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Facts about Casablanca, Morocco

Facts about Casablanca, Morocco

The largest city in Morocco, Casablanca is located in the western part of the country, and is home to the Hassan II Mosque, which has the tallest minaret in the world. Read on to know more about this fascinating city...
Sourabh Gupta
With a population of about 3.1 million, Casablanca is the main center for business and commerce in Morocco, with all important industrial facilities and international companies being based there. Hence, it is also considered to be Morocco's economic capital, and is well-connected to the rest of the country with excellent roads and railways. It is also home to one of the largest artificial ports in the world, which also houses the primary naval base of the Royal Moroccan Navy. Phosphate is the largest export of Morocco, with the port of Casablanca being the administrative center for the vital trade.

Quick Facts

City: Casablanca
Population (city proper): 3,311,000
Population (metro area): 3,743,000
Elevation: 17 meters, 55 feet
Languages: Arabic, Berber dialects, French
Religion: Sunni Muslims 98%
Literacy: 52%
Currency: Moroccan Dirham
Economy: Phosphate, textiles, glass, electronics, soft drinks, beer, automobile manufacturing, sugar refining, bricks, cigarettes, leather work, and fishing.
Tourist Attractions:
  • One of the largest artificial ports in the world
  • Hassan II Mosque, has the tallest minaret in the world
  • Boulevard Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah
  • Old Medina wall and streets

The area that we today know as Casablanca was once ruled by the Spanish, French, and Almoravids. Berbers were the first people to settle here, in the 7th century. It was captured by the Almoravids in 1068 AD, but became a free state again in the early 15th century. It was considered a paradise for sea pirates. This led the Portuguese, who were a strong naval force then, to attack and destroy the town in 1468. The Portuguese built a fort in 1515, to protect themselves from attacks. The town was called 'Casa Branca', meaning 'white house' in Portuguese. It was a part of Spain/Iberia until 1755 AD, when an earthquake destroyed the city and Europeans vacated the area completely.

The French took over Casablanca in 1907, but their control wasn't formalized until 1910. They tried to build a light railway near the port, but built it encroaching a local graveyard. This angered the locals, and they attacked the French. Riots followed, and as a result, France had to send troops to control the situation and establish law and order.

In 1942, the movie Casablanca was made, highlighting the city's colonial status of the time. The movie went on to become a blockbuster, although it depicted various wartime conditions incorrectly.

Morocco gained independence from France on March 2, 1956. Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah rebuilt the town during the 1960s and 1970s. The town was known as 'Casa Blanca' in Spanish, which means the same as it does in Portuguese. Slowly and steadily its population grew, as did the economy and, in particular, the textile industry.

Casablanca played a key role in World War II. It was the site of an American air base, which was vital to the United States' European operations. Today, the city is slowly growing as one of the major global tourist destinations.