MICHAEL MENACHEM LASKIER
AND ELIEZER BASHAN
Morocco, an area of 177,117 square miles, lies in the northwestern corner of Africa. It borders Algeria to the east and south and the western Sahara to the south; its northern border is defined by the Mediterranean and its western border by the Atlantic. The population in 2000 was about twenty-seven million. Morocco also shares a border with Spain's two urban enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. Morocco's ethnic groups are Arabs, arabized Berbers, Berbers, and Jews. About 40 percent of the population is Berber; more than 5.6 million Moroccans speak one of the three primary Berber dialects, Tarrifit, Tamazight, and Tachelhit. The Berbers, the original inhabitants, live primarily in the south within the valleys of the Atlas Mountains but also in the north, around the Rif mountains. The Arab majority, including the Moors expelled from Spain in the 1400s as well as the Berbers, are Sunni Muslim. Jews claim to have lived in Morocco since the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C.E. Their ranks were swelled by a wave of immigration following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and by the influx of Sephardim expelled from Spain. In addition, a few Christians lived in Morocco before colonialism. These were essentially European merchants. Like other urbanites, including Jews, they could be found in Essaouira (Mogador), Mazagan (Al-Jadida), Casablanca, and Rabat, as well as other Atlantic coastal seaports; they also lived in Fez, Marrakesh, Meknés, and Sefrou in the inland areas of central and southern Morocco, and in Tangier and such other northern towns as Tetuán, Larache, Alcazarquibir, Arsila, and Nador.
Morocco's national language is Arabic, but even today French serves as a language of commerce, education, and diplomacy. Economically, Morocco, then and now, relies on agriculture. About 40 percent of the labor force