Morocco is the poorest of the Maghreb states. Rapid
population growth, growing debt burden and political
uncertainty are the main causes of the economic problems.
The basis of the country's economy is agriculture, tourism
and phosphate exports.
COUNTRYAAH, the country has significant unemployment and
underemployment. Together with the International Monetary
Fund, Morocco has launched a program of economic reform.
This includes privatization, removal of trade barriers and
investment in export-oriented industry. As part of this
effort, a privatization ministry was established in 1989.
Privatization has been slow. The informal economy accounts
for one fifth of GDP, and the country is one of the world's
largest cannabis producers.
Agriculture is important for Morocco's economy. However,
production varies widely depending on climatic conditions,
recurring periods of drought hit agriculture hard. About 20
percent of the country's area is cultivated, and just under
30 percent consists of meadow and pasture. The conditions of
ownership and the degree of modernization vary widely.
The large farming units, mainly on the coastal plains and
at Fès and Marrakech, are modern and export-oriented, while
about 75 percent of the units are less than 5 ha and have
low mechanization; this group is dominated by
self-sustaining agriculture. The most important products are
cereals (wheat, barley and corn) as well as fruits (oranges
and olives) and vegetables. Livestock management (especially
sheep farming) is important, and its importance has
increased in recent years.
Natural resources and energy
Raw material production is completely dominated by
phosphate mining. Morocco, which has more than 2/3 of the
world's known phosphate reserves, is the world's third
largest producer and the largest exporter of phosphate.
Phosphate is mainly mined in Khouribga, Youssoufia and
Benguerir. Although Morocco is not fully prospected, there
are known deposits of coal, iron ore, lead, copper, zinc,
manganese, cobalt, silver, uranium and bauxite. However,
these are only extracted in small quantities. Oil production
is negligible, but oil-bearing shale finds have been made
and some natural gas production is occurring. New gas
deposits have been discovered at Essaouira and northern
Almost 20 percent of the country's area is covered by
forest; the majority are state-owned. Morocco is one of the
world's largest cork producers, but otherwise, forestry is
of little economic importance. In the country, alpha grass
is also grown for paper production.
The economic importance of fishing has increased, and a
special Ministry of Fisheries was established in 1981. The
industry is concentrated in the Atlantic, where the
planktonic-rich Canary flow provides good conditions. During
the 1990s, annual catches were around 1 million tonnes.
About 50 percent of these are sardines. During the 1990s,
Morocco had problems with overfishing of several species,
and catch quotas were reduced. For a few years, Morocco
chose not to have a fisheries agreement with the EU and the
agreement that entered into force in 2006 does not include
the Mediterranean. The main fishing ports are Agadir,
Tan-Tan, Safi and Casablanca.
Morocco is dependent on imports to meet its energy needs.
Morocco's industry is poorly developed; the most
important industrial branches are phosphate processing,
metal, cement, food and textile industries. The industry is
concentrated in Casablanca, as well as around Rabat, Fès and
Marrakech, but efforts are being made to spread it to other
areas and to increase the export-oriented industry's share
of production. In the 1980s, a program was launched to
liberalize imports and to privatize state-owned enterprises,
but the process has proven to take a long time.
Since the 1970s, Morocco's trade balance has developed
negatively, mainly due to the war in Western Sahara, falling
phosphate prices and increased imports of oil and food. The
country has for a long time had a trade deficit. A free
trade agreement between the US and Morocco, the first US
with an African country, came into force in 2006.
Exports are mainly to Spain, France and India. The most
important export products include clothing, textiles, cars,
electrical components, raw phosphate, fish and chemicals.
Imports, which mainly consist of oil, textiles,
communication equipment and food (cereals), come primarily
from Spain, France and China. Tourism is an important source
Tourism and gastronomy
Tourism accounts for an important part of the country's
income from abroad. In 1992, there were 4.4 million foreign
visitors. Due to the economic crisis, the number of visitors
in 1995 and 1996 dropped to 2.6 million, but has since risen
again and in 2012 the number of foreign tourists was 9.4
million. France and Spain account for the largest proportion
of visitors. More than 15,000 Swedes visit the country
annually. In 2012, tourist revenue amounted to approximately
27 percent of the country's export revenue.
Morocco has a lot to offer the visitor: sun-kissed
beaches, a beautiful and diverse landscape and a rich
cultural heritage. Many tourists come to the seaside resorts
of the Atlantic coast, for example. Agadir, and several
undertake excursions to the inland, often to Marrakech.
Historic Morocco has a number of centers between which the
king still moves today. A round trip in these so-called
royal cities - Rabat, Meknès, Fès and Marrakech - forms the
basis of a journey inland.
Rabat has a walled city center, and in the Moroccan
Crafts Museum you can see what a Moroccan private palace
looked like. Really genuine environments, however, are best
seen in the sister city of Salé. At Rabat there is also the
suggestive tomb city of Chellah, with well-preserved tomb
mosques for the 13th and 13th century sultans.
Meknès is strongly influenced by the architecture of the
glossy period in the late 17th century and the beginning of
the 17th century, with a very palatial complex. Fès is the
most culturally remarkable experience; the entire walled old
town lives on in an environment created in the 1400s-1600s,
with mosques, Koran schools, palaces, shops, forges and
tanneries. The road from Fès to Marrakech follows the
central Atlas north-west slope, where there is usually snow
during the winter. Marrakech has several interesting
monuments, including Mosques, palaces and artificially
landscaped gardens began in the 12th century, but are best
known for their varied business life.
The largest city, Casablanca, has an old quarter,
beautifully situated by the sea, but is particularly
interesting through its wide avenues of functionalist
architecture from the interwar period. El Jadida west of the
coast has a large Portuguese fort from the 16th century and
is a popular seaside resort. The northern part of the
country has its own mark, Tangier as a former international
city and recipient of day tourists from Gibraltar and Spain,
and Tétouan as bearer of ancient and Spanish traditions.
The Moroccan cuisine differs from the other North African
countries in that the food is not always so spicy but highly
flavored with lemon and saffron. Otherwise, the similarities
are striking. Fish plays a big role, as do wheat and sheep
or lamb, almonds and raisins. The drink in front of others
is tea flavored with mint. Soups are common, a harira
consists of dried legumes or grains as well as meat or fish
chunks. As an appetizer, bstilla is often
offered, a puff pastry filled with meat or
fish and eggs, seasoned with ginger, saffron, coriander,
parsley, cinnamon and mint, and coated with sugar and
cinnamon. Couscous is everyday as well as party
food, tajine(meat or fish stew cooked in a special
clay form) as well. At the dessert table, Morocco again
differs from its neighbors; the pastries are slightly less
sweet and honey dripping than farther east. As Algeria
reduces its wine production, Morocco assumes its role as
North Africa's leading wine producer. The most important
crops are in the Casablanca – Rabat – Fès – Marrakech area.
The red wines are considered the best, but also rosé wines
and white wines are popular.