The Rif or Riff is a mainly mountainous region of northern Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, with some fertile plains, stretching from Cape Spartel
Cape Spartel
Cape Spartel is a promontory in Morocco about above sea level at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, 12 km West of Tangier. It is frequently but incorrectly referred as the northernmost point of Africa, which is instead Ras ben Sakka, Tunisia....

 and Tangier
Tangier, also Tangiers is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 700,000 . It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel...

 in the west to Ras Kebdana
Ras Kebdana
Ras Kebdana, Ras El Ma or Capo de Agua, is a town in Nador Province, Oriental, Morocco. It's also a seaport and it's located in the province of Nador, and it belongs to the Rif area in northern Morocco. According to the 2004 census it has a population of 4,532.The town was part of the Kingdom of...

 and the Melwiyya River
Moulouya River
The Moulouya River is a 520 km-long river in Morocco. Its sources are located in the Middle Atlas. It empties into the Mediterranean Sea near Saidia, in Northeast Morocco at about . Water level in the river often fluctuates. The river is used for irrigation...

 in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 in the north to the river of Wergha in the south.

It is part of the Cordillera Bética that also includes the mountains of Southern Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The Rif mountains are not part of the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 but belong to the Gibraltar Arc
Gibraltar Arc
The Gibraltar Arc is a geological region corresponding to an arcuate orogen surrounding the Alboran Sea, between the Iberian Peninsula and Africa. It consists of the Betic Cordillera , and the Rif ....

 or Alborán Sea
Alboran Sea
|300px|thumb|]]The Alboran Sea is the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea, lying between Spain on the north and Morocco and Algeria on the south...

 geological region.

The region's name comes from the Berber word Arif. Major cities in the greter Rif region include Nador
Nador is a city located in the northeastern Rif region of Morocco. The city is a Mediterranean port on the Bḥar Ameẓẓyan lagoon , and it is the major trading center in the region for fish, fruit, and livestock...

, Tangiers, Al Hoceima
Al Hoceima
Al Hoceima is a city and port in the north of Morocco and in the center of the Rif Mountains. The Al Hoceima city region has a population of 395.644 and is the capital of the Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate region...

 (also called Biya), Azghenghan
Segangan is a town and municipalty in the province of Nador, Oriental, Morocco. One of the major towns of the province. According to the 2004 census it has a population of 20,181.-History:...

, Selwan
Selouane is a town in Nador Province, Oriental, Morocco. According to the 2004 census it has a population of 9,211.-References:...

, Aâarwi, Imzouren
Imzouren is city in the north of Morocco and has an approximate population of 100,000 people. Imzouren is in the Rif mountains, near the city Al Hoceima and has nearly grown to the village Beni BouhyachIt's also close to the Souani Beach...

, Ajdir
Ajdir is a small city in Morocco near Al Hoceima. It was the capital of the Republic of the Rif from 1922 to 1926 under the leadership of Abd el-Krim .-See also:* *Republic of the Rif*Aith Ouriaghel...

, Targuist
Targuist is a town in Al Hoceïma Province, Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate, Morocco. According to the 2004 census it has a population of 11,560.-References:...

 (Targist), Tittawin
Tetouan is a city in northern Morocco. The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Tetouan is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. It lies a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 40 mi E.S.E. of Tangier...

, Berkan
Berkane is a city in the northeastern Morocco in the area of Thrifa, limited by the Mediterranean to its north, the Kiss Oued and the wilaya of Oujda in the east, the wilaya of Nador in the west and the wilaya of Taourirt in the south. This common belongs to the wilaya of Oujda...

, Taza
Taza is a city in northern Morocco, which occupies the corridor between the Rif mountians and Middle Atlas mountains, about 120 km east of Fez. It is located at 150 km from Nador, and 210 km from Oujda...

, Tawrirt
Taourirt is a village in northern Algeria. It is located in Bouïra Province.Nearby towns and villages include Tassift , M'Chedallah, Chorfa , Boudjellil and Sidi Brahim .....

, and El Jebha
El Jebha
El Jebha is a little port town in the northern part of Morocco. This meditereanean coastal place is situated in the Rif Mountains, and across the route that takes traffic from the Northwestern part to the Northeastern part of Morocco...



The Rif has been inhabited by Berbers since prehistoric times. As early as the 11th century BC, the Phoenicians began to establish trading posts, with approval of or partnership with the local Berbers, on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, and founded cities such as Tetouan, Melilla (Rusadir) and, in the 5th century BC, Tangier (called Tingi, back then). Later the Carthaginians replaced the Phoenicians as the major power in the region. After the Third Punic War
Third Punic War
The Third Punic War was the third and last of the Punic Wars fought between the former Phoenician colony of Carthage, and the Roman Republic...

, Carthage was supplanted by Rome, and the Rif became part of the province of Mauretania
Mauretania is a part of the historical Ancient Libyan land in North Africa. It corresponds to present day Morocco and a part of western Algeria...

. When the latter was divided during the rule of Emperor Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

, Tangier became the capital of Mauretania Tingitana
Mauretania Tingitana
Mauretania Tingitana was a Roman province located in northwestern Africa, coinciding roughly with the northern part of present-day Morocco. The province extended from the northern peninsula, opposite Gibraltar, to Chellah and Volubilis to the south, and as far east as the Oued Laou river. Its...

. In the 5th century AD, the region was raided by the Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, and Roman rule came to an end. The region remained under Vandal control until the 6th century AD when the Byzantines
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 reconquered parts of it.

In 710, Salih I ibn Mansur
Salih I ibn Mansur
Salih I ibn Mansur , was an immigrant from Yemen who founded the Kingdom of Nekor, located in modern-day Morocco. He received the title of al-Himyari by caliphal grant and converted the local Berber tribes to Islam. Initially the local tribes resisted the restrictions of the new religion and soon...

 founded the kingdom of Nekor
Kingdom of Nekor
The Kingdom of Nekor was an emirate in the Rif area of modern day Morocco, with its capital initially at Temsaman but later at Nekor. It was founded by an immigrant of Yemen, Salih I ibn Mansur al-Himyarī in 710 AD, by Caliphal grant...

 in the Rif and Berbers started converting to Islam. Berber Muslim kingdoms started establishing more cities. By the 15th century, many Spanish Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 were exiled from Spain and most of them settled in the Rif, bringing their culture, Andalusian music
Andalusian music
Andalusian music may refer to:*the music of Andalusia, a region of Spain*Andalusian classical music, which is today almost entirely associated with North African, especially Moroccan music....

, and even establishing the city of Ashawen (Accawen meaning "horns" in Berber). Since then, the Rif has suffered numerous battles between Berber kingdoms, Spain and Portugal. In 1415, Portugal invaded Ceuta (Sebta), and in 1490 Spain invaded Melilla (Mlilt). There was a period of peace afterwards, but war between Spain and Morocco
Spanish-Moroccan War (1859)
The Hispano-Moroccan War, also known as the Spanish–Moroccan War, the First Moroccan War, the Tetuán War, or, in Spain, as the African War , was fought from Spain's declaration of war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860...

 broke out again in 1859 in Tetouan, where Morocco was defeated. The Spanish-Moroccan conflicts continued in the 20th century, under the leadership of Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, the Berber guerrilla leader. The Riffian Berbers struggled against Spanish rule
Rif War (1920)
The Rif War, also called the Second Moroccan War, was fought between Spain and the Moroccan Rif Berbers.-Rifian forces:...

 and aimed to free the Rif from Spanish occupation. Abd el-Krim later established the Republic of the Rif
Republic of the Rif
The Republic of the Rif , was created in September 1921, when the people of the Rif revolted and declared their independence from Spanish occupation as well as from the Moroccan sultan.Its capital city was Ajdir, its currency the Rif Republic Riffan, its national...

 in 1921. The region was returned to Morocco after the latter gained its independence in 1956.


The Rif mountains are not part of the Atlas mountain range. According to C. Michael Hogan, there are between five and eight separate subpopulations of the endangered primate
A primate is a mammal of the order Primates , which contains prosimians and simians. Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment...

 Barbary Macaque
Barbary Macaque
The Barbary Macaque , or Common macaque, is a macaque with no tail. Found in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco with a small population, of unknown origin, in Gibraltar, the Barbary Macaque is one of the best-known Old World monkey species. Besides humans, they are the only primates that...

, Macaca sylvanus. The Rif mountains are also home to the honeybee Apis mellifera major.

The Rif region receives more rainfall than any other region in Morocco, with some portions receiving upwards of 2000mm of precipitation a year. The western and central portions are more rainy and are covered in forests of Atlas Cedar
Atlas Cedar
Cedrus atlantica, the Atlas Cedar, is a cedar native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco . A majority of the modern sources treat it as a distinct species Cedrus atlantica, but some sources consider it a subspecies of Lebanon Cedar Cedrus atlantica, the Atlas Cedar, is a cedar native to...

, Cork Oak
Cork Oak
Quercus suber, commonly called the Cork Oak, is a medium-sized, evergreen oak tree in the section Quercus sect. Cerris. It is the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses, such as cork flooring. It is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa.It grows to up to 20 m,...

 and Holm Oak
Holm Oak
Quercus ilex, the Holm Oak or Holly Oak is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region. It takes its name from holm, an ancient name for holly...

, as well as the only remaining forests of Moroccan Fir, a subspecies of the Spanish Fir
Spanish Fir
Abies pinsapo is a species of fir native to southern Spain and northern Morocco. Related to other species of mediterranean firs, is considered the Andalusian National Tree, native of the Andalusian mountains...

. The eastern slopes receive less rainfall, and there forests consist mainly of pines, particularly the Aleppo Pine
Aleppo Pine
Pinus halepensis, commonly known as the Aleppo Pine, is a pine native to the Mediterranean region. Their range extends from Morocco and Spain north to southern France, Italy and Croatia, and east to Greece and northern Tunisia, and Libya, with an outlying population in Syria, Lebanon, southern...

 and the Maritime Pine
Maritime Pine
Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, is a pine native to the western and southwestern Mediterranean region. The pejorative name 'pinaster' is derived from pinus + aster, translating as 'a poor imitation of a pine' Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, is a pine native to the western and southwestern...

, as well as Tetraclinis
Tetraclinis is a genus of evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, containing only one species, Tetraclinis articulata, also known as Sandarac or the Barbary thuja, endemic to the western Mediterranean region...


Massive deforestation due to overgrazing, forest fires, and forest clearing for agriculture, particularly for the creation of cannabis
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These three taxa are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has long been used for fibre , for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a...

 plantations, has taken place over the last century. This deforestation has led to soil degradation due to the washing away of topsoil
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top to . It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.-Importance:...

, which has aggravated the process.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.