Casablanca is the largest city of Morocco, located in the central-western part of the country on the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most important cities in Africa, both economically and demographically.
Casablanca is Morocco's chief port and one of the largest financial centers on the African continent. The 2012 census, adjusted with recent numbers, recorded a population of about 4 million in the prefecture of Casablanca. Casablanca is considered the economic and business center of Morocco, while the national political capital is Rabat.
The leading Moroccan companies and international corporations doing business there have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. Recent industrial statistics show Casablanca retains its historical position as the main industrial zone of the country. The Port of Casablanca is one of the largest artificial ports in the world, and the largest port of North Africa. It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.
|POPULATION :||City: 3,359,818 / Metro: 4,270,750|
|FOUNDED :||First settled 7th century BC|
|TIME ZONE :||WET (UTC+0) Summer: WEST (UTC+1)|
|LANGUAGE :||Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy|
|RELIGION :||Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%|
|AREA :||• City: 387 km2 (149 sq mi)|
• Metro: 1,615 km2 (624 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||0–145 m (0-475 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||33°32′N 7°35′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.36|
• Female: 50.64
|ETHNIC :||Arab and Berber Muslims 99%|
|AREA CODE :||22|
|POSTAL CODE :||20000-20200|
|DIALING CODE :||+212 22|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Casablanca may be the cosmopolitan, industrial and economic heart of Morocco, and its largest city, but it is one of the less endearing of the country's sights. With a small, unassuming medina and a traffic-congested ville nouvelle, travellers arriving via Casablanca may be tempted to find the first train out to nearby Rabat. The awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque and happening nightlife and architecture (mostly colonial times buildings), however, are worth at least a day of your Moroccan itinerary.
The modern city of Casablanca was founded by Berber fishermen in the 10th Century BC and was subsequently used by the Phoenicians, Romans, and the Merenids as a strategic port called Anfa. The Portuguese destroyed it and rebuilt it under the name Casa Branca, only to abandon it after an earthquake in 1755. The Moroccan sultan rebuilt the city as Daru l-Badya and it was given its current name of Casablanca by Spanish traders who established trading bases there. The French occupied the city in 1907, establishing it as a protectorate in 1912 and starting construction of the ville nouvelle, however it gained independence with the rest of the country in 1956.
Casablanca is now Morocco's largest city with a population of almost 4 million and also boasts the world's largest artificial port but no ferry service of any kind. Casablanca is also the most liberal and progressive of Morocco's cities. Young men flirt brazenly with scantily-clad women, designer labels are the norm in the chic, beachfront neighbourhood of 'Ain Diab and many young Moroccans speak to each other exclusively in French.
But not everyone is living the Casablancan dream. Tens of thousands of rural Moroccans who fled the drought-ravaged interior to find work in the city are struggling under high unemployment rates and expensive housing. The poverty, prevalent in slums on the city's outskirts, has led to high rates of crime, drug use, prostitution and the rise of Islamism.
Casablanca is a mixed bag of Moroccan extremes.
The area which is today Casablanca was founded and settled by Berbers by at least the seventh century BC. It was used as a port by the Phoenicians and later the Romans. In his book Wasf Afriquia, Al-Hassan al-Wazzan refers to ancient Casablanca as "Anfa", a great city founded in the Berber kingdom of Barghawata in 744 AD. He believed Anfa was the most "prosperous city on the Atlantic Coast because of its fertile land."Barghawata rose as an independent state around this time, and continued until it was conquered by the Almoravids in 1068. Following the defeat of the Barghawata in the 12th century, Arab tribes of Hilal and Sulaym descent settled in the region, mixing with and the local Berbers, which had led to a global Arabicizing.During the 14th century, under the Merinids, Anfa rose in importance as a port. The last of the Merinids was ousted by a popular revolt in 1465
Portugal conquest and Spanish influence
In the early 15th century, the town became an independent state once again, and emerged as a safe harbour for pirates and privateers, leading to it being targeted by the Portuguese, who bombarded the town which had led to its destruction in 1468.The Portuguese used the ruins of Anfa to build a military fortress in 1515. The town that grew up around it was called Casa Branca, meaning "white house" in Portuguese.
Between 1580 and 1640, the Crown of Portugal was integrated to the Crown of Spain, so Casablanca and all other areas occupied by the Portuguese were under Spanish control, though maintaining an autonomous Portuguese administration. As Portugal broke ties with Spain in 1640, Casablanca came under fully Portuguese control once again. The Europeans eventually abandoned the area completely in 1755 following an earthquake which destroyed most of the town.
The town was finally reconstructed by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah (1756–1790), the grandson of Moulay Ismail and an ally of George Washington, with the help of Spaniards from the nearby emporium. The town was called الدار البيضاء ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ, the Arabic translation of the Spanish Casa Blanca.
In the 19th century, the area's population began to grow as it became a major supplier of wool to the booming textile industry in Britain and shipping traffic increased (the British, in return, began importing Morocco's national drink,gunpowder tea). By the 1860s, around 5,000 residents were there, and the population grew to around 10,000 by the late 1880s. Casablanca remained a modestly sized port, with a population reaching around 12,000 within a few years of the French conquest and arrival of French colonialists in the town, at first administrators within a sovereign sultanate, in 1906. By 1921, this rose to 110,000,largely through the development of shanty towns.
French rule and influence
In June 1907, the French attempted to build a light railway near the port and passing through a graveyard. As act of resistance and protestation, the locals attacked the French, riots ensued, causing a few soldiers to be wounded and one general to be killed. In response, the French attacked by ship, bombarding the city from the coast, and landing troops inside the town, which caused severe damage to the town and 15,000 dead and wounded bodies. The French claimed that it was to restore order there. This effectively began the process of colonization, although French control of Casablanca was not formalised until 1910. Under the French rule, Muslim anti-Jewish riots occurred in 1908.
The famous 1942 film Casablanca (starring Humphrey Bogart) underlined the city's colonial status at the time—depicting it as the scene of a power struggle between competing European powers. The film has a cosmopolitan cast of characters (American, French, German, Spaniard, Czech, Norwegian, Austrian, Bulgarian, Russian, and some other nationalities).
Europeans formed almost half the population. During the 1940s and 1950s, Casablanca was a major centre of anti-French rioting. A bomb attack on 25 December 1953 (Christmas Day) caused 16 deaths.
World War II
Operation Torch (initially called Operation Gymnast) was the British-American invasion of French North Africa during the North African campaign of World War II, which started on 8 November 1942.
The Americans attacked at three different locations in French North Africa, one of the three being the landings at Casablancabecause of its important port and the major administrative centers.
Casablanca was an important strategic port during World War II and hosted theCasablanca Conference in 1943, in whichChurchill and Roosevelt discussed the progress of the war. Casablanca was the site of a large American air base, which was the staging area for all American aircraft for the European Theater of Operations during World War II.
In October 1930, Casablanca hosted a Grand Prix, held at the new Anfa Racecourse. In 1958, the race was held at Ain-Diab circuit (see Moroccan Grand Prix). Morocco gained independence from France on 2 March 1956. In 1983, Casablanca hosted the Mediterranean Games. The city is now developing a tourism industry. Casablanca has become the economic and business capital of Morocco, while Rabat is the political capital.
In March 2000, more than 60 women's groups organized demonstrations in Casablanca proposing reforms to the legal status of women in the country. About 40,000 women attended, calling for a ban on polygamy and the introduction ofdivorce law (divorce being a purely religious procedure at that time). Although the counter-demonstration attracted half a million participants, the movement for change started in 2000 was influential on King Mohammed VI, and he enacted a newmudawana, or family law, in early 2004, meeting some of the demands of women's rights activists.
On 16 May 2003, 33 civilians were killed and more than 100 people were injured when Casablanca was hit by a multiple suicide bomb attack carried out by Moroccans and claimed by some to have been linked to al-Qaeda. Twelve suicide bombers struck five locations in the city.
A string of suicide bombings struck the city in early 2007. A suspected militant blew himself up at a Casablanca internet cafe on 11 March 2007. On 10 April, three suicide bombers blew themselves up during a police raid of their safe house. Two days later, police set up barricades around the city and detained two more men who had escaped the raid. On 14 April, two brothers blew themselves up in downtown Casablanca, one near the American Consulate, and one a few blocks away near the American Language Center. Only one person was injured aside from the bombers, but the Consulate was closed for more than a month.
As calls for reform spread through the Arab world in 2011, Moroccans joined in, but concessions by the ruler led to acceptance. However, in December, thousands of people demonstrated in several parts of the city, especially the city center near la Fontaine, desiring more significant political reforms.
Casablanca has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate and avoids, by a slight margin, the mild semi-arid climate Bsh (annual precipitation: 412mm and precipitation threshold: 375). The cool Canary Current off the Atlantic coast moderates temperature variation, which results in a climate remarkably similar to that of coastal Los Angeles, with similar temperature ranges. The city has an annual average of 72 days with significant precipitation, which amounts to 412 mm (16.2 in) per year. The highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded in the city are 40.5 °C (104.9 °F) and −2.7 °C (27.1 °F), respectively.
Climate data for Casablanca
|Record high °C (°F)||31.1|
|Average high °C (°F)||17.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||9.2|
|Record low °C (°F)||−1.5|
|Source #1: Pogoda.ru.net|
|Source #2: Hong Kong Observatory|
|17.5 °C (63.5 °F)||17.0 °C (62.6 °F)||17.1 °C (62.8 °F)||18.4 °C (65.1 °F)||19.5 °C (67.1 °F)||21.8 °C (71.2 °F)||22.7 °C (72.9 °F)||23.3 °C (73.9 °F)||23.1 °C (73.6 °F)||22.5 °C (72.5 °F)||20.4 °C (68.7 °F)||18.5 °C (65.3 °F)|
Casablanca is located in the Chawiya Plain which has historically been the breadbasket of Morocco. Apart from the Atlantic coast, the Bouskoura forest is the only natural attraction in the city. The forest was planted in the 20th century and consists mostly of eucalyptus, palm, and pine trees. It is located halfway to the city's international airport.
The only watercourse in Casablanca is oued Bouskoura, a small seasonal creek that until 1912 reached the Atlantic Ocean near the actual port. Most of oued Bouskoura's bed has been covered due to urbanization and only the part south of El Jadida road can now be seen. The closest permanent river to Casablanca is Oum Rabia, 70 km (43.50 mi) to the south-east.
The Grand Casablanca region is considered the locomotive of the development of the Moroccan economy. It attracts 32% of the country's production units and 56% of industrial labor. The region uses 30% of the national electricity production. With MAD 93 billion, the region contributes to 44% of the industrial production of the kingdom. About 33% of national industrial exportations, MAD 27 billion, comes from the Grand Casablanca; 30% of the Moroccan banking network is concentrated in Casablanca.
One of the most important Casablancan exports is phosphate. Other industries include fishing, fish canning, sawmills, furniture production, building materials, glass, textiles, electronics, leather work, processed food, spirits, soft drinks, and cigarettes.
The Casablanca and Mohammedia seaports activity represent 50% of the international commercial flows of Morocco. Almost the entire Casablanca waterfront is under development, mainly the construction of huge entertainment centres between the port and Hassan II Mosque, the Anfa Resort project near the business, entertainment and living centre of Megarama, the shopping and entertainment complex of Morocco Mall, as well as a complete renovation of the coastal walkway. The Sindbad park is planned to be totally renewed with rides, games and entertainment services.
Royal Air Maroc has its head office at the Casablanca-Anfa Airport. In 2004, it announced that it was moving its head office from Casablanca to a location in Province of Nouaceur, close to Mohammed V International Airport. The agreement to build the head office in Nouaceur was signed in 2009.
The biggest CBD of Casablanca and Maghreb is in the North of the town in Sidi Maarouf near the mosque of Hassan II and the biggest project of skycrapers of Maghreb and Africa Casablanca Marina.
Casablanca is a commune, part of the region of Casablanca-Settat. The commune is divided into eight districts or prefectures, which are themselves divided into 16 subdivisions or arrondissements and one municipality. The districts and their subdivisions are:
- Aïn Chock (عين الشق) – Aïn Chock (عين الشق)
- Aïn Sebaâ - Hay Mohammadi (عين السبع الحي المحمدي) – Aïn Sebaâ (عين السبع), Hay Mohammadi (الحي المحمدي), Roches Noires (روش نوار).
- Anfa (أنفا) – Anfa (أنفا), Maârif (المعاريف), Sidi Belyout (سيدي بليوط).
- Ben M'Sick (بن مسيك) – Ben M'Sick (بن مسيك), Sbata (سباته).
- Sidi Bernoussi (سيدي برنوصي) – Sidi Bernoussi (سيدي برنوصي), Sidi Moumen (سيدي مومن).
- Al Fida - Mers Sultan (الفداء – مرس السلطان) – Al Fida (الفداء); Mechouar (المشور) (municipality), Mers Sultan (مرس السلطان).
- Hay Hassani (الحي الحسني) – Hay Hassani (الحي الحسني).
- Moulay Rachid (مولاي رشيد) – Moulay Rachid (مولاي رشيد), Sidi Othmane (سيدي عثمان).
The list of neighborhoods is indicative and not complete:
- 2 Mars
- Ain Chock
- Ain Diab
- Ain Sebaa
- Centre Ville(downtown)
- Derb Ghalaf
- Derb Sultan Al Fida
- Derb TaZI
- Al Hank
- Hay Al Mohammadi
- Hay Dakhla ("Derb Lihoudi")
- Hay Farah
- Hay El Hana
- Hay Moulay Rachid
- La Colline
- Laimoun (Hay Hassani)
- Old Madina (Mdina Qdima)
- Mers Sultan
- Roches Noires
- Salmia II
- Sidi Bernoussi
- Sidi Maarouf
- Sidi Moumen
- Sidi Othman
Casablanca is served by all of the mobile companies that can be found elsewhere in Morocco. Wana, Meditel, and Maroc Telecom are the most common. Mobile phones can be bought in any of these store's stands, and most do not run on calling plans. Rather, recharge cards can be bought in corner stores that contain a number to call. When that number is called, the company adds the price of the card to your account's balance. Alternatively, more than one SIM card can be bought and changed in and out of the phone, if users need more than one phone number.
- Internet cafes : Internet access is available in cyber cafes around the city. Service is usually around €1 per hour.
- Wifi : You'll find wifi access in many hotels and in some places such as America Café or La Brioche Dorée, usually those labelled a bit "trendy"
- Mobile Internet : Phone companies offer mobile internet services that plug into the USB port of your computer (currently, there are no mac-compatible devices.) These services can be had without signing a contract, and are recharged in the same manner as a telephone.
FLIGHTS & HOTELS
- We have access to a global database of flights by 728 airlines and 200 flight booking agencies, which allows us to find flights in real time and compare them with each other.
- We collects prices at the 200 largest hotel reservation agencies and official websites of hotels. Get all prices in just one place.
- We use TrustYou™, the smart semantic analysis system, to gather reviews from many booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), and calculate ratings based on all the reviews available online.