Morocco History

The magnificent country of Morocco is essentially a tribal one. Five dynasties have been in power throughout the history of the Kingdom. To solidify their authority these dynasties allied with Muslim and sometimes Jewish tribes and these ancient and historic tribes are still in existence. However their influence has greatly decreased in the larger cities of the country. The fascinating and colorful history of Morocco has been strongly influenced by diverse populations that integrated their cultures and traditions into the fabric of the country.

From Prehistory to Antiquity

A human settlement dated 800,000 BC was discovered in the city of Casablanca. Other archeological discoveries support a fascinating discovery that is evidence of life in the area even before the great Sahara was a desert.

Around 5,000 BC, people arrived from the Middle East and Berber tribes began to settle in the country. The most ancient documented writings date from 800 BC, the period that marks the beginning of Morocco’s history. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines settled in the area, and some, in Essaouira and Volubilis, left important historical evidence of their habitation. In 682, the Arabian conquests of Okba Ibn Nafii lead to the Islamization of the country.

The dynasties

In 788, the Idrissides founded the official Moroccan state. In 909, the Kingdom was officially proclaimed at Volubilis, and Idriss the 1st became King of the land then known as Maghreb el-Aqça, or Far Maghreb. The dynasty of Youcef Ben Tachefine, founder of the city of Marrakech, followed. Under his rule, Morocco and the Muslim Spanish were united.

The Almohades dynasty followed the dynasty of Youcef Ben Tachefine and solidified the political unity between Northern Africa and Andalusia. After the death of Yacoub Mansour, a schism divided the country. Abou Youssef Yacoub gained control of the city of Marrakech and through this action created the Merinides dynasty.

The Merinides attempted to rebuild the empire that was weakened during the takeover of the dynasty that proceeded and political problems arose in 1348, further weakening the system and resulting in the rise of another dynasty, the Saadians.

Saadians are descendants of the Prophet and come from the valley of Drâa. They choose Marrakech as capital of their country, and later named it Morocco, a shorter version of the name of the city.  Morocco then underwent an important economic and military development.

A new dynasty, the Alaouites, from the south of the country, came to power. Founded by Moulay Ali Cherif, a descendant of the Prophet, this dynasty rules Morocco to this day and has brought political stability to the Kingdom.

Colonialism and Independence

Colonization was a significant factor in the vibrant history of Morocco. The Protectorate Treaty, signed in Fez in 1912, led to an important French immigration. The arrival of European products, roads, and the construction of railroads, the development of the port of Casablanca and the development of the richest areas of the country led to significant change. The movement of the capital to Rabat is one of many examples of this time of extraordinary growth.

From 1930 on, a strong nationalist movement developed, supported by the success of other countries in their battles for independence from France and the weakening of French power during World War II. King Mohammed I rallied behind this cause, only to be deposed and exiled to Madagascar in 1953.

However, the nationalist movement gained momentum, and, following negotiations held in Aix les Bains, France finally acknowledged Morocco’s independence on March 2, 1956. A  fountain and a monument were erected in the central park of this Savoyard city to commemorate this historic event.  The King returned from exile and became Mohammed V. He was succeeded by Hassan II, and by the current leader Mohammed VI.