were an important literary form until the 19th century (A. al-Nasiri, died 1897). Biography and hagiography flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries. Sufi lyric poetry was popular in the 16th through 18th centuries, as was the hedonistic verse of ibn Zakur (1665-1708). The traditions of classical Arabic poetry were cultivated down to the mid-20th century.

Arabic and Berber folk literature, primarily oral, dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and is represented by many genres, both poetry and prose; some of this work is anonymous, and some has been attributed to a specific author. In addition to the animal epos, Berber folk literature is noted for its long cycles of epic poems linked by a common theme or legendary hero. The Berber folk poet Mririda was famous in the Azilal region of the High Atlas in the 1930’s. Fès, Meknès, and Marrakech are the centers of melhun poetry, popular in Morocco and in the other Maghreb countries. Composed in a literary Arabic strongly influenced by spoken dialects, melhun poetry develops the basic themes of classical Arabic poetry. Andalusian folk poetry has been developing in Fes since the 17th century, and thegriha folk genre is popular in Marrakech. Folk poetry is closely related to music and singing.

A modern literature in Arabic and French arose after World War II at the time of the revival of the country’s socioeconomic and cultural life under the influence of the national liberation movement. Modern prose genres, both in Arabic and in French, emerged in the late 1940’s. A. M. Benjelloun (born 1919), who writes in Arabic, is noted for his collection of short stories Valley of Tears (1948) and his autobiographical novella Childhood. Writing in French, A. Sefrioui (born 1915) won acclaim for his collection of short stories Amber Beads (1949) and his autobiographical novel about childhood Box of Miracles (1954). Benjelloun and Sefrioui were the first writers to portray the life of the people.

The French-language novel became an important genre in the 1950’s. Its leading exponent, D. Charibi (born 1928), castigates both “Eastern lethargy” and the “human disintegration” of the West in his quest for the Moroccan people’s “own path” (the trilogy Simple Past, 1954; Goats, 1955; and The Donkey, 1956). The French-language poetry of M. A. Lahbabi (born 1922) also became well known during the 1950’s. His collections Songs of Hope (1953) and From Darkness to Light (1958) show the influence of both Moroccan folk poetry and the poetry of the French Resistance Movement. In Arabic poetry, the national liberation struggle and problems of modern life became dominant themes both among poets adhering to the classical traditions (M. alMukhtar al-Susi, M. al-Halawi) and poets who rejected them (B. Lamtouni, M. Sabbagh, and M. al-Tanjawi).

In the early 1960’s H. Saih’s historical plays in classical Arabic were followed by Farid Paris” plays in French and A. Ben Cheqroun’s and A. Alaji’s plays in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. Prose in Arabic has developed rapidly since the mid-1960’s. Outstanding works include the novels of the journalist and public figure A. K. Ghallab, Qarir al-Ayn Has Died (1965) and Seven Doors (1966), Lahbabi’s novel Thirsting Generation (1965), and the collections of short stories and novels by such writers of the younger generation as M. Buallu, M. Zniber, A. J. Sahimi, A. Laroui, A. Baqqali, and M. Shaghmum. D. Charibi, who between 1958 and 1972 published a collection of short stories and four novels, continues to be a popular French-language writer. The Union of Writers of Morocco was founded in 1960. The leading literary journals are Afaq, the organ of the Union of Writers of Morocco, and Aqlam; both are published in Arabic.


Zavadovskii, lu. N. “Marokkanskaia literatura na arabskom iazyke.” In Fol’klor i literatura narodov Afriki. Moscow, 1970.
Prozhogina, S. V. Frankoiazychnaia literatura stran Magriba. Moscow, 1973.
Bentawait, M., and M. S. Afifi. Al-Adab al-Maghribi (Moroccan literature). Beirut, 1960.
Gannun, A. Al-Nubugh al-Maghribi fi al-Adab al-Arabi (The Maghreb Genius in Arabic Literature), vols. 1-3. Beirut, 1961.


Examples of ancient art in Morocco include Neolithic rock drawings of animals dating from the first millennium B.C., the round stone chouchets tombs, the remains of Phoenician settlements, red glazed pottery, and the ruins of Roman cities with remains of mosaics and sculpture (Volubilis, Tamouda, Tingis). One of the schools of Moorish art evolved in Morocco between the 11th and 15th centuries. The medieval cities of Morocco, like those throughout the Maghreb, consist of a casbah (citadel) and a medina (the city proper), surrounded by walls with rectangular towers (ribat). Building materials are stone, concrete, clay, and brick.

In religious architecture, a type of mosque was developed having a multipillared prayer hall and arcades opening onto a rectangular courtyard. The nave adjoining the mihrab wall, as well as the axial nave, is covered by stalactite or honeycomb domes and artesonado ceilings. Outstanding examples of this style are the Karaouine Mosque in Fes, founded in 859 and enlarged in 956 and 1135, and the Kutubiya Mosque in Marrakech, built in 1153. The unfinished Hassan Mosque in Rabat (1195) attests to the striving for grandeur in spatial composition. The minarets are square towers with carved stone decoration (the minaret of the Kutubiya Mosque in Marrakech, 1184-99) and horseshoe (pointed) and scalloped arches on pylons. The buildings were lavishly decorated with stucco sculpture and wood carving. The construction of fortifications also reached a high level between the 11th and 13th centuries; noteworthy fortresses include Amergou (near Fes, 11th century) and Tasrhimout (near Marrakech, 12th century). Urban fortifications were built with rectangular towers and gates decorated with stone carving, such as the 12th-century Bab Aquenau in Marrakech. Preserving the old designs, the architecture of the 13th and 14th centuries increasingly stressed ornamentation: intricate wood carving and stuccowork, glazed tiles, ceramic and glass mosaics, and stained glass. Notable examples are the Great Mosque in Taza (12th and 13th centuries), with its openwork dome on squinches before the mihrab, and the Attarine Madrasa in Fes, (1323-25). The opulence of 16th- and 17th-century architecture is exemplified in the mausoleums at Marrakech (second half of the 16th century) and the great mosques in Tangier and Tetouan. Outstanding structures of the 18th and 19th centuries include the Bab al-Mansour gates in Meknes (1732) and the 19th-century palaces in Fes (Dar Batha), Meknes (Dar Jamai), and Marrakech (Dar al-Makhzen).

The types of dwellings that developed in the Middle Ages continue to be built in the 20th century: two-story stone houses with an interior courtyard in Rabat, Sale, and other cities, towerlike fortress-houses in the High Atlas, the round noualas huts with conical roofs near Rabat, and dwellings with gable roofs made of reeds in the north. Weaving (silk and brocade), carpet-making, leather embossing, pottery-making with stamped or painted designs, and artistic bronze working, notably multitier openwork chandeliers for mosques, were perfected in the Middle Ages. Under the French protectorate, European quarters were built in the cities; the French architect H. Prost worked in Morocco from 1912 to 1923. The moresque style—imitating and eclectically using decorative elements of Moorish architecture— became widespread in the first half of the 20th century.

In the early 1950’s buildings using modern design and materials were built in Rabat and Casablanca, notably, the Liberte building in Casablanca (1950; architect, L. Morandi) and the hospital in Rabat (early 1950’s; architect, E. Delaporte). After independence was achieved in 1956, extensive construction of residential, industrial, and public buildings was undertaken, employing such sun-protective elements as fins, lattices, and visors. Among important Moroccan architects are E. Azaguri and J. F. Zevaco, and French architects include G. Candilis and C. Woods. The fine arts, not traditional in Morocco, are developing. Prominent artists include the painter M. A. Idrisi, the sculptor K. ben Salah, and the graphic artist M. Ammar. Applied art cooperatives have been organized in Rabat, Casablanca, and other cities. Highly developed handicrafts include carpet-making, leather embossing and embroidery, copper embossing and inlaying, and jewelry-making.


Veimarn, B., T. Kaptereva, and A. Podol’skii. Iskusstvo arabskikh narodov. Moscow, 1960.
Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 8. Moscow, 1969. Pages 85-100.
Marcais, G.VArchitecture musulmane d’;Occident. [Paris, 1954].
Cahiers des arts et techniques d’Afrique du Nord, nos. 1-6. Paris-Toulouse, 1951-61.
Jacques-Meunie, D. Architectures et habitats du Dades. Paris, 1962.


Moroccan music reflects the mutual influences of the Berber and Arab cultures. In “pure” Berber music, which has survived in central Morocco, primarily in remote rural localities, there is a close connection between music, poetry, and dance. Group dances, accompanied by singing, are the most widespread form of musical art. The ahidou dance of the Berbers living in the northeastern part of central Morocco differs from the ahouach dance of the Berbers inhabiting the southwest, primarily the Shluh tribes. Ahidou melodies have a small range, generally a fifth, are highly chromatic, (with intervals of less than a half tone), and usually have a five-beat measure. Ahouach melodies resemble those of European music; they have a range of up to 1 1/2 octaves and a two-beat measure. Popular musical instruments of the Berbers are the qasba (flute); arghun and zamar (reed-pipes); bendir, a large flat tambourine; tariya, an oblong clay tambourine resembling a gourd; and kamanja and ribab (fiddles), with the latter being replaced by the European violin.

Arab music is divided into classical music (ala and sama) and folk music (griha). The melodies of ala and sama are often similar, but their texts are different. Whereas ala is secular, courtly music based on classical Arabic poetry, sama music has a religious text. The meter of classical Arabic music is subordinate to the rhythm and meters of the verse. A distinctive feature of this music is the absence of dynamic nuances. Griha music is the songs of the common people, based on the spoken language. In griha music, rhythm dominates, absorbing the melody and reducing it to singing in strict tempo. Arab instruments include the lute, lyre, rebab, and zither.

Religious music, called dikr, is an important part of Moroccan folk music. Other genres include lullabies, work songs, and music accompanying processions, ritual dances, and wedding ceremonies.

Instruction in music and dance is given at the National Conservatory of Music, Dance, and Drama in Rabat and the National School of Music and Dance in Tetouan. National folk music festivals have been held annually in Marrakech since 1960.


Chottin, A. Obzor marokkanskoi muzyki. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from French.)


Foreign, chiefly French, directors and cameramen made the first filmings in Morocco (in 1907), and producted the first feature film. In 1944 the Souisse film studio was established in Rabat, and the Moroccan Cinematographic Center was founded to organize the making of films in Arabic. However, film-making remained under the control of foreign film companies.

National films were produced only after independence in 1956; the newsreel Moroccan News has been regularly issued since 1958. Professional directors were trained in European schools of cinematography. In 1963 restrictive measures were taken against foreign distributors and the showing of foreign films in movie theaters. A second studio was established in Ain Chok, a suburb of Casablanca, in 1970. A number of feature films dealing with the problems of modern life in Morocco have been produced, including Win to Live (1968, directors M. Tazi and A. Mesnaoui), When the Dates Ripen (1969, directors A. Ramdani and Larbi Bennani), Footprints (1970, director Hamid Bennani), and A Thousand and One Hands (1972, director S. Ben Barka). About 20 short films are released annually. [15-1180-2; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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