Morocco Brief History

“The distant land where the sun goes down”, was the name of Morocco in the early Islamic culture, which meant that the country was the westernmost in the Islamic world.

For centuries, Morocco, Africa, has attracted people seeking adventurous or exotic experiences. For many travelers, a visit to Morocco means the first contact with Africa, Islam or the third world. Experiences that can be both shocking and upsetting.

According to commit4fitness, Morocco offers contrast-rich experiences. Here are dramatic mountain areas, long sandy beaches, deserts and a fascinating people’s life.

Most Swedes who visit Morocco do not go further than the sandy beaches of Agadir. Some visit the legendary city of Marrakech. Few travel around the country.

My round trip was rich in experiences, upsetting, shocking and more dramatic than I could dream of when I planned the trip.

In addition to having many interesting historical experiences, meeting a varied nature, an interesting people’s life and making a short mountain hike in the High Atlas, I was threatened with life in Fez, asked if I wanted to get married on two occasions in Meknes, and ended up as one of few Westerners in the middle of an angry anti-American / anti-Israeli demonstration with thousands of participants. Morocco is not always an easy-going country, but exciting.

The itinerary went mainly to “The Royal Cities”, but also included a detour to the High Atlas.

Morocco history in brief

History of Morocco, before Christ

8,000 – 7,000 Berber ancestors immigrate from the east

about 1,000 Phoenicians arrive

about 400 Berber tribes join forces and found the Kingdom of Mauritania

200 The Roman city of Volubilis was founded

Morocco history, older

430 – 533 Vandals conquer North Africa

705 Musa ibn Nosair conquers Morocco. Islam is spreading among the Berbers


Muslim Berbers, led by Tariq ibn Ziyad, defeat the Visigoths in Guadalete and begin the conquest of Spain

789 Idris I founds Fez and creates the first Moroccan dynasty

793 – 828 Reigns Idris II

859 Construction of the al-Qarawiyin Mosque in Fez begins

929 Abd ar-Rahman III establishes an independent caliphate in Cordoba, Spain

1062 Yusuf ibn Tashufin founds Marrakech and begins to expand the Almoravid Empire

1086 The Spanish king Alfonso VI is defeated in Badajos

1107 – 1143 Andalusian culture gains a foothold in Morocco

1130 – 1163

Abd al-Moomin, the first almohadic caliph, conquers North Africa, all the way to Tripoli

1195 Yaqub al-Mansur defeats the Castilians at Alacros

1212 Alfonso VIII of Castile defeats Muhammad al-Nasser at Las Navas de Tolosa

1212 – 1269 Decline of the Almohads, gradual loss of territories in al-Andalus (Spain)

1248 – 1286 Abu Yahia, succeeded by Abu Yaqub Yusuf, founds the Marine Dynasty

1331 – 1349 The Marine Dynasty reaches its peak during Abu al-Hassan

1415 The Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator conquers Ceuta in northern Morocco

1420 The Marinids come under the rule of the Wattasides

1465 The Wattasides take all power from the Marines

1497 – 1508 When the Christians conquered Granada, Spain entered northern Morocco

1509 Sadi begins its campaigns to drive out the Europeans

1525 The Sadducees take Marrackeh, which becomes their capital

1578 – 1603 Ahmed al-Mansur, one of Morocco’s foremost rulers, rules

1631 – 1636 Mawlay Sharif in Tafilat rebels against the moral decay of the Sadducees

1664 – 1672 Mawlay Rashid rules and founds the Alawite dynasty

1672 – 1727

The Alawites reach their peak under the rule of Mawlay Ismail. Meknes will be the capital

1757 – 1790 Sidi Muhammad ben Abd Allah rules and appoints Rabat as his capital

1844 Mawlay Abd ar-Rahman is defeated by the French at the Battle of Isly

1860 Spain occupies Tetouan

1873 – 1893 Mawlay Hassan I tries to drive the French out of Morocco

1880 Madrid Conference sanctioning foreign presence in Morocco

1911 French troops enter Fez

1912 Protocol agreements are written through the Fez Treaty

1921 – 1926 Revolt in Rifatlas


Sultan Muhammad ben Yusuf takes the throne and later calls himself Muhammad V


Before the French “Dahir berbere”, which means that a special legal system applies in Berber areas. Morocco thus becomes a divided country


A Moroccan nationalist movement proposed cautious reforms in the country, which was rejected by the French

1937 The Moroccan nationalist movement is banned by the French


The Independence Party (Istiqlal) was formed, which with the support of the Sultan demanded full independence and a democratic constitution

1944 An independence manifesto is published

1951 France supports an uprising led by Marrakech’s Pascha al-Glaoui


France deposes Muhammad V, who is forced into exile to Madagascar. The Istiqlal Independence Party is banned

1955 The royal family returns from exile

Morocco history, modern


Morocco became independent and the Spanish protectorate in the north and Tangier were incorporated into the country


Sultan Mohammed ibn Yusuf assumed a royal title with the regent name Mohammed V. The Rif region resisted the king, but was brutally crushed by the military led by Crown Prince Hassan

1958 Tangier and the Spanish enclave of Tarfaya are returned to Morocco

1961 Death of Muhammad V. Hassan II is crowned new king

1962 The country’s first constitution is adopted

During the 1960s and 1970s, domestic politics was marked by antagonisms between the king and the democratic opposition. The first parliamentary elections this year ended in a stalemate between the royal coalition and the opposition. After the election, opposition politicians were arrested and many of them were tortured and sentenced to death. The king resigned as prime minister


The king issued a state of emergency after prolonged social discontent and unrest and regained all power.
Socialist leader Ben Barka was abducted and killed in Paris, according to the Moroccan regime

1971, 1973

On two occasions during these years, the king was subjected to assassination attempts by senior officers. The leaders of the coups were executed and 58 younger officers involved were isolated in a secret desert prison, Tazmamart

1972 A new constitution was adopted


Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara when Spain withdrew from the area. The Popular Front Polisario claims the area

1981 Great unrest in Casablanca


According to unofficial information, more than a hundred people were killed when government troops bombed demonstrations against planned price increases. The government withdrew the proposal but about 1,800 people were arrested


Agreement on fire ends with Polisario
The 28 survivors, out of 58, officers imprisoned in the 1971 and 1973 coups were released

Conservative Istiqlal and the Left Party Socialist Union Socialist Union (USFP) launched a joint campaign for the distribution of political power

1992 The proposal for a new constitution rejected by the opposition was adopted in a referendum


The first elections in nine years were held. Royal and right-wing center-right parties won a reassuring majority due to the fact that a third of the seats in parliament were not directly elected by the people


The constitution was changed and a bicameral parliament, where the lower house was to be elected in general elections, was established


In Morocco’s first “free and fair” election, loyalists lost their majority. For the first time since independence, a government-formation came from the democratic opposition. The king appointed the 74-year-old USFP leader, and previously imprisoned human rights activist Abderrahman Youssoufi as prime minister of a seven-party center-left coalition


King Hassan II died in July. His son, Muhammad VI, is appointed new king. The new king promises to fight poverty in the country, investigate previous human rights violations and compensate the victims. About 8,000 prisoners, many Islamists, were released and more than 30,000 had their sentences reduced. Well-known dissidents or their relatives were allowed to return to Morocco. The Islamists are being strengthened

Morocco Brief History