Casablanca

Casablanca

[kas-uh-blang-kuh, kah-suh-blahng-kuh]
Casablanca, Arab. Dar-al-Baida, city (1994 est. pop. 2,940,623), W Morocco, on the Atlantic Ocean. The largest city and principal port of Morocco, it accounts for more than half of Morocco's industrial production. The city's leading industries produce textiles, glass, electronics, bricks, beer, and soft drinks. Fish and seafood are abundant in the coastal waters. Major imports include petroleum products. Casablanca is the seat of numerous Arab and French schools, an art school, the Goethe-Institut, and the Hassan II mosque (1993), one of the world's largest.

Casablanca is on the site of Anfa, a prosperous town that the Portuguese destroyed in 1468; they resettled it briefly in 1515 under its present name. Almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, Casablanca was rebuilt (1757) by Muhammad XVI. It was occupied by the French in 1907. During World War II, Casablanca was the scene of one of the three major Allied landings in North Africa (Nov., 1942) and of a conference between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (Nov., 1943).

(Jan. 12–23, 1943) Meeting during World War II at Casablanca, Morocco, between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. They planned future global military strategy for the Western allies, reaching agreement on such issues as the invasion of Sicily, operations in the Pacific theatre, and the concentrated bombing of Germany. Most importantly, they issued a demand for an “unconditional surrender” from Germany, Italy, and Japan.

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Coastal city (pop., 1994: 2,940,623), western Morocco. It occupies the site of the ancient city of Anfa, destroyed by the Portuguese in 1468. The Portuguese returned in 1515 and built a new town, Casa Branca (“White House”). Abandoned after an earthquake, it was occupied by a Moroccan sultan in 1757. European traders, including the French, began to settle there. In 1907, after French citizens were murdered there, French forces occupied the town. During the subsequent French protectorate, it became Morocco's chief port. Since then, its growth and development have been continuous. In World War II (1939–45) it surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1942, and in 1943 the Casablanca Conference was held there.

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Casablanca (in Standard Arabic: الدار البيضاء ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ; Moroccan Arabic: dar beïda الدار البيضا , Spanish for white (blanca) house (casa) ; Amazigh: Anfa) is a city in western Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Greater Casablanca region.

With a population of 3.1 million (3.85 million in the "greater Casablanca" (September 2005 census), Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It's also the biggest city in the Maghreb and the sixth biggest city in the entire continent of Africa. Casablanca is considered the economic capital of Morocco because it is the heart of Moroccan business; the political capital is Rabat. It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.

Casablanca is the leading city hosting headquarters and main industrial facilities for the leading Moroccan and international companies based in Morocco. Industrial statistics show Casablanca retains its historic position as the main industrial zone of the country. The Port of Casablanca is considered as Morocco's chief port and as one of the largest artificial ports in the world. It is also the largest port of the Maghreb and North Africa.

History

Before the French Protectorate

The area which is today Casablanca was settled by Berbers by at least the 7th century. 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.

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 "Casabranca", meaning "White House" in Portuguese.

Between 1580-1640 was part of Spain, and later part of Portugal again. They 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. The town was called Dar el Beida (white house) in Arabic and Casa Blanca in Spanish.

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. 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, largely through the development of bidonvilles.

French rule

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 colonialisation, 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, Norse, Bulgarian, Russian and some other nationalities) includes only a single (uncredited) Arab 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 terrible casualties.

The Casablanca Conference

Casablanca was an important strategic port during World War II 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 regained 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. Two days later, police set up barricades around the city and detained two more men who had escaped the raid. 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.

Climate

Economy

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.

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, beer, spirits, soft drinks, and cigarettes.

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

A Hewlett Packard office for French-speaking countries in Africa is in Casablanca.

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. The number of inhabitants is however disputed by the locals, who point to a number between 5 and 6 million, citing recent drought years as a reason for many people moving into the city to find work.

Jews 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.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Casablanca was home to about 6,000 Jews - more than a quarter of the population. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Casablanca has been associated with Judaism more than any other city in North Africa. The Jewish population snowballed in the mid 20th century, partly because of the development of social support structures for Jewish incomers and partly, after the European Holocaust, because of an increased desire of some Jews for the protection of a large Jewish community.

Between the 1940s and 1960s, the Jewish population of Casablanca was around 70,000. Emigration to France, Canada, the United States and Israel from Casablanca has been substantial since then, however. Large numbers of expatriates retain Moroccan citizenship and a Moroccan identity. Fewer than 5,000 Jews remain in the city today. Here is a list of a few synagogues in Casablanca:

  • Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities, (Conseil des Communautés Israélites du Maroc), 1, rue Adrienne Lecouver
  • Synagogue Beth-El - 67, Verlet-Hanus
  • Synagogue Téhila Le David - Bd du 11 Janvier
  • Synagogue Benarrosh - Rue de Lusitania
  • Synagogue Em-Habanime - Rue de Lusitania

An Israeli theatre play, extremely popular in the 1950s and 1960's and later made into a film, was called Casablan, depicting the difficult life in a Jaffa slum of the eponymous young Morrocan Jewish immigrant, evidently originating from Casablanca

Notable physical landmarks

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 Cathedrale du 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.

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 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 which served certain destinations including Damascus, and Tunis is scheduled to close to civilian traffic in 2006.

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. It should be noted that driving in Casablanca is a highly dangerous activity, and consequently being a pedestrian is also extremely risky. Lanes are not respected, indicators are rarely used and the horn is considered as requiring of regular use as the brake or accelerator. Pedestrian crossings should not be interpreted as such.

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 9 million dirhams .

Tram (planned)

A tram system is currently in the project phase.

List of main Casablanca's locations

Districts

Arrondissements

  • Ain Sebaa
  • Belvédère
  • 2 Mars
  • Bouchentouf
  • Bourgogne
  • Centre Ville (City Center)
  • 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 Moulay Rachid
  • La Gironde
  • La Colline
  • Laimoun (Hay Hassani)
  • Lissasfa
  • Maarif
  • Old Madina (Mdina Qdima)
  • Mers Sultan

  • Nisaam
  • Oasis
  • Oulfa
  • Polo
  • Racine
  • Riviera
  • Roches Noires
  • Sbaata
  • Sidi Bernoussi
  • Sidi Moumen
  • Sidi Maarouf
  • Sidi Othman

International relations

Sister cities

Partner cities

Education

Colleges and Universities

K through 12

Sports

People born in Casablanca

Casablanca in fiction

  • Casablanca is the setting of the eponymous film from 1942 starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The film has achieved worldwide popularity since then, having also won three Oscars and been nominated in five additional categories.
  • The city is featured in The Mysterious Caravan, Volume 54 in the original Hardy Boys series.
  • 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.
  • A Night in Casablanca (1946) was the twelfth 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 (see image). Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is played twice, once by Chico on piano as an intro to the Beer Barrel Polka, and again by Harpo on the harp.

Images

References

Bahiyyih Maroon, “Leisure Space: Thematic Style and Cultural Exclusion in Casablanca,” pp. 137-151 in The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nation, and Self, ed. Scott A. Lukas (Lanham, MD, Lexington Books, 2007), ISBN 0739121421

See also

External links

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