Map of Morocco

Geography and population

Morocco, located in the north-west of the African continent, has a total area╣ of 446 500 km▓ It is bordered in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, in the north by the Mediterranean Sea, in the northeast by Algeria and in the south-east and south by Mauritania.

The country can be divided into four physiographic units:

  • The Coastal Plains, that extend along the entire Moroccan coastline. They are narrow on the Mediterranean Coast and wide on the Atlantic Coast. These plains are crossed by the majority of the rivers and valleys of the country;
  • The Northern Hills, that run parallel to the Mediterranean Sea and are called the El-Reef Mountains with their peak reaching 2 456 metres above sea level;
  • The Central Hills, that run along the middle of the country and extend from north-east to southwest. They consist of the mountain ranges of the Central, Upper and Lower Atlas, which run almost parallel to one another. The peak is in the Upper Atlas at 4 165 metres above sea level;
  • The Desert Hills, that are extensions of the southern slopes of the Upper and Lower Atlas Mountains.

The cultivable area has been estimated at 8 million hectares, which is 18% of the total area. In 1993, the total cultivated area was 7.23 million ha, of which 6.57 million ha consisted of annual crops and 0.66 million ha consisted of permanent crops.

The total population is 27 million (1995), of which 52% is rural. The average population density is 61 inhabitants/km, but on the coastal areas the population density is highest. It is low in the mountain and desert zones, where it is concentrated around the oases. In 1993, agriculture, including forestry and fisheries, accounted for 14.3% of GDP, employing about 47% of the labour force. The irrigated areas represent 17% of the cultivated areas, but contribute about 45% to agricultural earnings.

Climate and water resources


Average annual rainfall is 340 mm, but varies from more than 450 mm in the north, where rainfed agriculture is possible? to less than 150 mm towards the south-east, where irrigation is absolutely necessary. Over 50% of the precipitation is concentrated on only 15% of the country's area.

Water resources

The water resources have been evaluated at 30 km│/year, out of which 16 km│ of surface water and 5 km│ of groundwater are considered to represent water development potential. The most important rivers are equipped with dams, allowing surface water to be stored for use during the dry seasons. In 1990, 34 dams were operational, with a total dam capacity of 11 km│. Of these dams, 13 were used in the schemes operated by the regional agricultural development offices (ORMVA or Office Regional de Mise en Valeur Agricole).

Ecological zones

The map below shows the ecological zones, as shown on the FAO global map of ecological zones produced as part of the FRA 2000. Please refer to FRA Working Paper 20 for further information on the Global Ecological Zone map.

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