The Kingdom of Morocco recently petitioned to rejoin the African Union, more than 30 years after it left the group over territorial disputes. Morocco is actually the only country on the continent to ever break from the organization, yet it has remained both relatively peaceful and economically healthy.
How has Morocco navigated the regional chaos of recent years? Trace Dominguez has the lowdown in today's Seeker Daily dispatch.
First, some statistics: At around 172,000 square miles, Morocco is roughly the size of California. It's also the only African nation to have shorelines on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. (Double Secret Bonus Fact: Spain and France are the only European nations to border both bodies of water.) More than half Morocco's 33 million residents live in cities, like the famed and exotic metropolises of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier.
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Over the past 40 years, Morocco has expanded and diversified to a remarkable degree. Development has accelerated even further in the last decade -- since 2004, the nation's GDP has doubled to more than $100 billion. This is largely due to the privatization of certain economic sectors formerly run by the government.
Major industries include textiles and mining, but tourism is on the rise as well, accounting for about 12 percent of the country's GDP. The government is investing heavily in this area, banking on the nation's reputation as a relatively safe destination in northern Africa.
Morocco's strong military plays a central role there, keeping the country largely free from terrorism when compared to neighbors like Libya and Mali. Morocco has the third largest army in northern Africa with around 350,000 personnel. The army has been active in various peacekeeping missions in recent years and the country maintains close ties with both the European Union and the Islamic world.
Aside from lingering territorial disputes with its neighbor Algeria, Morocco has managed to remain stable, peaceful and economically powerful. While technically a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary legislature, Morocco is still considered an authoritarian regime, placing 100th out of 115 countries in 2015 according to international watchdog group Global Democracy Ranking.
-- Glenn McDonald
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