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Morocco Geography


Morocco is located in the northwestern corner of Africa across the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain.

Morocco has an area of 446,300 square kilometers, not including 250 square kilometers of coastal waters, which makes it slightly larger than California. Western Sahara, claimed by Morocco, has an area of about 266,000 square kilometers.

Morocco’s land boundaries measure 2,017.9 kilometers, including a 1,559-kilometer border with Algeria and a 443-kilometer border with Western Sahara. Morocco also shares a border with Spain around that nation’s two African enclaves at Ceuta (6.3 kilometers) and Melilla (9.6 kilometers).

Morocco’s coastline along the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea measures 1,835 kilometers. Morocco claims a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles, a contiguous zone of 24 nautical miles, and an exclusive economic zone of

200 nautical miles, as well as a continental shelf to a depth of 200 meters or to the depth of exploitation.

Four rugged mountain chains dominate Morocco’s topography and divide the country into three geographic regions: the mountainous interior, including plateaus and fertile valleys; the Atlantic coastal lowlands; and the semiarid and arid area of eastern and southern Morocco where the mountains descend gradually into the Sahara Desert. In the north, the Rif mountain range runs parallel to the Mediterranean. South of the Rif range, a series of three Atlas Mountain ranges somewhat overlap one another as they slant across the country on a generally northeast-southwest axis. The most northerly of the three, the Middle Atlas range, is separated from the Rif by only a narrow corridor. The lofty High Atlas range is situated immediately to the
south of the Middle Atlas range and is parallel to it. Farther south and to the west lies the Anti-Atlas range.

Morocco has the most extensive river system in North Africa. Its two most important rivers are the Moulouya, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea, and the Sebou, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Rif and Atlas mountain ranges divide Morocco into two climatic zones: one that receives the westerly winds from the Atlantic and one that is influenced by the proximity of the Sahara Desert. Western and northern Morocco have a Mediterranean (subtropical) climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers. On the Atlantic Coast, the mean temperature is 16.4º C to 23º C. By contrast, the climate is more extreme in the interior, where it is subject to wide seasonal variation, with temperatures ranging from 10º C to 27º C. The pre-Saharan south has a semiarid climate. Rainfall varies from moderate in the northwest to scanty in the south and east. The rainy seasons are April-May and October-November. Only the mountains receive rain in
the summer. Because of its inconsistent rainfall, Morocco is subject to periodic droughts, which take a considerable toll on agriculture.

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