As in most of the former European colonies, the Moroccan economy remains very dependent on exports of raw materials. It is also characterized by a dichotomy between a large traditional sector and a smaller, export-oriented sector. Altogether, the modern economy is responsible for more than seventy percent of the gross domestic product, although it generates only thirty percent of jobs.
According to PROZIPCODES, Morocco is one of the few Arab countries with the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. Among the main agricultural products are wheat, barley, citrus fruits and potatoes. The country exports vegetables and fruits to the European market and is self-sufficient in meat production, although it needs to import milk. The government grants licenses to Spanish, Japanese and Soviet boats to fish in its waters, on the condition that they assist Morocco in carrying out programs to expand its fishing industry.
Despite its agricultural and fishing potential, Morocco’s economy is based on mining. The country concentrates the world’s largest reserves of phosphate and also extracts iron, zinc, lead, manganese, copper and pyrite (iron sulfate from which sulfur is extracted) in large quantities.
The most important industrial activity is the transformation of phosphate into fertilizer and phosphoric acid for export, in addition to the production of textile and food items. The country also invests in heavy industry and offers fiscal incentives to attract foreign capital. The export basket includes phosphate and its derivatives, agricultural products and textile articles. As sources of foreign exchange, tourism and remittances by Moroccans working abroad are practically equivalent to phosphate exports.
The financial system is mixed: state-owned banks coexist with private national and foreign banks. The road and rail transport system developed rapidly since 1970. The main airport is located close to Casablanca.
The 1992 constitution provides for a modified constitutional monarchy, in which the head of state is a hereditary king. Legislative power rests with a 333-member, unicameral assembly with a six-year term. Of these, 222 are elected by universal suffrage, and 111 are chosen by an electoral college formed by municipal councilors and representatives of professional bodies. Executive power is exercised by the king, who appoints (and may dismiss) the prime minister, who in turn appoints the other members of the cabinet. The king can also dissolve the Assembly.
The country has a multiparty system, the main parties of which are the Istiqlal (Independence Party), the Popular Movement and the National Union of Popular Forces. The territory is divided into provinces and urban prefectures.
Although the government has invested in preventive medicine, by increasing the number of dispensaries and health centers, half of the rural population does not have access to these services. Former endemic diseases, such as trachoma, tuberculosis and cholera, have been eradicated. The incidence of other diseases, such as hepatitis, remains high, while new diseases, such as schistosomiasis, become more frequent.
Education is compulsory between seven and 13 years of age. Despite the government’s educational programs, illiteracy among the population is high. At the end of the twentieth century, half of primary school students reached secondary school, and one in ten reached university. At the same time, education absorbed a quarter of the national budget. The state’s official religion is Sunni Muslim.
Between the 8th and 15th centuries, in the period of Muslim Spain, Morocco benefited from the cultural splendor of Cordoba, Seville and Granada, and participated in the Hispano-Muslim literary and philosophical currents. The Cordobaese philosopher Averroés, who introduced Aristotelianism to the Muslim world and Spain, was known and followed in Morocco. Religious intransigence restrained intellectual activity, and literary creation took refuge in poetry.
The opening imposed in the 19th century by contact with France and Spain brought about a profound transformation of cultural life, which after independence sought to combine Western advances with the roots of Berber and Arab cultures. For this reason, the government created an institute to promote popular culture. The most traditionally cultivated literary genres, poetry and historiography, were influenced by the Middle East and the West. In addition, many Moroccan authors publish their works in France and Morocco.
The arts experienced a strong impulse in the 20th century, both in painting and sculpture, in popular music and in theater. The painting, with schools in Casablanca and Tétouan, was specially promoted by the Ministry of Culture, which is also responsible for the administration of libraries, museums and historical archives. The Royal Academy of Morocco was founded in 1979, with an interdisciplinary character. Numerous centers linked to foreign embassies contribute to diversify the country’s culture. The main cultural events in Morocco are the folk festival in Marrakech, the jazz festival in Tangier, the Andalusian music festival in Saidia and the African arts festival in Agadir.