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Morocco: Society
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Population: As of mid-2006, Morocco had an estimated total population of 33.2 million. During 1998–2006, the population grew at an average 1.6 percent annual rate. The population is concentrated in the northwestern part of the country, west of the Atlas Mountains. Some 58 percent of the population lives in cities. The net migration rate was estimated to be –0.87 migrants per 1,000 in 2005. About 100,000 foreign nationals reportedly reside in Morocco.

Demography: According to 2006 estimates by the U.S. government, the age structure of Morocco’s population was as follows: 0–14, 31.6 percent; 15–64, 63.4 percent; and 65 and older, 5 percent. The median age was 23.9 years. The birthrate in 2006 was estimated to be almost 22 per 1,000; the sex ratio, 1.05 males per female at birth; and the total fertility rate, almost 2.7 children born per woman. The death rate in 2006 was estimated at about 5.6 per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate was estimated at 40.2 per 1,000 live births, although other estimates range from 36 to nearly 50 per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy was estimated to be 70.9 years for the population as a whole, or 68.6 years for men and 73.4 years for women, about average internationally.

Ethnic Groups: The population is 99 percent Arab-Berber (an indigenous North African group that has adopted Arab customs).

Languages: Arabic is the official language. Berber dialects also are spoken and increasingly used as a language of instruction in schools. French is often the language of business, government, and diplomacy and is taught in the schools. Spanish is spoken in the northern part of the country.

Religion: Islam is the official religion of Morocco. Muslims constitute 99 percent of the population; about 90 percent of Muslims adhere to Sunni Islam. The population also includes very small numbers of Christians and Jews, who are able to worship without restriction.

Education and Literacy: Morocco’s adult literacy rate was estimated at nearly 52 percent in 2003, 64.1 percent for males and 39.4 percent for females. Between 75 and 83 percent of women in rural areas are considered to be illiterate. However, the government has set up literacy centers where more than 80 percent of the attendees are women. The education system includes nine years of free and compulsory education, but attendance rates are low, especially among girls. The World Bank estimates that 2.5 million children, mostly rural girls, do not attend school. Moroccan schools also have very poor retention rates. Higher education is offered in 14 public universities, which had 290,000 enrolled students in 2002–3, and one private university, an American-style, English-language institution with about 1,000 students. Moroccan university graduates reportedly often find themselves ill prepared for the workforce.

Health: According to the latest available information, Morocco has inadequate numbers of physicians (0.5 per 1,000 people) and hospital beds (1.0 per 1,000 people) and poor access to water (82 percent of the population) and sanitation (75 percent of the population). The health care system includes 122 hospitals, 2,400 health centers, and 4 university clinics, but they are poorly maintained and lack adequate capacity to meet the demand for medical care. Only 24,000 beds are available for 6 million patients seeking care each year, including 3 million emergency cases. The health budget corresponds to 1.1 percent of gross domestic product and 5.5 percent of the central government budget.

In 2001 the principal causes of mortality in the urban population were circulatory system diseases (20.4 percent); perinatal diseases (9.3 percent); cancer (8.5 percent); endrocrinological, nutritional, and metabolic diseases (7.6 percent); respiratory system diseases (6.9 percent); and infectious and parasitic diseases (4.7 percent). In 2004 the minister of health announced that the country had eradicated a variety of childhood diseases, specifically diphtheria, polio, tetanus, and malaria, but other diseases continue to pose challenges. Although still high at more than 40 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006, the infantry mortality rate shows considerable improvement since 1981, when it was estimated at 91 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to estimates for 2001, approximately 0.1 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 was infected with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Welfare: The National Fund for Social Security (La Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale—CNSS) has managed Morocco’s social security program for wage earners since April 1961. This public agency is responsible for collecting contributions from companies and also paying out benefits to workers employed in the principal sectors of the economy: industry and commerce, agriculture and fishing, and the trades. Benefit payments protect workers (and their families) against the loss of wages as a result of illness, pregnancy, disability, or old age. With a staff of about 5,000, the agency maintains 50 offices throughout the country.

Last Updated: May 2006

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Morocco was first published in 2006. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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