General issues: Sharifian Post 1912-1913, French protectorate 1912-1956, Kingdom, Southern Zone 1956-1958, Kingdom, Northern Zone 1956-1958, Kingdom 1958-Present
Country name on general issues: Maroc
- Courier posts 1891-1911
- Demnat-Marrakech 1906-1907
- El-Ksar el Kebir-Ouezzan 1896
- Fes-Meknes 1897
- Fes-Sefrou 1894
- Mazagan-Azemmour-Marrakech 1897
- Mazagan-Marrakech 1891-1895
- Mazagan-Marrakech 1897-1899
- Mogador-Agadir 1900
- Mogador-Marrakech 1892
- Mogador-Marrakech 1895-1900
- Safi-Marrakech 1899
- Tangier-Arsilah 1896
- Tangier- El-Ksar el Kebir 1898
- Tangier-Fes 1892
- Tangier-Larache 1898
- Tangier-Tetuan 1896
- Tetuan-Chechuan 1896
- Tetuan-El-Ksar el Kebir 1897
- Foreign offices:
- France: General issues 1891-1917, Tangier 1918-1956
- Germany: General issues 1899-1919
- Great Britain: General issues 1898-1912, General issues 1914-1957, French Morocco 1917-1938, Spanish Morocco 1912-1956, Tangier 1927-1956
- Spain: General issues 1903-1913, Tetuan 1908-1910, Tangier 1918-1956
- Spanish Morocco 1914-1955
- Cape Juby 1916-1948
- Ifni 1941-1969
Currency: 1 Bseta Hassani = 100 Muzunat 1912, 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1912-1962, 1 Dirham = 100 Centimes 1962-Present
Population: 3 800 000 in 1900, 33 010 000 in 2013
Political history Morocco
Morocco until the 19th century
Morocco is located in northern Africa. The population of Morocco is Berber – an Afro-Asiatic people living all across northern Africa. Morocco has a long history. In the 7th century Morocco was conquered by the Arab Umayyads from Damascus who brought the Arab language, culture and Islam. The population has since, for a large part, been Arabized. Morocco was at the height of its power in the 11th and 12th centuries under the Almovarid dynasty when it ruled not only vast parts of northern Africa but also parts of Spain and Portugal. From the 17th century until the present day, the country is ruled by the Alawite dynasty. In the mid 19th century European interest in Morocco increases. Several European powers create diplomatic and commercial footholds in the country – in particular the French seeing it as a possible extension of their sphere of influence already including Algeria and Tunisia. The Spanish have also established themselves in Morocco. The Spanish have long had possessions in Morocco along the Mediterranean coast – the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and a number of smaller enclaves. In 1860, the Spanish have acquired the rights to the territory of Ifni on the Atlantic coast.
French pressure for a larger say in Moroccan politics in the early 20th century is at its height, resulting, in 1912, in the establishment of a French protectorate over Morocco. A subsequent treaty with Spain – also in 1912 – results in the partition of Morocco, whereby France gains the larger part and Spain establishes a protectorate over a zone to the north of the French protectorate and a zone to the south of the French protectorate. The former is commonly called Spanish Morocco, the latter Cape Juby. Tangier is, in the 1912 agreements, defined as an international zone. A statute for the administration of Tangier is agreed upon in 1923, effective 1925. The governing powers in Tangier are, aside from France and Spain, also Germany and Great Britain – these to be joined by more countries from 1928. Strictly speaking the sultan of Morocco retains the sovereignty over the country – de facto it is governed by the European powers involved.
French rule is gradually established in French Morocco. A process that, in some parts, meets with strong opposition and will take until the 1930’s to complete. The Spanish in Spanish Morocco are equally confronted with sometimes strong opposition – most notably when, in 1921, the Rif republic is proclaimed as an independent state that, at the height of its power, controls the larger part of Spanish Morocco. It is not until 1926 that the rebellion can be put down through a combined effort of the French and the Spanish. In Cape Juby, the Spanish establish themselves from 1916. Being adjacent to the Spanish possessions south of Morocco it will de facto come to be governed as part of Spanish Sahara and Spanish West Africa although de jure remaining a separate political entity.
Morocco regained its independence in 1956 when agreements were signed resulting in the transfer of power in both French and Spanish Morocco. In the case of Spanish Morocco, without the Spanish possessions that had existed prior to the establishment of the protectorate – the cities of Ceuta and Melilla and a number of smaller enclaves. Although claimed by Morocco, these have remained Spanish until today. A further agreement transferred Tangier to Moroccan administration the same year. Directly after independence, Morocco claimed the Spanish possessions to the south – Ifni, Cape Juby and Spanish Sahara. After a military conflict in 1957-1958, Cape Juby was returned to Morocco. Ifni remained Spanish, to be returned in 1969. Spanish Sahara also remained Spanish.
Morocco was proclaimed a kingdom in 1957. A constitutional monarchy was established – albeit with large executive and legislative powers for the king. Morocco has a diversified economy – services being the largest sector. The Moroccan economy has long been government controlled but has, since the 1990’s, moved towards a free market economy. Morocco has a large population living abroad – an estimated 4 to 5 million Moroccans live in different – mainly European – countries.
Morocco has, since independence, claimed Spanish Sahara. In 1975, the Spanish decide to leave Spanish Sahara that is subsequently transferred – part to Mauritania and part to Morocco. However, since 1973, the Polisario Front – a movement for the liberation of Spanish Sahara – has fought a war of independence that is continued after 1975. In 1976, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic – SADR – is proclaimed by Polisario – a government in exile residing in Tindouf just across the border in Algeria. The ongoing war in 1979 leads to Mauritanian withdrawal from Western Sahara – the gap being filled by Morocco. In 1991, a cease fire is agreed upon between Morocco and SADR. Currently, Morocco controls the larger part of the country, the smaller part being controlled by SADR. Most of the exiles still reside in Tindouf, but the de facto capital is now Tifariti in the SADR controlled part of Western Sahara. An overall solution to the problem has yet to be found.
Postal history Morocco
The first stamps used in Morocco were the stamps used at the offices abroad established in Morocco by France, Germany, Great Britain and Spain. The foreign offices were part of the concessions the sultanate of Morocco made to the European powers to establish a diplomatic and commercial presence in Morocco. They were of importance for Morocco itself also – until Morocco joined the UPU in 1920, all international mail was processed via the foreign offices. All stamps issued for use in the foreign offices prior to 1912 were issued in the Spanish currency that was widely used in Morocco.
As Morocco became a protectorate in 1912, regular postal services were set up by the French and the Spanish in French and Spanish Morocco respectively. As a result, the French offices in Spanish Morocco, and likewise the Spanish offices in French Morocco, were closed. The British retained their offices in both French and Spanish Morocco. The German offices were closed as a result of WWI – in 1914 in French Morocco and in 1919 in Spanish Morocco and Tangier. Tangier – from 1912 an international zone – had no regular postal service of its own. In Tangier, foreign offices remained open until 1957, shortly after the independence of Morocco in 1956. Lets take a closer look at the offices abroad of the individual countries.
Foreign offices: a closer look
General issues: The first French office was opened in 1852 in Tangier. The stamps of France were used from 1862 until 1891 when the first stamps for use in Morocco were issued – French stamps overprinted with a new face value in the Spanish currency. From 1902, stamps are issued inscribed ‘Maroc’ and still overprinted with the face value in the Spanish currency. From 1912, the French offices in French Morocco are converted to offices of the regular postal service in the protectorate. In Spanish Morocco the French offices are closed in 1917. The last set of stamps for general use in Morocco is issued in 1911 – a single stamp being issued as late as 1917.
- Tangier: The French offices in Tangier remained open. Stamps were issued from 1918 until 1923 for specific use in Tangier – inscribed ‘Maroc’, as with the general issues, but now overprinted ‘Tanger’ and issued in the French currency. The French offices in Tangier, from 1924, used the stamps of French Morocco with the exception of one set of air post stamps issued in 1929 – issues of French Morocco overprinted ‘Tanger’. The French offices in Tangier closed in 1956.
- General issues: The first German office in Morocco was opened in 1899 in Tangier. From the start, stamps were issued for specific use in Morocco. The first set issued were German stamps overprinted ‘Marocco’ and issued in the German currency – the set was never actually used due to currency problems. All subsequent issues are also overprints on stamps of Germany – the overprint being ‘Marocco’ and now with the face value in the Spanish currency. The German offices were closed in French Morocco in 1914 at the outbreak of WWI. In Spanish Morocco and Tangier the German offices remained open until 1919.
General issues: The first British office in Morocco was opened in 1857 in Tangier. From 1857 to 1886, stamps of Great Britain were used. From 1886, the post offices in Morocco were run from Gibraltar – using the stamps of Gibraltar. The first stamps issued for specific use in Morocco appear in 1898 – overprints on stamps of Gibraltar, the overprint being ‘Morocco Agencies’. Gibraltar, at the time, used the Spanish currency. As Gibraltar changed to the British currency, subsequent issues were also overprinted with the face value in the Spanish currency. From 1907, the post offices in Morocco are taken over by the British postal administration – stamps issued for Morocco are now British stamps overprinted with ‘Morocco Agencies’ and the face value in the Spanish currency. After Morocco is split up in 1912, the British continue to issue general issues to be used in all parts of Morocco, only now in the British currency. The last of these general issues will appear in 1956. The general issues are used until the last British offices close in 1957.
French Morocco, Spanish Morocco and Tangier: Concurrent with the general issues, stamps are issued for use specifically in French Morocco, Spanish Morocco and Tangier.
- For use in French Morocco, stamps are issued from 1917 – again British stamps overprinted ‘Morocco Agencies’ only now with the face value in the French currency. Stamps for French Morocco were issued until 1937 – the British offices in French Morocco closed in 1938.
- Similarly for Spanish Morocco, stamps were issued in the Spanish currency. The first stamps for Spanish Morocco were issued in 1912, the last in 1956. The last British office in Spanish Morocco to close is the office in Tetuan in 1957.
- Finally, for Tangier, stamps were issued from 1929 until 1956. The issues for Tangier were – like the general issues – issued in the British currency, the overprint being ‘Tangier’. The last office in Tangier was closed in 1957.
- Aside from the general issues and the specific issues for use in the different parts of Morocco, regular British stamps have been used throughout the entire period of existence of British post offices in Morocco.
General issues: The first Spanish office is opened in 1867 using the stamps of Spain. Stamps for use in Morocco are issued from 1903. These and subsequent sets issued until 1913, are Spanish stamps overprinted ‘Correo Español Marruecos’. Special issues appeared for the office in Tetuan between 1908 and 1910 – Spanish stamps overprinted ‘Tetuan’. The Spanish offices in French Morocco were closed in 1914. In Spanish Morocco the Spanish offices were converted to the regular postal service – the first issues for Spanish Morocco being issued in 1914.
- Tangier: The Spanish offices in Tangier initially used the general issues for the Spanish offices in Morocco – the use of which, after the partition of Morocco, was limited to Tangier. The listings for the first stamps issued specifically for Tangier differ in the catalogs. Michel and Stanley Gibbons list 1921 and 1923 issues – Spanish stamps overprinted ‘Correo Español Marruecos’. Scott lists these issues with Spanish Morocco. From 1926, stamps are issued overprinted ‘Correo Español Tanger’ or ‘Tanger’. In 1948 and 1949 sets of definitives are issued inscribed ‘Tanger’. During the civil war that raged in Spain from 1936 to 1939, two rivaling post offices existed – one from the republican government in Madrid and one from the nationalist government in Burgos. At the republican office, stamps of republican Spain were used with several different overprints. Michel, Stanley Gibbons and Yvert & Tellier list these issues, Scott refers to them. In the nationalist office, the stamps of Spanish Morocco were used. From 1940 to 1947 – as Spain had occupied Tangier during WWII – stamps of Spanish Morocco were used.
Aside from the foreign offices, a national Moroccan postal service was set up, known as the Sharifian – also spelled Sherifian and Cherifian – post. The name is derived from the Sharifian dynasties that have ruled Morocco since the 15th century – Sharifian meaning noble and implying that these dynasties trace their lineage to the prophet Mohammed. The Sharifian post set up post offices in 13 cities in Morocco in 1892. Initially, hand stamps were used – two types for every city. Stamps were issued, in 1912, after a reorganization of the Sharifian post which was aided by the French. In 1913, the Sharifian post was integrated with the postal administration as it was being set up by the French. The stamps issued remained valid for use in both French and Spanish Morocco until 1915 and in Tangier until 1919.
In addition to the Sharifian post being set up in 1892, licenses were given out to set up courier posts. These courier posts would provide postal services connecting two – in one case three – cities. The courier posts were exploited with foreign support – mostly by private companies, but also by consulates and foreign post offices. The period of operation of most of these courier posts varied from a number of months to a number of years.The courier posts are referred to by Michel – Yvert provides a full listing. All issued stamps – most issues are inscribed with the names of the cities the service was provided for. The stamps were issued either in the French or the Spanish currency. In 1911, the then existing courier posts were integrated into the Sharifian post.
As Morocco became a protectorate in 1912, stamps were issued in each of the zones into which Morocco was divided, with the exception of Tangier. Thus, stamps were issued for French Morocco, Spanish Morocco and Cape Juby. Tangier as an international zone had no separate postal administration, the postal services being provided by the foreign offices as described above.
- In French Morocco a postal service was set up starting from the French foreign offices and the Sharifian post. The first stamps for French Morocco were issued in 1914 – a set of provisionals: stamps as issued for the French offices in Morocco now with an additional overprint reading ‘Protectorat Français’. This set and subsequent provisionals are still issued in the Spanish currency. The first set of definitives is issued in 1917, now in the French currency. This issue and subsequent issues are inscribed ‘Maroc’. A last set is issued in 1955. The stamps of French Morocco are superseded by those of independent Morocco in 1956.
- In Spanish Morocco a postal service is set up starting from the Spanish offices in Morocco. A first set of provisionals is issued in 1914 – Spanish stamps overprinted ‘Marruecos’. Further provisionals issued are overprinted ‘Protectorado Español en Marruecos’ and ‘Zona Protectorado Español’. A first set of definitives is issued in 1928. This set and subsequent sets of definitives are inscribed ‘Marruecos, (Zona) Protectorado Espanol’. A last set is issued in 1955. The stamps of Spanish Morocco are superseded by those of independent Morocco in 1956.
- In Cape Juby a postal service is set up from the outset. All stamps issued for Cape Juby are provisionals. The first set are overprints on stamps of Rio de Oro, the overprint being ‘Cabo Jubi’ and a new face value. Next, a few sets of Spanish stamps overprinted ‘Cabo Juby’ are issued and, from 1934, all overprints are on stamps of Spanish Morocco. A last set is issued in 1948. From 1950, Cape Juby is postally integrated with Spanish Sahara whose stamps are used until 1958, when Cape Juby is transferred to Morocco.
In 1956, Morocco gains independence. As both the French and the Spanish currency are used at the time, stamps are issued in both currencies for what are commonly called the southern – French currency – and the northern – Spanish currency – zone. Tangier was part of the northern zone. Several issues are identical in both zones, some are zone specific. The French currency was introduced in the northern zone in 1958, ending the necessity to issue stamps in two currencies. Since then Morocco has issued stamps mainly with themes of national interest.
Since the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara Moroccan stamps have been used in the part of Western Sahara that is controlled by Morocco.
For an overview of the political and postal developments in the form of a diagram, please refer to the country diagram of Morocco.