About Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco, in the northwest part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, shares borders with the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, Algeria, and Western Sahara. The population is about 36.6 million people, including those who live in Western Sahara, which is a disputed territory claimed and occupied primarily by Morocco. Morocco is ethnically homogeneous, with 99 percent of the population identifying as Arab-Berber. The country is also 99 percent Sunni Muslim. The most common languages spoken include the official languages, Arabic and Berber, as well as French, which is often used in business and government. As much as 64 percent of the population lives in urban centers, most densely along the coasts of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Casablanca, Rabat (the capital), Fes, Tangier, and Marrakech are some of the most populated cities. At certain points, Morocco is only eight miles away from Europe.

Prior to 1956, Morocco was separated into French and Spanish protectorates. Since achieving independence, Morocco has emerged as a stable and growing country, with the fifth largest economy in Africa. Morocco is rich in resources and arable land. As such, it produces wheat, barley, and corn, and exports fruits and other commercial crops such as cotton, sugarcane, and sunflowers. Manufacturing also plays a major role in the Moroccan economy, accounting for one-sixth of the GDP. This includes food processing, the manufacturing of textiles, and iron and steel manufacturing. While education is mandatory for school-age children, access to schools is more consistent in urban areas. Rural areas have poor school attendance, resulting in lower-than-expected literacy rates across Morocco.

The Moroccan government has emphasized preventive healthcare by establishing networks of health centers around the country. However, rural populations still lack access to health facilities and safe drinking water. Infant mortality rates remain disproportionately high, while one-third of the population suffers from malnutrition. Leading causes of death in Morocco include ischemic heart disease, stroke, hypertensive heart disease, chronic kidney disease, road injuries, diabetes, lower respiratory infection, COPD, lung cancer, neonatal disorders, and tuberculosis. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include high blood pressure, high body-mass index, high fasting plasma glucose, dietary risks, high LDL, air pollution, tobacco use, malnutrition, kidney dysfunction, occupational risks, and a lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene.

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