Morocco (Arabic: المغرب, Al Maghrib, المغرب الاقصى, Al Maghrib Al Aqsa), officially the Kingdom of Morocco (Arabic: المملكة المغربية, Al Mamlaka Al Maghribiyya), is a country in the Maghreb of North Africa. While it has an increasingly active elected government, final authority remains with King Mohammed VI. While it was occupied by Spain in 1860 and subsequently by France in 1912-1956, it has a distinctly Moorish Arab identity. The population is primarily Berber Arab and Sunni Muslim.
The population is approximately 35 million, on a land area of 446,550 sq km; comparable in size to California. Its economy is slow-growing but stable, with significant unemployment in urban areas. Its National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), started in 2005, is an attempt to build infrastructure and reduce poverty. Natural resources include phosphates, iron ore, lead, silver, copper, manganese, lead, zinc, fish and salt; there is a water shortage. Recently, it increased opportunities for external petroleum exploration; it is a net exporter but a relatively small one.
Its foreign relations are moderate, with good relations with Europe and the United States, membership in the United Nations, the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD). It has been active in UN peacekeeping, and, in 1986, opened talks with the State of Israel. Liaison offices opened in 1994 but closed in 2000, although contacts continue.
It condemned the 9-11 attack, and, itself, has had its own terrorist attacks, with unusually large-scale public protests of the acts. Its claim to Western Sahara is disputed with Algeria. In 2000, it formed an Association Agreement with the European Union, and, in 2006, a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.
There are eight UNESCO designated World Heritage sites:
- Archaeological Site of Volubilis, a Roman ruin
- Historic City of Meknes
- Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou: a building complex on an ancient caravan route
- Mazagan: a Portuguese-built city showing the blending of European and Moroccan cultures
- The Medina of Essaouira: a fortified seaport, which was a pirate base in the 16th century,
- Medina of Fez: the cultural and spiritual center of the country, with well-preserved
- Medina of Marrakech: an 11th century city
- Medina of Tetouan: an 8th century representative of both Islamic and Andalusian culture.