MOROCCO

Morocco has 31 millions inhabitants; 60% of the population is less than 25 years old. The economy is still basically agrarian; 61% of the population lives in agricultural areas.

Morocco was held under French occupation in the early 20th century but gained its independence in 1956.

Arabic is the national language. Three different Berber dialects are spoken in the mountain areas and in the Souss area. French is widespread and Spanish is frequently used in the northern region close to the Spanish border. English is spoken in the tourist areas.

The climate varies from area to area. The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds. Inland areas have a hotter, drier, continental climate. Rain falls from November to March in coastal areas. Mostly dry with high temperatures in summer. The area of the country is 711,000 sq km with a coastline of 2,900 km along the Atlantic and 500 km along the Mediterranean.

The geography varies from desert, extensive coastal areas to the snow covered Atlas Mountains, which reaches more than 4,000 m above the sea level.

The main industries include exploitation of natural resources such as phosphate, oil, timber and minerals. Cement is an important product, as is food and paper. The textile manufacturing industry is well developed. The creation of an off-shore zone in Tanger will further enhance the development of manufacturing and other commercial activity in this area.

Tourism plays an important role; 40% of GNP derives from tourism with, until recently, focus on the Marrakech and Agadir areas.

Several French and other international banks are represented in Morocco. The domestic banks have a large number of customary banking and finance products including electronic banking services. Foreigners, both individuals and companies, may open accounts with local banks and convert the local currency, Dirham, into other currencies.

Morocco constitutes a bridge between Africa and Europe and the political situation is regarded as stable. King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999 following the death of his father. This started a very conscious development of the country towards a modern government and society with strong western influences.

The governments of Spain and Morocco have recently signed an agreement for the building of a rail tunnel that will connect Europe and Africa.

 

 

 

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