The Kingdom of Morocco lies on the north western corner of Africa below the Strait of Gibraltar and forms part of the North African Region. The capital city is Rabat. Other major cities are Marrakesh and Fes and the ports of Casablanca and Tangier.

The official language is Arabic and various Berber dialects are spoken. French is widely spoken in business, government and academic circles and Spanish is also spoken in the north. Morocco has a free market economy that has grown by an average of 4% a year since 1983. There is a small but active stock exchange in Casablanca. The local currency is the Moroccan dirham (MDh). (US$ / MDh – current exchange rate).

In previous years there had been a lot of government intervention in the market, but a move towards privatisation of a number of state enterprises has begun.

Morocco has one of Africa’s leading mining industries. Its oil industry is also an important sub-sector in the economy of the country. It has two oil refineries at Sidi Kacem and at Mohammedia. In addition to its oil industry, Morocco has an active chemicals industry, as well as being one of the larger markets in the African lubricants industry.

The tourism industry is growing and brings in a large portion of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. An agreeable climate, changing landscapes and modern tourist resorts along the coast make Morocco an attractive tourist destination. There is yet more potential in this industry to be exploited.

The agriculture, fishing and forestry sector employ over a third of the working population and arable land is used for commercial farming. The manufacturing sector in Morocco is dominated by small enterprises. Handicrafts are an important industry and craft products are exported throughout the world.

The international time zone for Morocco is GMT and the international dialling code is +212. The national airline is Royal Air Maroc and numerous international airlines fly to Morocco. The main international airport is at Casablanca and there are 7 other international airports.

Visas are required by most nationals except those of Western European countries, Australia, New Zealand, some South American countries, the USA and Canada, Japan and most Arabic countries.

The transport system in most parts of Morocco is well developed with road and rail linkages between all the main centres. The seaports are large and deal with cargo, exports and passengers.

The state of health, the immunisation status, location and the local disease situation leads to the risk of contraction of hepatitis A, malaria (regional), schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever in Morocco. Only bottled water with unbroken seals should be consumed and tap water should be avoided. Drinking water from “water sellers: should be avoided. Medical services may be very expensive and advance payment may be required. Insurance should be arranged prior to arrival in Morocco and individual risk assessment is recommended.

Shaun Bakamoso

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