Morocco is a country in North Africa that is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of California in terms of population, and slightly larger than the size of the same U.S. state in terms of land area. It borders three countries, including Algeria, the disputed Western Sahara region, and the Melilla and Ceuta territories of Spain. It is the only African country having both the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. The longest rivers in Morocco originate from the Atlas Mountains. While most of them flow towards the Atlantic Ocean, only one major river flows to the North. Since Morocco has few rivers and no lake, these rivers have cultural and economic importance. On the other hand, human activities threaten the survival of the biodiversity present along the river valleys. Below are Morocco’s longest rivers.
The River Draa is the longest in Morocco and stretches for 684 miles. The river flows from the Atlas in Central Morocco towards the southeast side, and the upper parts of the river are dry. During the ancient times, this river crossed the desert to join the Atlantic, providing water for many people. Moreover, the river has a fascinating landscape with a rich cultural history. The valley had Venus of Tan-Tan in its valley, giving it a cultural significance and it has become a major tourist attraction. Most of the aquatic vegetation are halophytic in nature and are found at the south-eastern side of the river. On the other hand, there are around 40 species of fish in the river's ecosystems. Human habitat mostly consists of the Berbers who are still traditional in their ways of life. There is a threat from untreated sewage and pesticides from the residents’ usage. The river has been a source of many battles between various nomadic tribes dating back to the 17th and 18th Centuries.
The Oum Er-Rbia is the second longest river in Morocco and has its mouth In the Atlantic Ocean. The Oum Er-Rbia covers a distance of 345 miles from its source to its ocean outlet. The river was hailed in the past as having a name that meant river of rivers. Today, there are six dams on the river with the most important one being Al Massira dam that enhances irrigation efficiency. The river is a habitat for a significant population of the country. There is a variety of trees alongside the river valley with birds flocking the region due to the availability of water. The River faces threats of pollution from various human-made pollutants. There have been disputes in the past by nomadic tribes over the ownership of the water habitat. Moreover, they usually recur hence destabilizing the people’s ways of life.
The third longest river in Morocco empties its waters into the Mediterranean Sea after running for 323 miles. The River was critical to the Roman Conquest. Moreover, in the later times, it formed a border of the Spanish Protectorate. Flamingos frequent the river. However, there are other species of birds and aquatic life in the river region. In 2011, fish were killed by pollutants from the residents used for spraying their crops and livestock. The colonial era was full of disputes and battles. However, in the present day, the conflicts have reduced to a large degree that there is no much threat.
Although it is not the longest river, the Sebou is the largest North African River when it comes to water volume. It pours its waters into the Atlantic Ocean covering a distance of 308 miles. The river plays a critical role in irrigation and supports agriculture in the most fertile area of Morocco along the Gharb region. The river valley hosts a variety of fauna and flora species. In the river itself, there are different types of aquatic life including fish. There are reports of high levels of pollution that threaten the aquatic life of the river. They include pesticides and untreated sewage. River Sebou is currently the most polluted river in Morocco.
Integrity of Morocco's Ecosystems
The environmental issues facing Morocco include land degradation, which has led to desertification, mainly because of erosion and human activities around the marginal areas of the desert. Human activities such as farming, overgrazing, and clearing of vegetation are the main activities affecting the environment.There is contamination of water supplies with raw sewage and pesticides used in agriculture. Morocco has a territorial dispute with Spain which has remained unresolved for years. Morocco has been protesting the Spanish control over the coastal enclaves of Melilla, Ceuta, Penom de Velez de la Gomera, and other small islands within its surrounding waters. Both countries lay claim to the Island of Leila.