Country of the World Morocco

About the country Morocco, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULERS

MOROCCO

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: In northwest Africa, Morocco has almost 1.700 mi. of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The rugged Atlas Mountains dominate the country in three parallel ranges but yield to a fertile coastal strip.

Size: 172,413 sq. mi. (446,550 sq. km.), a little larger than California. This does not include Morocco's disputed claim to the Western Sahara.

Population: 18.9 million.

Who Rules: Free elections returned to Morocco on June 3, 1977, after a seven-year suspension. Independents and conservatives supporting King Hassan swept 114 of the 176 contested seats in the 264-member House of Representatives. Among the winners was Prime Minister Osman, King Hassan's brother-in-law.

Who REALLY Rules: King Hassan II maintains absolute veto power over the unicameral legislature, though with so many royal supporters recently elected, it is unlikely that he'll need to exercise the veto in the near future. Numerous attempts to overthrow Hassan have taken place in recent years. In 1971 disgruntled army officers sent 1,400 students from the officers' candidate school outside Fez to raid the summer palace and kill the king. They shot up the palace, missed the king, but murdered 90 royal guests that day. The following year Gen. Mohammed Oufkir dispatched five jet fighters to shoot down the king's personal airplane. Although hit, Hassan's 727 limped back to the airport; the king was unharmed. The abortive coups have led to mass arrests. On Feb. 15, 1977, a Casablanca court sentenced 44 alleged conspirators to life in prison (all but five were tried in absentia), while another 130 received lighter terms.

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