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World > Africa > Morocco > People (Notes)

Morocco - People (Notes)


PEOPLE
Moroccans are predominantly Sunni Muslims of Arab, Berber, or mixed Arab-Berber ancestry. The Arabs brought Islam, along with Arabic language and culture, to the region from the Arabian Peninsula during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. Today, there remains a Jewish community of approximately 5,000, and a largely expatriate Christian population of 5,000, who enjoy religious freedom and full civil rights. Morocco is also home to a 300-500-person Baha?i community which, in recent years, has been able to worship free from government interference.

Arabic is Morocco's official language, but French is widely taught and serves as the primary language of commerce and government. Moroccan colloquial Arabic is composed of a unique combination of Arabic, Berber and French dialects. Along with Arabic, about 10 million Moroccans, predominantly in rural areas, also speak one of the three Moroccan Berber dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhit, and Tamazight). Spanish is also used in the northern part of the country. English is rapidly becoming the foreign language of choice among educated youth and is offered in all public schools from the fourth year on.

Most people live west of the Atlas Mountains, a range that insulates the country from the Sahara Desert. Casablanca is the center of commerce and industry and the leading port; Rabat is the seat of government; Tangier is the gateway to Spain and also a major port; 'Arab' Fes is the cultural and religious center; and 'Berber' Marrakech is a major tourist center.

Education in Morocco is free and compulsory through primary school (age 15). Nevertheless, many children--particularly girls in rural areas--do not attend school. The country's literacy rates reveals sharp gaps in education, both in terms of gender and location; while country-wide literacy rates are estimated at 39% among women and 64% among men, the female literacy rate in rural areas is only 10%.

Morocco is home to 14 public universities. Mohammed V University in Rabat is one of the country?s most famous schools, with faculties of law, sciences, liberal arts, and medicine. Karaouine University, in Fes, is a longstanding center for Islamic studies and is the oldest university in the Maghreb. Morocco has one private, English language university, Al-Akhawayn, in Ifrane, founded in 1993 by King Hassan II and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. The curriculum is based on an American model.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Moroccan Dirham Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Moroccan Dirham Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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