Most Moroccans are of mixed Arabic and Berber origin. Arabic is the most common language, but just over a third of the population speaks some Berber dialect. Since the colonial era, the French have also held a strong position. The population is young even though the previously rapid increase in population has slowed down. Every quarter of the population is under 15 and only slightly more than 20 are over 65.
About a third of the residents live in the densely populated coastal area around the capital Rabat and Morocco’s largest city Casablanca. In some areas, especially in the south, there are nomads who regularly move with their livestock herds, but they form a very small part of the population.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Morocco, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Most Moroccans today identify themselves as Arabs. The original residents of Morocco were Berber (singular: amazigh, plural: imazighen), a people who lived all over North Africa. Especially in the mountainous regions people still live in Berber language, although most also speak Arabic. The reef mountains and the part of the High Atlas that lies above Marrakech are densely populated and the Berber population there have their own culture and lifestyle.
The Arabic dialects differ. Tachelhit is spoken by the Chleuh Berber in southern Morocco, tamazight by the Berber in the Atlas Mountains and tariff by the Berber in the Rifbergen in the north. However, the name tamazight is often used as the collective name for the entire Berber language.
There is an active Amazi movement fighting for increased recognition of the Berber people as their own. The authorities have long resisted these demands and, among other things, banned Moroccan children from having Berber names, but since King Mohammed VI came to power in 1999, the situation has improved. A royal institute for the Amazigh culture was inaugurated in 2001 and the early history of the Berbers can now be discussed openly (see also Education). In 2010, a state-run TV channel was launched that broadcasts on Berber dialects. Since 2011, the Arabic language has had official status in the Constitution alongside the Arabic.
Arabic is the mother tongue of two-thirds of the population. The spoken Arabic Moroccan Arabic (dardja) differs greatly from the standardized Arabic (fusha) used throughout the Arab world in writing, schooling, media and official contexts.
The French are widespread not least in the elite and in the cities. The language is used especially in higher education, in the business world and to a certain extent by government agencies. Many media are French-speaking or have both French- and Arabic-language versions. Spanish is also spoken to some extent, especially in the north and parts of southern Morocco and Western Sahara, where Spain used to be colonial.
Between 10 and 15 percent of the population – or up to five million Moroccans – are estimated to live abroad. Most are in France, but many are also – legally or illegally – as guest workers in southern Spain. There are also more than 50,000 French citizens living in Morocco and an increasing number of Spaniards. Morocco has been an important route of passage for migrants from Africa to Europe during the 2000s, but the flow has been limited in recent years through hardening security measures. Morocco receives EU assistance to hinder the flow of the Gibraltar Sound, to the Canary Islands and into Ceuta and Melilla. Many migrants who remain in the country live in difficult conditions and are subject to abuse.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
Arabs about 65%, Arabs about 35%
Number of residents
35 739 580 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
61.9 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
20.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
5.1 per 1000 residents (2016)
1.3 percent (2017)
2.5 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.5 percent (2017)
76 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
77 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
75 years (2016)
Arabic and Berber are official languages
Salafists destroy rock carvings
It is confirmed that militant Islamists have destroyed 8,000-year-old rock carvings in the High Atlas Mountains. The carvings depicted the sun as a god, and were considered blasphemous by the Salafists.
“Abortion vessel” is closed out
The authorities refuse to allow a vessel from the Netherlands, aboard which abortions are carried out, to be added to a port on the Mediterranean coast. This is done with reference to the fact that the port is closed for “military maneuvers”.
More than 2,000 judges and judges assist in a protest outside a court building in Rabat, demanding independence from the judiciary in accordance with reforms promised by King Mohammed in the Basic Law in 2011. Nothing like that has ever happened in the country. The protest is organized by a newly formed judging organization, although this has been banned by the authorities.
The King promises continued reforms
In a speech on the anniversary of when he himself took office, King Mohammed promises to move forward with the reforms passed in the referendum two years earlier.
New protests against the government
The February 20 movement resumes its demonstrations, following a period of street protests by militant Islamists, Salafists. In Rabat 3,000 protest against government policy, and in Casablanca several people are arrested in connection with a protest.
Dissatisfaction with UN envoy
The government expresses its mistrust of the UN Western Saharan envoy, Christopher Ross, and demands that he be replaced. He is accused of being biased.
Parliamentary elections in SADR
Party-free parliamentary elections are held for the Saharan National Council. The choice is made in the Polisario controlled refugee camps. Elections shall be held every two years, in accordance with the constitution recently adopted at the Polisario Congress (see December 2011).
Coalition government is formed
PJD forms a broad coalition government with Istiqlal, the People’s Movement (MP), the Party for Progress and Socialism (PPS). Benkirane is considered to represent the more moderate part of the PJD, but among the ministers there was Mustafa Ramid (Justice Minister) from the party’s radical and regime-critical phalanx. On the other hand, reliable faithful servants of the monarchy were also included, such as MP’s Secretary General Mohand Laenser (Minister of the Interior) (see further Current Policy).