City / State
|First settled||7th century BC|
|o Mayor||Abdelaziz El Omari|
|o City / State||220 km2 (80 sq mi)|
|o Metro||20,166 km2 (7,786 sq mi)|
|Elevation||0 to 150 m (0 to 492 ft)|
|o City / State||3,359,818|
|o Rank||1st in Morocco|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
Casablanca (Arabic: ?, romanized: Ad-dar Al Baidaa' [ad'da:ru ?bajd?a:?] white house, Berber languages: ?, romanized: Anfa [ænfæ] incline) is the largest city in Morocco and is located in the central-western part of Morocco bordering the Atlantic Ocean.
Casablanca is Morocco's chief port and one of the largest financial centers on the continent. According to the 2014 population estimate, the city has a population of about 3.35 million in the urban area and over 6.8 million in the Casablanca-Settat region. Casablanca is considered the economic and business center of Morocco, although the national political capital is Rabat.
The leading Moroccan companies and many international corporations doing business in the country have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. Recent industrial statistics show Casablanca holds its recorded position as the primary industrial zone of the nation. The Port of Casablanca is one of the largest artificial ports in the world, and the second largest port of North Africa, after Tanger-Med 40 km (25 mi) east of Tangier. Casablanca also hosts the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.
The original name of Casablanca was Anfa (Neo-Tifinagh), in Berber language, by at least the seventh century BC. After the Portuguese took control of the city in the 15th century AD, they rebuilt it, changing the name to Casa Branca ([kaz?'bk?]). It derives from the Portuguese word combination meaning "White House" (branca "white", casa "house"). The present name, which is the Spanish version (pronounced [kasa'?la?ka]), came when the Portuguese kingdom was integrated in personal union to the Spanish kingdom. During the French protectorate in Morocco, the name remained Casablanca (pronounced [kazablka]). In 1755 an earthquake destroyed most of the town. It was rebuilt by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah who changed the name into the local Arabic Ad-dar Al Baidaa' ( ?), although occasionally "Casablanca" is written in Arabic (?, K?z?bl?nk?). The city is still nicknamed Casa by many locals and outsiders to the city. In many other cities with a different dialect, it is called Ad-dar Al-Bida, instead.
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 Description of Africa, Leo Africanus 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 the local Berbers, which led to widespread Arabization. During the 14th century, under the Merinids, Anfa rose in importance as a port. The last of the Merinids were ousted by a popular revolt in 1465.
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 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 ad-D?r al-Bay' ( ?), the Arabic translation of the Portuguese Casa Branca.
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 gunpowder tea, used in Morocco's national drink, mint 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 1906. By 1921, this rose to 110,000, largely through the development of shanty towns.
The Treaty of Algeciras of 1906 formalized French preeminence in Morocco and included three measures that directly impacted Casablanca: that French officers would control operations at the customs office and seize revenue as collateral for loans given by France, that the French holding company La Compagnie Marocaine would develop the port of Casablanca, and that a French-and-Spanish-trained police force would be assembled to patrol the port.
To build the port's breakwater, narrow-gauge track was laid in June 1907 for a small Decauville locomotive to connect the port to a quarry in Roches Noires, passing through the sacred Sidi Belyout graveyard. In resistance to this and the measures of the 1906 Treaty of Algeciras, tribesmen of the Chaouia attacked the locomotive, killing 9 Compagnie Marocaine laborers--3 French, 3 Italians, and 3 Spanish.
In response, the French bombarded the city with multiple gunboats and landed troops inside the town, causing severe damage and 15,000 dead and wounded. In the immediate aftermath of the bombardment and the deployment of French troops, the European homes and the Mellah, or Jewish quarter, were sacked, and the latter was also set ablaze.
The bombardment and military invasion of the city effectively began the French military conquest of Morocco, although French control of Casablanca was not formalized until the French Protectorat was established by the Treaty of Fes March 1912.
General Hubert Lyautey assigned the planning of the new colonial port city to Henri Prost. As he did in other Moroccan cities, Prost designed a European ville nouvelle outside the walls of the medina. In Casablanca, he also designed a new "ville indigène" to house Moroccans arriving from other cities.
Europeans formed almost half the population of Casablanca.
After Philippe Pétain of France signed the armistice with the Nazis, he ordered French troops in France's colonial empire to defend French territory against any aggressors--Allied or otherwise--applying a policy of "asymmetrical neutrality" in favor of the Germans. French colonists in Morocco generally supported Pétain, while politically conscious Moroccans tended to favor de Gaulle and the Allies.
Operation Torch, which started on 8 November 1942, was the British-American invasion of French North Africa during the North African campaign of World War II. The Western Task Force, composed of American units led by Major General George S. Patton and Rear Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt, carried out the invasions of Mehdia, Fedhala, and Asfi. American forces captured Casablanca from Vichy control when France surrendered November 11, 1942, but the Naval Battle of Casablanca continued until American forces sank German submarine U-173 on November 16.
Casablanca was the site of the Nouasseur Air Base, a large American air base used as the staging area for all American aircraft for the European Theater of Operations during World War II. The air field has since become Mohammed V International Airport.
Casablanca hosted the Anfa Conference (also called the Casablanca Conference) in January 1943. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt discussed the progress of the war. Also in attendance were the Free France generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud, though they played minor roles and didn't participate in the military planning.
It was at this conference that the Allies adopted the doctrine of "unconditional surrender," meaning that the Axis powers would be fought until their defeat. Roosevelt also met privately with Sultan Muhammad V and expressed his support for Moroccan independence after the war. This became a turning point, as Moroccan nationalists were emboldened to openly seek complete independence.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Casablanca was a major centre of anti-French rioting.
April 7, 1947, a massacre of working class Moroccans, carried out by Senegalese Tirailleurs in the service of the French colonial army, was instigated just as Sultan Muhammed V was due to make a speech in Tangier appealing for independence.
Riots in Casablanca took place from December 7-8, 1952, in response to the assassination of the Tunisian labor unionist Farhat Hached by La Main Rouge--the clandestine militant wing of French intelligence. Then, on 25 December 1953 (Christmas Day), Muhammad Zarqtuni orchestrated a bombing of Casablanca's Central Market in response to the forced exile of Sultan Muhammad V and the royal family on August 20 (Eid al-Adha) of that year.
Morocco gained independence from France in 1956.
January 4-7, 1961, the city hosted an ensemble of progressive African leaders during the Casablanca Conference of 1961. Among those received by King Muhammad V were Gamal Abd An-Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, Modibo Keïta, and Ahmed Sékou Touré, Ferhat Abbas.
Casablanca was a major departure point for Jews leaving Morocco through Operation Yachin, an operation conducted by Mossad to secretly migrate Moroccan Jews to Israel between November 1961 and spring 1964.
The 1965 student protests organized by the National Union of Popular Forces-affiliated National Union of Moroccan Students, which spread to cities around the country and devolved into riots, started on March 22, 1965 in front of Lycée Mohammed V in Casablanca. The protests started as a peaceful march to demand the right to public higher education for Morocco, but expanded to include concerns of laborers, the unemployed, and other marginalized segments of society, and devolved into vandalism and rioting. The riots were violently repressed by security forces with tanks and armored vehicles; Moroccan authorities reported a dozen deaths while the UNFP reported more than 1,000.
King Hassan II blamed the events on teachers and parents, and declared in a speech to the nation on March 30, 1965: "There is no greater danger to the State than a so-called intellectual. It would have been better if you were all illiterate."
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 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.
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 café 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 is located on the Chaouia Plains 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.
Casablanca has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). 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. The highest amount of rainfall recorded in a single day is 178 mm (7.0 in) on 30 November 2010.
|Climate data for Casablanca (1981-2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||31.1
|Average high °C (°F)||17.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||12.6
|Average low °C (°F)||9.2
|Record low °C (°F)||-1.5
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||68
|Average rainy days||9||9||7||8||6||2||1||1||3||7||9||11||72|
|Average relative humidity (%)||83||83||82||80||79||81||82||83||83||82||82||84||82|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||189.6||188.5||240.7||261.5||293.6||285.0||303.4||294.1||258.1||234.3||190.6||183.1||2,922.5|
|Source #1: Pogoda.ru.net|
|Source #2: NOAA (sun, 1961-1990)|
|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)|
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 exports, 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.
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:
The list of neighborhoods is indicative and not complete:
The commune of Casablanca recorded a population of 3,359,818 in the 2014 Moroccan census. About 98% live in urban areas. Around 25% of them are under 15 and 9% are over 60 years old. The population of the city is about 11% of the total population of Morocco. Grand Casablanca is also the largest urban area in the Maghreb. 99.9% of the population of Morocco are Arab and Berber Muslims. During the French protectorate in Morocco, European Christians formed almost half the population of Casablanca. Since independence in 1956, the European population has decreased substantially.
Jews have a long history in Casablanca. A Sephardic Jewish community was in Anfa up to the destruction of the city by the Portuguese in 1468. Jews were slow to return to the town, but by 1750, the Rabbi Elijah Synagogue was built as the first Jewish synagogue in Casablanca. It was destroyed along with much of the town in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
Approximately 28,000 Moroccan Jews immigrated to the State of Israel between 1948 and 1951, many through Casablanca. Casablanca then became a departure point in Operation Yachin, the covert Mossad-organized migration operation from 1961-1964.
Today, the Jewish cemetery of Casablanca is one of the major cemeteries of the city, and many synagogues remain in service, but the city's Jewish community has dwindled. The Moroccan Jewish Museum is a museum established in the city in 1997.
Possible Barbary lion at Parc Sindibad
The historic Old Medina, the original walled city of Casablanca rebuilt by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah after the earthquake of 1755, represents Ad-D?r Al-Bay before French colonization. It was largely destroyed in the French bombardment of 1907. Casablanca's medina attracts fewer tourists than those of cities such as Fes and Marrakech. However, it has undergone some restoration in recent years. Included in this project were the western walls of the medina, its sqala, or bastion, and its clock tower rebuilt in the image of the one from 1908.
The French period Ville Nouvelle (New Town) of Casablanca was designed by the French architect Henri Prost, and was a model of a new town at that time. The main streets radiate south and east from what is now United Nations Square, previously the souq kbir ( ), the main market forming just outside the ramparts of the medina. Henri Prost, Albert Laprade, Marius Boyer, and August Cadet were some of the early planners and architects of the city.
The Arab League Park (formerly called Parc Lyautey) is the city's largest public park. On its edge is the Sacred Heart Church of Casablanca. It is no longer in use for religious purposes, but it is open to visitors and is a splendid example of Neo-Gothic architecture.
The French government described Casablanca as a "laboratory of urbanism." Morocco's permanent delegation to UNESCO submitted a nomination file to get Casablanca's 20th century architecture classified as a World Heritage Site.Casamémoire is an organization that has been working to protect and promote this architectural heritage since 1995.
Notre-Dame de Lourdes Church is a modernist Catholic church that was built in 1954 by architect Achille Dangleterre and engineer Gaston Zimmer. The main attraction of Notre-Dame de Lourdes church is the glasswork of world-famous stained glass artist Gabriel Loire.
An iconic site on Ain Diab's corniche is the small island ribat of Sidi Abderrahman. Before 2013, the only way to reach the island was to walk across at low tide. Nowadays there's a bridge. This outcrop contains the tomb of Sidi Abderrhamane Thaalibi, a Sufi from Baghdad and the founder of Algiers. He is considered a saint in Morocco. Because of this, many Moroccans make informal pilgrimages to this site "to reflect on life and to seek religious enlightenment". Some believe that the saint possessed magical powers, so his tomb still possesses these powers. People come and seek this magic to be cured. Non-Muslims may not enter the shrine.
Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is situated on a promontory on the Atlantic Ocean. The mosque has room for 25,000 worshippers inside, and a further 80,000 can be accommodated in the mosque's courtyard. Its minaret is the world's tallest at 210 metres (690 feet). The mosque is also the largest in North Africa, and the third-largest in the world. Work on the mosque started in 1980, and was intended to be completed for the 60th birthday of the former Moroccan king, Hassan II, in 1989. However, the building was not inaugurated until 1993. Authorities spent an estimated $800 million in the construction of the building.
Among the places of worship, they are predominantly Muslim mosques. Some of the city's synagogues, such as Ettedgui Synagogue, also remain. There are also Christian churches; some remain in use--particularly by the West African migrant community--while many of the churches built during the colonial period have been repurposed, such as Church of the Sacred Heart.
Casablanca is home to two popular football clubs: Wydad Casablanca and Raja Casablanca--which are rivals. Raja's symbol is an eagle and Wydad's symbol is a goose. These two popular clubs have produced some of Morocco's best players, such as: Salaheddine Bassir, Abdelmajid Dolmy, Baddou Zaki, Aziz Bouderbala, and Noureddine Naybet. Other football teams on top of these two major teams based in the city of Casablanca include Rachad Bernoussi, TAS de Casablanca, Majd Al Madina, and Racing Casablanca.
Casablanca staged the 1961 Pan Arab Games, the 1983 Mediterranean Games, and games during the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations. Morocco was scheduled to host the 2015 African Nations Cup, but decided to decline due to Ebola fears. Morocco was expelled and the tournament was held in Equatorial Guinea.
The Grand Stade de Casablanca is the proposed title of the planned football stadium to be built in the city. Once completed in 2014, it will be used mostly for football matches and will serve as the home of Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca, and the Morocco national football team. The stadium was designed with a capacity of 93,000 spectators, making it one of the highest-capacity stadiums in Africa. Once completed, it will replace the Stade Mohamed V. The initial idea of the stadium was for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for which Morocco lost their bid to South Africa. Nevertheless, the Moroccan government supported the decision to go ahead with the plans. It will be completed in 2025. The idea of the stadium was also for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, for which Morocco lost their bid to Canada, Mexico and United States. It is now hoping for the 2030 FIFA World Cup which Morocco is co-bidding with either African neighbors Tunisia and Algeria or two European nations Spain and Portugal
Nass El Ghiwane, led by Laarbi Batma, came out of Hay Mohammadi in Casablanca.Hoba Hoba Spirit also formed in Casablanca, and is still based there.Issam Harris is a rapper from Derb Sultan specializing in trap fusion.
The Casablanca Tramway is the rapid transit tram system in Casablanca. As of 2019, the network consists of two lines covering 47.5 km (30 mi), with 71 stops; further lines (?3 and ?4) are under construction.
Since the 1970s, Casablanca had planned to build a metro system to offer some relief to the problems of traffic congestion and poor air quality. However, the city council voted to abandon the metro project in 2014 due to high costs, and decided to continue expanding the already operating tram system instead.
Casablanca's main airport is Mohammed V International Airport, Morocco's busiest airport. Regular domestic flights serve Marrakech, Rabat, Agadir, Oujda, Tangier, Al Hoceima, and Laayoune, as well as other cities.
Casablanca is well-served by international flights to Europe, especially French and Spanish airports, and has regular connections to North American, Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan African destinations. New York City, Montreal, Paris, Washington D.C., London and Dubai are important primary destinations.
The older, smaller Casablanca-Anfa Airport to the west of the city, served certain destinations including Damascus, and Tunis, and was largely closed to international civilian traffic in 2006. It has been closed and destroyed to build the "Casablanca Finance City", the new heart of the city of Casablanca. Casablanca Tit Mellil Airport is located in the nearby community of Tit Mellil.
Compagnie de Transports au Maroc (CTM) coaches (intercity buses) and various private lines run services to most notable Moroccan towns, as well as a number of European cities. These run from the Gare Routière on Rue Léon l'Africain in downtown Casablanca.
Registered taxis in Casablanca are coloured red and known as petit taxis (small taxis), or coloured white and known as grands taxis (big taxis). As is standard Moroccan practice, petits taxis, typically small-four door Dacia Logan, Peugeot 207, or similar cars, provide metered cab service in the central metropolitan areas. Grands taxis, generally older Mercedes-Benz sedans, provide shared mini-bus like service within the city on predefined routes, or shared intercity service. Grands taxis may also be hired for private service by the hour or day.
Casablanca is served by three principal railway stations run by the national rail service, the ONCF.
Casa-Voyageurs is the main intercity station, from which trains run south to Marrakech or El Jadida and north to Mohammedia and Rabat, and then on either to Tangier or Meknes, Fes, Taza and Oujda/Nador. It also serves as the southern terminus of the Al-Boraq high speed line from Tangier. A dedicated airport shuttle service to Mohammed V International Airport also has its primary in-city stop at this station, for connections on to further destinations.
Casa-Port serves primarily commuter trains such as the Train Navette Rapide (TNR or Aouita) operating on the Casablanca - Kenitra rail corridor, with some connecting trains running on to Gare de Casa-Voyageurs. The station provides a direct interchange between train and shipping services, and is located near several port-area hotels. It is the nearest station to the old town of Casablanca, and to the modern city centre, around the landmark Casablanca Twin Center. Casa-Port station is being rebuilt in a modern and enlarged configuration. During the construction, the station is still operational. From 2013, it will provide a close connection from the rail network to the city's new tram network.
Casa-Oasis was originally a suburban commuter station which was fully redesigned and rebuilt in the early 21st century, and officially reopened in 2005 as a primary city rail station. Owing to its new status, all southern intercity train services to and from Casa-Voyageurs now call at Casa-Oasis. ONCF stated in 2005 that the refurbishment and upgrading of Casa-Oasis to intercity standards was intended to relieve passenger congestion at Casa-Voyageurs station.
Casablanca is twinned with: