Morocco is a sovereign state located in the Maghreb region of North Africa. In the north of Morocco is the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean is in the west. The capital of Morocco is Rabat and the largest city is Casablanca. Morocco has a land area of 710,850 square km and it has a population of over 36 million.
Since the foundation of the first Moroccan state by Idris I in 788 AD, the country has been ruled by a series of independent dynasties, reaching its zenith under Almoravid and Almohad rule, when it spanned parts of Iberia and northwestern Africa. The Marinid and Saadi dynasties resisted foreign domination into the 17th century, allowing Morocco to remain the only northwest African country to avoid Ottoman occupation. The Alaouite dynasty, which rules to this day, seized power in 1631. The country's strategic location near the mouth of the Mediterranean attracted the interest of Europe, and in 1912, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates, with an international zone in Tangier. It regained its independence in 1956, and has since remained comparatively stable and prosperous by regional standards, with the fifth largest economy in Africa.
Morocco is a unitary constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The country wields significant influence in both Africa and the Arab world, and is considered a regional power and a middle power. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can issue decrees called dahirs, which have the force of law. He can also dissolve the parliament after consulting the Prime Minister and the president of the constitutional court.
Morocco's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and Berber, the latter achieving official recognition in 2011, having been the native language of Morocco before the Muslim conquest in the seventh century C.E. The Moroccan dialect of Arabic, referred to as Darija, and French are also widely spoken. Moroccan culture is a blend of Berber, Arab, Sephardi Jews, West African and European influences.
Morocco is a member of the Arab League, the Union for the Mediterranean and the African Union.
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