History of Morocco

Unveiling the Rich, Exotic and Diverse History of Morocco

A country known for its ethnic diversity and cultural heritage, Morocco is also known for its rocky terrains. Explore the history of Morocco in this article.
With a population of thirty four million, Morocco lies in North Africa, and shares its borders with Spain and Algeria. The capital of this country is Rabat and the largest city is Casablanca. Although the local dialect is Moroccan Arabic, French and Spanish are widely spoken in many parts of the country. It is also known the world over for its fine cuisines and green tea.

History

This country has a vast history that dates back to the Neolithic era at the time of Capsian culture around 8000 BC. Although, there isn't sufficient information on the early settlements, excavations in the Maghreb area suggest the existence of life. Archaeological remains clearly indicate that, cultivation of crops and domestication of cattle was prevalent in this region. The Berbers are believed to be a part of Moroccan history in the later stages of the 2nd millennium BC, when they came in contact with oasis dwellers in that region. Historians believe that the Amazigh people, referred to as Berbers, arrived at the time of inception of agriculture. Traders from Phoenicia set up salt and ore depots along the western Mediterranean region, which is now known as Morocco.

A number of Phoenician settlements were found in Mogador, Lixus, and Chellah. Commercial relations between the Berber tribes and the city of Carthrage developed rapidly. After Carthrage fell to the Roman Empire in AD 40, one of the influential families of Jabrane royalty was enslaved. Rome strategically controlled vast territories in this region by seeking alliances with the various tribes. This ensured that additional manpower for military occupation was not necessary as the local tribes manned the strategic locations. Although, in the later part of the 5th century, all the strategic locations were annexed by the Vandals and then by the Byzantine Greeks; the rocky terrains of this region were secure in the hands of the Berber inhabitants. Christianity became prevalent, and conversion among Berber farmers and slaves was a common feature. With heretical movements gaining prominence, a substantial Jewish population also developed in certain areas.

Introducing Islam

In the 7th century, this region was conquered by the Arabs who introduced Islam to the locals. Although the Arabs implemented the Islamic Empire and converted a chunk of the Berber population into Islam, the Berber tribes stuck to their customary tradition. Once the Berber community was established as Muslims, they gave shape to Islam in their own image and likeness, and introduced Muslim sects that were schismatic. Although the Berber dynasties formed the stronghold in several parts of the region, they proved to be a political failure. The Alaouite Dynasty which claimed its descent from Prophet Muhammad, gained control over the vast area of this region. In the 1800s, the Alaouites tried to establish trade links with European countries and also strengthened their military administration to rule over the Bedouin and Berber tribes.

Attaining Independence

In 1844, Morocco, who supported Algerian independence, suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of French. Eventually on December 3, 1912, through the Treaty of Fez, the Moroccans succumbed to the French Protectorate. In 1930, the opposition of Berber tribes being under the jurisdiction of French Courts sparked a movement towards independence. Eventually on March 2, 1956, Morocco was granted independence by France, which left behind a legacy of modernization and urbanization that was significant in the development of this region.

The vast history and influence of various regimes has been instrumental in shaping the cultural and ethnic diversity of Morocco. All this has contributed to the fact that this country is truly a beautiful and interesting place to visit.