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Demographics of Morocco

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Title: Demographics of Morocco  
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Demographics of Morocco

Foreign residents in Morocco by country of birth, in 1994

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Morocco, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The population of Morocco is estimated in 2013 at 35 million. The overwhelming majority of Moroccans are of Arab-Berber descent,[1][2] whether they speak the Berber language or not. Part of Moroccans identify themselves as Berbers through the spoken language, through a mix of family/tribal/territorial ties, or through both. Another part of Moroccans identify themselves as Arabized Berbers or simply as Arabs, mostly based on them speaking Moroccan Arabic and/or not being able to speak Berber. Some of them believe they have an Arab descent from the Arabian Peninsula or the Levant. Some Moroccans believe to be of mixed Arab-Berber descent or of Berber-Arab-Andalusian ancestry. There are no official figures about the exact ethnic origins of all Moroccans, but the implicitly accepted idea inside and outside Morocco is that Moroccans are essentially mixed Arab-Berbers.

Morocco is inhabited by Berbers (imazighen) since at least 5,000 years ago. Some estimate the presence of Berbers to be 8000+ years old. The oldest known sovereign state in Morocco is the Berber Kingdom of Mauretaina from 110 BC. Part of the northern areas of Morocco was for limited periods under the rule of Romans, Vandals, Byzantine principalities, sometimes in alliance with the indigenous Berbers, such as the one of Julian, count of Ceuta. There was probably a high occurrence of intermarriage and interbreeding between some Berbers and European settlers, laying the foundation for the emergence of Moorish and Romano-Berber cultures. Since around 710 AD, many Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula and Arabized Levantine people conquered the territory or migrated to it during the Umayyad conquest, and long after it was repelled. The deep and mountainous areas of ancient Morocco remained always under Berber control. A small minority of the population is identified as Haratin and Gnaoua, dark-skinned sedentary agriculturalists of the southern oases that speak either Berber or Moroccan Arabic.

About 95% of Moroccans are considered to be Sunni Muslims religiously or culturally. The numbers of the Jewish minority has decreased significantly since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Today there are less than 5,000 Moroccan Jews inside the country. Thousands of Moroccan Jews living in Europe, Israel,and North America visit the country regularly. There is a small but apparently growing minority of Moroccan Christians made of local Moroccan converts (not Europeans). Estimates of Moroccan Christians vary wildly between 30,000 and 300,000. Most of the 100,000 foreign residents are French people, Spaniards, Algerians and sub-Saharan African students. There is a small community of Shia Muslim converts in northwestern Morocco of unknown numbers. Both Christian and Shia-Muslim Moroccans and their religious activities are under surveillance and restrictions from Moroccan authorities as they are seen as a threat to the dominance of Sunni-Islam and the monarch's religious authority. The number of non-believers and non-religious Moroccans is unknown but could be in the 10,000s. Secular, non-religious, and Western life styles are visible in all major Moroccan cities among many rich or educated Moroccans. For example, Moroccans consume every year hundreds of millions of liters of locally and legally produced wine and beer. As alcohol beverages are strongly banned by Islam, their consumption in Morocco is usually considered as a strong indicator of non-religiosity or of a secular life style that departs from Islam and traditional life style in general.[3]

Demographics of Morocco, Data of FAO, year 2005 ; Number of inhabitants in thousands.


  • Population 1
  • Languages 2
  • Status of women 3
  • Main populated areas 4
  • Education 5
  • CIA World Factbook demographic statistics 6
    • Vital Statistics 6.1
    • Ethnic groups 6.2
    • Religions 6.3
    • Literacy 6.4
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Average population Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1,000) Crude death rate (per 1,000) Natural change (per 1,000) Fertility rates
1962 12 177 561 360 227 710 333 650 46.1 18.7 27.4 7.20
1975 17 072 5.91
1982 20 334 756 425 215 504 540 921 37.2 10.6 26.6 5.52
1994 25 996 675 896 174 173 501 723 26.0 6.7 19.3 3.28
2004 29 840 602 768 173 072 429 696 20.2 5.8 14.4 2.47
2010 31 894 599 607 178 606 421 001 18.8 5.6 13.2 2.19

Source: Haut-Commissariat au Plan (HCP)[4]


Classical Arabic and the Berber language (Tamazight) are Morocco's two official languages. The spoken languages in daily life are: Berber language, Moroccan Arabic (Darija), and Hassaniya Arabic (in the extreme south only).

About 12 ~ 15 million Moroccans speak Berber in three varieties (Rif-Berber, Shilha, and Central Atlas Tamazight) as a first language. About 30 ~ 33 million Moroccans speak Moroccan Arabic (which has also regional varieties) as a first language, including Hassaniya Arabic. French is an implicitly "official language" of government and big business, and is taught throughout school and still serves as Morocco's primary language of business, economics, and scientific university education. French is also widely used in the media. Morocco is a member of La Francophonie. Berber activists have struggled since the 1960s for the recognition of their language as an official language of Morocco, which was achieved in July 2011 following the February 20th 2011 uprising.

About 20,000 Moroccans in the northern part of the country speak some Spanish. English, while still far behind French in terms of the number of proficient speakers, is rapidly becoming a foreign language of choice among educated youth and business people. It has been taught to Moroccan students after the fourth year of elementary school since the education reforms of 2002.

Status of women

The literacy rate is 51 percent for males and 42.5 percent for females. 26 percent of the non-agricultural labor is female. The ratio of boys to girls in primary and secondary schools is 87 to 9. In the past 20 years, the government has taken initiatives to improve the status of women in society. For instance, the Moudawana 2003 code of law has greatly improved the family status code. It has given women the right to make decisions on marriage, divorce, and custody of children in the case of remarriage/divorce.[5] Nevertheless, gender bias is still commonplace in education, employment and the law.

Main populated areas

Most Moroccans live west and north of the Atlas Mountains, a range that insulates the country from the Sahara Desert. Casablanca is the largest city and the center of business and industry, and has the leading seaport and airport. Rabat is the seat of government. Tangier and Nador are the two major northern seaports on the Mediterranean. Fas is a cultural, religious and industrial center. Marrakesh and Agadir are the two major tourist centers. Oujda is the largest city of eastern Morocco. Meknas houses the military academy. Qnitra has the largest military airbase. El-Muhemmadiya has the largest oil refineries and other major industrial installations.


Education in Morocco is free and compulsory through primary school (age 15). Nevertheless, many children—particularly girls in rural areas—still do not attend school. The country's illiteracy rate is usually around 50 percent for most of the country, but reaches as high as 90 percent among girls in rural regions. In July 2006, Prime minister Driss Jettou announced that illiteracy rate has declined by 39 percent, while two million people had attended literacy courses during the past four years.[6]

Morocco has about 660,000 students enrolled in 14 public universities. The oldest and among the most prestigious is Mohammed V in Rabat, with faculties of law, sciences, liberal arts, and medicine. University of Karueein, in Fez, has been a center for Islamic studies for more than 1,000 years. Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, founded in 1993 by King Hassan II and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, is an English-medium, American-style university comprising about 1,700 students.

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.[7]


noun: Moroccan(s)
adjective: Moroccan

Vital Statistics


35 million (2013 estimates)

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.8% (male 4,514,623/female 4,382,487)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 10,335,931/female 10,785,380)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 881,622/female 1,068,318) (2011 est.)

Median age

total: 26.9 years
male: 26.3 years
female: 27.4 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate

1.054% (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.50 children born/woman (2004)
2.59 children born/woman (2011)[8]

Birth rate

18.97 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate

4.76 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate

-3.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)


urban population: 58% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2012 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 26.49 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 31.16 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.11 years
male: 73.04 years
female: 79.32 years (2012 est.)

Ethnic groups

Berber boy from a village in northern Morocco

Arabs and Berbers : 99%

Other: 1%

Category:Ethnic groups in Morocco


Sunni-Muslim: 98% ~ 99%

Christian: 0.5% ~ 1%

Jewish: 0.01%

Category:Religion in Morocco
Moroccan Jews


Definition: age 10 and over can read and write

Total population: 73.55% (2012)[9]

Category:Education in Morocco


  1. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Berbers, by: Hsain Ilahiane
  2. ^ Berber and Others, by: Katherine E. Hoffman, Susan Gilson Miller
  3. ^ Fine wines flourishing in Muslim Morocco, Fox News, June 25, 2013
  4. ^ Haut-Commissariat au Plan
  5. ^ Morocco Country Profile | Morocco Economy | Economy of Morocco | Thomas White Funds
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ CIA - The World Factbook -- Morocco
  8. ^ Enquête Nationale sur la Population et la Santé Familiale 2011
  9. ^ L'analphabétisme a reculé au Maroc

External links

  • (French) Results of the 2004 census
  • (Arabic) Results of the 2004 census by Douars
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