Regions of Morocco

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Updates: 

In 2010, a commision (Commission consultative de la régionalisation) prepared a report proposing to reorganize Morocco into 12 regions. These regions constituted a regrouping of the existing provinces and prefectures. In an internet search, I haven't found anything new written about these regions since 2011, so the proposal may have been dropped.

Update 7 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS standard 10-4, was issued with the date 2012-02-01. It changes the spelling of Guelmim-Es Smara to Guelmim-Es Semara.

Morocco will be going on daylight saving time starting in 2008. The duration of DST this year will be 2008-06-01 00:00 to 2008-09-28 00:00 local time.

FIPS 10-4 Change Notice 11, dated 2006-07-11, has assigned a FIPS code to Laâyoune - Boujdour - Sakia El Hamra region, as shown below.

FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 10, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2006-03-23. It assigns new FIPS codes to the current Moroccan regions, superseding the province codes formerly in effect. Among the new codes, there are none that apply to the southernmost regions. Perhaps FIPS now considers them part of Western Sahara, but I don't have any FIPS codes for them under that heading, either.

Several people (Karem Abdalla, Jose Gavinha, and Mario Pezza) have sent me spreadsheets containing the results of the 2004 census. I've combined their data to update the main table below. There are many disagreements about regional areas. I have left the area columns unchanged. According to Jose Gavinha, those areas are the same as those published by the Moroccan Direction de la Statistique at http://www.statistic.gov.ma/codegeo.xls . (As of this writing, the entire Direction de la Statistique website is not responding. Recent statistical data are available at the Haut Commisariat au Plan  site.)

While compiling the data, I also made slight changes to the spelling of a couple of regions. The transliterations from the Arabic are somewhat fluid.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-6 was published on 2004-03-08. The only change to the Morocco listing is to correct the spelling of Laayoune to Laâyoune in two places. This page has always included the accent.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It replaces the former seven economic regions with a completely new set of sixteen economic regions, shown in the following table (which I had posted about a year earlier). The ISO standard retains the same list of second-level administrative divisions (wilayas and provinces) as before, although a few spellings and one code are corrected. I have inserted the ISO codes for the economic regions in the table below. The changes are also reflected on the Prefectures page.

The CIA World Factbook says that a decentralization/regionalization law was passed by the legislature in March 1997. The Moroccan statistics agency, Direction de la Statistique, has posted population figures reflecting a new administrative division on its Web site. Probably this new administrative division is the result of the law of March 1997.

On this page, I reported that the province of Aousserd was split from Oued Ed-Dahab - Lagouira, which was correct. However, I misinterpreted it as meaning that Aousserd should be added to the table. In fact, it is a second-level subdivision and as such it should only be listed as a secondary division (see the Prefectures page). In correcting this error, I've also restored the HASC code for Oued Ed-Dahab - Lagouira from MA.OD to MA.OL.

Country overview: 

Short nameMOROCCO
ISO codeMA
FIPS codeMO
LanguageArabic (ar)
Time zone+0~
CapitalRabat

 

In 1900, Morocco was an independent sultanate, although several European countries had sought varying degrees of influence. Spain, in particular, had possessed exclaves on the Mediterranean coast for many years. Spain also claimed, and later occupied, the coastal exclave of Ifni in the south. The French and Germans agreed on 1911-11-04 to respect French pretensions to Morocco in exchange for a French cession in the Cameroons. In the Treaty of Fez (1912-03-30), the sultan agreed to a Spanish protectorate over two strips of territory at the north and south ends, and a French protectorate over the rest of the country. From 1925 to 1956, Tangier, with its environs, was administered jointly by the European powers. In 1956, the sultanate once again became independent, first in the French protectorate, then the Spanish, and finally Tangier. In 1976, Spain relinquished Spanish Sahara. Mauritania and Morocco promptly divided it between them. However, Mauritania ceded its portion to Morocco three years later. Morocco has administered the region since then. The United Nations intends to hold a referendum to determine the future of this territory, now known as Western Sahara. Pending the decision, other governments have withheld recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: al-Mamlaka al-Maghrebia (formal)
  2. Danish: Marokko
  3. Dutch: Marokko, Koninkrijk Marokko (formal)
  4. English: Kingdom of Morocco (formal)
  5. Finnish: Marokko
  6. French: Maroc m
  7. German: Marokko n
  8. Icelandic: Marokkó
  9. Italian: Marocco m
  10. Norwegian: Marokko, Kongeriket Marokko (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Marrocos n (mp in Brazil), Reino m de Marrocos (formal)
  12. Russian: Королевство Марокко (formal)
  13. Spanish: Marruecos, Reino m de Marruecos m (formal)
  14. Swedish: Marocko
  15. Turkish: Fas Krallığı (formal)

Origin of name: 

from Medieval Latin Morroch, which came in turn from the city name Marrakech. Arabic name was al-Maghreb: the west, al-aksa: farthest

Primary subdivisions: 

Morocco is divided into sixteen regions.

RegionHASCISOFIPSStPop-2004Pop-1994Area(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
Chaouia - OuardighaMA.CO09MO50061,655,6601,509,0777,0102,707Settat
Doukkala - AbdaMA.DA10MO51111,984,0391,793,45813,2855,129Safi
Fès - BoulemaneMA.FB05MO46141,573,0551,322,47319,7957,643Fès
Gharb - Chrarda - Béni HssenMA.GB02MO52051,859,5401,625,0828,8053,400Kenitra
Grand CasablancaMA.GC08MO45093,631,0613,126,7851,615624Casablanca
Guelmim - Es-SemaraMA.GE14MO5303462,410386,075122,82547,423Guelmim
Laâyoune - Boujdour - Sakia El HamraMA.LB15MO5902256,152175,669139,48053,854Laâyoune
Marrakech - Tensift - Al HaouzMA.MK11MO47073,102,6522,724,20431,16012,031Marrakesh
Meknès - TafilaletMA.MT06MO48132,141,5271,903,79079,21030,583Meknès
OrientalMA.OR04MO54081,918,0941,768,69182,90032,008Oujda
Oued Ed-Dahab - LagouiraMA.OL160199,36736,75150,88019,645Dakhla
Rabat - Salé - Zemmour - ZaerMA.RZ07MO49102,366,4941,985,6029,5803,699Rabat
Souss - Massa - DraâMA.SM13MO55043,113,6532,635,52270,88027,367Agadir
Tadla - AzilalMA.TD12MO56121,450,5191,324,66217,1256,612Béni Mellal
Tanger - TétouanMA.TO01MO57162,470,3722,036,03211,5704,467Tanger
Taza - Al Hoceima - TaounateMA.TH03MO58151,807,1131,719,84424,1559,326Al Hoceima
16 regions29,891,70826,073,717690,275266,518
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • St: Region codes used by Direction de la Statistique.
  • Pop-2004: 2004-09-04 census.
  • Pop-1994: 1994-09-04 census.

 

Note: Morocco claims sovereignty over Western Sahara. Other governments have withheld recognition of this claim, pending a referendum in the territory. The regions of Laâyoune - Boujdour - Sakia El Hamra and Oued Ed-Dahab - Lagouira correspond roughly to Western Sahara.

Postal codes: 

Morocco uses five-digit postal codes. The first two digits indicate the prefecture or province.

Further subdivisions:

See the Prefectures of Morocco page.

The regions are subdivided into provinces and prefectures. Those, in turn, are subdivided into cercles, municipalities or communes urbaines (urban communes), and (in some metropolitan areas) arrondissements. The cercles are subdivided into communes rurales. The municipalities and arrondissements should probably be thought of as fourth-level subdivisions, on the same level as communes rurales. Karem Abdalla reports that Morocco is introducing a new level of administration between the regions and the provinces/prefectures, called wilaya't (lands).

Territorial extent: 

Morocco does not include the Spanish places of sovereignty in Africa, namely, the coastal cities of Ceuta and Melilla with small surrounding enclaves, and the islands of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, Peñón de Alhucemas, its nearby neighbors Isla de Mar and Isla de Tierra, and the Islas Chafarinas (Isabel II, Congreso, and del Rey).

Origins of names: 

  1. Agadir: Touareg for wall, possibly from Semitic gadir: walled place
  2. Casablanca: Spanish casa: house, blanca: white, a calque of the city's Arabic name, Dar el Beida
  3. El Jadida: Arabic for the new one, so named when the city was rebuilt
  4. Essaouira: from Arabic for the beautiful
  5. Fès-Médina: from a Berber word for springs + Arabic madinat: city
  6. Marrakech: Classic Arabic marrukuch: the well adorned one; or from Berber for "sons of Kutch"; or Masmooda for "do not linger"
  7. Rabat: after the city, originally ar-Ribat al-fath: the stronghold of victory
  8. Tétouan: Berber titawin: little wells

Change history: 

  1. Note: The situation in Morocco is particularly messy. From independence to 1997, Morocco was divided into provinces and prefectures. They are supposed to be at the same administrative level. However, the prefectures are much smaller in area, as each one contains only one or two cities and their suburbs. Many sources don't even list the prefectures. The numbers of provinces and prefectures have grown fairly steadily over the years. This history is only an approximation to the changes that have occurred. The treatment of prefectures is incomplete.
  2. In 1900, Morocco was an independent sultanate, although several European countries had sought varying degrees of influence. Spain, in particular, had possessed exclaves on the Mediterranean coast for many years. Spain also claimed, and later occupied, the coastal exclave of Ifni in the south.
  3. 1911-11-04: France and Germany agreed to respect French pretensions to Morocco in exchange for a French cession in the Cameroons.
  4. 1912-03-30: Morocco divided into a French protectorate and a Spanish protectorate. The Spanish protectorate consisted of strips of territory at the north and south ends of the country.
  5. 1925-06-01: Tangier established as an international zone (effective date).
  6. ~1946: French protectorate consisted of the regions of Agadir, Casablanca, Fès, Marrakech, Meknès, Oujda, and Rabat. Spanish protectorate consisted of the regions of Gomara, Kert, Lucus, Rif, and Yebala (northern area) and the Southern Protectorate of Morocco.
  7. 1956-04-07: Morocco became independent. The Spanish protectorate ended on this date; the French protectorate had ended earlier in the same year.
  8. 1956-10-29: Status of Tangier changed from international zone to province of Morocco.
  9. ~1957: Morocco divided into provinces. The provinces of Agadir, Beni-Mellal, Casablanca, Fès, Marrakech, Mazagan, Meknès, Ouarzazate, Oujda, Rabat, Safi, Tafilalet, and Taza corresponded to French Morocco. The provinces of Chauen, Larache, Nador, Rif, Tangier, and Tetuan corresponded to Spanish Morocco (the northern protectorate). Southern Protectorate of Morocco became the province of Tarfaya.
  10. 1960: The administrative decrees of 1959 and 1960 provided that Morocco's primary divisions were the provinces and prefectures. They were subdivided into cercles (circles), which were further subdivided into circonscriptions rurales and circonscriptions urbaines (rural and urban constituencies). The rural constituencies were subdivided into communes; the urban into arrondissements.
  11. 1962-07-09: Name of Kenitra (the city) officially changed to Mina Hassan Tani (Port Hassan II, in honor of the king); however, the new name has not been in use.
  12. 1965-01: Rabat province split into Rabat prefecture and Kenitra province.
  13. 1965-06-15: Safi province split from Marrakech.
  14. ~1967: Name of Tafilalet province and its capital changed to Ksar es Souk. Name of Rif province and its capital changed to Al Hoceïma. Chauen, Larache, and Tetuan provinces merged to form Tétouan. Mazagan province merged with Casablanca.
  15. 1969-06-30: Ifni restored to Morocco by Spain, becoming part of Agadir province.
  16. ~1970: El Jadida (formerly Mazagan), Khouribga, and Settat province split from Casablanca; name of Rabat province changed to Rabat-Salé.
  17. 1971-06-23: By decree 1-71-71, dated 1971-06-16 but published a week later, a new level of local government was created. Seven "administrative regions" were formed by combining the existing 19 provinces and two prefectures, which remained in place as secondary divisions. The regions were as follows:
RegionISOPopulationArea(km.²)Provinces
CentralCE6,931,41841,500El Jadida, Beni-Mellal, Casablanca*, Khourigba, Settat
EasternES1,768,69182,820Nador, Oujda
North-CentralCN3,042,31043,950Al Hoceïma, Fès, Taza
NorthwesternNO5,646,71629,955Kenitra, Rabat-Salé*, Tangier, Tétouan
South-CentralCS1,903,79079,210Ksar es Souk, Meknès
SouthernSU3,234,024394,970Agadir, Ouarzazate, Tarfaya
TansiftTS3,546,76838,445Marrakech, Safi
7 regions26,073,717710,850
  • ISO: region codes from ISO 3166-1 (adopted much later).
  • Population: 1994-09-04 census. Source: Europa World Year Book 2001.
  • Provinces: or prefectures (*).
  • Capitals: capitals of provinces had the same name as the
    provinces, except that Tan Tan was the capital of Tarfaya.
  1. 1973-08-13: El Kelâa des Sraghna province split from Marrakech. Khémisset province split from Rabat. Khénifra province formed from parts of Ksar es Souk and Meknès.
  2. 1974-01-14: Figuig province formed from parts of Ksar es Souk and Oujda.
  3. 1976: Spain relinquished control of Spanish Sahara. Mauritania and Morocco promptly divided it between them. This action was not recognized as legal by the international community. The United Nations intends to hold a referendum to determine the future of this territory, now known as Western Sahara. Pending the decision, other governments have withheld recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara.
  4. ~1978: Azilal province formed from parts of Beni-Mellal and Marrakech. Ben Slimane province split from Casablanca. Boulemane province formed from parts of Fès and Taza. Chefchaouen (formerly Chauen) province split from Tétouan. Essaouira province split from Safi. Taounate province split from Fès. Tata province formed from parts of Agadir and Ouarzazate. Tiznit province split from Agadir.
  5. 1979: Mauritania ceded its portion of Western Sahara to Morocco.
  6. ~1980: Tarfaya province split into three parts. Two of the parts became Guelmim and Tan-Tan provinces. The third part merged with Laâyoune province in Western Sahara. Since Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara is not internationally recognized, we must regard this third part as a separate Laâyoune province in Morocco.
  7. 1981: Casablanca divided into five prefectures: Aïn Chock-Hay Hassani, Aïn Sebâa-Hay Mohammedi, Ben M'sick-Sidi Othmane, Casablanca-Anfa, and Mohammedia-Zenata.
  8. ~1982: Ifrane province split from Meknès. Name of Ksar es Souk province and its capital changed to Errachidia.
  9. ~1986: Sidi Kacem province split from Kenitra. Taroudannt province split from Agadir.
  10. The changes from ~1990 to ~1997 may or may not be completely accurate, but they do help account for some of the discrepancies in the standards.
  11. ~1990: Larache province split from Tétouan. Rabat-Salé province split into three prefectures: Rabat, Salé, and Skhirate-Témara.
  12. ~1993: Agadir province split into Chtouka-Aït Baha province and Agadir-Ida-Tenane and Inezgane-Aït Melloul prefectures. Meknès province split into El Hajeb province and Meknès-El Menzeh prefecture. Oujda province split into Berkane-Taourirt, Jerada, and Taourirt provinces and Oujda-Angad prefecture. Assa-Zag province split from Guelmim. Chichaoua and Al Haouz provinces split from Marrakech. Sefrou province split from Fès.
  13. ~1994: Mohammedia-Zenata prefecture split into Al Fida-Derb-Sultan, Méchouar de Casablanca, Mohammedia, and Sidi Bernoussi-Zenata (possibly with annexations from other prefectures). Marrakech split into Marrakech-Ménara province and Marrakech-Médina and Sidi-Youssef-Ben-Ali prefectures. Fès province split into Fès el Jadid-Dar Dbibagh, Fès-Médina, and Zouagha-Moulay Yacoub prefectures. Al Ismaïlia prefecture split from Meknès-El Menzeh, El Hajeb, or parts of both.
  14. ~1997: Berkane-Taourirt province split into Berkane and Taourirt.
  15. 1997-03: Sixteen regions created as primary subdivisions, relegating provinces and prefectures to the secondary level.

Other names of subdivisions: 

See Prefectures of Morocco page under this heading. Some region names include province or prefecture names. Here are other names of the 1971 regions:

  1. Central: Center (variant); Centre (French)
  2. Eastern: East (variant); Est, Oriental (French)
  3. North-Central: Centre-Nord (French); North Center (variant)
  4. Northwestern: Nord-Ouest (French); North-West (variant)
  5. South-Central: Centre-Sud (French); South Center (variant)
  6. Southern: South (variant); Sud (French)
  7. Tansift: Tensift (variant)
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