Morocco Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Morocco?

Overview:

Morocco has been called "a cold country with a hot sun." Situated in the northwest corner of Africa, the Kingdom of Morocco covers nearly 200,000 square miles. Because of its geographical location, Morocco is known in Arabic as El Maghreb el Aqsa, the extreme west and also the gateway to the Arab world.

The mild, semitropical northern and western coastal areas are separated by mountain ranges from the desert areas to the east and south. Most people live west of the mountain ranges, which protect them from the hot winds of the Sahara Desert. In the southern regions, the population is sparse and concentrated in scattered oases along the Draa and Souss Rivers.

Between Morocco's western coast and the mountains lies a wide plain, the Gharb, which produces most of the country's agricultural products. The High Atlas, the Middle Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas mountain ranges traverse the country from northeast to southwest. Summits of the High Atlas Mountains reach 13,664 feet at Mt. Toubkal, and 12,300 feet at Mt. Ayachi.

Morocco can be seen from the coast of Spain, some 20 kilometers across the Straits of Gibraltar. Twice, it was the stage for invasions of Europe - the Moorish assault on Spain in the eighth century and the Allied assault on the continent in World War II. Today, jet airliners fly over plodding camel trains and farmers tilling with implements unchanged since the time of the Romans. Moroccan cities typically are made up of a traditional medina that is a maze of narrow streets and small shops harkening back centuries, as well as modern shopping and residential districts with tree-lined boulevards that reflect early twentieth century French ideas of urban planning.

Geography - note:

strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar

Climate:

The High Atlas are snow-capped and collect moisture from the Atlantic Ocean which climate patterns distribute over the western part of Morocco. Because this region lies between the Atlantic and the mountains, it enjoys a temperate climate. The Atlas range cannot, however, shut out an occasional shergui, the hot easterly wind from the desert. The eastern slopes of the High Atlas have a semi-desert aspect and a rigorous pre-Saharan climate. In the north, and separate from the Atlas ranges, the Rif Mountains loom up sharply along the Mediterranean coast. Here, also, a mild climate prevails, which permits agriculture typical of the Mediterranean region.

Morocco Use of Natural Resources

Morocco Environment

Climate:

The High Atlas are snow-capped and collect moisture from the Atlantic Ocean which climate patterns distribute over the western part of Morocco. Because this region lies between the Atlantic and the mountains, it enjoys a temperate climate. The Atlas range cannot, however, shut out an occasional shergui, the hot easterly wind from the desert. The eastern slopes of the High Atlas have a semi-desert aspect and a rigorous pre-Saharan climate. In the north, and separate from the Atlas ranges, the Rif Mountains loom up sharply along the Mediterranean coast. Here, also, a mild climate prevails, which permits agriculture typical of the Mediterranean region.

Terrain:

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

Natural Resources:

phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt

Natural Hazards:

northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts

Irrigated Land:

5,734 Square Miles
14,850 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

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

Environment - International Agreements:

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, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

Morocco Geography

Geographic Location Africa
Total Area 172,413 Square Miles
446,550 Square Kilometers
Land Area 172,316 Square Miles
446,300 Square Kilometers
Water Area 97 Square Miles
250 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 1,254 Miles
2,018 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 5,734 Square Miles
14,850 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Algeria 1,559 km, Western Sahara 443 km, Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Spain (Melilla) 9.6 km
Coastline 1,140 Miles
1,835 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 32 00 N, 5 00 W
Terrain northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains
Highest Point 4,165 Meters
Highest Point Location Jbel Toubkal 4,165 m
Lowest Point -55 Meters
Lowest Point Location Sebkha Tah -55 m
Natural Resources phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
Time Zone UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time +1 hr, begins last Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in September
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