The Kingdom of Morocco lies just 14km from Europe, sits on the northwest edge of Africa and resides as a leading Arab nation. Both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts bind Morocco, this is in addition to the beautiful mountain regions of the High Atlas, Anti-Atlas and the Rif Mountains. All these aspects make Morocco an ideal destination, besides being only seven hours direct from New York City.
Most Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of Arab, Berber, or mixed Arab-Berber descent. The Arabs invaded Morocco in the 7th and 11th centuries and established their culture there. Morocco is also home to a Jewish community that numbers about 7,000.
Most Moroccans live west of the Atlas Mountains, a range that separates the mid coast form the Sahara Desert. Casablanca is the center of commerce and industry and the leading port; Rabat is the capital; Tangier is the gateway to Morocco from Spain and also a major port; “Arab” Fez is the cultural and religious center; and “Berber” Marrakech is a major tourist center.
Morocco’s location and resources led to early competition among European powers on the African continent beginning with successful Portuguese efforts to control the Atlantic coast in the 15th century. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830. Following recognition by the United Kingdom in 1904 of France’s “sphere of influence” in Morocco, policing of Morocco fell upon France and Spain jointly. The Treaty of Fez (1912) made Morocco a protectorate of France. By the same treaty, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern (Saharan) zones.
The Kingdom of Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956. By agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored. A constitution providing for representative government under a strong monarchy was approved by referendum on December 7, 1962.
Since Morocco attained independence, its foreign policy has been sympathetic to the West. Long-term goals are to strengthen its influence in the Arab world and Africa and to maintain its close relations with Europe and the United States. Morocco continues to play a significant role in the search for peace in the Middle East, participating in the multilateral phase of the peace talks and urging Arab moderation in the bilateral phase. Morocco also has close relations with Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states, which have provided Morocco with substantial amounts of financial assistance.
Moroccans are proud to have recognized the Government of the United States in 1777. Formal U.S. relations with Morocco date from 1787, when the two nations negotiated a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Renegotiated in 1836, it is still in force, constituting the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history.