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General country information
Exotic Morocco, located on the north coast of Africa facing Spain
and Gibralta, shares a border with Algeria (which is closed) and
with the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Its main cities
include myth-inspiring Marrakech, Casablanca, Fez, Agadir and
At the gateway to the Mediterranean, the country has a cultural
blend of Arab, Berber, and African influences. As Morocco was
a French protectorate from 1912 to 1956, there is also still a
distinctive French and European influence, French being the second
With the Atlas mountains running from the north east of the country
to the south west, most of the major towns (Marrakech excepted)
are on the coastal strip to the north and west of the mountains.
Casablanca is the leading port and Rabat the seat of government.
The coastal areas have a pleasant Mediterranean climate although
the southern desert areas are extremely hot and dry during day
but very cold at night. The mountainous regions are much cooler
and experience snow in the winter months.
The population of some 33.2m is relatively young, a third being
aged under 15.
Morocco has an association agreement with the EU, its main trading
partner, which envisages establishment of a free trade area between
the EU and Morocco by 2012. Like other Euro-Med countries, it
has expressed the wish for greater co-operation with the EU.
Around 200,000 British nationals visit Morocco each year.
Most visits are trouble free but the British Embassy in Morocco
warns that there is a high threat from terrorism in the country.
In May 2003, 45 people were killed in a series of terrorist attacks
in Casablanca including some on hotels and restaurants frequented
The attacks prompted new anti-terrorism laws, but there has been
some criticism that these have eroded human rights, about which
Morocco has sometimes faced other criticisms. The country is modernising
and liberalising itself within its Muslim context.
The latter means that during Ramadan, for example, all street
cafes and many restaurants will be closed until early evening.
Advice is given to women to dress inconspicuously and generally
to avoid wearing clothes that could be regarded as provocative,
such as short skirts or low necked tops.
British nationals do not require entry visas to visit Morocco
as tourists but those who wish to extend their stay may apply
to the Immigration or Bureau des Etrangers, to be found in local
police headquarters in most larger towns.
Although Morocco has relatively low economic grow, its economy
has been stable in recent years with low inflation (1 per cent
in 2005). According to the USA State Department, employment remains
overly dependent on agriculture, which is extremely vulnerable
to inconsistent rainfall. While overall unemployment stands at
11 per cent, it can be as high as 33 per cent among urban youths.
Some 19 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.
Morocco is currently promoting overseas investment in property
and has five major tourist resort developments underway.
There are no restrictions on foreign nationals owning property
in Morocco (other than agricultural land). The buying and selling
process is akin to that in France and involves a notary who will
act for both sides. There is a land registry, with registration
being proof of ownership. Buying costs, including stamp duties,
registration and notary fees, are approximately 5 per cent of
purchase price. There are tax breaks for foreign investors and
in the case of property bought with money transferred from abroad,
no restrictions on repatriation of both capital and capital gains.
Overseas investment has helped fuel property price rises. It is
said that property prices in Marrakech, for example, have tripled
in the last five years.
information - Morocco
||Marrakech, Casablanca, Fez,
Agadir and Tangiers
age of population:
male: 23.4 years
female: 24.5 years
||Arabic (official), Berber
dialects, and French (business)
– 3 hrs, 20 min
||2.8% (2003 est.)
||$4,166 (CIA est)
||Mediteranean, and becoming
more extreme in the interior