Morocco is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of nearly 32 million and an area just under 447,000 square kilometres (173,000 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, and its largest city is Casablanca. Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Spain to the north (a water border through the Strait and land borders with three small Spanish enclaves, Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera), Algeria to the east, and Mauritania to the south.
Several dialects of Arabic and Berber are spoken in Morocco. However, this linguistic diversity doesn't affect the ethnic situation as the population is largely homogeneous.
On November 18, 2006, Morocco celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish colonial possessions through military action were less successful. The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956 (see Tangier Crisis). Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule would be marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s after demanding its reintegration from Spain since independence, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara.)
Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997. Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status by the United States in June 2004 and has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.