Casablanca

English: Casablanca Twin Center

Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city as well as its chief port. It is also the biggest city in the Maghreb region. The 2004 census recorded a population of 3,500,000 in the prefecture of Casablanca and 6,000,000 in the region of Grand Casablanca. Casablanca is considered the economic and business center of Morocco, while the political capital city of Morocco is Rabat.

Casablanca hosts headquarters and main industrial facilities for the leading Moroccan and international companies based in Morocco. 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,[1] and the largest port of North Africa.[2] It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.

Etymology

The Latinized name of the city is a Spanish word combination meaning “White House” (blanca “white”, casa “house”). The city is now nicknamed Casa by many locals.
The original Berber name, Anfa (meaning: “hill” in English[3]), was used by the locals, and Berber-speaking, city dwellers until the French occupation army entered the city in 1907 and adopted the Spanish name, Casablanca. “Anfa” now refers to the original old city quarters of Casablanca.
Legally speaking, Moroccans consider Anfa to be a prefecture (a district) with half a million city dwellers, and thus a part of Grand Casablanca.  

History  

The area which is today Casablanca was founded and settled by Berbers by at least the 7th century BC.[4] It was used as a port by the Phoenicians and later the Romans.[5] In his book “Wasf Afriquia”Al-Hassan al-Wazzan refers to ancient Casablanca as “Anfa“, a great city which was founded by the Berber kingdom of Barghawata in 744 AD. He believed Casablanca to have been the most “prosperous city on the Atlantic coast because of its fertile land.”[6] Independent Berber kingdom of Barghawata in the area arose around 744 AD, and continued until it was conquered by the Almoravids in 1068.

Since independence

In October 1930, Casablanca hosted a Grand Prix, held at the new Anfa Racecourse.[16] In 1958, the race was held at Ain-Diab circuit (see Moroccan Grand Prix). Morocco gained independence from France on 2 March 1956.[17] In 1983, Casablanca hosted the Mediterranean Games.[18] 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.[19] Forty thousand women attended, calling for a ban on polygamy and the introduction of divorce 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 new Mudawana, or family law, in early 2004, meeting some of the demands of women’s rights activists.[20]
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. 12 suicide bombers struck five locations in the city.[21]
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.[22] On 10 April, three suicide bombers blew themselves up during a police raid of their safe house.[23] Two days later, police set up barricades around the city and detained two more men who had escaped the raid.[24] 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.

 

Geography and climate

Casablanca is located in the Chawiya plain which has historically been the breadbasket of Morocco.[25] Apart from the Atlantic coast, the Bouskoura forest is the only natural attraction in the city.[26] The forest was planted in the 20th century and consists mostly of EucalyptusPalm and Pine trees.[27] It is located halfway to the city’s international airport.

The only watercourse in Casablanca is Oued Bouskoura,[28] 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 isOum Er-Rbia River 70 km (43.50 mi) to the south-east.
Casablanca has a very mild Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). Casablanca’s climate is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Atlantic Ocean which tends to moderate temperature swings and produce a remarkably mild climate with little seasonal temperature variation and a lack of extreme heat and cold. Casablanca has an annual average of 74 days with significant precipitation, which amounts to 427 millimeters per year. The highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded in the city are 41.6 °C (107 °F) and −2.7 °C (27 °F), respectively. The highest amount of rainfall recorded in a single day is 178 millimeters ( November 30, 2010)

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