Cruising to Morocco


In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, successive Moorish dynasties began to rule in Morocco. In the 16th century, the Sa'adi monarchy, particularly under Ahmad AL-MANSUR (1578-1603), repelled foreign invaders and inaugurated a golden age. In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco's sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country.

A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were turned over to the new country that same year. Morocco virtually annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature, which first met in 1997. Parliamentary elections were held for the second time in September 2002 and municipal elections were held in September 2003.


Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 5 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 446,550 sq km


1,835 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior


Northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Sebkha Tah -55 m
Highest point: Jebel Toubkal 4,165 m


Moroccan economic policies brought macroeconomic stability to the country in the early 1990s but have not spurred growth sufficient to reduce unemployment that nears 20% in urban areas. Poverty has actually increased due to the volatile nature of GDP, Morocco's continued dependence on foreign energy, and its inability to promote the growth of small and medium size enterprises. Despite structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is only fully convertible for current account transactions and Morocco's financial sector is rudimentary.

Moroccan authorities understand that reducing poverty and providing jobs is key to domestic security and development. In 2004, Moroccan authorities instituted measures to boost foreign direct investment and trade by signing a free trade agreement with the US and selling government shares in the state telecommunications company and in the largest state-owned bank. The Free Trade agreement went into effect in January 2006.

In 2005, GDP growth slipped to 1.2% and the budget deficit rose sharply - to 7.5% of GDP - because of substantial increases in wages and oil subsidies. Long-term challenges include preparing the economy for freer trade with the US and European Union, improving education and job prospects for Morocco's youth, and raising living standards, which the government hopes to achieve by increasing tourist arrivals and boosting competitiveness in textiles.


Airports: 60 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 25
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 35
Heliports: 1 (2005)
Pipelines: gas 695 km; oil 285 km (2004)
Railways: total: 1,907 km
Roadways: total: 57,694 km

Merchant marine

Total: 41 ships (1000 GRT or over) 382,994 GRT/285,435 DWT
By type: cargo 5, chemical tanker 6, container 9, passenger/cargo 13, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 5
Foreign-owned: 5 (France 1, Germany 2, Switzerland 1, UK 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Agadir, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Nador, Safi, Tangier

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Albania - Algeria - Bulgaria - Croatia - Cyprus - Egypt - France - Georgia - Gibraltar - Greece - Israel - Italy - Lebanon - Libya - Malta - Monaco - Morocco - Romania - Serbia and Montenegro - Slovenia - Spain - Syria - Tunisia - Turkey - Ukraine

Further Reading

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