Morocco since 1957, in long form the kingdom of Morocco, formerly the Cherifian Empire, is a unitary regionalized state located in North Africa. Its political regime is a constitutional monarchy. Its capital is Rabat and its largest city Casablanca. Geographically, it is particularly characterized by mountainous or desert areas and is one of the only countries with Spain and France to have shores on the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Its population is nearly 34 million inhabitants (2014 census) and its area of ​​446,550 km (47.51 inhabitants / km2), or 710,850 km2 including Western Sahara ex “Spanish Sahara”, considered as a territory not self-governing by the United Nations, of which it de facto administers about 80% and which it claims in its entirety, just like the Polisario Front. Its culture has been Berber-Arab for several centuries, and has spread mainly in the Maghreb and in the South of Spain. Moroccans are mainly of Muslim faith. With a presence of hominids dating from around 700,000 years and inhabited since prehistoric times by Berber populations, the Moroccan State, as a separate entity, was founded in 789 by Idris I. In addition, he is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Organization of La Francophonie , Group of 77, Union for the Mediterranean and candidate for accession to ECOWAS. The Moroccan constitution defines Islam, Arabity and Amazighity as “fundamental components” of the identity of the Moroccan people and the country as the land of Islam. It is the religion of the State, which guarantees the free exercise of worship to all.

Morocco’s history

Prehistory and protohistory

The first traces of a hominid presence on Moroccan territory date from around 700,000 years ago. From this so-called Acheulian period, we found a certain number of tools, notably in the Chaouïa plain and more precisely in the immediate vicinity of the Casablanca agglomeration. In addition to tools, a number of human fragments have been discovered, notably in the Thomas quarries, near Casablanca (mandibles, maxillae and cranial fragments of Homo erectus). From the Mousterian era (120,000 to 40,000 years BP), the most explicit site is that of Jbel Irhoud located halfway between the cities of Marrakech and Safi and where two hominid skulls, tools associated with the Levalloiso-Mousterian industry as well as large remains of animals that have now disappeared.

The Aerial era (60 to 40,000 years BP19) brought its share of pedunculated tools found in many caves located on the Atlantic coast (Dar Soltane 2). However, this period was especially marked by deep climatic upheavals having led to an unprecedented desertification of the Moroccan territory as well as the rarefaction or even the disappearance of a large number of animal and plant species. This dynamic was, however, thwarted by the natural bulwark constituted by the Atlas and Rif chains, whether in Morocco or in the rest of the Maghreb. The arrival of Homo sapiens in the Maghreb before the Epipaleolithic has been demonstrated since the Aerial industries are not the work of Neanderthal man, whose range is exclusively Eurasian, but indeed Homo sapiens with archaic characteristics. The oldest remains of Homo sapiens in the world were discovered in Morocco at Djebel Irhoud in June 2017 and date back more than 300,000 years. About 21,000 years ago, the Iberomaurusian civilization was born. It is characterized by rather advanced funeral rites and by a refinement of the tools used. However, it is not yet a question of agriculture. The Taforalt cave in the Oujda region corresponds to the largest deposit of the time. This civilization is maintained and spreads over the whole of the Maghreb before gradually mixing towards the ninth millennium BC with the Capian populations, ancestors of modern Berbers. The first elements discovered corresponding to this period (Neolithic) date from around 6000 years. These testify to a sedentarization already advanced as well as a relative mastery of agricultural techniques.

Ancient Morocco

From the 3000s, the bellflower culture developed in Morocco. Consequently, the country enters the Bronze Age and one attends the diffusion of a specific black ceramic whose presence is attested in a certain number of burials of the Rifaine region. In the eleventh century BC. AD, the bold Phoenician traders, who came from present-day Lebanon, reached the Moroccan coasts and in particular the Atlantic coast. They founded numerous trading posts which served as bases for many Roman and then Arab cities (the main ones being Tingis and Lixus, current Tangiers and Laraches), as well as Thymiateria (Mehdia), Chellah, near Rabat, Azama and Rusibis, and Cerné , located in Essaouira or further south in Dakhla. It was during this period that the very first settlements of Jewish populations in Morocco were dated. The progressive autonomy of Carthage benefits the trading posts founded on the Moroccan coasts to the extent that they will be more developed due to the relative proximity with the new African capital of the Phoenician thalassocracy originating in Tyr. The influence of the Carthaginian civilization is felt strongly among the indigenous populations, whose organization is structured in parallel. Thus, the Berber tribes gradually federate, founding states like the kingdom of Mauretania (under the reign of Baga), first confined to the north of present-day Morocco, and whose sovereigns bear the title of “aguellid”, like the kings of Numidia. The south of the country is populated by the Gétules and the western Ethiopians, the west by the Atlanteans and the east by the Numides of the people of the Massæsyles. The Moors are the heirs of a very ancient, Atlantic-Mediterranean culture, as evidenced by the cromlech of M’zora which can be linked to comparable megalithic monuments like those of Ħaġar Qim in Malta and Stonehenge in Great Britain . Mauretania is not unknown in Greek mythology, which locates the fabulous garden of the Hesperides there.

Due to the support provided by Mauretania to the Roman Empire during the destruction of Carthage, there will be a close friendship between the two States (hence the ousting of the Numidian king Jugurtha, enemy of the Romans). King Bocchus was even awarded the title of Friend of Rome by the Roman Senate and gained the esteem of consul Caius Marius. Under the reign of Juba II, Mauretania became a vassal kingdom, renowned for its exports of purple, cedar wood and maritime products, rich enough to produce its own gold currency. A brilliant urban civilization develops, influenced both by the Carthaginian heritage and by the artistic currents coming from Hellenistic Greece and Lagid Egypt. These influences from the eastern Mediterranean basin are no doubt due to the patronage of Juba II’s own wife, Queen Cleopatra Selene, who is the daughter of Marc Antoine and Cleopatra VII. Juba, a learned king, explores the High Atlas as well as Madeira and the Canary Islands (then called Fortunate Islands), and part of the Sahara. He also does not hesitate to trace his genealogy back to the demigod Hercules. The opulence of Mauretania stirs up the lusts of Rome, which Ptolemy, son and successor of Juba II, will tragically suffer the consequences.

During a trip to Lyon in Roman Gaul, the last Mauritanian king is indeed assassinated on the orders of the emperor Caligula. This murder led to two years of unrest (resistance led against the Roman legions by Aedemon, a freed slave from Ptolemy), then an annexation of Mauretania (42 AD) to the Roman Empire which is designated from then on under the name of Maurétanie tingitane for the part in the west of Moulouya, officially decreed imperial province of military rank by Claude Ier successor of Caligula. Only the northwest of present-day Morocco is effectively under Roman domination, the rest of the territory being controlled by independent tribes, in particular gétules like that of the Autololes. The Romans founded prosperous colonies in Volubilis (not far from present-day Meknes), as well as in Banasa and Thamusida in the Gharb plain. Nevertheless the administrative capital remains Tingis (future Tangier), seat of the procurator, the governor of the province which has the status of Roman knight. A great autonomy is granted to the most loyal tribes, in particular to the Baquates (as evidenced by the famous tables of Banasa), but the constant pressure of the southern peoples then the internal crises in the Empire will gradually get the better of Mauretania Tingitane. At the end of the second century under the reign of Diocletian the province is reduced to the region of Tingis and Ceuta, to Sala (present-day Salé) and to the Purpuraire Islands of Mogador, then attached to the diocese of Hispania and therefore included in the prefecture of the Gauls.

During the Roman period, cities, colonies and municipalities under Roman or Latin law, acquired civic and utilitarian monuments (temples, forums, basilicas, triumphal arches, thermal baths, and even theaters in Lixus and Zilil), and private residences decorated with works of art (sculptures, mosaics) which belong to the Roman-African elite. The cultivated plains are shared by the local aristocracy, which is enriched in particular by the exploitation of the olive tree whose extracted oil is exported to the neighboring provinces and makes the wealth of Mauretania Tingitane. The more distant courses are left to nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. The ports of Tingis and Sala experience intense commercial activity. The imperial authorities recruit military auxiliaries among the Moors, intended to serve in particular in the cavalry. The most famous of them, Lusius Quietus, son of an amghar (Amazigh tribal chief), had a brilliant career under the reign of Trajan. In the name of the Empire, he fought the Dacians and the Parthians, and conquered Armenia, the Media and Babylonia, then pacified Judea in the grip of anti-Roman revolts. The prestige of Lusius Quietus becomes such that he plans to seek the succession of Trajan with the support of a part of the Imperial Senate, before being eliminated by Hadrian. His assassination led to an uprising in Mauretania Tingitane, his home province where his popularity was great among the local tribes. In 429, nearly 80,000 Vandals from Germania crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and landed at Tingis, but in their race towards Carthage and towards proconsular Africa, these invaders controlled only the Mediterranean coast of Mauretania. A century later, the Byzantines commanded by General Bélisaire, annihilate the Vandal Kingdom and seize part of the old province of Tingitane, however, clashing with the Moors of King Garmul, whose power extends from Altava to Volubilis. The government of Constantinople, under Justinian I, created the province of Maurétanie Seconde in northern Morocco, which included the cities of Tangier, Ceuta, Lixus, as well as Byzantine Spain, and was directly dependent on the Exarchate of Carthage. This Byzantine occupation, perpetually threatened by the Visigoths of Spain and by the Moors, will however remain until the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb at the beginning of the 8th century.

From the Arab-Muslim conquest to anarchic unrest

In 649, begins the conquest of the Maghreb by Arab troops. It was 35 years later that these troops truly entered Moroccan territory. The Berber tribes installed as well in the mountainous foothills of the Atlas and the Rif as in the fertile Atlantic plains will support initially the Byzantines installed on the Mediterranean coasts which they will prefer to the Arabs in particular because of diplomatic errors. The destruction of the Byzantine installations around the year 700 will finally get the better of the Berber resistance which will then convert to Islam brought by the Arab conquerors. From the beginning of the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, the Kharijites originally based in Iraq send representatives to the Maghreb in an attempt to rally the Berber populations. The Berbers accustomed to the system of egalitarian community and poorly supporting Arab domination, end up finding in Kharijism a formidable means of political protest. In 739, Maysara, mandated by the people of the Maghreb Al Aqsa, led a delegation to Damascus to the Caliph Hicham to present the grievances of the Berbers: equality in the sharing of the spoils and cessation of the practice of gutting the sheep to obtain the fur of fetuses (sheep being an essential element of the pastoral economy of the Berber tribes).

The complaints reach the Umayyad Caliph who does not act, which triggers an insurrection in Tangier. Maysara seizes the city, kills the governor Omar Ibn Abdallah and proclaims himself caliph. He succeeded in preventing the landing of an Arab army sent from Spain. The governor of Spain Uqba ibn al-Hajjaj intervenes in person but fails to retake Tangier, while Maysara seizes the Souss of which he kills the governor. Then Maysara, behaving like a tyrant, is deposed and killed by his family, and replaced by Khalid ibn Hamid al-Zanati. Under his command, the Berbers were victorious over an Arab army on the banks of the Chelif in early 740. The Arab troops having been beaten, Hichām sends troops from Syria led by General Kulthum ibn Iyad. They were beaten by the Berbers on the banks of the Sebou in October 741. The Egyptian governor Handhala Ibn Safwan intervened in his turn and arrested the two Kharidjite armies during two battles at Al-Qarn and El-Asnam (present-day Algeria). that they threatened Kairouan (present-day Tunisia) (spring 742). When the fall of the Umayyads of Syria (750) occurs, the west of the Empire completely escapes the central Damascene power. Spain returns to the Umayyad emirs of Cordoba and the Maghreb breaks up into several small independent states (from 745 to 755).

The history of the Idrissids is inseparable from the person of Idris I, descendant of Ali and Fatima, son-in-law and daughter of the prophet of Islam Muhammad, who fled the massacres of which his entourage and his family was a victim, took refuge in the Middle Atlas, in Volubilis, an ancient fallen Roman city. Obtaining the approval of the local tribes, he founded in 789 the city of Fez in the Saïss plain, of which he made the capital of his new kingdom proclaimed in 791. After his assassination by an envoy of the Caliph Haroun ar-Rashid, his son Idris He succeeds him after a regency. He extended his capital as well as his kingdom and advanced beyond Tlemcen, taken by his father in 789 and subjecting many Zenata tribes. His successor Mohammed will build the prestigious Quaraouiyine mosque, which houses the oldest university still active in the world. During this period, Fez became one of the main intellectual centers of the Arab world and attracted eminent scientists and theologians. The Idrissid kingdom regularly extends its borders but finds itself threatened by the powerful Fatimid dynasty in the east. Indicated caliphs of Cordoba at the beginning of the tenth century, the Idrissides will also undergo pressure from the Umayyads in the north. In 985, the Fatimids and their vassals from Algeria pushed the Idrissids to take refuge in Al-Andalus. From the middle of the tenth century, the weakening of the Idrissides due not only to external pressures but especially to internal dissensions led to a revival of activity by the large Berber tribes who founded and conquered numerous cities. The states of Sijilmassa in the south and Nekor in the north are maintained and gaining momentum during this period.

Kingdom of the Berghouata (between the 8th and 10th centuries)

 The Barghawata (or Barghwata or Berghouata) form a Berber emirate, belonging to the group of the Masmoudas ethnic group. After the kharijites failed in their rebellion in Morocco against the caliphs of Damascus, they establish (744 – 1058) a kingdom in the region of Tamesna on the Atlantic coasts between Safi and Salé under the aegis of Tarif al- Matghari. The peculiarity of this state is to create a purely Berber religion, based on a holy book inspired by the Koran, and directed by a theocratic government fixing the rituals of a new worship borrowing at the same time from Islam, Judaism and to ancient local beliefs. The Barghwata maintained their supremacy in the region of the Atlantic plains for four centuries, and maintained diplomatic and commercial relations with the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, which probably saw in them potential allies against the Fatimids and their Zenite allies. It seems that out of the twenty-nine tribes that make up this kingdom, twelve actually adopted the Barghwata religion, the seventeen others having remained faithful to Kharijism.

Kingdom of Sijilmassa (758-1055)

An emirate founded by the Zenetes emerged in the Tafilalet region from 758. Led by the Midrarid dynasty (whose founder is Semgou Ibn Ouassoul), it took the city of Sijilmassa as its capital. This kingdom officially professes the Kharidjism of suite rite but finally recognizes from 883 the religious supremacy of the Sunni caliphate of the Abbasids. The Midrarides, however, devoted themselves to maintaining an alliance with other Kharidjite states, such as the kingdom of the Rostemids of Tahert, and to establishing a fruitful caravan trade in gold with the kingdom of Ghana, at the time master of the most important gold deposits. from West Africa. The emirate of Sijilmassa thus reached its peak in the ninth century thanks to its role as a hub for the trafficking of precious metals, and its fame thus extended to the Mediterranean countries and the Middle East. It is precisely this position of outlet for African gold which excites the lusts of the Umayyads and the Fatimids who compete for its domination. It was finally the Almoravids who seized the Midrarid kingdom in 1055. Subsequently, the founding of Marrakech definitively overshadowed the prestige of Sijilmassa.

Idrissid dynasty (789-985)

The history of the Idrissids begins when a Shiite Arab prince from the family of Ali (fourth caliph of Islam) and his freedman Rachid Ben Morched El Koreichi take refuge in the Middle Atlas. Fleeing the threat of the Abbasids (who had massacred Alides and their Shiite partisans during the battle of Fakh near Mecca), they stayed in Egypt before settling in Walilah (Volubilis), under the protection of the Berber tribe of Awerbas. Managing to rally the tribes to his cause, Idriss is invested Imam and founds the city of Fez in 789 under the name of Idris Ier. It was the start of the Idrissid dynasty. Idris I is assassinated by an emissary of the Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rachid, a certain Sulayman Ibn Jarir Achammakh, who had in fact been advised by the powerful barmecid vizier Yahya ben Khalid. Not suspecting that the wife of Idris I (Kenza al-Awrabiya) is pregnant, the masters of Baghdad think that the threat has been overcome. But a few months later, Idris II was born. His education was entrusted to the freed from his father, Rachid. After eleven years under the tutelage of Rachid, Idriss II is proclaimed Imam of the believers. Over the years, his sense of politics became clear and he managed to unite a larger number of populations. The power of the military (which is becoming more professional and in which Qaysites from the northern tribes of the Arabian Peninsula engage in particular) allows it to develop and extend the core of the principality which it had inherited. The Idrissid kingdom thus encompasses the entire portion of territory extending from Tlemcen in the east to Souss in the south. It seems that the Idrissid dynasty, at least in its beginnings, professed Shiism and more precisely Zaïdism, reputed to be the most moderate of the Shiite rites.

Considering itself cramped in Walilah, Idriss II leaves the ancient Roman city for Fez, where he founds the district of Kairouanais (also called Al-Alya) on the left bank of the wadi Fez (Idris Ier was established on the right bank, the Andalusian district). The Kairouan people come from Eastern Arab and Arab-Persian families (originally from Khorassan) established in Ifriqiya since the Abbasid era. They are expelled from Kairouan because of the political persecution inflicted on them by the Aghlabids and in particular Emir Ibrahim I. The Andalusians who settle in Fez are opponents of the Umayyads, originally from the Cordovan suburbs who had revolted against the Umayyad emir of Al-Andalus Al-Hakam I (in particular from the suburb of Rabed, from where the name of Rabedis attributed to the elements of this first wave of Andalusian immigration to Morocco).

The Idrissid kingdom is undergoing an important phase of urbanization, illustrated by the creation of new cities like Salé, Wazzequr, Tamdoult and Basra, the latter inspired by Iraqi Basra. These new centers are centers of diffusion of Arab culture and vectors of Islamization in deeply Berber country. The founding of the Al Quaraouiyine mosque in 859, which also houses a university of the same name, gives Fez an influence which will make the Idrisside city participate in the Islamic Golden Age of science, arts and letters, alongside metropolises as well. as prestigious as Cordoba, Cairo and Baghdad. At the same time, the Vikings from distant Scandinavia and led by Hasting and the Swedish prince Björn Ironside, attracted by the potential resources of North Africa, distinguished themselves by their devastating incursions on the coasts of Morocco (especially in the Assilah and Nador regions). The Andalusian historian and geographer Al-Bakri will designate the Viking invaders by the term of Majus and will particularly relate their abuses against the kingdom of Banu Salih of Nekor in the Rif. In 985, the Idrissids lost all political power in Morocco and were massively exiled in Al-Andalus. Settled in Malaga, they gradually recover their power, to the point of creating a dynasty during the time of the taifas, the Hammudites. The latter go so far as to claim the caliph function in Cordoba to replace the Umayyads who fell in 1016.

The Zenet Uprisings (954-1059)

Around 954 and according to Ibn Khaldoun, three large zenet tribal confederations rose and seized several cities and regions of the Maghreb el Aksa (Arab appellation of Morocco), namely Fez, Oujda (founded in 994 by the Maghraoui Ziri Ibn Attia) , Salé (founded during the 10th century by the Banou Ifrens, Sijilmassa), or even the regions of Souss and Haouz, and this following the weakening of the Cherifian Arab dynasty of the Idrissides. During the conquest, these three Zenet confederations, the Maghraouas, the Banou Ifrens and the Meknassas, each founded a kingdom around their area of ​​influence but fairly quickly, their points of view diverged, causing instability throughout the territory. The various Maghraou tribes were sometimes allied with the Umayyads sometimes with the Fatimids. The Banou Ifrens remained resistant to any alliance with the Arab powers. The Fatimids take advantage of these divisions between the three Zenet confederations and send the Zirids of Ifriqiya to conquer the Maghreb el Aksa (present-day Morocco). The Ziride named Ziri ibn Menad succeeds in conquering part of present-day Morocco. In 971, his son Bologhine ibn Ziri asserted his sovereignty over most major cities. During this period, the Berghouatas (Masmouda and Sanhadja tribal confederation) will therefore be attacked by the Zirids. The Maghraou ask for help from the Umayyads. The latter finally agree to help the Zenites to reconquer the territories, in particular those of the Maghraouas of the western Maghreb. Bologhine ibn Ziri is forced to retreat before the Umayyad army from Al-Andalus by sea and who settles in Ceuta. Subsequently, Ziri Ibn Attia of the Maghraou enters into conflict with the chiefs of Banou Ifrens and Meknassas. A power struggle will be fierce between the Zenite factions. The Banou Ifrens attack the Berghouata and take several times Fez, a stronghold of Maghraoua. The latter will finally restore the balance of the Maghreb el Aksa. The reign of the three Zenite confederations will end with the arrival of the Hilalians and the Almoravids around the 11th century in 1059. The Zenites will be ousted by the Almoravids of the Maghreb el Aksa.

Historically, the Zenetes were the sole masters of roads and commerce in the region. This period is characterized by a certain preponderance of tribal democratic practices, as was already the case two centuries ago during the Kharijite revolts. The Zenites have demonstrated through their history that they can negotiate with all the tribes in the Maghreb. Several alliances and treaties were developed during this period. Construction has developed and several cities have experienced a real boom (construction of mosques, kalaâ, ksours, etc.). In 1068, the three “dynasties” fell as much because of the manifest zeal of certain chiefs as because of their determination to engage in holy wars.

Almoravid dynasty (1055-1147)

The Almoravids come from the Berber Sanhadjas tribes of the Lamtounas and the Guzzalas who nomadized in the Saharan desert between the Mauritanian Adrar and the Tafilalet. These warrior tribes are structured within a powerful religious movement, under the leadership of preacher Abdellah ben Yassin. Their goal is to establish Sunni Islam of Malekite rite throughout the Muslim West (Al-Andalus and North Africa). Thus comes their name of al-Murabitoun, that is to say the fighters of the ribat, a fortress of the holy war erected against their animist enemies. The Almoravids are victorious in their war against the black kingdoms of Tekrour and the empire of Ghana. They thus seize Ghana and its capital Aoudaghost, at the head of a large region producing and exporting gold, and manage to go up the Saharan caravan tracks to Tafilalet in the 1050s, where they put an end to the existence of the emirate of Sijilmassa under Zenet domination. The heads of the Almoravids are successively Abou Bakr ben Omar then Youssef ben Tachfine. While “useful Morocco” is beset by the lusts of neighboring political entities as well as internal divisions, three large Berber tribes share the Saharan regions. The Lemtouna, Massoufa and Goddala (or Gadala, distant descendants of the ancient Gétules), all three members of the Sanhadja confederation and Islamized two and a half centuries earlier, waged warfare and wandered regularly towards the south where they threatened the empire of Ghana and other Sudano-Sahelian animist states. From the Lemtouna tribe, the emir Yahya ben Ibrahim went around 1035 to complete the pilgrimage to Mecca. There, he became aware of the need to perfect the Islam of his fellows in the Adrar regions. While stopping at Kairouan, he tried to obtain logistical support from local religious eminences, but to no avail.

This Almoravid domination manifests itself in a symbiosis of Andalusian, West Maghreb and Saharan identities, paving the way for the emergence of a Hispano-Moorish civilization straddling the Iberian Peninsula and the Western Maghreb. The buildings remaining in Marrakech, Tlemcen and Algiers thus show a strong influence of the Cordovan artistic school adapted to the aesthetic canons of North Africa. In the economic field, the Almoravid State is distinguished by its mastery of the flow of gold, which it controls the production areas and the transport routes, from Ghana to the Mediterranean basin. The Almoravid gold dinar, called marabotin, circulates on all major commercial markets as the reference currency. After the death of Youssef Ibn Tachfin in 1106, his son Ali ben Youssef succeeds him, but the dynasty is already disputed both in Spain and in Africa. The ruling family takes in fact the pleasures and delights of a refined court life inherited from the Caliphs of Cordoba and the taifa emirs of Al Andalus. At the same time, the populations are subjected to the strict dictatorship of the Maliki cadis and the local exactions of the military leaders of Sanhadja origin who sometimes rely on militias of Christian mercenaries like that of the Catalan knight Reverter. Such a political conjuncture promotes widespread discontent throughout the severely weakened Almoravid empire.

Almohad dynasty (1147-1269)

Mohammad Ibn Toumert is the future self-proclaimed Mahdi of the Almohad movement, former Moroccan empire, and the son of an amghar, village chief of the Harga tribe in the High Atlas. Very early animated by a religious zeal, he undertook from his youth of multiple trips bringing him to visit Baghdad, Cairo and perhaps even Damascus where he discovered the full extent of the Muslim tradition, and in particular Sufism. Quickly, he maintained a deep aversion to the narrowness of Malikism reigning supreme in his homeland. It was in 1117 that he returned to the Maghreb, via Tripoli, then Tunis and finally Béjaïa where his pious sermons galvanized the crowds. In Melalla, he became friends with Zénète Abd El Moumen. It is in the company of the latter that Ibn Toumert d’Almohades (“Al-Muwahidûn”), the Unitarians. It was in Tinmel, in the heart of the very isolated N’fis valley, that he established his “capital”. His sermons met a considerable echo and he openly proclaimed his intention to gang up all the rebellious mountain tribes against the Almoravids. His growing aura raises day by day more concerns on the part of the Almoravids who launch against him in 1121 a military expedition commanded by the governor of Souss, Abu Bakr Ben Mohammed El-Lamtouni. The expedition is literally overwritten. Following this disappointment, his desires faded for a time but in 1127 (or 1129), a new expedition arrived in the foothills of the High Atlas around Aghmat in the hope of striking a big blow in Hintata country, stronghold of the “Unitarian” doctrine. But Abd El Moumen and El Béchir thwarted this plan and taking advantage of the effect of surprise, they even managed to besiege punctually Marrakech, Almoravid capital. However, their weaknesses in lowland combat prompted them to take refuge in all haste. El Béchir died followed a few months later, in September 1130, by Ibn Toumert.

Abd El Moumen first secretly succeeded the founder of the sect and favored a policy of alliance with the Atlas tribes. To do this, he played not only on his Zenetic origins but also on what remained of the circles of initiates that his predecessor had founded. From 1140, an intense campaign allowed the Almohads to attract the favors of the oases of the south. Taza then Tétouan are the first big cities to fall. Following the death of Ali ben Youssef in 1143, he captured Melilla and Al Hoceïma, making northern Morocco his real logistical base. The death of the fearsome Reverter in 1145 followed in the same year by that of Tachfine ben Ali allows the Almohads the respective captures of Oran, Tlemcen, Oujda and Guercif. Then follows the long and trying siege of Fez which will last nine months during which Abd El Moumen is personally responsible for taking Meknes, Salé and Sebta. The conquest of Morocco will finally end in March 1147 with the capture of Marrakech, capital of the now deposed Almoravid empire and in which the last king Ishaq ben Ali will be ruthlessly killed that day. To celebrate this victory, Abd El Moumen built the famous Koutoubia mosque on the ruins of the old Dar El Hajar.

In a rather unprecedented way, the first military efforts of Abd El Moumen, now inducted as Caliph of the Muslim West (to mark his religious independence from the Eastern Abbasids) are turning to the east of the Maghreb, under double jeopardy of the Normans of Sicily led by Roger II (who took control of Djerba and Mahdia and threaten the prosperous Béjaïa) and of the Bedouin tribes (Banu Hilal) sent from Upper Egypt by the Fatimid rulers of Cairo, furious to see Zirides and Hammadids escape their control. The operations launched proved largely successful since the Bedouins were completely crushed in Béjaïa then Sétif in 1152. In 1159, a powerful land army was raised from Salé, seconded by a fleet of seventy ships, forcing the Normans to entrench themselves on Sfax and Tripoli. Thus the Almohad Empire extended in the late 1150s from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Sirte, encompassing all of Muslim Africa west of Egypt.

In Andalusia the end of the Almoravid period allowed the resurgence of the taifa reinos and a revival of vigor of the Christians. In 1144 the Castilians temporarily seized Cordoba. To the west, Lisbon and Santarem are taken by the Portuguese. Almería is also taken by the Aragonese for a whole decade. Back to the wall, the taifas are forced to make new calls to the masters of the Maghreb. Thus, even before the capture of Marrakech by the Almohads, Jerez and Cadiz offered themselves to the latter. In the wake of the capture of Marrakech, expeditionary corps allow the conquest of the entire south of the peninsula (Granada, Seville, Cordoba …) then Badajoz. In 1157, Almería was taken over. Abd El Moumen finally died in 1163 in Salé. His son Abu Yaqub Yusuf succeeded him, first recognized in Seville and then in Marrakech. He will strive until his death in 1184 to reign as a true “enlightened despot”, anxious to loosen the noose of religious orthodoxy weighing on the Maghreb. Under his impulse flourish arts much more flourished than under the previous dynasty. Architecture in particular reached its peak, resulting in the construction of the Giralda in Seville, freshly honored with the status of Andalusian capital, as well as the Hassan tower in Rabat (whose minaret was never completed) and the Koutoubia in Marrakech, all three built on a substantially equivalent model. In other registers, the Alhambra palace is erected on the heights of Granada by the Nasrids, and the Agdal Gardens are planted in Marrakech which also has a Caliph Casbah sheltering the palaces of the Almohad sovereign ( see the article Almoravid and Almohad art). It was also under the Almohads that the brilliant philosopher Averroes (his real name Ibn Rûshd) lived as well as Moses Maimonides who nevertheless went to exile in Cairo in order to be able to practice his religion freely (he was of Jewish faith). The intellectuals of the Almohad caliphate honor ancient philosophy as everywhere else in the Muslim world, and more particularly that of Aristotle whose rationalism seduces Averroes in particular.

When Abu Yaqub Yusuf died, the Almoravids, who had remained masters of the Balearic Islands, left to carry the sword where the Normans once raged. They tear Algiers, Miliana, Gafsa and Tripoli from the Almohads and subsidize Bedouin tribes of Ifriqiya as well as the Turkmen mercenaries Ghuzz, who will go to raid all over the Middle Maghreb and even descend to the oases of Drâa. Matted by the vigilant militias of a certain governor Abu Yusf, the Bedouin tribes will then be settled in western Morocco, in the former Berghouata country where they will contribute to the effort to Arabize the plains of Gharb and the Chaouia. As for the Ghuzz, they are incorporated into the Almohad army to form units of elite archers. After the victory of Alarcos during which Alfonso VIII of Castile was beaten by the sovereign Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, the last Almoravid troublemakers were crushed in southern Tunisia. It’s the Almohad golden age.

Muhammad an-Nasir succeeds his father in 1199. On July 16, 1212, his army of 30,000 men was routed by a coalition of nearly 62,000 Christians from France, Aragon, Catalonia, County of Portugal , León and Castile. It is the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa that history will remember as the pivotal event of the Reconquista. At the same time, an-Nasir receives a strange offer of allegiance from John Landless, then in cold with the Christian sovereigns of the European continent, to make the distant kingdom of England a vassal of the Almohad caliphate of Marrakech. The authority of the Almohads over their empire will be durably weakened by this debacle, to the point that Muhammad an-Nasir will renounce his throne the following year, yielding it to his son. At 16, Yusuf al-Mustansir therefore rose to the throne. Devoid of authority, he quickly sees the middle Maghreb escape him. The same is true in Andalusia where the Almohad governor of Murcia claims a regency and crosses the strait to make it known. In Seville, Al-Mamoun does much the same. The taifas rise from the ashes and impose Malikism. In Marrakech even the sheikhs wish to proceed to the election of a new caliph, leaving the young sovereign no other choice than fleeing for a time. His son Abd al-Wahid al-Makhlu succeeded him in 1223. He died of strangling the same year.

The sheikhs of Marrakech will then proceed to the election of Abu Muhammad al-Adil. The Hafsids, named Abû Muhammad ben ach-Chaykh Abî Hafs, formerly vizier of Muhammad an-Nasir, declared their independence in 1226, under the leadership of Abu Zakariyâ Yahyâ. The death of Abu Muhammad al-Adil will mark the beginning of the Kingdom of Castile’s interference in Moroccan affairs. Ferdinand III of Castile will support Abu al-Ala Idris al-Mamun while the sheikhs will support the son of Muhammad an-Nasir, Yahya al-Mutasim. It was the first who took the ascendancy for a while, managing to take Marrakech and massacre the sheikhs. He renounced the Almohad religious doctrine in favor of Malikism and agreed in payment of his debt to build the Notre-Dame church in Marrakech in 1230. The building was destroyed two years later. In 1233, his son Abd al-Wahid ar-Rachid took over Marrakech and drove the Bani Marin, future Merinids from Fes (the latter made the city and its neighbor Taza pay a tribute since 1216), enabling Morocco to be reunited. In Andalusia, Cordoba fell into the hands of Ferdinand III of Castile from 1236. Valence followed suit two years later, then it was Seville’s turn in 1248. Meanwhile, Abu al-Hasan as-Said al-Mutadid will succeed to restore a semblance of unity over Morocco but will accumulate failures against the Merinids whose progress is irresistible over northern Morocco. For thirty years, the Almohads will survive, entrenched on the Haouz plain and paying tribute to their northern neighbors. In 1269, Marrakech fell. In 1276, it was Tinmel’s turn. A century and a half later, the Almohad loop is closed and the dynasty at the origin of the powerful Western Caliphate disappears definitively.

During the crusades The Almohad Empire, under the reign of Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, established a strategic partnership with the Egypt of Sultan Saladin. The culmination of this relationship is the embassy of Abu Al Harith Abderrahman Ibn Moukid sent by Saladin to the Caliphal Court of Marrakech, which embodies the alliance between Almohades and Ayyoubides. This mission leads to the participation of the Almohad fleet in maritime operations against the Crusaders (on the coasts of the Near East as well as in the Red Sea). After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, part of the holy city is repopulated with populations coming from the Almohad Empire who will found and live in a specific district of which one of the best known vestiges is the Maghrebian Gate.

Merinid dynasty (1269-1465)

Unlike the two previous dynasties, the rise of the Merinids is not to be attributed to a personal approach associable with an individual but rather to the collective affirmation of a tribe. The other break that marks the rise to power of the Merinids is the abandonment of the leitmotif of religious purification in favor of a more classic conception of the conquest of power, more in keeping with the tribal identity of the protagonists.

The tribe in question is a Zenet tribe whose origins come from the Wassin. The fact remains that the Beni Merins (or Bani Marin) constitute throughout the twelfth century the archetype of any Berber tribe, nomadic between the basin of the Haute-Moulouya to the west (between Guercif and Missour) and the Algerian Tell, south of Sidi Bel Abbès to the east. The first occurrence of the Beni Merin tribe in Moroccan historiography coincides with their participation as a group in the battle of Alarcos (1196), a battle ultimately won by the Almohad camp. It is on this occasion that Abd al-Haqq is considered to be the true founder of the Merinid dynasty. Returning to the country, the tribe falls into relative anonymity until the scathing Almohad defeat of Las Navas de Tolosa at the end of which the Merinid troops will defeat 10,000 Almohad soldiers. Following this success, the Mérinides settled temporarily in the Rif, supported by Meknassas settled in the north of Taza.

From 1216, they were paid tribute by the cities of Fez and Taza. The Almohads anxious to restore their authority over their entire territory launched numerous counter-offensives, most often in vain. It was during one of these maneuvers that Abd al-Haqq died. His son Uthman ben Abd al-Haqq succeeds him. From 1227, all the tribes between Bouregreg and Moulouya made allegiance to the Merinids. In 1240, Uthman ben Abd al-Haqq died, murdered by his Christian slave. His brother Muhammad ben Abd al-Haqq succeeded him, besieging Meknes with relative success. He died in 1244, killed by Christian militias in the service of the Almohads. In the middle of the decade 1240, the Almohad troops are routed in Guercif. The Merinids then rush into the very strategic Trouée de Taza, a springboard which enabled them to undertake the siege of Fez in August 1248 and to envisage the capture of the entire northern half of Morocco. But the southern half is not to be outdone. Abu Yahya ben Abd al-Haqq having previously succeeded plays traditional friendships of the Beni Merins with the Beni-Ouaraïn of the Middle Atlas and other tribes of the Tafilalet to control the oases and divert the income from the trans-Saharan trade from Marrakech to Fez, designated as Marinid capital.

In 1258, Abu Yusuf Yaqub ben Abd al-Haqq succeeded his brother buried in the ancient necropolis of Chellah which he had started to rehabilitate. The beginning of his reign is marked by a fight with his nephew who claimed the succession. The latter manages to take Salé. The situation at the mouth of the Bouregreg benefits Castile which will occupy the city for two weeks in 1260, on the orders of Alphonse X. The west of the Rif was also beset by numerous Ghomaras insurrections while Ceuta and Tangier were then in the hands of an independent sultan, a man named El Asefi. Quickly the new sovereign expressed his desire to do battle quickly with the Almohads entrenched in Haouz, eastern Doukkala and part of the Souss. A first attempt in this direction ended in failure in 1262. The Almohads then urged the Abdalwadids to attack their Merinid rivals by surprise. Yaghmoracen Ibn Ziane, famous Abdalwadid sovereign was defeated in 1268. The following year, Marrakech was definitively taken.

In the years that followed, he took the Spaniards out of all their Atlantic settlements to Tangier. In 1276, Fez, the capital of the kingdom, was enlarged by a new district, away from the old city, where the royal palace and the Mellah (Fez El Jedid) rub shoulders. Overall, the city will experience a second golden age under the Marinid era, after that known as the Idrissides. After the total pacification of the territory and the capture of Sijilmassa from the Abdalwadids, the sultan crosses the strait and tries to reconstitute the great Muslim Al-Andalus of the Almohads. The Spanish companies of the Merinides were complex but produced few concrete results. Following the siege of Jerez, a peace treaty stipulating the return of many Andalusian documents and works of art (which fell into the hands of Christians during the capture of Seville and Cordoba) to Fez. In 1286, Abu Yusuf Yaqub ben Abd al-Haqq died in Algeciras. He is buried in Chellah. His son Abu Yaqub Yusuf48, later said an-nāsr, succeeded him and was confronted upon his enthronement with a hardening of the revolts in Drâa and in Marrakech and with a disavowal of certain members of his family, sometimes allying with the Abdalwadids or the rebels. He returned Cadiz to the Nasrids of Granada as a goodwill, but six years later, in 1291, the latter, allied with the Castilians of which they are the vassals, undertook to permanently plant the Merinids of the Iberian Peninsula. After four months of siege, Tarifa is taken by the Castilians. But the eyes of Abu Yaqub Yusuf an-Nasr are rather focused on Tlemcen, capital of the eternal rivals of Beni Merin that are the Abdalwadides. He heads towards Tlemcen at the head of a cosmopolitan army since it is essentially composed of Christian mercenaries (Castilians and Aragonese mainly), Turkmens and Kurds. The siege lasted eight years and continued until the assassination of the sovereign, at the hands of one of the eunuchs of his harem, in 1307.

Until the advent of Abu al-Hasan ben Uthman in 1331, the dynasty was marked by a form of decadence, the main signs of which were the proliferation of quarrels of succession, popular revolts and military uprisings. In 1331, therefore, Abu al-Hasan ben Uthman (nicknamed the Black Sultan) succeeded his father, only a few months after obtaining his pardon. His elders’ obsession with Tlemcen quickly caught up with him. He begins a new siege on the city which will prove futile. He ousted those around him who were envious of him but knew how to show great dexterity in his management of tribal ambitions. Tlemcen finally fell in 1337. Abu al-Hasan ben Uthman was crowned with glory. This victory opened the way for him to the Middle Maghreb but before rushing into this open breach towards Ifriqiya, the sovereign wanted to avenge the death of his son Abu Malik, surprised by the Castilians after his success in Gibraltar in 1333. The battle of Tarifa on October 30, 1340 ended in a heavy defeat which would sign the definitive end of Moroccan ambitions on Spanish soil.

Seven years later, the Sultan and his armies succeed in subduing Ifriqiya. The following year, however, the Merinids suffered a stinging defeat in Kairouan. The echo of the disappointment is great, to the point that a mad rumor is born and spreads that the Black Sultan died in battle. In Tlemcen, Abu Inan Faris is then inducted. The construction of the Bou Inania madrassah in Fez will come from his will. He also completed the construction of the Medersa Bou Inania in Meknes, started by his elder brother. The latter will try a vain return via Algiers then Sijilmassa. He was finally defeated and killed by his son’s armies on the banks of Oum Errabiâ. Abu Inan Faris, deeply saddened by this death, will then try to assert his authority over the whole kingdom, again weakened by the resurgence of insurgent wills. For these purposes, he surrounds himself with Ibn Khaldoun, a genius thinker and a true precursor of modern sociology. His nephew, master of Fez, was executed, but during this trip to Morocco, it was Tlemcen who rose. An intense campaign allows a certain revival of vigor of the Merinides but Abu Inan is strangled at the hands of one of his viziers, a certain al-Foudoudi, on December 3, 1358, only nine years after his accession to power.

Anarchy is then at its peak. It is the first great decline of the dynasty. Each vizier tries to carry to the throne the weakest and most manipulable pretender. The wealth patiently accumulated by previous rulers is plundered. A first pretender from Castile manages to evade this diktat of viziers for a time. His name is Abû Ziyân Muhammad ben Ya`qûb, more simply called Muhammad ben Yaqub. Recognized and acclaimed in northern Morocco, he reigned from 1362 over a kingdom of which only the northern half (from the Tadla to the southern foothills of the Rif) remained loyal to the Merinid authority. Throughout his brief reign, he will try to oust one by one the viziers deemed bulky but it is from the hands of one of these, the grand vizier Omar, that he will perish in 1366. Omar then extricates the son Abu Hasan, Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz ben Ali or more simply Abd al Aziz. After having succeeded in the feat of ousting a good number of viziers, including the one who brought him to power, he manages to subdue the parallel power in place in Marrakech (power known as Abu the Fadel, defeated in 1368). He manages to establish his authority in Hintata country, then in Souss and in Sijilmassa. In 1370, Tlemcen, where the Abdalwadid power had been restored, fell into the hands of the Merinids. But only two years later, he died. The kingdom is again split in two, the zaouïas taking power in Marrakech. The black plague is wreaking havoc.

21 years of decline ensued during which multiplied the dynastic intrigues, the political blows of the different viziers, the Nasrid interferences and vain attempts of military blows against Tlemcen. During the two periods of decline, the practice of piracy developed, both in the North, in the vicinity of Tangier and Ceuta, and on the Atlantic coast (in Anfa in particular, which was moreover destroyed in reprisals by the Portuguese in 1468). In 1399, while Morocco was in the grip of a most total anarchy, King Henry III of Castile armed a naval expedition intended to annihilate the practice of racing from Tetouan. In fact, the city is not only sacked but also completely emptied of its population (half is deported to Castile). In 1415, it was Ceuta’s turn to fall into the hands of the troops of John I, King of Portugal, also on a crusade against the maritime race of the Moroccan coastal cities. The Merinid dynasty experienced a tragic decline50. Abu Said Uthman III said Abu Said succeeds Abu Amir Abd Allah in troubled circumstances. Taciturn prince, he turns again to Tlemcen. But the tide has turned and Abu Malek, abdalwadid ruler, steeped in hatred against the masters of Fez, manages to take the city and imposes a puppet ruler. The documents for this period are very vague and contradict each other. The fact remains that Abu Muhammad Abd al-Haqq succeeded Abu Said when he was only one year old (1421). This accession to the throne of course called for a regency. The wattassid viziers will prove to be essential.

Idrissid dynasty, Joutey branch (1465-1471) 

Mohammed ibn Ali al-Idrissi al-Amrani al-Joutey is the 20th direct descendant of Idris I. Leader of the chorfas of Fez in the middle of the 15th century, he was proclaimed sultan of Morocco following the revolt of 1465 which led to the assassination of the Merinid sultan Abd al-Haqq II, who died without leaving an heir51. However, he failed to impose his authority far beyond Fez and its region. The reign of Mohammed ibn Ali lasted until 1471, when he was overthrown by Mohammed ach-Chaykh, who founded the Wattassid dynasty.

Wattassides (1472-1554)

The Wattassides, Ouattassides or Banû Watâs, are a tribe of Zenite Berbers like the Merinids. This tribe, which would originally be from present-day Libya, was established in the Rif, on the edge of the Mediterranean. From their fortress of Tazouta, between Melilla and Moulouya, the Beni Wattas gradually extended their power at the expense of the ruling Merinid family. These two families being related, the Merinids recruited many viziers from the Wattassids. The wattassid viziers are gradually gaining power. The last Marinid sultan was dethroned in 1465. There followed a period of confusion which lasted until 1472. Morocco was cut in two, with the Hintata emirs in Marrakech, succeeded by the emerging Arab dynasty of the Saadians, and in Fez. the wattasside sultanate declining. Further north, in Tétouan and Chaouen, appears a predominantly Andalusian principality populated by refugees from the kingdom of Granada (conquered by the Catholic Spaniards in 1492) and led by a woman named Sayyida al-Hurra. Sayyida al-Hurra (or Sitt al-Hurra) leads a relentless fight against the Portuguese who have occupied Ceuta since 1415, and contracts a matrimonial alliance with the Wattassides by marrying Sultan Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ben Muhammad. At the strategic level, it joins forces with those of the Turkish admiral Arudj Barbarossa who fights against the Spanish in the western Mediterranean.

In 1472, the wattassid sultans lost all their important territories and no longer control the Moroccan shore of the Strait of Gibraltar. The Portuguese take possession of Tangier in 1471 then cede the city to England in 1661 as a dowry brought by Catherine de Bragança to her husband Charles II of England. During the Portuguese domination (1471-1661, with a Spanish interlude between 1580 and 1640), Tangier constitutes the capital of the Algarve of Africa, because there are then two Algarves, that of Europe and that of Africa, both considered as territories belonging personally to the Aviz dynasty and then to the Bragança dynasty (the king of Portugal also bears the title of king of the Algarves). During the English domination, Tangier is a strategic stronghold, with a special status and electing representatives to the House of Commons in London, but the maintenance of a large garrison is too costly in the eyes of English opinion . This pushes Charles II to evacuate the place, which is taken by Moroccan troops from Sultan Moulay Ismail in 1684.

Under the successive reigns of Alphonse V, Jean II and Manuel Ier (period marking the apogee of the Portuguese expansion) the African Algarve includes almost all the Atlantic coast of Morocco, with the exception of Rabat and Salé. The Portuguese control the coastal stretch extending from Ceuta to Agadir and Boujdour, with the strongholds of Tangier, Assilah, Larache, Azemmour, Mazagan, Safi and Castelo Real de Mogador as milestones. These possessions form fronteiras, the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish presidios, and are used as stopovers on the maritime routes of Brazil and Portuguese India. However, most of Portuguese Morocco was reconquered by the Saadians in 1541. The last fronteira of the Portuguese crown is Mazagan, recovered by the Moroccans in 1769. The Spanish, for their part, claimed the Mediterranean coast with the presidents of Melilla and the Vélez de la Gomera rock, as well as the Tarfaya region facing the Canary Islands. They also took control of Ceuta after the Portuguese debacle at the Battle of the Three Kings which ended in the Iberian Union (1580). From this era emerged the astonishing figure of Mustapha Zemmouri, better known under the name of Estevanico (or Esteban the Moor), a Moroccan native of Azemmour resold by the Portuguese as a slave to Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, and who is illustrated by his exploration of North America in the ranks of the Spanish conquistadors in the early sixteenth century. The weakened Wattassides finally give power to a dynasty claiming to be of Arab Sharifian origin (the Saadians) in 1554.

Links with Al-Andalus

In 1492, seven centuries after the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the last Muslim kingdom in Spain, Granada, was reconquered by the Catholic kings. From the beginning of the successes of the Reconquista in the 12th century, some Andalusians had started to withdraw to Morocco; but the majority of them were forced to leave Spain mainly in two stages: with the fall of Granada in 1492, and in 1609 with the expulsion of the Moriscos. In addition, the last descendants of the Nasrid dynasty led by Boabdil took refuge in Fez after the fall of the last Andalusian Muslim kingdom of Granada. The exodus of these people, which the country will have to integrate into its social and economic fabric, will mark a new turning point in culture, philosophy, the arts and politics. Andalusian immigration will be more difficult in certain Moroccan cities. The Andalusians will either live in old cities or build new ones; nevertheless, they will settle mainly in the north of the country, notably in Tangier, Tétouan, Oujda, Chefchaouen, but also in Rabat, Salé and Fès. The Moriscos settled in Rabat (known as Salé-le-Neuf) and Salé (also known as Salé-le-Vieil) formed a corsair republic inspired by the Barbarian Regencies of Algiers and Tunis, living on profitable commercial races which led them to negotiate with many states (Spain, Portugal, France, England, Holland).

Saadian dynasty (1554-1659)

The Saadians, sometimes called Zaydanides, constitute a Sharifian Arab dynasty originating in the Draa valley. She came to power in 1511 with Sultan Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Qaim bi-Amr Allah and chose Marrakech as the final capital after Taroudant. From 1554 it fully controls Morocco, while the central and eastern Maghreb is under the domination of the Ottomans. Mohammed ech-Cheikh is a resolute opponent of the Ottoman sultan-caliph Suleiman the Magnificent. To ward off the threat exerted by the Turkish governors of Algiers, the Saadian sultan does not hesitate to seek the alliance of the Spaniards who occupy Oran and allow him to seize the region of Tlemcen. However in 1554 the Turkish troops of Salah Raï overturn the Saadian device established around Tlemcen, and push the offensive until Fez with the intention of occupying the northern half of Morocco and incorporating it into the Ottoman Empire. While the army commanded by the Pasha of Algiers is preparing to enter the Sebou valley, an exit of the Spanish forces of the count of Alcaudete, governor of Oran, obliges the Ottomans to quickly evacuate their ephemeral Moroccan conquest and to come back to defend the Algerian West threatened by the Spanish. This Turkish withdrawal is profitable to the Saadians who thus recover Fez and the eastern markets of north-eastern Morocco. Charles V also avoided seeing the Ottomans reach the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar and thus become direct neighbors of Spain.

The Spanish-Saadian strategic alliance has thus shown its effectiveness. But Mohammed Ekh-Sheikh’s pro-Spanish diplomacy earned him the staunch enmity of the Sublime Porte. Indeed, in 1557 assassins in the pay of the beylerbey of Algiers Hassan Pasha decapitate the Moroccan sultan and send his head as a trophy to Constantinople, where Soliman will hang it on the ramparts of the European fortress on the banks of the Bosphorus. This murder had no impact on the military front, however, and even consolidated the foundations of the Saadian dynasty.

The Ottoman influence which nonetheless characterized the evolution of the Saadian state was explained by the exile of the princes Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik and Ahmed (future Ahmed al-Mansour) in Algiers and Constantinople during the reign of their half-brother Abdallah el-Ghalib who wanted to eliminate them in order to be the only representative of the dynasty. The support of the Ottoman sultan Mourad III to the claims of the two Saadian princes may seem paradoxical because of the permanent conflicts between Moroccans and Turks, but Abd al-Malik then his brother know how to intelligently exploit this support to recover the throne, take Fez with the help of the Ottoman forces commanded by Caïd Ramdan, and eliminate their nephew Muhammad al-Mutawakkil (son of al-Ghalib) who, for his part, had allied himself in Portugal. The death of Murad III in 1595 also put an end to the hegemonic appetites of the Sublime Porte and thus strengthened Moroccan independence. If the Turks are mainly present in the general staff and in the artillery, the main part of the Saadian army is made up of renegades of European origin and Arab military tribes Cheragas as well as contingents of Souss (Ehl el -Souss, constituting the military framework of the dynasty). This considerable force, estimated at 40,000 men by historian Henri Terrasse, makes Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur the most powerful political and military leader in this part of Africa. He proves it by launching one of his most brilliant officers, General Djoudar Pacha, to conquer the Songhaï Empire of Mali which becomes after the battle of Tondibi and the defeat of the Songhaï, the Moroccan pachalik of Timbuktu and Bilad as- Sûdan (western Sudan located around the Niger river, as opposed to eastern Sudan where the Nile flows), including the prestigious cities of Gao and Djenné. On the religious level, the primacy of the Saadian caliphate is recognized as far as Chad by Idrīs Alaoma, king of Kanem and Bornou. This spiritual allegiance marks an undeniable victory for Sultan al-Mansur on the African scene at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, which also intended to use its status as a caliphal religious power with the Muslim kingdoms of the Sahel.

Marrakech recovers part of its glory from the Almohad era. The sultans built medersas (the famous Madersa Ben Youssef), mosques, redeveloped gardens (like that of the Menara), but it was above all the fabulous El Badi palace, made of precious materials, which contributed to the influence of the Saadian capital and the sumptuous reputation of the dynasty. The cultural attraction for Morocco is expressed up to Europe with the writings of Théodore Agrippa d’Aubigné and those of Michel de Montaigne, but also with William Shakespeare and his Othello. Ahmed al-Mansur, who is fluent in Italian (learned during his youthful exile in Algiers), maintains correspondence with Elisabeth I of England, Henri III and Henri IV, and is very interested in the technical advances of the Western Renaissance, as well as by the discovery of the New World (he even offered the British a joint Anglo-Moroccan offensive against the Spanish colonies in America). The prestige of the Saadians with the European chancelleries dates back to the Battle of the Three Kings at Ksar El Kébir on August 4, 1578, during which the army of Sultan Abdelmalik routed the crusade of King Sebastian I of Portugal, thus marking the end definitive of the Portuguese hegemony on the Atlantic facade of the Maghreb. The dynasty ends with the reign of the last Sultan El Abbas killed in 1659 in a power struggle within his own entourage led by Kerroum al-Hajj of the Chebânat tribe who then seized Marrakech.

Alaouite dynasty (1666-present)

The Alaouites (al-Alaouiyoune, not to be confused with the Alaouites of Syria), have been in power in Morocco since the 17th century. According to legend, the Alawites descend from Mohamed Nefs Zakiya (“Pure Soul”), himself the son of Abdallah El-Kamil, son of Hassan El-Mouthanna, son of Hassan Sibt, eldest son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, son-in-law and cousin of the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Mohamed Nefs Zakya was proclaimed Mahdi in 737 and killed in action in 762. An eminent theologian, he left the reputation of a holy man and lived under the reign of the Caliph Al-Mansour. The Alawite Sheriffs claim to be from Yanboâ an-Nakhil, an oasis located in the Arabian Peninsula, called to come to Morocco by noble Berber pilgrims from Tafilalet in the 13th century: Hassan Dakhil, claiming to be 21st descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, 17th descendant of Nefs Zakya, then settled in 1266 in Sijilmassa. His 5th descendant, Moulay Mohamed ben Cherif, is the father of the first sultan of the Alaouite dynasty, Moulay Rachid ben Chérif. Distant descendants of Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, the Alaouites still rule the kingdom of Morocco today. Originally from Tafilalet, the founder of their dynasty is none other than Moulay Ali Cherif who, in 1631 reigned as an independent emir over his native region. After his untimely death in 1636, his successor Moulay Mohammed I decided to take over the reins and continued what his father had started. Meticulous organizer and fine strategist, he will gradually take power from the Saadians in full decline since the death of al-Mansur in 1603. His brother, Moulay Rachid, will help him in this task by seizing the Rif, Taza and Fez, then the republic of corsairs of Salé. Potential rivals, such as the powerful zaouïa of Dila in Tadla, and the Sufi kingdom of Tazeroualt ruled by the Semlalides, local states with a theocratic and tribal base, are defeated and submitted. Moulay Rachid becomes sultan of Morocco in 1666 and crushes the revolts which still rage in Marrakech. A fatal fall from a horse projects his successor, Moulay Ismail, at the head of the sultanate in 1672.

This date rhymes with authority, the new sultan purges with severe repression any form of opposition to his regime. This will finally allow the Cherifian Empire to gain power, security and credibility with its partners and its foreign adversaries. Moulay Ismaïl forms a large army composed essentially of black slave soldiers from West Africa (the Abid al-Bukhari or Bouakhers, Moroccan equivalent of the Janissaries and Mamelukes of the Ottoman Empire) and soldiers from Arab military tribes (Guich tribes) like the Oudayas. Units are also raised among the Rifains, known for their warlike qualities, to form the Jaysh al-Rifi.Thanks to this force, which numbers 150,000 men Ismail leads a continuous war against the rebel tribes of the Middle and Upper Atlas (which he ends up submitting) but also against external enemies: the Spaniards who occupied Larache and Assilah, the English from the British colony of Tangier until 1684, and the Turks from neighboring Ottoman Algeria who incessantly covet Oujda and the eastern provinces. The Sultan extended the Cherifian authority over Mauritania to the Senegal River thanks to the assistance of the Moorish and Hassani emirs of Adrar, Trarza, Tagant and Brakna, reaffirming the sovereignty of the Makhzen over the country of Bilad Chenguitt. To the east, the oases of Touat recognize the authority of the central power of Meknes. During the 1700s, Ismaïl also waged military campaigns against some of his own sons who wished to carve out principalities in the Souss, in Marrakech and in the Oriental.

From 1727 to 1757 Morocco experienced a serious dynastic crisis during which the Bouakhers made and defeated the sultans, while the Guich tribes rose and raided the imperial cities. The other tribes take advantage of anarchy to enter into dissidence (siba). From this troubled period emerged the personality of Sultan Abdallah ben Ismail, overthrown and restored several times between 1729 and 1745. His mother the dowager sultana Khnata bent Bakkar, widow of Moulay Ismail from one of the most prestigious tribes of the Saharan provinces, then plays a predominant role of regent and tries to preserve the fundamental institutions of the Cherifian Empire. Abdallah must undergo the secessions of his half-brothers who found quasi-kingdoms in each of the provinces they control (Gharb, Fez, Marrakech, Tafilalt), with the support of the various armed factions of the Bouakhers or the guich. The inhabitants of Salé and Rabat reconnect with corsair autonomy, while in the North the pashas of the Rifi family establish a real dynasty which controls Tangier and Tetouan. The powerful Berber tribal confederations formerly subject to the Ismaili makhzen, like the Aït Idrassen and the Guerrouanes, participated in political dissidence and seized the caravan traffic which linked the shopping centers in the north of the Atlas to the Saharan oases and to Moroccan Sudan. The governors of Timbuktu also behave as independent princes, and push back Moroccan authority in the Niger loop region by dealing separately with the Tuaregs and the Peuls.

Order was restored by Mohammed III (1757-1790) who restored the unity of the sultanate and the authority of the makhzen. The policy of Mohammed III is characterized by the diplomatic and commercial openness of the Moroccan state which intends to collect customs taxes in order to alleviate the internal fiscal pressure. Treaties are concluded with the main European powers (kingdom of France, kingdom of Great Britain, kingdom of Spain, kingdom of Naples, republic of Venice, Sweden, Austria), which maintain consulates and trading companies in ports Moroccans founded by Mohammed III. The best known example of new economic places is Mogador (Essaouira), entirely created and designed by the French engineer Théodore Cornut on behalf of the Cherifian sovereign. The ports of Anfa (Casablanca) and Fédala (Mohammedia) are also developed and symbolize the development of the Atlantic coast, freed from all foreign occupation after the reconquest of Mazagan which marks the final end of Portuguese Morocco in 1769. Mohammed III is also the first head of state to recognize the independence of the United States in 1777. The sultan establishes a letter-making friendship with George Washington69, which is true in the United States, under the “open door policy”, of concluding with Morocco a treaty of peace, friendship and trade on July 16, 1786 (for a period of fifty years, renewed by the treaty of Meknes of 1836).

Moulay Slimane (1792-1822) pursues an isolationist policy, unlike Mohammed III. The sultan closed the country to foreign trade, especially European trade, and abolished the customs posts created by his father. Internally, his overtly Salafist-inspired dahirs provoke tribal and urban revolts, linked to his decision to ban moussems and militant Sufism from very influential zaouïas in certain regions. The Berbers of the Middle Atlas, notably the Aït Oumalou, regroup under the leadership of the warlord Boubker Amhaouch and form a great tribal coalition to which even join the Rifains and the powerful zaouïa of Ouezzane. During the 1810s, the Makhzen army suffered heavy defeats, leading to the fall of Fez and the sultan’s withdrawal to the western provinces which remained loyal to him. The insurgent tribes and the city of Fez go so far as to try to impose the princes Moulay Ibrahim and Moulay Saïd, son of the former Sultan Yazid and nephews of Sulayman on the Cherifian throne, but ultimately fail in their attempt to change the power. On the external level, the Sultan manages to dismiss the pressures of pressure exerted by Napoleon I and by his brother Joseph Bonaparte enthroned King of Spain in Madrid, close neighbors of the Sharifian Empire since the occupation of the Iberian Peninsula by the troops French in 1808, and displays a benevolent neutrality towards the British who have occupied the Spanish presidencies of Morocco since 1808. Sulayman establishes diplomatic relations with Saoud ben Abdelaziz, prince of the Saudi Emirate of Najd in Arabia, showing a certain interest for Wahhabi Salafism in full progression. This strategic rapprochement is explained by the anti-Ottoman affinities shared by the Alawite sultan and the Saudi emir, as well as by the Salafist sensitivities of the sheriff. Taking advantage of his military campaign against the Algerian Turks, Moulay Sulayman manages to definitively expel the Ottoman troops of the Bey of Oran who occupied eastern Morocco and thus restore his power over the Touat and the other oases of central Sahara appointing caïds representatives of the makhzen.

The sultan nevertheless nevertheless abdicated in 1822 in favor of his nephew Abderrahmane ben Hicham, after the heavy defeat inflicted on the Makhzen army by the Zaouia Cherradia near Marrakech. Moulay Abd ar-Rahman (1822-1859) tries to bring the Cherifian Empire out of its external isolation, but its will is thwarted by the first attacks of modern European colonialism. The reign of this sultan indeed corresponds to the conquest of Algeria by France, in which Morocco is involved by providing support to the emir Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine but finds himself defeated at the battle of Isly (military campaign French of Morocco of 1844). The end of the reign was also overshadowed by the Spanish-Moroccan war of 1859-1860, sparked by incidents between the garrison of Ceuta and the tribe of Anjra, and which ended with the Spanish occupation of Tetouan until 1862.

Following this catastrophic conflict for the Makhzen, who had to pay the Spaniards war indemnity of several million pounds sterling borrowed from British banks, Mohammed IV (1859-1873) successor to Moulay Abd al-Rahman began a policy of modernization of the Cherifian Empire. The army is the first field of these structural reforms. The Guich tribe system is abolished and replaced by recruitment from all the Nouaïb tribes (subject to regular tax) who are required to provide tabors (units) of askars (soldiers). Their training is entrusted to Turkish and then European military advisers, like the Scottish Harry Mac-Lean (named caid for having created an elite regiment on the British model), and the armament is bought from foreign companies such as the Krupp firm (which marks the beginning of German interference in Moroccan affairs), when it is not produced locally. In 1871 the sultan plans to request the political and military protection of the United States from President Ulysses S. Grant, who emerged from their American Civil War, in order to escape Anglo-Spanish pressure.

Parallel to this modernization of the army, industries are created, like the arsenal of Dar al-Makina founded in Fez by Italians, technical progress is recorded as the installation of the first Arab printing works in Morocco, also in Fez since 1865. However, this policy has entailed considerable expenditure which requires significant funding. The makhzen, ruined by the consequences of the war of 1860 against Spain and by the bank loans contracted from the English, is therefore forced to raise additional taxes not in accordance with Islamic Law, quickly unpopular and disapproved by the ulama and all social and professional bodies. Tensions related to this decision erupted in the aftermath of the death of Mohammed IV and the advent of his successor Hassan ben Mohammed in 1873. They took place in cities in the form of violently suppressed social riots, including the revolt of the tanners of Fez is an illustrative example. The reign of Hassan I corresponds to the will of the Sultan to reconcile the requirements of a modernization of the State with the social and political complexities of Morocco. This reign is also part of the perspective of European imperialist rivalries which become even more pressing following the Madrid Conference of 1880, which foreshadows the future partition of the Cherifian Empire on the international scene. Like Turkey, Iran or China at the time, Morocco became a sick man according to the expression used in 19th century European colonialist and expansionist circles.

Through economic concessions and the system of bank loans, each of the European powers concerned, notably France, Spain, the United Kingdom and then Germany, hopes to prepare the way for a total conquest of the country. The skill of the makhzen is to know how to keep the combined lusts of European imperialism at bay and to play rivalries between the powers. But the death of Hassan I, which occurred during an expedition to the Tadla in 1894, leaves power to the very young Abdelaziz ben Hassan, son of a Circassian favorite of the Sultanian harem by the name of Reqiya and originally from Constantinople, who by his intrigues and his influence favored the rise of the grand vizier Ahmed ben Moussa dit Bahmad.

A real regency was then exercised until 1900 by the grand vizier Bahmad ben Moussa, from the former corporation of Abid al-Bukhari of the Imperial Palace. The grand-vizier knows how to intelligently continue the pragmatic policy of Hassan I, but his disappearance leads to an aggravation of anarchy and foreign pressures, as well as a rivalry between Moulay Abdelaziz and his brother Moulay Abdelhafid, khalifa of the sultan in Marrakech, rivalry that ends up generating a race for power. After Abdelhafid’s victory over Abdelaziz (who is exiled under the protection of French troops who have occupied Casablanca and its region since 1907), reforming intellectuals influenced by the revolution of the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire and by the Nahda who came from Egypt and the Levant, and whose ideas are expressed by the Tangier newspaper Lisan Al-Maghrib, try to submit to the new sultan a draft Cherifian Constitution on October 11, 1908. However the deep crisis of the sultanate’s institutions and the pressure of the imperialism makes it impossible to complete the constitutional project. The weakness of the makhzen also allows an adventurer by the name of Jilali Ben Driss better known as the rogui Bou Hmara to pass himself off as a son of Hassan I, to gain recognition as a sultan throughout the northeast of the country and rout the Cherifian army for a few years before being finally captured and executed in Fez in 1909. Another rebel, el-Raisuni, established his stronghold in the Jebalas region and caused by his abduction of American nationals the intervention of the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, who threatens the makhzen to send US Navy ships to disembark troops to occupy Tangier. The release of the hostages avoids an American invasion, in a tense international context marked by the rivalry between France and Germany over the future of Morocco.

Franco-Spanish Protectorate (1912-1956)

In 1906, the Algeciras Conference placed Morocco under international control and granted France special rights. These rights are nevertheless contested by the Germany of William II, who covets the Cherifian Empire and comes up against French appetites: Moroccan affairs of the Tangier crisis and the coup d’Agadir in 1905 and 1911: in Tangier the Kaiser comes to pronounce a speech directed against France, while in Agadir the German imperial navy is on the point of disembarking troops, which causes excitement throughout Europe.

Following the treaty concluded between France and Morocco on March 30, 1912, for the organization of the French Protectorate in the Cherifian Empire, the North and the Río de Oro are allotted to Spain, while the central regions with their main cities and the Atlantic coast where the major ports are located return to France. In the protectorate system, the sultan and the traditional makhzen are maintained, but the power actually belongs to the resident general and the high commissioner, who respectively represent the French trusteeship in Rabat and Spanish in Tétouan. The city of Tangier constitutes an international zone governed by a commission which sits the United States and the European countries having interests in the Cherifian Empire. This system was challenged by the Moroccan national movement from the 1930s, and especially after the Second World War. In addition, the whole of Moroccan territory was not subject to the colonial powers until after a long war of conquest, known as the pacification of Morocco, which spanned from 1907 to 1934. From 1921 to 1926 the war du Rif led by Abdelkrim el-Khattabi against Spain and France has a worldwide impact.

In 1943, after the landing of American forces in North Africa, Casablanca shelters a large allied conference which decides to obtain the unconditional surrender of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis and to open new fronts in Western Europe to relieve the Soviet Union of Nazi military pressure. Morocco officially gained independence in 1956, after the outbreaks of an increasingly fierce struggle between the colonial authorities and the national movement. This context of power relations culminates with the deposition and exile of Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef by the French general residence in 1953, before his return which ended the cycle of violence and prepared the independence of the country through the agreements of Aix-les-Bains in 1955.

Independent Morocco (since 1956)

Morocco achieved its independence on March 2, 1956 and was therefore confronted with numerous political, economic and social challenges (completion of territorial integrity and stabilization of the internal situation). In 1961, the death of Mohammed V, who was the last sultan of the Cherifian Empire and the first king of modern Morocco (the title of king replaces that of sultan in 1957), leaves the throne to his son Hassan II who must take up a set of challenges, consolidate its power and secure Morocco’s place in the global context of the cold war and decolonization.

In 1963, during the War of the Sands, Morocco and the newly independent Algeria opposed for the control of the regions of the borders located between Figuig and Tindouf. The country was marked in 1965 by the riots in Casablanca, and by the disappearance of the leader of the left opposition and leader of third worldism Mehdi Ben Barka (kidnapped in Paris in collaboration with the Moroccan monarchical power and the secret services French), which leads to the proclamation of the state of emergency until 1970. The two years which follow know two aborted military coups – called “de Skhirat” (1971) and “des aviateurs” (1972 ), between which the Constitution has been amended. In November 1975, all the political parties joined their efforts with the sovereign in his project of the Green March for the recovery of the Southern Provinces in the former Spanish Sahara. Over time, the kingdom regains its political stability. During the last two decades of the twentieth century, a succession of years of drought as well as the structural adjustment plan imposed by the International Monetary Fund led to a very deep economic and social crisis. From the 1990s, a large-scale operation for the privatization of public enterprises was led by the king and André Azoulay, the economic adviser to the monarchy. The French group Accor was thus able to acquire six hotels from the Moroccan chain Moussafir and the management of the Jamaï palace in Fez. This privatization operation allows Moroccan notables close to power to control the most prominent public companies on the one hand, and French companies on the other hand to make a strong comeback in the country’s economy. The royal family notably acquired the Monagem mining group.

An alternating government, dominated by the Koutla and led by Abderrahman Youssoufi of the USFP, was formed following the legislative elections of 1997. After the death of Hassan II in July 1999, Mohammed VI rose to the throne. In 2011, twelve years after the start of the reign, Morocco was affected by the turmoil of the Arab Spring and experienced a series of popular demonstrations. The king then had a new Constitution approved by referendum. The ensuing legislative elections are won by moderate PJD Islamists, who form a coalition government with other political parties, led by Abdel-Ilah Benkiran. The PJD again won the legislative elections in 2016. In that year, Morocco made a strategic shift towards Russia and China. In addition, the kingdom returned to the African Union in 2017, and applied for membership in the Economic Community of West African States.

Morocco’s politics

Morocco’s political regime is a constitutional monarchy, the current sovereign of which is King Mohammed VI, of the Alaouite dynasty, established since 1666 and one of the oldest in the contemporary world. Morocco is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Union of the Grand Maghreb, La Francophonie, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States. Morocco is the only African country not to be part of the African Union until January 30, 2017 where it ends up reintegrating it. In 1987, Morocco tried unsuccessfully to join the EEC, and in 2008 was granted “advanced status” with the EU. On May 15, 2009, he joined the North-South Center of the Council of Europe. In June 2004, Morocco was designated as a major non-NATO ally by the United States. According to historian Bernard Lugan, it is among other things the attraction of wealth from trade from the South (Sahara) to the North (the West) which will attract the lusts of various tribes with the crossroads city of Marrakech which will naturally become the capital of various dynasties, in particular those coming from the South (Almoravides, Almohades, Saadiens); the entire history of Morocco (from the Idrissides to the Alaouites) is thus marked by the trade in wealth from the South to the North. The history of Morocco was partially marked by commercial ties with the Sahara.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. Its constitution is that proposed by King Mohammed VI and voted by referendum in 2011, increasing the powers of parliament although these are still limited on certain points. The first constitution was promulgated by Hassan II in 1962. It had been modified and enriched in 1970, 1972, 1992 and 1996. Indeed, most of the power is concentrated in the hands of the king, hereditary monarch. Currently, executive power is exercised by the government under the direction of the king. The bicameral legislative power is exercised by the House of Representatives composed of 395 members elected every five years by universal suffrage, and the House of Councilors which comprises between 90 and 120 members renewed by thirds every three years, as well as by the king who can legislate by decree. Justice is the third power. This power, which has been undergoing rapid change in recent years, thanks to the creation of new specialized jurisdictions (administrative courts, commercial courts).

Morocco’s economy

Morocco is the fifth economic power in Africa by being ranked eleventh African country in number of inhabitants and 25th in area. It is certainly the third economic power in North Africa, behind Egypt and Algeria, respectively classified third and eighth African populations and twelfth and first largest countries of the continent, nevertheless, the kingdom of Cherifia becomes the second investor country on its own continent. The evolution of the Moroccan economy has shown a remarkable degree of resilience within its regional environment: Morocco has recorded one of the highest growth rates in the MENA region, a region which has relatively well weathered the global crisis in achieving average growth above the eurozone, the CEECs and Latin America. Thus, Morocco achieved an average annual growth of 4.3% 100 during the period 2008-2013 against 4% for the MENA zone, -0.3% in the euro zone, 2.3% in the CEECs and 3, 2% in Latin America and the Caribbean. This performance is the result of the 9.2% annual increase in value added in the primary sector and the good performance of the non-agricultural sector, thanks in particular to the performance of the tertiary sector. From 2004 to 2014, Moroccan GDP increased from $ 56 billion to $ 107 billion, with well-controlled inflation at an annual average of 1.8%. According to the Ministry of the Economy, Morocco recorded in 2015 an inflation of 1.6% and a growth of 4.8% driven by a good agricultural year, a figure higher than the forecasts of the finance law 2015 which counted on a 4.4% growth.

In 2014 the added value of the tertiary sector reached 55.8% of GDP followed by 29.6% for industry and 13.6% for agriculture. The manufacturing industry is dominated by textiles, leather goods, food processing, petroleum refining and electronic assembly. New sectors offer high growth potential and reduce the kingdom’s dependence on its agricultural sector: chemicals, automotive equipment, IT, electronics and aeronautics. In 2019, Morocco “remains the most unequal country in northern Africa and in the most unequal half of the countries of the planet. In 2018, the three richest Moroccan billionaires alone owned 4.5 billion dollars, or 44 billion dirhams. The increase in their wealth in one year represents as much as the consumption of 375,000 Moroccans among the poorest over the same period, “said a report by the NGO Oxfam.

Morocco’s demography

According to the 2014 legal population census, Morocco then had around 33.84 million inhabitants, including 86,206 foreigners. Throughout the twentieth century, the country experienced strong demographic growth which has multiplied by 6 its population since 1912. During the same period, the proportion of city dwellers increased constantly reaching 55% in 2005: the country counts today about thirty cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants (when none existed a century ago); three agglomerations have more than a million inhabitants: Casablanca, Rabat-Salé and Fès. Morocco is one of the first countries in Africa after Tunisia and Algeria to have started its demographic transition: the synthetic fertility index fell from 7.2 to 2.5 between 1962 and 2004.

Morocco’s education

School is compulsory in Morocco for children under the age of fifteen. The illiteracy rate of the population increased from 43% in 2004 to 28% in 2012. In 2014, 53% of Moroccan women are illiterate, a rate which reaches 71% in rural areas. The education system remains marked by very strong inequalities. The Arabized public education system in the 1980s was very regularly criticized for its results and its pedagogy. Middle-class and middle-class families in Morocco preferring to send their children to private French-language schools. There are around fifteen public universities in Morocco with 230,000 students, and several private universities including Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and the International University of Rabat. Morocco also has a large number of major engineering and business schools such as the Mohammed VI International Academy of Civil Aviation, EHTP, EMI, ISCAE and ENCG.

Morocco’s language

The official languages ​​of Morocco are Berber and classical Arabic, which comes in several dialects spoken according to regions, such as Hilalian languages ​​in the western plains for example. The country considers French and Spanish (in Western Sahara) as other cultural languages, as well as English, which is expanding among the younger generations. Arab Literary The language taught in public schools and used in writing, formal speeches and the media is literary Arabic. It is only well mastered by the most educated population. Dialectal By a phenomenon of diglossia, the Arabic dialect commonly spoken in the street and everyday life is the Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, mother tongue of the Arabic-speaking Moroccans (about 60% of the population) and also practiced by the Berber speakers in their great majority ( although many men and women, especially in rural areas, speak only Berber). Darija differs little from other dialects of the Maghreb but is incomprehensible to the speakers of the Mashreq, unlike literary Arabic which then serves as lingua franca. Hassanya, the Arabic dialect used in the Sahara and the southern regions (Guelmim, Assa, Tarfaya, M’Hamid El Ghizlane), is also cited in the Constitution, after Arabic and Amazigh.

Amazigh (Berber)

About 40% of the population speaks Amazigh. The recognition of the Amazigh is an ancient demand of the Berber movements which consider themselves culturally oppressed by the policy of Arabization carried out after independence. On October 17, 2001, King Mohammed VI created the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture, governed by Royal Dahir No. 1-01-299 and which aims to give advice “on measures likely to safeguard and promote the Amazigh language and culture in all its forms and expressions ”. On July 1, 2011, the Constitution approved by referendum at more than 98%, made Amazigh an official language of Morocco, after Arabic, and established a National Council of Languages ​​and Moroccan Culture “responsible in particular for the protection and the development of the Arabic and Amazigh languages ​​”. This measure, considered as a defeat by some Arabic speakers, does not fully satisfy the Amazigh speakers who note that only Arabic, in the Constitution, benefits from protection and development efforts from the State.

Being a language of mainly oral tradition, the Berber language has many regional or local variants throughout North Africa. As far as Morocco is concerned, linguists are used to distinguishing three main languages, Rifain in the North, Tachelhit in the South and “Tamazight in central Morocco”, in addition to dialects spoken by a smaller number of speakers such as Chleuh from Figuig to the east, the ghomari to the north and the sanhadji of Srayr in the south of the Rif. However, this classification remains very theoretical, the transition between these different variants being gradual; moreover, population movements and in particular emigration to cities are changing the traditional distribution. The Amazigh developed by IRCAM aims to be a language common to all regions of the kingdom, borrowing a little from all dialects and reinventing the Tifinagh alphabet, at the risk of creating an incomprehensible sabir for all.


French is the language of the economy, of scientific and technical higher education, and the working language of several departments. It is taught in primary schools, colleges and high schools, in all universities and in higher schools. French is also used de facto as an administrative language alongside Arabic. The strong persistence of French in administrative life is partly due to the reign of King Hassan II (1961-1999), a monarch known for his perfect mastery of this language and who carried out all of his studies in France.

Education in public schools having been Arabized and Islamized in the 1980s, families from the Moroccan elite prefer to educate their children in the private sector in order to give them a better command of French and a better openness to the world. According to a survey published in 2010, French is widely mastered in Morocco: 10,366,000 people are considered French-speaking (knowing how to read and write it), or 32% of the total population or 39% of the population aged 10 years and over. This does not include people who know how to speak French but who cannot write or read it. French is much more spoken in town than in rural areas. Several Moroccan regions are members of the International Association of Francophone Regions and Morocco is part of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie.

Other languages

Spanish remains practiced in the north of the country and in the Sahara, due to the former Spanish presence. Learning English is increasingly favored by young Moroccans. German and Italian are also widely used in the tourism sector.