Geography of Morocco

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This article is about the geography of internationally recognized Moroccan territory. For the Geography of the Southern Provinces, see Geography of Western Sahara.
Location of Morocco
True-color image of Morocco from Terra spacecraft
Topography of Morocco
Morocco's and Western Sahara's cities and main towns

Morocco spans from the Atlantic Ocean, to mountainous areas, to the Sahara desert. Morocco is a Northern African country, located in the extreme north west of Africa on the door of continental Europe. The strait of Gibraltar sperates Spain and Morocco with a 13 km span of water. Morocco borders the North Atlantic Ocean to the west and the west Mediterranean Sea to the north.

The largest part of Morocco is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains are located mainly in the center and the south. It expands to more than 1100 km and is the dorsal spine of the country. To the north, we have the Rif Mountains, which are part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia, Spain. The massive range expands to 360 km from Tangier in the west to the foot of Saïdia eastward.

To the west of the country, along the Atlantic coast, rich coastal plains stretch from Tangier to Agadir, about 800 km long, and get inward to Saiss Plains near Fes and Tansift-Alhaouz around the city of Marrakech. These vast plains promots fertile agricultural lands and make one of the most important economical resources of Morocco.

In the extreme South-East of the country, the lands are usually arid, due to their proximity to the Sahara desert of Algeria. Palm trees oasis are developed in many regions, notably in Figuig and Zagora.

Geography statistics[edit]

Coordinates: 32°00′N 5°00′W / 32.000°N 5.000°W / 32.000; -5.000

Map references: Africa

total: 446,550 km² (excluding Western Sahara), 710,850 km² (including Western Sahara)
land: 446,300 km² (or 710,600 km²)
water: 250 km²

Area - comparative: Morocco without Western Sahara is slightly larger than California; slightly larger than Newfoundland and Labrador; slightly more than half the size of New South Wales province of Australia; slightly less than twice the size of the United Kingdom

Morocco, including Western Sahara, is slightly larger than Texas

Land boundaries:
total: 2,017.9 km
border countries: Algeria 1 559 km, Mauritania (de facto) 1561 km, Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Spain (Melilla) 9.6 km

Coastline: 1835 km (excluding Western Sahara's coast)

2945 km (including Western Sahara's coast)

Maritime claims:
Territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi)
Contiguous zone: 24 nmi (44.4 km; 27.6 mi)
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


If we exclude the extreme South-East regions, which classifies as arid, Morocco's climate in general is similar to the one you find in the Iberian Peninsula with its all sub-climatic diversity. Thus, we find the following zones:

Mediterranean: This climate is found along the Mediterranean coast of the country, and parts of the Northern Atlantic portion between Tangier and Kénitra. From Kénitra downward, the typical Mediterranean climate becomes more Oceanic influenced reaching up to Essaouira region, where it becomes typically Oceanic but with less rainfall than found in Oceanic zones like in Western France or the UK.

Continental: This climate is found in large parts of the RiF, Middle-Atlas and the Norther side of the High-Atlas Mountains, cities like Fes or Meknes, who lies on the periphery of these mountains range are also influenced by continental climate but remain essentially Mediterranean.

Semi-arid: This climate is found south of the city of Essaouira, where yearly average precipitations start to get below 400 mm, and that what prevents cities like Agadir or Marrakech from being classified as Mediterranean, despite the similitude in yearly temperatures and rainfall pattern (November-April).

The disputed Western Sahara region features a hot desert climate, but temperatures are more temperated along the coast.

Physical geography[edit]

Terrain: Northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains

Geography - note: Strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Sebkha Tah -55 m
Highest point: Toubkal mountain 4,165 m

Land use and natural resources[edit]

Natural resources: Phosphates, Iron ore, Manganese, Lead, Zinc, Fish, Salt

Land use:
Arable land: 17.5%
Permanent crops: 2.9%
Permanent pastures: 47.1%
Forests: 11.5%
Other: 21.61% (2011)

Irrigated land: 14,850 km² (2004)

Total renewable water resources: 29 km3 (2011)

Natural hazards: Northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts.



Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub[edit]

Temperate coniferous forests[edit]

Montane grasslands and shrublands[edit]

Deserts and xeric shrublands[edit]

Freshwater ecoregions[edit]

Marine ecoregions[edit]

Current environmental issues[edit]

Land degradation/desertification (soil erosion resulting from farming of marginal areas, overgrazing, destruction of vegetation); water supplies contaminated by raw sewage; siltation of reservoirs; oil pollution of coastal waters.

International environmental agreements[edit]

Morocco is party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution (MARPOL 73/78), Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

Extreme points[edit]

This is a list of the extreme points of Morocco, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location (excluding the disputed Western Sahara area).



See Also[edit]

Climate of Morocco

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Atlas of Morocco