Brief History of Morocco

In this blog article, we will give a brief history of Morocco.

A Brief History of Morocco

In this blog article, we will give a brief history of Morocco. Morocco as a vast and diverse territory that was only recently unified into a modern nation state. Its long history documents a struggle for dominance between the Berber tribes of the mountains and the Arabs of the plains, the rise and fall of powerful dynasties, the creation and fall of mighty empires, and, beginning in the 18th century, manipulation and exploitation by European powers seeking to expand their empires.

Early history

The Phoenicians were the first to explore this far western territory, establishing a trading post at Liks (Lixus) on the Moroccan coast approximately 1000 BC. In the subsequent centuries, they and their successors, the Carthaginians, established outposts at Tangier and Essaouira, as well as a town on the location of modern-day Rabat. The local inhabitants of the region were referred to as ‘Berbers’ by Greek traders (the English word ‘barbarian’ has the same derivation).​ However, the true term for Berbers is Amazigh, which means “free people,” and they thrived in North Africa about 3000 BC. ​
Little is known about the early Berbers before their region became part of the Roman Empire. The Romans established large settlements, notably Volubilis, whose ruins are still among Morocco’s most remarkable from that era.

Islamic dynasties

Arabs introduced Islam to Morocco in the seventh and eighth centuries, and the great Arab dynasties started to govern over vast swaths of the Maghreb and Spain.
Moulay Ismail was one of many remarkable sultans, and his 55-year reign (1672-1727) was one of the longest and most cruel in Moroccan history. He was a violent and extravagant megalomaniac who allegedly maintained a harem of 500 women and fathered over 700 children. His big goal was the imperial metropolis of Meknes, and hundreds perished in the construction of his palaces and triumphal arches.

Independence and modernization

During the “final race for Africa” around the turn of the twentieth century, Britain, France, Germany, and Spain competed to conquer Morocco, one of the few remaining portions of the continent free of colonial control. With France and Spain occupying Morocco, hatred of foreign authority simmered for 40 years until the country’s independence was regained in 1956.
The elation of independence gave birth to rivalry and resistance. Morocco started a new era after the death of Hassan II and the crowning of a new, young monarch. Today, with the impacts of the Arab Spring being felt throughout the region, King Mohammed VI recognizes the need for reform, and a new constitution is being created that aspires to transfer nearly half of the king’s responsibilities to a prime minister elected by the Moroccan people.

The reign of Mohammed VI

Morocco started a new era when Muhammad Ben el Hassan was crowned Mohammed VI in July 1999. The new monarch was young, brilliant, and contemporary, and he was determined to enact groundbreaking changes. True to his pledge, he reformed the moudawana (family law code) early in his rule, significantly changing the life of Moroccan women, and, even more extraordinary, he founded the Equity and Reconciliation Commission. At the same time, Mohammed VI recognized the need to strengthen connections with the West and boost foreign investment in Morocco, notably in the tourist hub of Marrakech, which has witnessed a surge in the construction of tourist hotels and resorts.
Mohammed VI is still a popular and well-liked figure thirteen years after his coronation. Every store, hotel, and restaurant in Morocco has a framed image of the monarch, either dressed in full royal Moroccan dress or in a nice Gucci suit in front of one of his antique automobiles. 
His reign has been tested by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, by the thorny issue of Western Sahara and by a wave of regime change during North Africa’s Arab Spring, and as Morocco moves into the second decade of his reign, the eyes not just of Morocco, but of the world are on Mohammed VI.

Morocco history timeline

Phoenician sailors build trading posts along the coast.
Roman Empire withdrew from Morocco.
Muslim conquest under Oqba ibn Nafi.
The Moors launch their conquest of Spain.
Idrissid dynasty: Moulay Idriss II founded Fez.
Almoravid dynasty: Marrakech founded in 1062 by Yusuf ibn Tashfin.
Almohad dynasty. Its empire includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Spain.
Marinid dynasty: the last Berber dynasty.

Anarchy reigns. In Spain, the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella complete the Reconquista from the Moors: Granada, the last Moorish bastion, falls in 1492.

The Saadian dynasty established its capital in Marrakech. The Portuguese were defeated at the Battle of Three Kings in 1578. Empire extends to Mali.

Alaouite dynasty ushers in national revival.

Moulay Ismail built his Imperial City located at Meknes.
Franco-Spanish Protectorate established. Tangier became an International Zone.
Morocco gained independence.
King Hassan II ascends to the throne.
‘Green March’ into the Spanish Sahara.
King Hassan II dies. His son, Mohammed VI, succeeds to the throne.

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