History of Morocco – Discover an Ancient Land
Morocco is an ancient country with a strong sense of culture. Though the ancient culture of Morocco has influenced its people for centuries, it is diverse and seems to have been derived from several other ancient cultures. If you would like to know more about the history, developments and influences of this country’s unusual culture, you will no doubt enjoy reading our basic description of Moroccan history below.
The original inhabitants of Morocco were the Berber people. These people lived in large familial tribes and there was no actual recognized government over the area. Instead, tribal Berbers lived according to the rules of their tribal leaders and the rules of one tribe could be far removed from the rules of another tribe.
Because of this lack of unification of authority, Morocco was constantly invaded during the early stages of its development. The first attackers were the Phoenicians in the twelfth century B.C. They claimed a number of coastal settlements with great success, but were later conquered in return by the Carthaginians. In the 2nd century B.C., the Carthaginians became the target of an extensive Roman campaign and soon all their strongholds in the area were captured and converted. Over time the Roman Empire fell apart, allowing Arabs to move in and take over. Short but intense fights for control of the country between the Arabs and the Jews left it reeling and largely unstable. Fortunately, a man by the name of Ahmed I al-Man-sur managed to bring stability to the country during his dynasty. As a result the country flourished between 1579 and 1603 as Jews and Moors from Spain settled in Morocco. They each brought with them their culture and art and in the end gave Morocco much of the culture which is still present today.
Conflict between the Spanish and Portuguese in the early 15th century left the Portuguese in control of the Port of Cueta in 1415. In 1578, however, the Moroccans rose against the Portuguese and regained control of that port. This was a start of a nationwide battle that resulted in Moroccan’s reclaiming almost all the coastal towns that were under Portugal’s rule by 1700. In 1904 Morocco was divided between France and Spain with France receiving the larger portion. In 1911 Germany sent a gunboat to the French owned coastline of Morocco with the goal of claiming some of it for themselves. Fortunately war was averted when the French made an agreement with Germany whereby the French would keep control of Morocco whilst they allowed the Germans concessions elsewhere.
In 1950 the sultan of Morocco requested that Morocco become an independent country. Their initial request was declined. In 1957 Sultan Mohammed became king. This opened the way for independence and it wasn’t long afterwards that Spain relinquished the majority of its holdings in Morocco.
In 1974 King Hassan began a major campaign to reclaim control over the entire Sahara – much of which was still owned by Spain. The International Court of Justice rejected Morocco’s application for total control of the Sahara. However, King Hussan was persistent and pushed forward nonetheless. Eventually, after secretly holding negotiations, Spain & Morocco made a deal. The Sahara was split into three between Morocco, Spain and Mauritania. In 1978 the Polisaro front succeeded in forcing the Mauritania out of the Sahara, but Morocco stood firm and unmoved. The United Nations organized a referendum of self-determination between those concerned and whilst this was generally agreed upon, to this day Morocco has continued to push for full control of the entire Saharan Desert.
On Friday July 23, 1999, King Hussan died. His death concluded the longest monarchy in modern history of the Arab world with a total of 38 years. Currently, King Hassan’s son Crown Prince sidi Mohammed rules Morocco as the 18th king in the Alawite Dynasty.
Last updated: January 17, 2020