Casablanca facts for kids
|Location in Morocco|
|First settled||7th century BC|
|• City||386 km2 (149 sq mi)|
|• Metro||1,615 km2 (624 sq mi)|
|Elevation||0 to 150 m (0 to 492 ft)|
|• Rank||1st in Morocco|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||WEST (UTC+1)|
Casablanca (Arabic: الدار البيضاء, local informal name: Kaẓa) is the largest city in Morocco, located in the central-western part of the country bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest city in the Maghreb, as well as one of the largest and most important cities in Africa, both economically and demographically.
Casablanca is Morocco's chief port and one of the largest financial centers on the continent. The 2012 census (adjusted with recent numbers) recorded a population of about 4 million in the prefecture of Casablanca. Casablanca is considered the economic and business center of Morocco, although the national political capital is Rabat.
The leading Moroccan companies and international corporations doing Moroccan business have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. Recent 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, and the largest port of North Africa. It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.
The original name of the city was Anfa, in Berber language, by at least the seventh century BC. After the Portuguese took control of Anfa in the 15th century AD, they rebuilt it, changing the name to Casa Branca. It derives from the Portuguese word combination meaning "White House" (branca "white", casa "house"). The present name, which is the Spanish version (pronounced [kasaˈβlaŋka]), came when the Portuguese kingdom was integrated to the Spanish kingdom. During the French protectorate in Morocco, the name remained Casablanca (pronounced: [kɑzɑblɑ̃kɑ]). In the 18th century, an earthquake destroyed most of the town. It was rebuilt by the Sultan who changed the name into the local Arabic which is A-ddar Al Baidaa, although Arabic also has its own version of Casablanca (كازابلانكا, Kāzāblānkā). 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 A-ddar Al-Bida, instead.
A famous boulevard inside Casablanca City is called "Anfa Boulevard". Anfa is generally considered the early "old original city" of Casablanca; it is legally a prefecture (district) with half a million city inhabitants.
Geography and climate
Casablanca is located in the Chawiya Plain which has historically been the breadbasket of Morocco. 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, palm, and pine trees. 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 warm 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.
The French period Ville Nouvelle (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 radiate south and east from Place des Nations Unies, previously the main market of Anfa. Former administrative buildings and modern hotels populate the area. Their style is a combination of Hispano-Moorish and Art Deco.
Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is situated on a promontory on the Atlantic Ocean. The mosque has room for 25,000 worshippers inside, and a further 80,000 can be accommodated in the mosque's courtyard. Its minaret is the world's tallest at 210 metres (690 feet). The mosque is also the largest in North Africa, and the third-largest in the world.
Work on the mosque 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 the Casablanca Cathedral (Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur). It is no longer in use for religious purposes, but it is open to visitors and a splendid example of Mauresque architecture. The Old Medina (the part of town antedating the French protectorate) attracts fewer tourists than the medinas of cities 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.
A popular site among locals is the small island Marabout de Sidi Abderrahmane. It is possible to walk across to the rocky island at low tide. This outcrop contains the tomb of Sidi Abderrhamane Thaalibi, a Sufi from Baghdad and the founder of Algiers. He is considered a saint in Morocco. Because of this, many Moroccans make informal pilgrimages to this site "to reflect on life and to seek religious enlightenment". Some believe that the saint possessed magical powers, so his tomb still possesses these powers. People come and seek this magic to be cured. Non-Muslims may not enter the shrine.
In popular culture
- Casablanca is the setting of the 1942 film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The film has achieved worldwide popularity since then. 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.
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