Morocco Geography

Morocco Geography

Morocco (Arabic المغرب al-maghrib “land of the sunset”; al-mamlaka al-maghribiya, “Kingdom of Morocco”; Berber: ⴻⵍⵎⴻⵖⵔⵉⴱ / ⴰⵎⴻⵔⵔⵓⴽ, Elmeɣrib / Amerruk) is located in the extreme northwest of Africa, between the 28th and 36th centuries. Latitude and the 1st and 13th longitude. The country extends from the Strait of Gibraltar to south of the Draa River. As the westernmost Maghreb country, Morocco borders the Mediterranean Sea in the north, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Western Sahara in the south and Algeria in the east. The area is 459,000 km² (rounded, UN specification) or 711,000 km² (rounded, Moroccan specification, including Western Sahara). Morocco regards the Western Sahara as part of its national territory.

Climate

Climate change

The topic of climate change has been on the public agenda in Morocco since the United Nations World Climate Conference (COP22) in Marrakech at the end of 2016.

How the rulers and citizens in the Middle East and North Africa deal with climate change and its consequences is a topic in the magazine: “A Region Heating Up”, published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Morocco Office in Rabat.

According to a2zgov, Morocco plans to move away from fossil fuels and instead relies on energy from sun and wind. Critics of Moroccan energy policy object that Morocco is getting into new dependencies with its current energy policy.

General facts about the climate

Droughts have been known in Morocco since ancient times; but for some years now, extreme weather with floods and cold waves has also increased.

Due to the location on two oceans (Atlantic, Mediterranean) and the extremely diverse landscapes, the weather conditions in Morocco at the same point in time can vary extremely widely. So in January you can ski on the Oukaimeden near Marrakech and a few hundred kilometers further south in Zagora in a bikini in the sun. The particular geographical location and topography make Morocco very different climatic zones exist side by side, from the Mediterranean north to the Saharan continental south, with the High and Middle Atlas as a climatic divide. In the northwest, hot and dry summers dominate with mean temperature maxima between 26 °C (Casablanca) and 29 °C (Tangier). The winters are mild (January mean 12 °C) with precipitation falling sharply from north to south (Tangier 900 mm, Agadir 200 mm per year). Inland, the moderating influence of the Atlantic quickly subsides, so that the central Meseta and the Atlas Mountains have a pronounced continental climate: In Marrakech, the thermometer rises to 45 °C in summer, while temperatures can drop to zero in winter. In the Atlas Mountains there is sometimes snow for weeks in the winter months. In the Sahara fringes south of the Atlas, there is an extremely dry and hot desert climate. During the summer months, the sirocco, a hot, dust-laden wind from the Sahara, blows at times.

Despite the desert climate, torrential rains can also occur in the flatter regions of Morocco, causing severe damage and killing numerous people. Dozens of people die in floods every year, mostly in rural areas, but also in metropolises like Casablanca. The last time there were deaths in 2018 and 2017. In the winter of 2014, storms in eastern Morocco killed at least 36 people and thousands lost all their belongings and their homes.

Flora and fauna

Flora

The flora of Morocco shows great regional differences. In northern Morocco, the vegetation is Mediterranean. Hundreds of years of overexploitation have reduced Mediterranean vegetation to a few species. Desert steppes dominate the south of the country. Closed forest stands with stone and cork oaks, atlas cedars and Aleppo pines cover only about a tenth of the country’s area. The argan tree grows in southwestern Morocco thanks to an exceptional microclimate. Due to deforestation and the overexploitation of water supplies, stocks have halved in less than 100 years. In the south and east of the country arid steppes with tufted grasses and thorn bushes are predominant. Date palms grow in the oases.

Morocco Flora

Fauna

Morocco has some extremely rare animal species that are threatened with extinction, including the leopard and the desert lynx. Other typical mammals are barbary macaques (magots), gazelles, hyenas, jackals and desert foxes (fenneks). Reptiles such as lizards, chameleons, turtles and snakes are also numerous. In the oasis cities in the south (Zagora) you can find diverse, sometimes poisonous reptiles. During the hot season you should be particularly careful here, if necessary you should stock up on an antidote. Morocco is the home, migration and nesting area of numerous bird species

National parks

In 1942, the region around Mount Toubkal in the High Atlas was declared Morocco’s first national park. Today there are a total of ten designated national parks in Morocco that are under the supervision of the Ministry of Forestry (including one national park in Western Sahara). There are also three biosphere reserves and an intercontinental, Spanish-Moroccan biosphere reserve.

In order to win the population over to environmental protection, the Moroccan state wants to promote so-called ecotourism to a small extent. Independent, non-governmental environmental groups such as the Network for Ecotourism, AMEPN and the Association for Ecotourism are calling for more activities in this direction.