For as long
as human history has been written down,
Morocco has been occupied
by people. Since the beginning of history there have been Berbers
in North Africa and they were already well established when the
Phoenicians made their first incursions in 1200 BC. Their origins
are uncertain but thought to be Euro-Asiatic. Divided into clans
and tribes, they have always jealously guarded their independence.
It's this fierce independence that has helped preserve one of
Africa's most fascinating cultures.
strategic location on the shoulder of Africa, and at the mouth
of the Mediterranean, has profoundly informed its history and
its relationship to other nations.
have come to this area, some to trade or settle, others as invaders
sweeping the land and dominating it. In ancient times, Romans,
Vandals, Visigoths, and Byzantine Greeks established outposts
at strategic locations along the coast and in the interior of
in 685 C.E., Arab invaders
began occupying Morocco, bringing with them a new language, culture,
and most importantly, Islam. For the next thousand years, dynasties
of Arab and Berber monarchs, like the Almohads, Almoravids, Merenids,
Saadians, Aaouites and Idrissids established the country's most
important cities, and vied for control of the country.
location and rich natural resources led to competition among
expansion-minded European powers looking to increase their sphere
of influence, if not their empires. France focused on Morocco as
early at the 1830's, and over the course of the 19th century,
European colonialism was to profoundly affect the life and culture
of the entire region.
By the beginning
of the 20th century, a series of agreements among European powers
effectively split the country in to zones policed by both the
French and the Spanish. By 1912, the Treaty of Fez brought Morocco
completely under French control. Outraged calls for the ouster
of the French began almost immediately among the populace. Harassed
by nationalist Berber tribal leaders, in the early days of the
protectorate, France's direct influence was limited to major urban
areas, and interrupted by the First World War. It would take the
French colonial government almost thirty years to bring the country
completely under its control.
of France in the Second World War, the Moroccans' valiant fighting
on behalf of Allied forces, and the anti-colonialism of the postwar
superpowers profoundly altered the relationship between Morocco
and France. It would take another twelve years after the close
of the war for
Morocco to see independence.
In a desperate
measure to quell his calls for the end of French Rule, France
exiled the beloved Sultan Mohammed V in 1953. Bowing to the popular
will, and acknowledging the likelihood of outright war, France
allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955; peace arrived fully a year
later, on March 2, 1956. The only vestiges of European rule are
the small enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which remain under Spanish
The son of Mohammed
V, Hassan II, finished the his father's efforts to transform
into a constitutional monarchy, which it remains to this day.
Through several false starts, and several coup attempts, Hassan
II was able to create a representative government with a strong
monarchy, with a minimum of bloodshed.
is now governed by Mohammed VI, Hassan II's son and successor,
and Morocco remains a vibrant, stable, and growing nation.