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The native people of Morocco are the Berbers, an ancient race who, throughout history, have seen their country invaded by a succession of foreign powers. 
In the 12th century BC the first of these foreign invaders were the Phoenicians, who established trading posts at several points along the North African coast. The Carthaginians later took over these Phoenician colonies and expanded them as part of the mighty Carthaginian Empire. 
When the city of Carthage fell to Rome in the second century BC, the African Mediterranean coast was under Roman dominance for almost six hundred years. 
When the Roman Empire in turn fell into decline, the area was invaded first by the Vandals in AD429 and later by Byzantium in AD533. An Arab invasion of Morocco in AD682 marked the end of Byzantine dominance, and the first Arab rulers, the Idrisid dynasty, ruled for 150 years. Christian and pagan inhabitants of the land converted to Islam during this period. 
Arab and Berber dynasties succeeded the Idrisids; notably the Almoravids (1062-1147) and the Almohads (1147-1258). The Almohad Empire declined after the defeat of the Moroccans by the Spanish at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. By 1250 its power had completely collapsed and the country was plunged into bitter civil war between Arab and Berber factions, each of whom struggled for brief periods of supremacy. 
The reign of Ahmed I al-Man-sur in the first Sharifian dynasty stabilised and unified the country between 1579 and 1603. Moors and Jews expelled from Spain settled in Morocco during this time and the country flourished and prospered. It became a centre for the arts and this period was known as Morocco's golden age.

Portuguese and Spanish power had been growing in the Mediterranean region since the beginning of the 15th century, and in 1415 the Moroccan port of Ceuta was captured by Portugal. Moroccan forces defeated the Portuguese in 1578, and by 1700 had regained control of many coastal towns which had previously been in Portuguese hands. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Barbary Coast became the scene of widespread piracy. Ships which traded in the Mediterranean were plundered and protection money was extorted from several sea-going nations. 
Morocco shared possession of the Straits of Gibraltar with Spain, resulting in a focus of attention from the maritime powers in Europe, particularly France and Britain. By the beginning of the 20th century Britain had recognised Morocco as a French sphere of influence and in 1904 Morocco was divided between France and Spain, with the former receiving the larger area. These arrangements were regarded as spurious by Imperial Germany and, despite the Act of Algeciras (an agreement signed by the major powers in 1906, which guaranteed equal economic rights in Morocco), Germany was still dissatisfied. 
In 1911, a German gunboat was dispatched to the Moroccan port of Agadir, in an attempt to excite further nationalist unrest against the French. French troops were mobilised and Europe seemed poised on the edge of serious conflict. Negotiations resulted in Germany's agreement to the French protectorate over Morocco, in return for concessions elsewhere, and war was averted. The sultan of Morocco officially recognised the French protectorate in 1912. 
Spanish Morocco was experiencing its own share of problems, with a revolt against Spanish rule which flared up in 1920. Led by Abd-el-Krim, the Moroccan resistance forces had driven the Spanish forces out of Moroccan territory within four years. France and Spain formed an alliance against Abd-el-Krim and the revolutionary forces were defeated in 1926.

During the Second World War Morocco supported the Vichy government which ruled France after its capitulation to the Nazis in 1940. By 1942, American troops had landed and occupied Morocco, which was used as a supply base for the Allies during the remainder of the war. Heads of government from the Allies used Casablanca as an important meeting-place. 
In 1950, the sultan of Morocco requested self-government. This was rejected by the French and in 1953 the sultan was deposed, but allowed to resume the throne two years later. Moroccan independence was not recognised by the French until 1956 and Sultan Mohammed V became king in 1957. At around the same time the Spanish relinquished most of their interests in Morocco, retaining only a small number of cities and territories. 
Mohammed's son, Hassan II, succeeded his father in 1961 and drew up a royal charter, which proposed the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, subject to approval by referendum. In 1963 the first Moroccan general elections were held, but parliamentary democracy proved unworkable and collapsed in November 1963. King Hassan suspended Parliament and ruled without it for seven years, serving for two of those years as his own prime minister. 
In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Hassan strongly supported the Arab cause but, despite this, attempts were made on his life in 1971 and 1972. Both attempts failed (in fact, King Hassan continues as monarch today, ruling through a House of Representatives) and the would-be assassins were executed, but these attempted coups highlighted Morocco's internal problems. 

In the 1970s, rumours of corruption in high places within the Moroccan government were becoming impossible to ignore, and King Hassan made a bid to rally support for the monarchy by putting pressure on Spain to relinquish its interests in the Sahara. 
In 1974 Morocco embarked on a campaign aimed at forcing Spain to withdraw from the Western region of the Sahara (now known as the Moroccan Sahara), an area rich in phosphates. The International Court of Justice, meeting in the Hague in 1975, rejected Morocco's claim for full sovereignty over the region. Morocco ignored this decision and resolved to continue the fight alone, organising a massive demonstration known as the Green March. Spain entered into secret negotiations and a deal was struck, whereby the region was divided into three, and administered by Morocco, Spain and Mauritania. 
The Polisaro front, a Saharan nationalist movement, hotly disputed Morocco's right to the territory and guerrilla fighting ensued. In 1978, the Polisaro Front succeeded in forcing Mauritania to relinquish its Saharan interests, but was unable to do the same with Morocco. 
The United Nations continued to mediate in this dispute throughout the eighties, and by 1990 a referendum proposed self-determination by both sides. Although this was formally accepted by those concerned, Morocco continues to assert its claim for full control over the Moroccan Sahara.

On Friday 23 July 1999, King Hassan II of Morocco was pronounced dead of a heart failure at the age of 70 years old. The death of King Hassan II marks an end of an era not only for Morocco, but for the whole Arabic and Islamic world as he was one of the longest serving monarchs in the modern history of the ArabWorld, ruling for mare than 38 years. 

King Hassan's eldest son, Crown Prince sidi Mohammed, was announced as the new king of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, making the 35 year old monarch the 18th king in the Alawite dynasty.


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