Casablanca 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, unofficially up to 6 million according to inhabitants), 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.
With a majority of the modern economic sector being based in the Casablanca region, and the Casablanca area being dominant in industrial and service sector activity, it is often and justifiably referred to as the economic capital, although Morocco's 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.
Casablanca Tourist Sites:
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 admistrative 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.
Port of Casablanca
Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur (Catholic Cathedral)
City Hall (Casablanca)
Casablanca Twin Center
Hassan II Mosque
Mohammed V International Airport
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.
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.
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 Sydney, Damascus, and Tunis is scheduled to close to civilian traffic in 2006.
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.
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. A tram system is currently in the project phase.