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History in Morocco
Oldest known flag of Morocco (11th-13th century)
Part of a series on
History of Morocco
Prehistoric and Berber Morocco
Arab Caliphates (654-780)
Rashidun Caliphate · Umayyad Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate · Caliphate of Córdoba
Moroccan Dynasties (780-present)
Idrisid dynasty · Almoravid dynasty
Almohad dynasty · Marinid dynasty
Wattasid dynasty · Saadi dynasty
European Protectorate (1912-1956)
Treaty of Fez · French Morocco
Spanish Morocco · Rif Republic
Modern Morocco (since 1956)
Mohammed V · Hassan II
Sand War · 1970s
Green March · Madrid Accords
1980s · 1990s
Mohammed VI · 2000s
Uqba ibn Nafi · Tariq ibn Ziyad
Idris I · Yaqub al-Mansur
Ibn Battuta · Ahmad al-Mansur
Abd al-Malik I · Al Rashid
Ismail Ibn Sharif · Hassan I
Economic history · Military history
Postal history · Imperial cities
Marinid emblem of Morocco.svg
v • d • e
The area of present day Morocco has been inhabited since Neolithic times (at
least since 8000 BC, as attested by signs of the Capsian culture), a period
when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. In Mesolithic ages the geography
of Morocco resembled a savanna more than the present day arid landscape. In
the classical period, Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should
not be confused with the modern-day country of Mauritania. Modern DNA analysis
(see link) has confirmed that various populations have contributed to the present-day
gene pool of Morocco in addition to the main ethnic group which is the Amazighs/Berbers.
Those other various populations are Arabs, Iberians, Phoenicians, Sephardic
Jews and sub-Saharan Africans.
Roman and pre-Roman Morocco
A Roman mosaic in Volubilis
North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean
world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the early Classical
period. Major early substantial settlements of the Phoenicians were at Chellah,
Lixus and Mogador, with Mogador being a Phoenician colony as early as the early
6th century BC. The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the
wider Mediterranean, as this strategic region formed part of the Roman Empire,
as Mauretania Tingitana. In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire declined,
the region fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then the Byzantine Empire, the
Eastern Roman Empire, in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high
mountains of most of modern Morocco remained unsubdued, and stayed in the hands
of their Berber inhabitants. Christianity was introduced in the second century
and gained converts in the towns and among slaves and Berber farmers.
The Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou, High Atlas. Built by the Berbers from the 14th century onwards, a Kasbah was a single family stronghold (as opposed to a Ksar: a fortified tribal village).
Islamic expansion began in the seventh century. In 670 AD, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascus. Arabs brought their customs, culture, and Islam, to which most of the Berbers converted, forming states and kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Nekor and Barghawata, sometimes after long-running series of civil wars. Under Idris ibn Abdallah who founded the Idrisid Dynasty, the country soon cut ties and broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalus. The Idrisids established Fes as their capital and Morocco became a centre of learning and a major regional power.
After the reign of the Idrisids, Arab settlers lost political control in the
region of Morocco. After adopting Islam, Berber dynasties formed governments
and reigned over the country. Morocco would reach its height under these Berber
dynasties that replaced the Arab Idrisids after the 11th century. The Almoravids,
the Almohads, then the Marinid and finally the Saadi dynasties would see Morocco
rule most of Northwest Africa, as well as large sections of Islamic Iberia,
or Al-Andalus. Following the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, large numbers
of Muslims and Jews fled to Morocco.
The Sultan Abderrahmane of Morocco, by Eugène Delacroix
After the Saadi, the Arab Alaouite Dynasty eventually gained control. Morocco was facing aggression from Spain and the Ottoman Empire that was sweeping westward. The Alaouites succeeded in stabilizing their position, and while the kingdom was smaller than previous ones in the region, it remained quite wealthy. In 1684, they annexed Tangier. The organization of the kingdom developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727), who, against the opposition of local tribes began to create a unified state.
Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an
independent nation in 1787. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American
merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the
Atlantic Ocean. On December 20, 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III declared
that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate
and could thus enjoy safe passage. The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship
stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.
In the 20th century, under the leadership of Abd el-Krim, the Riffian Berbers struggled against Spanish rule.
Main articles: Portuguese Empire, French colonial empire, and Spanish Morocco
Successful Portuguese efforts to invade and control the Atlantic coast in the fifteenth century did not profoundly affect the Mediterranean heart of Morocco. After the Napoleonic Wars, Egypt and the North African maghreb became increasingly ungovernable from Istanbul, the resort of pirates under local beys, and as Europe industrialized, an increasingly prized potential for colonization. The Maghreb had far greater proven wealth than the unknown rest of Africa and a location of strategic importance affecting the exit from the Mediterranean. For the first time, Morocco became a state of some interest in itself to the European Powers. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830. Recognition by the United Kingdom in 1904 of France's sphere of influence in Morocco provoked a reaction from the German Empire; the crisis of June 1905 was resolved at the Algeciras Conference, Spain in 1906, which formalized France's "special position" and entrusted policing of Morocco jointly to France and Spain. A second Moroccan crisis provoked by Berlin, increased tensions between European powers. The Treaty of Fez (signed on March 30, 1912) made Morocco a protectorate of France. By the same treaty, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern Saharan zones on November 27 that year.
Many Moroccan soldiers (Goumieres) served in the French army in both World
War I and World War II, and in the Spanish Nationalist Army in the Spanish Civil
War and after (Regulares).
Pre-1956 Tangier had a highly heterogeneous population that included 40,000 Muslims, 30,000 Europeans and 15,000 Jews.
Nationalist political parties, which subsequently arose under the French protectorate, based their arguments for Moroccan independence on such World War II declarations as the Atlantic Charter (a joint U.S.-British statement that set forth, among other things, the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they live). A manifesto of the Istiqlal Party (Independence party in English) in 1944 was one of the earliest public demands for independence. That party subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement.
France's exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French and Spanish protectorates. In August 1953, Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri, the right-hand man of the caliph of Spanish Morocco declared Sultan Mohammed V as the legitimate sultan of Morocco in its entirety in the grand mosque in Tetuan. The most notable violence occurred in Oujda where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets. Operations by the newly created "Jaish al-tahrir" (Liberation Army), were launched on October 1, 1955. Jaish al-tahrir was created by "Comité de Libération du Maghreb Arabe" (Arab Maghreb Liberation Committee) in Cairo, Egypt to constitute a resistance movement against occupation. Its goal was the return of King Mohammed V and the liberation of Algeria and Tunisia as well. France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year.
All those events helped increase the degree of solidarity between the people
and the newly returned king. For this reason, the revolution that Morocco knew
was called "Taourat al-malik wa shaab" (The revolution of the King
and the People) and it is celebrated every August 20.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat
On November 18, 2006, Morocco celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish colonial possessions through military action were less successful. The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956 (see Tangier Crisis). Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule would be marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s ("Marcha Verde", Green March) after demanding its reintegration from Spain since independence, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara.)
Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral
legislature in 1997. Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status by the United
States in June 2004 and has signed free trade agreements with the United States
and the European Union.
Further information: Insurgency in the Maghreb (2002–present)