CONSERVATION AND WEB SITES FOR AFRICA FROM
Map of Morocco - 204K
Morocco covers an area of about 441,344 square miles, separated from Euorpe
by the Straits of Gibraltar. Agriculture forms an important part of
the economy where cereals, rice, vegetables and vines are cultivated and
the Berbers in the highlands raise camels, sheep and goats. The wildlife
is diverse, including wild boar and goat, baboon, foxes, rabbits, gazelles,
panthers and many others including a number of snake species.
Morocco's coast is influenced both by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic
Ocean. It is neither too hot, nor too cold, usually averaging about 21 degress
Centigrade. Temperatures inland can drop to zero degrees F in colder months,
particularly in the mountainous areas of the Atlas and Rif ranges where often
snow can be seen throughout the year. Summers on the other hand can
be extremely hot. Rain tends to favour the north of the country, falling
during the colder months while the southern areas, bordering the Sahara Desert
receive very little rainfall and are bitterly cold in the winter.
Thorn trees and scrub are found in large numbers in the southern area of
the country, whilst the flatlands are covered with alfa grass and more scrub.
Extensive forests do exist in the mountainous regions of Morocco and
these contain a range of species such as cedar, fir, pine, juniper, oak and
Plant and animal life
Outside the desert areas, the vegetation of Morocco resembles that of the
Iberian Peninsula. Extensive forests are still found in the more humid
mountainous areas, with cork oak, evergreen oak, and deciduous oak on the
lower slopes and fir and cedar at higher elevations, particularly in the
Middle Atlas. In drier mountain areas open forests of thuya, juniper, and
Aleppo and maritime pine are common. East of Rabat is the extensive cork
oak Mamora Forest. Eucalyptus, originally from Australia, was introduced
by French authorities during the colonial period for reforestation.
Since independence, the Moroccan government has established several large
plantations of this tree surrounding the Mamora Forest. In the rugged highlands
south of Essaouira, vast open forests of argan (Morocco ironwood) are found.
Unique to southwestern Morocco, this tree has a hard fruit that produces
a prized cooking oil. In Morocco, as is common throughout the western
Mediterranean region, centuries of human activity have considerably altered
the natural vegetation.
On many lower mountain slopes, cutting, grazing, and burning the original
vegetation have produced an often dense cover of maquis, or scrub growth,
characterized by various associations of wild olive, mastic tree, kermes
oak, arbutus, heather, myrtle, artemisia, cytisus, broom, and rosemary. In
the arid interior plains, the dwarf palm, jujube tree, esparto grass, and
Barbary fig (introduced from the Americas by way of Spain in the 16th century)
cover vast areas. There is little natural vegetation in the desert areas
east of the mountains, although the date palm, introduced to Morocco at a
very early period, is extensively cultivated in the desert oases.
Large game has been progressively eliminated in Morocco since Roman times,
when lions and elephants were still abundant. Both have long since disappeared.
The gazelle is still seen occasionally in the south, as are the mouflon (a
wild sheep) and fennec (a type of fox) in the Atlas region. With government
protection, the macaco (a type of monkey, often called the Barbary ape) now
flourishes in the forests of the Middle Atlas.
However, the richest fauna in Morocco today is the birdlife. Large migratory
birds that sojourn in Morocco include the stork, which picturesquely builds
its nests on city ramparts and mosque rooftops, and the flamingo, pelican,
and cattle egret.
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