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Morocco:
Geography

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Background
Definition
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. Improvements in human rights have occurred and there is a largely free press. Despite the continuing reforms, ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch.
Location
Definition
Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates
Definition
32 00 N, 5 00 W
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 446,550 sq km
land: 446,300 sq km
water: 250 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly larger than California
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 2,017.9 km
border countries: Algeria 1,559 km, Western Sahara 443 km, Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Spain (Melilla) 9.6 km
Coastline
Definition
1,835 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate
Definition
Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior
Terrain
Definition
northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Sebkha Tah -55 m
highest point: Jebel Toubkal 4,165 m
Natural resources
Definition
phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 2%
other: 79% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
14,450 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
29 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 12.6 cu km/yr (10%/3%/87%)
per capita: 400 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
land degradation/desertification (soil erosion resulting from farming of marginal areas, overgrazing, destruction of vegetation); water supplies contaminated by raw sewage; siltation of reservoirs; oil pollution of coastal waters
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note
Definition
strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar


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