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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Casablanca
الدار البيضاء   (Arabic)
کازابلانکا
ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ / Casablanca
Casablanca

Seal

Logo
Nickname(s): Caza
Coordinates: 33°32′N 7°35′W / 33.533°N 7.583°W / 33.533; -7.583
Country  Morocco
administrative region Greater Casablanca
First settled 7th century
reconstructed 1756
Area
 - City 324 km2 (125.1 sq mi)
 - Urban 1,615 km2 (623.6 sq mi)
Population (2009 est.)
 - City 3,672,900
 Density 9,132/km2 (23,651.8/sq mi)
 Urban 3,850,000 (Grand Casablanca)
 - Urban Density 2,383/km2 (6,171.9/sq mi)
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 - Summer (DST) WEST (UTC+1)
Postal code 20000-20200
Website http://www.casablanca.ma/

Casablanca (in Arabic: الدار البيضاء ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ as well as کازابلانکا Kāzāblānkā; Spanish for white (blanca) house (casa) ; nicknamed by locals: Caza; ancient and original name in Amazigh: Anfa /Anfa picture.jpg) is a city in western Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Greater Casablanca region.

With a population of over 3,299,428 [1], Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It's also the biggest city in the Maghreb. Casablanca is considered the economic capital of Morocco because it is the heart of Moroccan business; the political capital 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,[2] and the largest port of North Africa.[3] It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.

Contents

History

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Before the French Protectorate

The area which is today Casablanca was settled by Berbers by at least the 7th century.[4] A small independent kingdom, in the area then named Anfa, arose in the area around that time in response to Arab Muslim rule, and continued until it was conquered by the Almoravids in 1068.

Casablanca seen from Spot Satellite

During 14th century, under the Merinids, Anfa rose in importance as a port. 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 destroyed the town 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 1580-1640, Casa Blanca was part of Spain, and later it became part of Portugal again. The European Colonists 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 ally of George Washington with the hepl of Spaniards from the neareby emporium. The town was called الدار البيضاء ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ (translation in Arabic of the original Spanish Casa Blanca that means white house).

In the 19th century, the area's population began to grow as Casablanca became a major supplier of wool to the booming textile industry in Britain and shipping traffic increased (the British, in return, began importing Morocco's now famous national drink, gunpowder tea). By the 1860s, there were around 5,000 residents, and the population grew to around 10,000 by the late 1880s.[5] 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 the town, at first administrators within a sovereign sultanate, in 1906. By 1921, this was to rise to 110,000,[6] largely through the development of bidonvilles.

French rule

A view on the Boulevard de Paris in central Casablanca
Boulevard Mohamed el Hansali in 1950s

In June 1907, the French attempted to build a light railway near the port and passing through a graveyard. Residents attacked the French workers, and riots ensued. French troops were landed in order to restore order, which was achieved only after severe damage to the town. The French then took control of Casablanca. This effectively began the process of colonizations, although French control of Casablanca was not formalised until 1910.

The famous 1942 film Casablanca underlined the city's colonial status at the time—depicting it as the scene of a power struggle between competing European powers, carried out with little reference to the local population. The film's vast cosmopolitan cast of characters (American, French, German, Czech, Norwegian, Bulgarian, Russian and some other nationalities) includes only a single (uncredited) local character, "Abdul" the doorman whose role is marginal.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Casablanca was a major centre of anti-French rioting. A terrorist bomb on Christmas Day of 1953 caused many casualties.[citation needed]

The Casablanca Conference

Casablanca was an important strategic port during the Second World War and hosted the Casablanca Conference in 1943, in which Churchill and Roosevelt discussed the progress of the war. Casablanca was the site of a large American air base, which was the staging area for all American aircraft for the European Theater of Operations during World War II.

Since independence

Morocco gained independence from France on the 2nd of March, 1956.

In 1930, Casablanca hosted a Grand Prix. The race was held at the new Anfa Racecourse. In 1958, the race was held at Ain-Diab circuit - (see Moroccan Grand Prix). In 1983, Casablanca hosted the Mediterranean Games.

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, women's groups organised demonstrations in Casablanca proposing reforms to the legal status of women in the country. 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 May 16, 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.

A string of suicide bombings struck the city in early 2007. A suspected militant blew himself up at a Casablanca internet cafe on March 11, 2007. On April 10, three suicide bombers blew themselves up during a police raid of their safe house.[7] Two days later, police set up barricades around the city and detained two more men who had escaped the raid.[8] On April 14, 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.[9]

Climate

Casablanca has a very mild semi-arid Mediterranean climate (Dry-Summer Subtropical, Köppen climate classification Csb, but is well within the semi-arid climate classification (Köppen BSh). Most precipitation falls in the winter months. 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 extreme cold.

Climate data for Casablanca
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 17.1
(63)
18.8
(66)
19.7
(67)
21.3
(70)
22.2
(72)
24.4
(76)
26.2
(79)
26.7
(80)
25.5
(78)
22.1
(72)
19.8
(68)
19.7
(67)
21.95
(72)
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.15
(54)
14.65
(58)
15.85
(61)
16.95
(63)
19.1
(66)
21.5
(71)
23.15
(74)
23.95
(75)
22.4
(72)
18.6
(65)
15.65
(60)
15.3
(60)
18.27
(65)
Average low °C (°F) 7.2
(45)
10.5
(51)
12.0
(54)
12.6
(55)
16.0
(61)
18.6
(65)
20.1
(68)
21.2
(70)
19.3
(67)
15.1
(59)
11.5
(53)
10.9
(52)
14.58
(58)
Precipitation cm (inches) 4.01
(1.6)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
4.37
(1.7)
1.44
(0.6)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.07
(0)
0.97
(0.4)
6.74
(2.7)
1.82
(0.7)
1.057
(0.4)
30
(11.8)
Avg. precipitation days 6 0 0 12 5 0 0 2 4 5 8 12 54
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN)[10]

Economy

Casablanca's Old Medina District (ex City Center)

The Greater 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. 33% of national industrial exportations, MAD 27 billions, which is comparably with US $ 3.6 billion, come from the Greater Casablanca. 30% of Moroccan banking network is concentrated in Casablanca.[11] [12]

One of the most important Casablancan exports is phosphorate. Other industries include fishing, fish canning, sawmilling, furniture making, building materials, glass, textiles, electronics, leather work, processed food, spirits, soft drinks, and cigarettes.[13]

The Casablanca and Mohammedia seaports activity represent 50% of the international commercial flows of Morocco.[14]

Almost the entire Casablanca coast is under project, mainly the construction of huge entertainment centres between the port and Hassan 2nd Mosque, the Anfa Resort project near Megarama cinema which is a business, distraction and living centre, Morocco Mall, a giant distraction mall, and finally a complete renovation of the walkway coast to be finished in June 2009. The Sindbad park is planned to be totally renewed by rides, games and distraction services.[15]

Royal Air Maroc has its head office on the grounds of Casablanca-Anfa Airport in Casablanca.[16] 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.[17] The agreement to build the head office in Nouaceur was signed in 2009.[18]

Demographics

The population of Grand Casablanca was estimated in 2005 at 3.85 million. 98% of them 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. Greater Casablanca is also the largest urban area in the Maghreb.[19] The number of inhabitants is however disputed by the locals, who point to a number between 5 and 6 million[citation needed], citing recent drought years as a reason for many people moving into the city to find work.

Judaism in Casablanca

There was a Sephardic Jewish community in Anfa up to its destruction 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 temple in Casablanca. It was destroyed along with much of the town in the earthquake of 1755.[4]

Notable physical landmarks

Walls of Old Medina in Casablanca
The 45 meters high El Hank lighthouse (built in 1905 and renovated between 1914 and 1917)

The French period 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 of the New Town (Ville Nouvelle in French) radiate south and east from Place des Nations Unies, where the main market of Anfa had been. The New Town is possibly the most impressive in Morocco. Former administrative buildings and modern hotels populate the area. Their style is a combination of Hispano-Mauresque and Art Deco styles.

Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is situated on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic, which can be seen through a gigantic glass floor with room for 25,000 worshippers. A further 80,000 can be accommodated in the mosque's courtyard. Its minaret is the world's tallest at 210 metres.

Work on the mosque was 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.

The Parc de la Ligue Arabe (formally called Lyautey) is the city's largest public park. On its edge is situated the Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur, which is disused, but is a splendid example of Mauresque architecture.

The Old Medina (the part of town pre-dating the French protectorate) attracts fewer tourists than the medinas of other Moroccan towns, such as Fes and Marrakech. However, it has undergone some restoration in recent years. Included in this project have been the western walls of the medina, its skala, or bastion, and its colonial-period clock tower.

The city is served by Anfa Airport and Mohammed V International Airport, and its port is one of the largest artificial ports in the world.[2]

List of notable landmarks

Transport

Trains

Casablanca is served by two rail stations run by the national rail service, the ONCF. The main long haul station is Casa-Voyageurs, 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. 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.

The second station, Casa-Port, serves primarily commuter trains running the Casablanca - Kenitra corridor, with some connecting trains with running on to Gare de Casa-Voyageurs. www.oncf.ma

Coaches

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.

Air

Casablanca's main airport is Mohammed V International Airport, Morocco's busiest airport. Regular domestic flights serve Marrakech, Rabat, Agadir, Oujda, and Tangier, 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, Dakar and Dubai are important primary destinations.

The older, smaller Casablanca-Anfa Airport to the west of the city, that served certain destinations including Damascus, and Tunis, was largely closed to international civilian traffic in 2006. It currently services domestic flights and freight.

Taxis

Registered taxis in Casablanca are coloured red and known as petits taxis (small taxis), or coloured white and known as grands taxis (big taxis). As is standard Moroccan practice, petits taxis, typically small-four door Fiat Uno 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 pre-defined routes, or shared inter-city service. Grands Taxis may also be hired for private service by the hour or day, although typically only foreigners do so.

Metro (planned)

An underground railway system is currently being projected, which when constructed will potentially offer some relief to the problems of traffic congestion and poor air quality. The metro will not be ready before 2017, having a length of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and costing 46.7 billion dirhams (approximately 5.8 billion USD).[20] However, it should be noticed that none of the preparatory works for this project have started. And, no discussion of it is observed in the media. The anecdote among Casablanca population is that "water is too near below, that they cannot dig tunnels."[citation needed]

Tram (under construction)

A tram system is currently under construction should open in 2012.[citation needed]

Casablanca's administrative divisions

Satellite image of Casablanca
An aerial view of Casablanca

Casablanca is a commune, part of the Region of the Greater Casablanca. The commune is divided into 8 districts (prefectures عمالات), which are themselves divided into 16 subdivisions (arrondissements دوائر) and 1 municipality (بلدية).

Districts

Administrative divisions of the Casablanca City[21]
Districts (fr: Préfectures d'arrondissement, ar: عمالة دوائر) Subdivisions (fr: Arrondissements, ar: دوائر) Municipalities (fr: Municipalités, ar: بلديات ) Superficy Population (2004)
عين الشق

Aïn Chock

عين الشق

Aïn Chock

  28.89 km² 253,496 inhabitants
عين السبع الحي المحمدي

Aïn Sebaâ-Hay Mohammadi

عين السبع

Aïn Sebaâ

  26.7 km² 407,892 inhabitants
الحي المحمدي

Hay Mohammadi

 
الصخور السوداء / روش نوار

Roches Noires (Assoukhour Assawda)

 
أنفا

Anfa

أنفا

Anfa

  37.5 km² 492,787 inhabitants
المعاريف

Maârif

 
سيدي بليوط

Sidi Belyout

 
بن مسيك

Ben M'sick

بن مسيك

Ben M'sick

  10.27 km². 285,879 inhabitants
سباته

Sbata

 
سيدي) برنوصي)

(Sidi) Bernoussi

سيدي) برنوصي)

(Sidi) Bernoussi

  38.59 km² 453,552 inhabitants
سيدي مومن

Sidi Moumen

 
الفداء - مرس السلطان

Al Fida-Mers Sultan

الفداء

Al Fida

المشور

Mechouar

17.9 km² 332,682 inhabitants
مرس السلطان

Mers Sultan

 
الحي الحسني

Hay Hassani

الحي الحسني

Hay Hassani

  25.91 km² 323,277 inhabitants
مولاي رشيد

Moulay Rachid

مولاي رشيد

Moulay Rachid

  13.38 km² 384,044 inhabitants
سيدي عثمان

Sidi Othmane

 

Neighborhoods

(the list of neighborhoods is indicative and not complete)

  • Ain Sebaa
  • Belvédère
  • 2 Mars
  • Bouchentouf
  • Bourgogne
  • Centre Ville (downtown)
  • Californie
  • C.I.L.
  • Derb Gallef
  • Derb Sultan Al Fida
  • Derb TAZI
  • Hay Dakhla ("Derb Lihoudi") (quartier Martinet)
  • El Hank
  • El Hay El Mohammadi
  • Hay Farah
  • Gauthier
  • Habous
  • Hay El Hana
  • Hay Moulay Rachid
  • La Gironde
  • La Colline
  • Laimoun (Hay Hassani)
  • Lissasfa
  • Maarif
  • Old Madina (Mdina Qdima)
  • Mers Sultan
  • Nassim
  • Oasis
  • Oulfa
  • Polo
  • Racine
  • Riviera
  • Roches Noires
  • Salmia II
  • Sbaata
  • Sidi Bernoussi
  • Sidi Moumen
  • Sidi Maarouf
  • Sidi Othman

International relations

Sister cities

Education

Colleges and Universities

K through 12

Sports

People born in Casablanca

Casablanca in fiction

Images

See also

References

  1. ^ http://gazetteer.de/wg.php?x=&men=gpro&lng=fr&des=wg&geo=-134&srt=pnan&col=adhoq&msz=1500&pt=c&va=&geo=444977238
  2. ^ a b Casablanca - Encyclopedia of the Orient
  3. ^ Discovering Casablanca - The Africa Travel Association
  4. ^ a b Casablanca - Jewish Virtual Library
  5. ^ Pennel, CR: Morocco from Empire to Independence, Oneworld, Oxford, 2003, p 121
  6. ^ Pennel, CR: Morocco from Empire to Independence, Oneworld, Oxford, 2003, p 149
  7. ^ Terror Cell: 'Police Hold Fifth Man' April 12, 2007
  8. ^ Casablanca on alert after suicide bombings April 12, 2007
  9. ^ U.S. Shuts Morocco Consulate After Bomb April 15, 2007
  10. ^ "Weather Information for Casablanca". http://www.worldweather.org/045/c00179.htm. 
  11. ^ (English) Casablanca, poumon économique du Maroc
  12. ^ (French) http://www.casainvest.ma/casainvest/tabid/55/Default.aspx
  13. ^ (French)http://www.topbladi.com/villes/casablanca.htm
  14. ^ (English) [1]
  15. ^ http://www.casainvest.ma/
  16. ^ "Non-airline partners." Royal Air Maroc. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  17. ^ "Royal Air Maroc.(Africa/Middle East)(Brief Article)." Air Transport World. 1 July 2004. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  18. ^ "Casablanca: Nouaceur abritera le futur siège de la RAM." L'Économiste. 18 August 2009. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  19. ^ Casablanca.ma
  20. ^ http://www.casablanca.ma/index/docs/deplacement_urbain_casa.pdf
  21. ^ La Préfecture de Casablanca (in French)
  22. ^ (French) Jumelage Casablanca-Chicago
  23. ^ (French) Liste des protocoles et ententes internationales impliquant la ville de Montréal
  24. ^ (French) Vers la concrétisation de l'accord de jumelage entre Shanghai et Casablanca
  25. ^ Kuala Lumpur fact file, Asian-Pacific City Summit. Retrieved on December 31, 2007.
  26. ^ (French) Russie - Maroc : les relations bilatérales ont fait leurs preuves

External links

Coordinates: 33°32′N 7°35′W / 33.533°N 7.583°W / 33.533; -7.583


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Casablanca (film) article)

From Wikiquote

We'll always have Paris.

Casablanca is a 1942 film about an American expatriate owner of an upscale club and gambling den in the Moroccan city of Casablanca who meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Directed by Michael Curtiz. Written by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch, based on play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison.
Mysterious City of Sin and Intrigue!taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Contents

Rick Blaine

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
  • Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
    • Ranked #20 in the "100 Movie Quotes" list

Captain Louis Renault

I am shocked — shocked— to find that gambling is going on in here!
  • I'm only a poor corrupt official.
  • [about Ugarte] I'm making out the report now. We haven't quite decided whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape.
  • I am shocked — shocked— to find that gambling is going on in here!
  • Major Strasser has been shot. [pause] Round up the usual suspects.
    • Ranked #32 in the "100 Movie Quotes" list

Dialogue

Here's looking at you, kid.
Renault: I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Did you run off with a Senator's wife? I like to think that you killed a man. It's the romantic in me.
Rick: It's a combination of all three.
Renault: And what in Heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Ilsa: Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake.
Sam: I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.
Ilsa: [whispered] Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.
Sam: Why, I can't remember it, Miss Ilsa. I'm a little rusty on it.
Ilsa: I'll hum it for you. [Ilsa hums two bars. Sam starts to play] Sing it, Sam.
Sam: [singing] You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.
Lyrics and Music by Herman Hupfeld (1931)
  • "Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By" is #28 in the AFI's list of the top 100 movie quotations; it is often misquoted as "Play it again, Sam".

Rick: If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have it before...we'd...we'd lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you...
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Here's looking at you, kid.
  • "We'll always have Paris" is ranked #43 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema; "Here's looking at you, kid" is ranked #5.

Taglines

  • Mysterious City of Sin and Intrigue!
  • They had a date with fate in Casablanca!
  • As big and timely a picture as ever you've seen! You can tell by the cast it's important! Gripping! Big!

Cast:

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Mosque Hassan II
Mosque Hassan II

Casablanca (Arabic: الدارالبيضاء, Daru l-Bayda) may be the cosmopolitan, industrial and economic heart of Morocco (and its largest city), but it is one of the less endearing of the country's sights. With a small, unassuming medina and a traffic-congested ville nouvelle, travellers arriving via Casablanca may be tempted to find the first train out of to nearby Rabat. The awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque and happening nightlife, however, are worth at least a day of your Moroccan itinerary.

Understand

The modern city of Casablanca was founded by Berber fishermen in the 10th Century BC and was subsequently used by the Phoenicians, Romans, and the Merenids as a strategic port called Anfa. The Portuguese destroyed it and rebuilt it under the name Casa Branca, only to abandon it after an earthquake in 1755. The Moroccan sultan rebuilt the city as Daru l-Badya and it was given its current name of Casablanca by Spanish traders who established trading bases there. The French occupied the city in 1907, establishing it as a protectorate in 1912 and starting construction of the ville nouvelle, however it gained independence with the rest of the country in 1956.

Casablanca is now Morocco's largest city with a population of almost 4 million and also boasts the world's largest artificial port. Casablanca is also the most liberal and progressive of Morocco's cities. Young men flirt brazenly with scantily-clad women, designer labels are the norm in the chic, beachfront neighbourhood of 'Ain Diab and many young Moroccans speak to each other exclusively in French.

But not everyone is living the Casablancan dream. Tens of thousands of rural Moroccans who fled the drought-ravaged interior to find work in the city are struggling under high unemployment rates and expensive housing. The poverty, prevalent in slums on the city's outskirts, has led to high rates of crime, drug use and prostitution.

Modern, hip and slightly seedy, Casablanca is a mixed bag of Moroccan extremes.

Get in

By plane

Mohammed V Int'l Airport (IATA: CMN) is the busiest gateway to the country and is well-connected to Europe. Royal Air Maroc flies to New York JFK, many cities in Europe, and has connecting flights to African countries such as Nigeria, Central African Republic, Senegal, and others. To get from the Airport into Casablanca or vice versa, take the train to/from Casa Voyageurs station which is on the outskirts of town and then a fairly long walk or petit taxi (circa 8DH at time of writing) into the centre.

Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc

By train

Casablanca Voyagers station serves trains to Fes, Marrakech, Tangier with stops in between. The trains are comfortable, the stations easy to navigate, and boards display the time of departure/arrival. Be sure to check the schedule for express trains; for instance, the train that leaves Casablanca at 7:05AM daily takes 3 hours to reach Fes, as opposed to the normal 5 hour journey.

Trains are divided into first and second-class compartments; the first-class ones generally cost an extra 50%, but have more room and guarantee a seat. Boarding second-class compartments during peak hours may mean that you have to stand until a seat opens up.

By car

There is a well maintained toll that runs from Tangier to El Jadida, passing through Casablanca and Rabat.

The minimum driving age in Casablanca is 21. Always carry your driver's license and passport while driving. Avoid driving if possible-- car rental prices are high as is the accident rate. If you are leaving Casablanca by car, make sure to fill up in the city. Gas/petrol stations becomes scarce outside Casablanca.

By bus

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.

Get around

A government department puts out an exhaustive map of Casablanca in book form called Carte Guide de Casablanca that you can find in bookstores or online; in all likelihood, though, it isn't necessary. Taxi drivers know how to get to every single place in every single guide book, even if you tell them just "the restaurant on Blvd. Hassan II." Other than that, Casablanca is like any other European city: the streets (mostly) have signs, and passersby are extremely helpful in French or Arabic and, more rarely, Spanish or English. The Medina can be hard to navigate, but it's so small that no matter how blindly you wander into it, you're never more than ten minutes from an exit.

  • The King Hassan II Mosque, Blvd Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah, Tours Sa-Th 9AM, 10AM, 11AM and 2PM. A relatively recent mosque. It's the largest in Morocco and the third largest in the world, with the tallest minaret in the world. It is one of the two main mosques in Morocco open to non-muslims. Beautiful interior complete with water features, a roof that opens to the sky, a huge hammam in the basement (not in use), and beautiful tile work. Worth a trip to the city.
  • Old Medina, North of of the Place des Nations Unies There is a small traditional walled town in the north of Casablanca. If you are in town it's be worth a visit, but it's nothing compared to the glories of Fes or Marrakesh.
  • The Corniche, is a neighborhood on the ocean, west of the Hassan II Mosque. Decades ago, it was a thriving resort area - hotels line the ocean side of the Boulevard de la Corniche, and nightclubs line the other side. Most look like they've seen better days, but it's almost disorienting in how much it resembles the New Jersey Shore. Along the Boulevard de l'Ocean Atlantique are many newer, fancier hotels. The Corniche is also home to many western fast food chains. A new western-style movie theater can also be found here, but the best option is to walk up and down the street, resting at one of the many ocean-view cafes.
  • The Shrine of Sidi Abderrahman is built on a rock off shore, well past The Corniche, and is only accessible at low tide. The shrine itself is off-limits to non-muslims, but visitors are permitted to explore the tiny, medina-like neighborhood that has sprung up around it. A better bet is to walk to it along the beach and catch a view of the beautiful white walls before catching a cab to less remote areas.
A Hummam in Casablanca
A Hummam in Casablanca
  • Solidarite Feminine, 4, rue Ahmed Chowki, Palmier, 022-99-23-94. This is not only an excellent activity for travellers but also an initiative that is helping single mothers and creating social change in Morocco. An organization called Solidarité Féminine runs a traditional Hammam and health center which is not only one of the cleanest and most attractive in Casablanca but also provides valuable job training for single mothers who would otherwise be illiterate, jobless and who face all kinds of discrimination in the Muslim and Berber cultures that exist here. This Hammam offers excellent prices and all the funds raised go to support the programs of the organization which is truly helping to change Moroccan society. This is a local initiative, founded and run by Moroccans and is an excellent opportunity for tourists to support local development and have an excellent experience at the Hammam.  edit

Buy

Casablanca is one of the least interesting places to shop in all of Morocco. Around the old Medina it's easy to find places selling traditional Moroccan goods, such as tagines, pottery, leather goods, hookahs, and a whole spectrum of geegaws, but it's all for the tourists. Much better to wait until you're in Fes and can bargain with someone who sells things to Moroccans and tourists alike. That said, the Maarif neighborhood (near the twin center) has many name-brand European and American fashion chains, such as Zara. Designer glasses, leather shoes, and "genuine" belts, bags, and shirts can be had at bargain prices.

The Derb Ghraleef neighborhood has a large souq that is not for the faint of heart. A cluster of small shanties, each one is loaded with "genuine" mobile phones, "genuine" watches, and "genuine" "brand name" clothing. The shops are separated by alleys no more than three feet wide, some of which double as drainage ditches. There are numerous fruit smoothie stands in the center, which make a good spot for regrouping and planning your excursion. The stall owners are, of course, kings of negotiating, and without a good handle on Arabic and a strong backbone, you're unlikely to pay the going rate for anything.

Eat

Restaurants in Morocco are like restaurants in Spain - they don't open until around 7pm at the earliest, and most people don't eat until much later. Be sure to call first and make sure your restaurant of choice is actually open.

  • La Cigale, Blvd Brahim Roudani just south of the Rampwan de L'unite Africaine. This bar is an unassuming spot close to the Park of the Arab League, with a restaurant in front that serves only the most basic food (sausage or kefta sandwiches, salads, and the like.) The bar in the back is more crowded and has live music most nights. Beer is served with a plate of olives or popcorn, and it's one of the few Moroccan-style bars where women can drink in peace. Wine and liquor are available, but only when eating in the restaurant. A few phrases in Arabic to Aisha, the barkeeper, will win her heart and ensure a constant supply of olives.
  • Benis Patisserie, Quartier Habous. This place is famed for having some of the best pastries in Morocco. Try one of their famous hornes des gazelles.
  • La Corrida, 59 Rue el Araar, ☎ +212 (0) 22 27 81 55. From the outside, it's easy to miss this restaurant, but look for the little sign ringed in blinking lights. It has a nice outdoor courtyard, but the inside is the main attraction. It's decorated like with memorabilia from Spanish bull fighting tournaments and has a dark, candle-lit vibe that's perfect for dates. The sangria is tasty, as is the Tapas menu (which changes daily). Seafood is the specialty, and the steamed mussels should not be missed.
  • Taverne du Dauphin, 115 Blvd Felix Houphouet, ☎ +212 (0) 22 22 12 00. A little seafood place within walking distance of the old medina, the port, and the Park of the Arabic League, this place can get crowded at meal times. An excellent selection of seafood and one of the widest beer selections in all of Morocco (though that's only 5 or 6 different brews) makes this a very popular lunch spot. The fish is fresh from the fishermen at the port, and the shellfish (oysters, mussels and so on) are delicious. When paying, however, keep an eye on the waiters: they'll "help you count the money," which can turn into an elaborate shell game where they'll slip some of the cash into their own pocket.
  • Le Kobe D'Or, 9 Rue Abou Salt El Andaloussi (just off of Brahim Roudani), ☎ +212 (0) 22 98 07 25. An asian restaurant that is hard to miss, as it has an enormous red neon sign. The inside is nicely decorated in dark red, with lots of mirrors and asian details. The food is ho-hum; the soups are great but the chicken tends to be overcooked. Still, a nice place for a quick snack close to the Maarif, a good shopping area.
  • La Sqala, Blvd. Des Almohades, ☎ +212 (0) 22 26 09 60. Built in the remains of an old fortress, this place is worth as much as a cultural attraction as it is a restaurant. On the outskirts of the old medina, it has cannons, walls, defensive positions, and portcullises as well as a nice, clean eating environment. The atmosphere tends to be a little on the touristy side, but the food is a good modern look at traditional Moroccan foods. Some dishes are vegetarian and vegan. They also have the obligatory Moroccan pastries and teas if you're just in the mood for a snack. Great photo opportunity.
  • Al Mounia, 95 Rue Prince Moulay Abdullah, ☎ +212 (0) 22 22 26 69. This restaurant has an excellent courtyard with a hundred year-old tree. The main drawback is that since this restaurant is listed in most guidebooks, it fills up with tourists at an early hour. The cooking is mostly traditional Moroccan foods, with some of the best couscous in the country. There is also an extensive wine list.
  • Rick's Cafe, 248 Rue Sour Jdid, ☎ +212 (0) 22 27 42 07. This restaurant claims to have recreated the eponymous cafe from the movie Casablanca. Excellent location, within a 20 minute walk of the Hassan II Mosque and in the walls of the Old Medina bordering the ocean. The food is excellent, though expensive. Eat at one of the tables on the second floor for an excellent view of the seats below and the niveau-Moroccan decorations or eat on the ground floor to be nearer the piano player who plays, of course, As Time Goes By every night. Excellent selection of wine and liquor and, for Morocco, a thorough beer selection (5 different brands). The waitstaff, in tuxedos and Fezes, are superb. The only drawback to this place is the cost with dinner for 2 costing up to 800 DH.
  • YoSushi, 12 Rue Mohammed Abdou, ☎ +212 (0) 22 98 11 90. Sushi is catching on in a big way in Morocco. This little place, on a side street near the prefectural police headquarters, is one of the best. New, clean, and trendy, you're unlikely to find anyone in it before 10pm. They serve all the sushi classics- Nigiri, Sashimi, Hosomaki, Maki, Futomakis, and assorted other fish items. Though tasty, it can get expensive if your aim is to fill yourself up. Not very many options for vegan diners.
  • Thai Gardens, Ave. de la Cote d'Emeraude, ☎ +212 (0) 22 79 75 79. This swanky restaurant is a little out of the way, in the upscale Anfa neighborhood near the Corniche. Petite taxis run about 20 DH from the city center, but there is no better asian restaurant in all of Casablanca. The spring rolls are delicious, with fresh mint inside, and the Pad Thai is as good as you'd get in New York. The beef filet with hot sauce alone is worth the trip. Excellent selection of Moroccan wine but only 3 beers. Main dishes run around 140 DH.

Drink

Nightlife in Casablanca has mixed reviews. Women might feel a bit uncomfortable with the mostly male crowds in many bars and nightclubs. But if you dig a bit, you'll find some excellent spots to drink, dance and people watch.

If you want a drink in your hotel room, supermarkets like Acima and Marjane carry a wide variety of liquor and wine, though the beer selection is fairly stunted. The best places to drink are either European-style restaurants, which usually have a decent selection, or hotel bars, which are inevitably safer and more relaxed. Many western-style nightclubs exist in the Maarif and Gironde neighborhoods. Pubs will cost around 100 dirhams per head, it will be half if visited in the happy hours from 7PMto 11PM. Pubs to visit Tiger House, La Notte.

  • Kasbar, 7 Rue Najib Mahfoud, Gauthier (On a street between Blvd Anfa and Blvd Souktani.), +212 022 20 47 47. A dark and atmospheric place to grab a drink or dinner. Any kind of attire will fly, but if you want to dress up, a night at Kasbar is your chance.  edit
  • La Bodega, Rue Mohammed 5 (Near the old downtown and Medina). A spanish tapas bar, quite original. There can be a wait to get into the basement bar, but once you get inside you're rewarded with bartenders who eat fire. It's pretty expensive though and only frequented by tourists.  edit
  • Atlas Airport Hotel, Close to the airport (There is normally a bus waiting outside the airport building), +212522536200, [1]. A modern hotel very close to the airport. This is the default accommodation for passengers with missed connections etc, so the price will most likely be covered by the airline. Food is basic but adequate. Wireless internet is available in a few places in the building, but you have to search for the signal - try the ground floor near the gift shop.  edit
  • Hotel Terminus, Ave Bahmad, Place de la Gare, Casa-Voyageurs. Located directly across from the Casa Voyageurs train station, this hostel is a cheap option for travelers watching their cash. 100 DH for a 1, 2, or 3 bed room with a sink. There are communal toilets on each floor and a shower behind the reception desk.  edit
  • Hotel Central, 20 Place Ahmad el Bidaoui (Located in the Medina). Located in the Old Medina, this simple hotel is a good budget option. The owners are friendly and have been known to give complimentary cups of mint tea to weary travelers. Keep your wits about you as the Medina isn't the safest area at night. 150-350 MAD.  edit
  • Ajiad Casablanca, Angle Rue Kamal Mohamed et Rue Fakir Med. This central hotel has 24 hour reception, free parking and air-conditioned rooms. 415 MAD.  edit
  • Ibis moussafir Casablanca, Avenue Bahmad, Place de la Gare, Casa-Voyageurs (Next to Casa-Voyageurs train station.), + 212 22 40 19 84, [2]. checkin: 12:00pm; checkout: 11:00am. Excellent location right next to Casa-Voyageurs train station.  edit
  • Hyatt Regency Casablanca, Place des Nations Unies (In the commercial district.), + 212 22 43 1234 (), [3]. checkin: 12:00pm; checkout: 15:00pm. You can choose rooms with views of Hassan II Mosque. Has a pool and several good restaurants. Live entertainment in the evenings.  edit
  • Novotel Casablanca City Center, Angle Zaid Ouhmad, Rue Sidi Belyout, +212 522466500, [4]. A four star hotel with over 200 rooms, this is a great spot for conferences and people looking for a bit of luxury. Located near the Old Medina and Hussan II Mosque. 950 MAD.  edit
  • Sheraton Casablanca Hotel & Towers, 100 Avenue Des F A R, 212 522 43 9494. This modern hotel houses 6 bars and restaurants and the popular nightclub, Caesar's. There's also an outdoor pool and a fitness center. 1,800 MAD.  edit

Contact

Casablanca is served by all of the mobile companies that can be found elsewhere in Morocco. Wana, Meditel, and Maroc Telecom are the most common. Mobile phones can be bought in any of these store's stands, and most do not run on calling plans. Rather, recharge cards can be bought in corner stores that contain a number to call. When that number is called, the company adds the price of the card to your account's balance. Alternatively, more than one SIM card can be bought and changed in and out of the phone, if users need more than one phone number.

These companies also offer mobile internet services that plug into the USB port of a computer (currently, there are no mac-compatible devices.) These services can be had without signing a contract, and are recharged in the same manner as a telephone.

Stay safe

Almost all of the things to see in Casablanca are in the north of the city; very few maps even show the southern end of this sprawling metropolis. Common sense will alleviate 99% of problems; try to look as little like a tourist as possible, do not flash large quantities of cash, and so on. Faux Guides are much less of a problem here than in the rest of Morocco and are limited mainly to the area around the Old Medina. Strangely, the area around the Hassan II mosque is the most common place for foreigners to be hassled; it is inadvisable to walk in the neighborhood around it at night. Train stations are an especially poor place to get a cab: the cab drivers will often pretend that your desired destination is a special stop that costs extra (this is not true, and all petite taxis should have a running meter.) Unless you have lots of cash to spend for the convenience or are an exceptionally good bargainer, a better tactic is to walk a few blocks away and wave down a passing taxi, no matter how much the taxi drivers at the station insist they're the only game in town. Women, as in all Moroccan cities, should dress modestly to avoid harassment (which almost always consists of lewd comments, but nothing physical.)

Cope

Casablanca is unlikely to provide North American or European travellers with any headaches. Despite being a major population center and seat of commerce, the majority of the town is less than 50 years old and could easily be mistaken for Los Angeles or Madrid. Food is as European as it gets in Morocco, with pizzas and hamburgers as frequent as tajines and couscous. In some areas, such as the Maarif and Gironde neighborhoods, seeing a man in a djellaba or a donkey pulling a cart of vegetables are rarities. If even the trappings of Moroccan culture such as these are too much for you, any hotel bar or restaurant is going to be just like home for a few hours.

  • U.S. Consulate, 8 Blvd Moulay Youssef, Casablanca, +212 (22) 26 71 51 (), [5]. M-Th 8:30AM-9:30AM and 1:30PM-3PM. For emergencies only, call +212 (661) 17 23 67 after-hours.  edit

Get out

The majority of travellers leaving Morocco from Casablanca will leave from the Mohammed V airport (accessible by train.) Leaving Casablanca for other Moroccan cities is likely to be by rail: the main train station is Casa Voyageur (as opposed to Casa Port, which is a special side stop not served by many trains.) Grand taxis are the best way to exit the city for smaller outlying villages. There are no boat or ferry services available in Casablanca.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

File:Boulevard de Paris,
A view on the Boulevard de Paris in central Casablanca
File:Parc de la Ligue Arabe,
The Parc de la Ligue Arabe in Casablanca

Casablanca (classical Arabic name: الدار البيضاء, "the white house"; Spanish:Casablanca, "whitehouse") is a city in western Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean.

With a population of 2.95 million (September 2004 census), Casablanca is Morocco's biggest city.

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