Morocco is located in Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara.
Land in Morocco is northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains.
Moroccan land covers an area of 446550 square kilometers which is slightly larger than California
In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, successive Moorish dynasties began to rule in Morocco. In the 16th century, the Sa'adi monarchy, particularly under Ahmad AL-MANSUR (1578-1603), repelled foreign invaders and inaugurated a golden age. In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco's sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country. A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were 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, which first met in 1997. Parliamentary elections were held for the second time in September 2002 and municipal elections were held in September 2003.
Moroccan economic policies brought macroeconomic stability to the country in the early 1990s but have not spurred growth sufficient to reduce unemployment that nears 20% in urban areas. Poverty has actually increased due to the volatile nature of GDP, Morocco's continued dependence on foreign energy, and its inability to promote the growth of small and medium size enterprises. Despite structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is only fully convertible for current account transactions and Morocco's financial sector is rudimentary. Moroccan authorities understand that reducing poverty and providing jobs is key to domestic security and development. In 2004, Moroccan authorities instituted measures to boost foreign direct investment and trade by signing a free trade agreement with the US and selling government shares in the state telecommunications company and in the largest state-owned bank. The Free Trade agreement went into effect in January 2006. In 2005, GDP growth slipped to 1.2% and the budget deficit rose sharply - to 7.5% of GDP - because of substantial increases in wages and oil subsidies. Long-term challenges include preparing the economy for freer trade with the US and European Union, improving education and job prospects for Morocco's youth, and raising living standards, which the government hopes to achieve by increasing tourist arrivals and boosting competitiveness in textiles.
Moroccan natural resources include phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar
Moroccan religion is Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%.
Natural hazards in Morocco include northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts.
Travel Advice for MoroccoMorocco
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Crime section (increase in crime & aggressive begging). The overall level of the advice has not changed.SUMMARY
SAFETY AND SECURITY
- There is a high threat from terrorism in Morocco. A series of terrorist attacks took place on 16 May 2003 in Casablanca.
- Morocco has a poor road safety record. Accidents are frequent, especially on busy major routes. The main road from Agadir to Marrakesh via Imi’n Tanoute and Chichaoua has been reported as particularly hazardous.
- If you are travelling to Western Sahara, please see our separate Travel Advice covering this disputed territory.
- Around 200,000 British nationals visit Morocco each year. Most visits are trouble-free. The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Morocco are for replacing lost and stolen passports. There are occasional incidents involving theft at knifepoint in the major cities and along beaches, violent crime, though not a major problem in Morocco, is growing.
- We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
Violent crime is not a major problem in Morocco, but it is growing. There are occasional incidents involving theft at knifepoint in the major cities and along beaches. There has also been an increase in reports of other violent attacks, including some shootings. Two European residents were killed in their home in Rabat during the night of 17/18 September 2006, apparently during a break-in (though the background remains unclear).
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, continues to increase. Crime and aggressive begging near ATM machines are increasing. Credit card fraud and scams such as substituting inferior goods for those that were actually purchased are common. Intimidation is sometimes used to force customers to purchase goods. You should remain vigilant and alert to potential confidence tricks.
You should avoid run down areas and badly lit streets in areas such as the medina. If offered the services of a guide, you should ensure that the guide is authorised by or operating with the agreement of the local tourist authorities, and displays an official badge. Harassment of tourists by men posing as official tourist guides is common.
Travellers to Morocco should be aware of the impact that the situation in Iraq, as well as the violence between Israelis and Palestinians, has had across the Arab world and the risk of public disturbance in response. You should follow news reports and be alert to developments in the Middle East that might trigger public disturbances. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations. Any increase in regional tension might affect Travel Advice.
Morocco has a poor road safety record. Accidents are frequent, especially on busy major routes but also on narrower secondary roads. All drivers should take extra care when overtaking, particularly where there are no hard shoulders. You are advised to leave plenty of time to reach your destination and to stay well within speed limits.
If you are involved in a road accident resulting a fatality and the Moroccan authorities consider you responsible, you may be detained pending a trial hearing.
If your are involved in a minor accident, you should complete a 'Constat Amiable' form, to be signed by both parties. The blank forms are available upon arrival at the Tangier port from the insurance company booths, or can be purchased from tobacconists in all cities.LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Local laws reflect the fact that Morocco is a Muslim country. You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
Women, especially when travelling alone, will attract attention. To minimise hassle, you should dress inconspicuously and avoid wearing clothes that could be regarded as provocative (eg short skirts and low-necked strappy tops), except on the beach.
Homosexuality is considered a criminal offence in Morocco. Sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law.
British nationals travelling to Morocco with a view to marrying a Moroccan should, before they travel, contact either the British Consulate in Tangier or the Consular Section of the British Embassy in Rabat to enquire about the documentation they will need to provide.
The penalties for possession of even small amounts of drugs are severe: up to 10 years’ imprisonment, with no remission for good behaviour, heavy fines and confiscation of your vehicle/vessel. If you travel through the Rif Mountains, a major cannabis growing area, you may be harassed by drug dealers.
It is against the law to carry bibles in Arabic, to attempt to distribute any non-Muslim/evangelical literature or be involved in any such activity.ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
British nationals do not require entry visas to Morocco for the purpose of tourism. If intending to enter for any other purpose, you are advised to check with the Moroccan Representation in the UK.
If you intend to travel to the disputed territories to the South of Morocco, you should consult our separate Travel Advice for Western Sahara.
You should also be aware that the border between Algeria and Morocco is closed, and no attempt should be made to cross it at any point.
Your passport will need to be valid for at least six months after your entry into Morocco. When entering the country, particularly during the busy summer months, you should ensure that your passports are stamped. You will then be able to stay in Morocco for up to three months. Some tourists have experienced difficulties leaving the country because their passports bear no entry stamp.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Moroccan Embassy in London.
When arriving by private boat, you must enter the country by a recognised port of entry. Entry through other ports will be considered illegal. For specific details, contact the Moroccan Representation in the UK before travel.HEALTH
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: DoH: Health Advice To Travellers.
Morocco is in an earthquake zone and earthquakes, usually minor ones, occur occasionally. But a strong earthquake hit northern Morocco around the port town of Al Hoceima on 24 February 2004, killing more than 600 people. You should familiarise yourself with general safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and take note of any earthquake-related instructions, eg in hotel rooms.GENERAL
If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
When insuring your vehicle, it is advisable to choose a company with a local representative.
You should bring sufficient funds for the visit in cash, travellers' cheques or credit cards. There is no limit on the amount you can import. Most major credit cards are accepted in the larger urban centres throughout Morocco. However, it is not possible to change Scottish or Irish bank notes. The Moroccan Dirham is non-convertible and its export is prohibited. ATMs are widely available in cities and most main towns. If you enter Morocco with a vehicle, the registration number will be entered in the immigration computer. If you are not in possession of the same vehicle when leaving Morocco, you will be refused exit and detained.OTHER
Morocco Country Profile