Located in northwest Africa, Morocco is bordered by Algeria to the east, Mauritania to the south, the Western Sahara to the southwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. North of Morocco is the eight-kilometre-wide Strait of Gibraltar, which separates North Africa from Spain and continental Europe. There are two small Spanish colonies on Moroccan territory, Ceuta and Melilla. They lie on small peninsulas jutting into the Mediterranean Sea.
Much of Morocco is mountainous. The Rif Mountains along the Mediterranean coast rise to heights of almost 2,000 metres. To the south rise the Atlas Mountains: the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas ranges. Mount Jebel Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak at 4,165 metres, is in the High Atlas Mountains. The river valleys between the mountains are among Morocco’s most fertile areas. South of the mountains lies the Sahara Desert, which is sparsely populated.
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Marrakesh is called the "Red City," because of the colour of its buildings, which were constructed using the red sand found in that region.
The climate varies depending on latitude, altitude and the distance from the sea, which has a cooling effect. Temperatures are moderate along the coast and more extreme inland. The mountains have cold snowy winters and warm summers. The lowland areas are very hot in the summer, and cold and damp in the winter. The Atlas Mountains prevent the movement of moist winds from the Atlantic, thereby creating desert conditions in the south. The Sahara receives little rainfall.
Olive trees and eucalyptus grow on the plains, evergreen oaks in the mountainous areas. Aromatic herbs, patches of coarse grass, stunted bushes and date palms grow in the arid regions of the country. Lizards, chameleons, and snakes inhabit the dry regions. "Sand fish" or Berber skink, camouflaged by their yellow-brown colour, move through the sand the way fish move through water. Monkeys, commonly called Barbary apes, live in the mountains. These monkeys are unique because of their ability to live in snowy regions.