Safi, Morocco

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Asfi / ⴰⵙⴼⵉ / أَسْفِي

Safi city
Safi city
Coat of arms of Safi
Coat of arms
Safi is located in Morocco
Location in Morocco
Coordinates: 32°17′N 9°14′W / 32.283°N 9.233°W / 32.283; -9.233
CountryFlag of Morocco.svg Morocco
 • Total308,508
 • Rank13th in Morocco
Tajine statue

Safi (Berber: Asfi, ⴰⵙⴼⵉ; Arabic: أَسْفِي‎, asfi; Portuguese: Safim) is a city in western Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of Safi Province, it recorded a population of 308,508 in the 2014 Moroccan census.[1] The city was under protectorate by the Portuguese Empire from 1488 to 1541, was the center of the nation's weaving industry, and became a fortaleza of the Portuguese Crown in 1508.[2] Safi is the main fishing port for the country's sardine industry, and also exports phosphates, textiles and ceramics. During the Second World War, Safi was the site of Operation Blackstone, one of the landing sites for Operation Torch.


The city's name as it is locally pronounced is "Asfi", which was Latinized as "Safi" and "Safim" under Portuguese rule. "Asfi" means flood or river estuary in Berber and comes from the Berber root "sfi/sfey" which means to flood, to spill or to pour.

11th-century geographer Al-Idrisi gave an apparently false explanation to the origin the name "Asfi" as he linked it to the Arabic word "Asaf" (regret); Asafi (my regret). He based this claim on a strange story about some sailors from al-Andalus who sailed to discover the other end of the Atlantic Ocean but got lost and landed on some island where the natives captured them and sent them back on their ships blindfolded. The ships eventually ended on the shores of "Asfi" and locals helped the lost sailors and told them that they were two months away from their native land al-Andalus. Upon hearing this one of the sailors responded by saying: "Wa asafi" (Oh my regret). Al-Idrisi wrote that from that time the city carried the name "Asafi". This story is thought to be a legend and unlikely explanation of the origin of the name.[3]


Safi has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa).

Climate data for Safi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 18.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.0
Average low °C (°F) 7.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 79.2
Average precipitation days 12.4 10.1 9.8 9.5 5.1 1.6 0.4 0.4 1.8 6.5 10.1 12.3 80.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 205.5 208.5 258.7 277.8 314.4 298.0 325.8 316.5 263.0 243.6 204.1 198.7 3,116.6
Source: NOAA[4]


Safi, under the name Safim (Zaffim or Asfi), is one of the oldest cities in Morocco. According to historian Mohammed al-Kanuni, Safi must be identified with the ancient Thymiaterium or Carcunticus[citation needed] and was founded by the Carthaginian Hanno during his Periplus as related by Pliny the Elder.[5]

Under the Almohads it functioned as an important port to the capital Marrakesh.

The city was under Portuguese rule from 1488 to 1541; it is believed that they abandoned it to the Saadians (who were at war with them), since the city proved difficult to defend from land attacks. The Portuguese fortress built to protect the city is still there today.

After 1541, the city played a major role in Morocco as one of the safest and biggest seaports in the country. Many ambassadors to the Saadian and Alaouite kings during the 16th–18th centuries came to Morocco via Asfi; its proximity to Marrakech, then capital of Morocco, helped expand the maritime trade in the city.
Louis De Chénier, consul of the French court in Morocco in 1767, reported that the city was the only usable seaport at the time.

A French Navy captive, Bidé de Maurville, who wrote the account of his stay in Morocco in his 1765 book Relations de l'affaire de Larache, reported the presence of an important number of foreign trading houses in the city : Dutch, Danish, British and French.

After the Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah built the city of Mogador, he banned foreign trade in all Moroccan ports except in his newly built city. Consequently, Safi stopped playing a leading role in the Moroccan trade.

Safi's patron saint is Abu Mohammed Salih.

In 1942 as part of Operation Torch, American forces attacked Safi in Operation Blackstone. During November 8-10, 1942 the Americans took control over Safi and its port and took relatively few casualties compared to the other operations at Casablanca and at Port Mehdia.


The inhabitants are composed of Berbers and Arabs descended from the following:

  • The berbers who lived in the region before the foundation of the city.
  • The berbers who came later from the sous plains, south of the region.

Two Arab tribes namely:[6]

  • Abda: They descend from Banu Hilal and have hugtalled in the region in the twelfth century and spawned : Bhatra and Rabiaa.
  • Ahmar: They descend from Maqil.

Also note that Safi had a large Jewish community that emigrated to France today, Canada or Israel, which at the time represented more than 20% of the population.


Football and rugby are popular sports in Safi. The local football team Olympic Safi have been competing in Morocco's premier football division, Botola, since 2004.
The Rugby Union team of the same name is one of Morocco's best, having won the "Coupe du Trône" several times. There also is a little Tennis Sport Club with a couple of fields (following the high road, beyond the Colline des Poitiers)

The European Cemetery[edit]

After the Hospital borrough, keeping the same direction, there is a camp sorrounded by a white wall (unfortunately partially collapsed):if you find he building open(try the left little gate), after the entrance surmounted by the word PAX, a guardian (only speaks Arabic) may let you in. This European Cemetery field of Safi, Morocco appears unfortunately partially abandoned; and some of the marbles have drastically been asported from some of the richest tomb coverings:Russians; Portuguese; Spanish (for example of the Do Carmo family); Italians (for example of the Bormioli family; but even others mainly in the central section including the smallest tombs); French (for example of the Chanel family); German and other people from other European nations are buried inside of the Cemetery. Some tomb "diciturae" appear as missing a/or asported;a general map is missing; most of the fields are left as in an abandoned and uncultivated state; and pay particularly attention to where you put your feet for the dangerous spines; wild dogs may bark back at you when you enter. Part of the former part of the camp is actually cultivated as an "hortus" for vegetable by the keeper. On the left side a tomb of a youngster died only 15 years old in the Sixties. Other mittle mausoleum-kind sepulchres include XIXth century tombs, but in general the most number of them appears of XXth century.

Notable people from Safi[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "POPULATION LÉGALE DES RÉGIONS, PROVINCES, PRÉFECTURES, MUNICIPALITÉS, ARRONDISSEMENTS ET COMMUNES DU ROYAUME D'APRÈS LES RÉSULTATS DU RGPH 2014" (in Arabic and French). High Commission for Planning, Morocco. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  2. ^ Newitt, Malyn (November 5, 2004). A History of Portuguese Overseas Expansion 1400–1668. Routledge. p. 66.
  3. ^ Arabian American Oil Company, Aramco Services Company, Saudi Aramco (1991). Aramco world, Volumes 42-43. Aramco. p. 12.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Safi Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Vincent J. Cornell, Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism, p. 326
  6. ^ MENNIS, Allal. "Safi".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°17′N 9°14′W / 32.283°N 9.233°W / 32.283; -9.233