Morocco

Driving Directions Morocco

MOROCCO, in northwest Africa, is strategically placed at the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco lays claim to the territory of Western Sahara while Spain administers the ports of Melilla and Ceuta.

It is a country of diverse topography, climate, and human history whose ancient cities of Tanger, Fes, Marrakech, and Casablanca have long held a fascination for Europeans.

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The country is split from southwest to northeast by the high, rugged Atlas Mountains, which dominate the landscape at over 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet. They give way to green, fertile coastal plains along the Atlantic coast while to the southeast the land falls away from the mountains to join the arid Sahara Desert. The Er Rif Mountains command the Mediterranean coast.

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The coastal regions of Morocco have a Mediterranean type of climate with hot summers and mild winters. Inland, a more continental type of climate prevails with greater extremes of temperature and very cold conditions in winter in the mountains. Hot, dry conditions characterise the desert regions and rainfall occurs mainly in winter and is most plentiful near the coasts.

Once linked with Spain, Morocco’s wildlife is a mix of both African and European species including Dorcas gazelles, Barbary apes and panther (African) and rabbits and squirrels (European). The Barbary lion, which was the subspecies used by the Romans in their bloodthirsty entertainments, is extinct in the wild. However, an ambitious project employing genetic screening along with selective breeding aims to try and reinstate this magnificent lion by breeding from captive animals which show strong Barbary characteristics.

The economy is very mixed. Morocco is mainly a farming country although agriculture accounts for less than 20 per cent of the land use. Wheat, barley and maize are the main food crops and it is one of the world’s chief exporters of citrus fruit. Morocco’s main wealth comes from phosphates, reserves of which are the largest in the world. Coal, lead, iron and manganese ores are also produced.

Morocco is self-sufficient in textiles, it has car assembly plants, soap and cement factories and a large sea fishing industry. Tourism is a major source of revenue as are remittances sent home by Moroccans who work abroad.

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