Alphabetized adults: Over 18 years: Approx. 70% (with 80% / 60%, UNESCO)
Major religions: Islam (99%) Christianity (<0.1) Judaism
Urban population: Approx. 65%
Life expectancy (female / male): 77.2 / 74.6 years
Gender Inequality Index (UNDP): Rank 118 of 162 (2018)
Number of births: 2.5 / woman
Child mortality (under five years old): 21.3 / 1000 live births (2020, UNICEF)
Size, age structure and distribution
At the moment, around 36 million people live in Morocco. Since 1956 the population of Morocco has tripled. Population growth fell sharply for several years, but is currently increasing again slightly or fluctuating by a few tenths of a point from year to year.
According to naturegnosis, Moroccans are on average relatively young (29 years, for comparison the average age in Germany: 47 years). Most Moroccan married couples have fewer and fewer children; the number of children per woman is currently 2.5. At the same time, life expectancy increases. Demographic change and expected aging are already the subject of political debates.
In 2014, an average of 4.6 people lived in a household, with a downward trend (2004: 5.2 people)
According to the census of the Moroccan Ministry of Planning (Haut-Commissariat au Plan), around 65 percent of the Moroccan population live in urban centers, more than half of them in the greater Casablanca-Mohammedia, Rabat-Salé, Tangier, Marrakech, Meknes, Fes and Oujda areas. Less than two fifths live in rural areas. An analysis of the census in the magazine L’Usine highlights that in addition to the Greater Casablanca-Settat area, Tangier in particular is experiencing high levels of immigration.
In the 1960’s, the urban-rural relationship was reversed. The rural exodus has slowed, but has not stopped. Extreme droughts, unequal land ownership (the largest single landowner is the king), poverty, poor educational opportunities and a lack of medical care have led to a veritable exodus to the Moroccan cities. Alternative tourism is seen as an option to create jobs and opportunities to stay in the countryside.
Despite the urbanization, many Moroccans still have a close relationship with their family’s village, the “Bled”. The so-called Moussems, multi-day fair-like folk festivals, which are usually dedicated to a local saint, are particularly popular for a detour to see relatives in the village.
The unemployment is in Morocco officially at almost ten percent, youth unemployment is more than twice as high. There is no unemployment benefit. But even for those who have work, the real economic and social situation is often very difficult. According to official figures, absolute poverty has disappeared in Morocco and the number of people living in “poverty” (<$ 1.9 / day according to the UN) has fallen dramatically. But the statistics are only partially meaningful. One thing is certain: Millions of Moroccans can still only make a living from their work with great difficulty and are at risk of poverty because they do not even earn the meager state-set minimum wage of 5-6 euros per day. You may have something to eat and a roof over your head, but no money to pay for necessary treatments at the dentist or hospital. An indication of the social crisis are the continued high transfers from Moroccans living abroad, which amounted to around 6 billion euros in 2019. A large part of this money is spent on everyday consumer goods.
This contrasts with the immense wealth of the royal family. King Mohammed VI is one of the ten richest monarchs in the world, according to Forbes. Holdings dominated by the royal family such as MADA and NAREVA control raw materials, banks, insurance companies, the food and construction industries as well as the renewable energy sector. Morocco is characterized by growing social differences, extremely unequal distribution of income and opportunities, and a political system that only allows participation or even criticism within very narrow limits. Feudal ways of thinking and social structures are widespread and are becoming more important in the light of neoliberal economic policies, despite criticism of the ailing education system, unemployment, poverty and a lack of future prospects.
Jews, Christians and Muslims; Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Andalusians, Europeans and the descendants of the Harratin (black slaves from Mauritania): Many peoples, cultures and religions have left their mark on Morocco.
An estimated 30-35 percent of the Moroccan population have Arabic-speaking ancestors (conquerors or immigrants). Around 65-70 percent come from families from Amazigh / Imazighen (Masiren, Berber). They are considered the “indigenous people” of North Africa. In ancient times, their settlement areas extended from Egypt to the Canary Islands.
The Berbers call themselves Imazighen (also: Masiren, in German “free people”). During the Islamic-Arab conquest of today’s Moroccan territory in the 7th / 8th centuries. In the 19th century, many Berber tribes accepted Islam as a new religion, but they resisted the political dictates of the changing rulers in the Arab East and the forced Arabization. To protect against attacks, the Berbers sometimes withdrew to mountainous regions of the High and Middle Atlas that were difficult to access.
The contrast between the Arab and Masirian populations has played a role time and again in Moroccan history. In the final analysis, however, it was mostly not about ethnic issues but about power and resources. The (Arab) dynasty of the Alawids bound the Berber tribes, among other things, by marrying the daughters of influential tribal leaders, or by bringing children of the tribes to court, which served as a kind of bargaining chip to prevent conspiracies.
During the Protectorate (1912-1956) the colonial power France tried to play off Berber and Arab population groups against each other – in the sense of the Divide et Impera, “divide and rule” (e.g. the “Dahir berbère” of 1930). During the reign of Hassan II (1961-1999) the Masirian language and culture were marginalized in public. Tamazight was not allowed to be used or taught in school, there was only a tiny window of time on state television with news in Tamazight. Resistance formed against this suppression of Masirian identity – the Berber organization AMREC was founded in 1967 – but the topic was still taboo. Only under the impression of the “printemps kabyle” (Algeria 1980) did the Masirian cultural movement gain strength in Morocco. In August 1991 the “Charter of Agadir” appeared. Half a dozen Berber organizations and individuals, including AMREC and Tamaynut, called for the Masirian language to be recognized in schools, everyday life and the media. In 1994, some Moroccan Berberists were arrested while holding up banners with slogans in the Masirian Tifinagh script in the town of Goulmime.
In July 2001, King Mohammed VI held a pioneering speech from the throne in which he recognized the Masirian culture and language as an integral part of Moroccan identity and announced that Tamazight would be a subject in Moroccan schools in the future. In the autumn of the same year, the Royal Institute for Berber Studies IRCAM was established by a royal decree. Tamazight is currently taught in some of the Moroccan schools. The state broadcaster SNRT operates its own TV channel and radio programs on Tamazight. However, it is only spreading very slowly.
The Moroccan state now advertises its Berber identity to tourists. However, some Berber-dominated regions still have to struggle with poverty and poor infrastructure, reports ARD correspondent Alexander Goebel in a captivating radio report for Deutschlandfunk.
The public display of Berber symbols is no longer strictly forbidden, the blue-green-yellow Masirian flag with the red letter “aza” (Z) can be seen at numerous demonstrations and public events. Hundreds of thousands in Morocco celebrate the Masirian New Year “Yennayer” on January 12th. Various parties and groups are calling for January 12th to be a public holiday. The Moroccan government has so far rejected this.
Cinematic portrait of a tanner in Fès
Fès: the city of the pious, the poets and the craftsmen. Many idealize Fez like an earthly paradise. But how does it feel to live here? The ARTE report leads the viewer right into the middle of the often challenging everyday life in the royal city on the Middle Atlas. Definitely worth seeing!