The Kingdom of Morocco
is a country in North Africa with a population of 33,757,175. It has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with two small Spanish autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla), and Mauritania to the south. Morocco is the only African country that is not currently a member of the African Union. However, it is currently a member of the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union, the Francophone, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mediterranean Dialogue group, and Group of 77, and is a major non-NATO ally of the United States
The area of present-day Morocco has been inhabited since Neolithic times (at least since 8000 BC, as attested by signs of the Caspian culture), a period when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. Many theorists believe the Amazigh people, commonly referred to as Berbers or by their regional ethnic identity (e.g. Chleuh), probably arrived at roughly the same time as the inception of agriculture in the region. In the classical period, Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should not be confused with the modern country of Mauritania.
On November 18, 2006, Morocco celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish colonial possessions through military action were less successful. The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956 (see Tangier Crisis). Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule would be marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s after demanding its reintegration from Spain since independence, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara). Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997.Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status by the United States in June 2004 and has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.
Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization. Through Moroccan history, Morocco hosted many people coming from East (Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Arabs), South (Sub-Saharan Africans) and North (Romans, Vandals, Andalusia's (including Moors and Jews)). All those civilizations have had an impact on the social structure of Morocco. It conceived various forms of beliefs, from paganism, Judaism, and Christianity to Islam.
Each region possesses its own specificities, thus contributing to the national culture and to the legacy of civilization. Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its diverse legacy and the preservation of its cultural heritage.
Culturally speaking, Morocco has always been successful in combining its Berber, Jewish and Arabic cultural heritage with external influences such as the French and the Spanish and, during the last decades, the Anglo-America
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