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 Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean on the north and the west respectively, into large mountainous areas in the interior body, to the Sahara desert in the far south. Morocco is a Northern African country, located in the extreme north west of Africa on the doors of continental Europe. The strait of Gibraltar separates Spain off 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 terrain of Morocco is largely mountainous. The Atlas Mountains stretch from the central north to the south west. It expands to about 1350 km and is the dorsal spine of the country. To the north of the Atlas Mountains, we have the Rif Mountains, a chain that makes part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia, Spain. The massive range expands to about 250 km from Tangier in the west to Nador eastward.

In 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 near Marrakech. These vast plains promotes fertile agricultural lands and support 15% of the local economy.

In the extreme South-East of the country, the lands are 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

Area:
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

Climate[edit]

Morocco map of Köppen climate classification.

Morocco's climate can be divided into two parts: The North/West and the South/East. In the south-east, the climate is arid, and poorly populated. In the north-west the climate is temperate and is akin of the climatic conditions that prevail in the Iberian Peninsula. 95% of Moroccan population lives in these regions.

The largely populated areas of the North and the West of the country is predominantly Mediterranean, but since the country is heavily mountainous, Continental and Alpine influence is evident, as well as the Oceanic influence along the Atlantic coastline. And finally, the semi-arid lands, that cover few regions in the north-east, the central south and the south-west.

Along the Mediterranean coast, the climate is typically Mediterranean and supports all types of typical Mediterranean vegetation. The summers are moderately hot and the winters are mild. Further away from the coast, into the Rif Mountain range, the climate starts to become more continental in character, with colder winters and hotter summers. At elevations above 1000 meters, the climate is alpine with warm summers and cold winters. Rainfall is much higher on the west side, than it is on the east side. The average annual precipitation is between 600-1500 mm and 300-700 mm respectively. Snow is abundant at higher elevations.

  1. Typical Mediterranean climate cities: Tangier, Tétouan, Al-Hoceima, Nador
  2. Typical continental influenced cities: Chefchaouen, Issaguen, Targuist, Taza
  3. Typical Alpine influenced cities: Bab-Berred

Along the Atlantic coast, the climate is Mediterranean with an Oceanic influence. The imprint of the Oceanic climate differs along the coastline from region to region. It is generally presented from Asilah to Essaouira. The summers are warm to moderately hot, and winters are cooler than in the Mediterranean coast. Further away from the coastal lands, into the Atlas Mountain range, the climate starts to become more continental in character, with colder winters and hotter summers. At elevations above 1000 meters, the climate is typically alpine, with warm summers and cold winters. Rainfall is generally high. The average annual precipitations is between 500-1800 mm on the north, but as you move southward, the average drops by about 100 to 200 mm. Snow is abundant at higher elevations. There are two ski stations, one in the middle-Atlas Mischliffen, and the other in the High-Atlas Oukaïmeden.

  1. Typical Oceanic influenced cities: Rabat, Casablanca, Essaouira, Larache
  2. Typical Continental influenced cities: Fès, Meknès, Khenifra, Beni Mellal
  3. Typical Alpine influenced cities: Ifrane, Azrou, Midelt, Imouzzer Kandar

The Southern regions of the North-West are Semi-arid influenced. Rainfall is lower, and is between 250 and 350 mm annually. Although temperature ranges generally do not change in comparison with the upper provinces, a slight increase in high averages is not to be dismissed. Largely due to the lower latitudes where they fall.

Typical cities with such climate are Agadir and Marrakesh.

The disputed Western Sahara region features a hot desert climate, but temperatures are more moderate 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.

Environment[edit]

Ecoregions[edit]

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]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Atlas of Morocco