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
Before 15th century, the settlement at what is now Casablanca had been called Anfa
, rendered in European sources variously as El-Anfa, Anafa or Anaffa, Anafe, Anife, Anafee, Nafe, and Nafee. Ibn Khaldun
ascribed the name to the Anfaça
, a branch of the Auréba [ar]
tribe of the Maghreb, though the sociologist André Adam
refuted this claim due to the absence of the third syllable. Nahum Slouschz
gave a Hebrew
etymology, citing the Lexicon
(a type of bird) or anaph
(face, figure), though Adam refuted this arguing that even a Judaized population
would still have spoken Tamazight
Adam also refuted an Arabic
, "nose"), as the city predated the linguistic Arabization
of the country, and the term anf
was not used to describe geographic areas.
Adam affirmed a Tamazight etymology—from anfa
"promontory on the sea," ifni
"sandy beach," or anfa
"threshing floor"—although he determined the available information insufficient to establish exactly which.
The name Anfa is now rendered in Neo-Tifinagh
The name "Anfa" was used in maps until around 1830—in some until 1851—which Adam attributes to the tendency of cartographers to replicate previous maps.
When Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah
(c. 1710 – 1790) rebuilt the city after its destruction in the earthquake of 1755
, it was renamed "ad-Dār al-Bayda'
" (الدار البيضاء
The White House
), though in vernacular
use it was pronounced "Dar al-Baiḍā
" (دار البيضاء
House of the White
mentions the legend of the Sufi
saint and merchant Allal al-Qairawani
, who supposedly came from Tunisia
and settled in Casablanca with his wife Lalla al-Baiḍā' (لالة البيضاء
The villagers of Mediouna
would reportedly provision themselves at "Dar al-Baiḍā" (دار البيضاء
House of the White
In fact, rising above the ruins of Anfa, it appears there was a tall white-washed
structure, as the Portuguese cartographer Duarte Pacheco
wrote in the early 16th century that the city could easily be identified by a large tower, and nautical guides from the late 19th century still mentioned a "white tower" as a point of reference.
The Portuguese mariners came to call the city "Casa Branca" ([kazɐ'bɾɐ̃kɐ] White House
) in place of Anfa.
The present name, "Casablanca," which is the Spanish
version (pronounced [ka̠sa̠ˈβ̞la̠ŋka̠]
), came when the Kingdom of Portugal
came under Spanish control through the Iberian Union
. Adam argues that it is unlikely that the Arabic name "Dar al-Baiḍā
" (دار البيضاء
) is a translation of the European names; the presence of the two names indicates that they came about together, not one from the other.
During the French protectorate in Morocco
, the name remained Casablanca (pronounced [kazablɑ̃ka]
). 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-dār al-Bayḍā
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
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
Portuguese conquest and Spanish influence
Casablanca in 1572, still called "Anfa" in this coloured engraving, although the Portuguese had already renamed it "Casa Branca" – "White House" – later Hispanicised to "Casablanca".
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.
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
French rule and influence
Place de France
(now United Nations Square
) in 1917.
With its landmark Clock Tower
, this space became a contact point between what the colonists called the ville indigène
to the left—comprising the Mellah
and the Medina—and the European nouvelle ville
to the right.
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.
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.
World War II
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.
Morocco gained independence from France in 1956.
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
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.”
On June 6, 1981, the Casablanca Bread Riots
Hassan II appointed the French-trained interior minister Driss Basri
as hardliner, who would later become a symbol of the Years of Lead
, with quelling the protests.
The government stated that 66 people were killed and 100 were injured, while opposition leaders put the number of dead at 637, saying that many of these were killed by police and army gunfire.
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.
Another series of suicide bombings struck the city in early 2007.
These events illustrated some of the persistent challenges the city faces in addressing poverty and integrating disadvantaged neighborhoods and populations.
One initiative to improve conditions in the city's disadvantaged neighborhoods was the creation of the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center
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's fishing port.
Casablanca is located on the Atlantic coast of the Chaouia
Plains, which have historically been the breadbasket
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
, and pine
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.
Casablanca mean sea temperature
Boulevard des FAR (Forces Armées Royales)
Port of Casablanca
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.
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.
The biggest CBD of Casablanca and Maghreb
is in the North of the town in Sidi Maarouf
near the mosque of Hassan II and the biggest project of skycrapers of Maghreb and Africa Casablanca Marina.
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:
- Aïn Chock (عين الشق) – Aïn Chock (عين الشق)
- Aïn Sebaâ - Hay Mohammadi (عين السبع الحي المحمدي) – Aïn Sebaâ (عين السبع), Hay Mohammadi (الحي المحمدي), Roches Noires (روش نوار).
- Anfa (أنفا) – Anfa (أنفا), Maârif (المعاريف), Sidi Belyout (سيدي بليوط).
- Ben M'Sick (بن مسيك) – Ben M'Sick (بن مسيك), Sbata (سباته).
- Sidi Bernoussi (سيدي برنوصي) – Sidi Bernoussi (سيدي برنوصي), Sidi Moumen (سيدي مومن).
- Al Fida - Mers Sultan (الفداء – مرس السلطان) – Al Fida (الفداء); Mechouar (المشور) (municipality), Mers Sultan (مرس السلطان).
- Hay Hassani (الحي الحسني) – Hay Hassani (الحي الحسني).
- Moulay Rachid (مولاي رشيد) – Moulay Rachid (مولاي رشيد), Sidi Othmane (سيدي عثمان).
The list of neighborhoods is indicative and not complete:
Judaism in Casablanca
Inside Bet El synagogue in Casablanca.
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
Colleges and universities
Primary and secondary schools
Places of worship
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
and United States
. It is now hoping for the 2030 FIFA World Cup
which Morocco is co-bidding with either African neighbors Tunisia
or two European nations Spain
, a radical leftist political and cultural magazine, was based in Casablanca.
is a community-based art and culture space in Casablanca.
is a street art festival during which murals are created on the sides of apartment buildings.
Postcard companies such as Léon & Lévy
were active in Casablanca. Gabriel Veyre
also worked and eventually died in Casablanca.
(1889-1957), a French military photographer, settled in Casablanca and recorded much of the early colonial period in Morocco with his photography.
With his staged nude postcard photos taken in Casablanca's colonial brothel quarter
, Flandrin was also responsible for disseminating the orientalist
image of Moroccan women as sexual objects.
Casablanca has a thriving street photography scene. Yoriyas
is prominent among photographers capturing the economic capital's street scenes, and has attracted international attention.
The 1942 American film Casablanca
is set in Casablanca and has had a lasting impact on the city's image, despite being filmed in the US.Salut Casa!
was a propaganda film brandishing France's purported colonial triumph in its mission civilizatrice
in the city.
revolutionary independent film About Some Meaningless Events
(1974) took place in Casablanca.
It was the main subject of Ali Essafi's
documentary Before the Dying of the Light.
Casablanca's architecture and urban development are historically significant. The city is home to many notable buildings in a variety of styles, including traditional Moroccan architecture, various colonial architectural styles, Art Nouveau
, Art Deco
, Streamline Moderne
, and more. During the French Protectorate
, the French government described Casablanca as a "laboratory of urbanism."
are two organizations dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of the city's architectural heritage.
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 (T3 and T4) 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
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
, Washington D.C.
are important primary destinations.
Compagnie de Transports au Maroc
) offers private intercity coach buses on various lines run servicing most notable Moroccan towns, as well as a number of European cities. These run from the CTM Bus Station on Leo Africanus Street near the Central Market
in downtown Casablanca. Supratours, an affiliate of ONCF
, also offers coach bus service at a slightly lower cost, departing from a station on Wilad Zian Street.
There is another bus station farther down on the same street called the Wilad Zian Bus Station
; this station is the country's largest bus station, serving over 800 buses daily, catering more to Morocco's lower income population.
A grand taxi of Casablanca parked on Rue Chaouia
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 main railway stations run by the national rail service, the ONCF
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
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.
Although Mohammed V International Airport
receives most international flights into Morocco,
international tourism in Casablanca is not as developed as it is in cities like Marrakesh.
Casablanca, however, attracts fewer tourists than those of cities such as Fes
The Hassan II Mosque
, which is the second largest mosque in Africa and the seventh largest in the world, is the city's main tourist attraction.
Visitors also come to see the city's rich architectural heritage.
led an international scientific program to install a major astronomical observatory in Antarctica.
In popular culture
, an American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz
- The 1942 film Casablanca (starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart) is supposed to have been set in Casablanca, although it was filmed entirely in Los Angeles and doesn't feature a single Arab or North African character with a speaking role. The film depicts Casablanca as the scene of power struggle between various foreign powers, which had much more to do with the Tangier of the time. The film has achieved worldwide popularity since its release. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won three, including Best Picture.
- A Night in Casablanca (1946) was the 12th Marx Brothers' movie. The film stars Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, and Harpo Marx. It was directed by Archie Mayo and written by Joseph Fields and Roland Kibbee. The film contains the song "Who's Sorry Now?", with music by Ted Snyder and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. It is sung in French by Lisette Verea playing the part of Beatrice Rheiner, and then later sung in English. Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" is played twice, once by Chico on piano as an introduction to the "Beer Barrel Polka", and again by Harpo on the harp.
- The city is featured in The Mysterious Caravan (1975), volume 54 in the original Hardy Boys series.
- Casablanca is the setting for several chapters in Doubleshot, a 2000 James Bond novel by Raymond Benson. In the novel, one of the characters mentions that the 1942 film was shot in Hollywood and not on location.
- Casablanca is one of the key locations in the 2006 video game Dreamfall, as it is where the primary protagonist of the game, Zoë Castillo, lives. Although the city is imagined in the year 2219, much of the present-day architecture is used for inspiration.
- Casablanca is the setting for the first act of the 2016 World War II romantic thriller film Allied starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.
Twin towns – sister cities
- Bordeaux, France
- Madrid, Spain
- Chicago, United States
- Paris, France
- Budapest, Hungary
- Montreal, Canada
- Algiers, Algeria
- Muscat, Oman
- Nouadhibou, Mauritania
- Oran, Algeria
- Shanghai, China
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