In Morocco, the 75 second-level administrative subdivisions are 13 prefectures and 62 provinces. They are subdivisions of the 12 regions of Morocco. Each prefecture or province is subdivided into arrondissements (only in prefectures of some metropolitan areas), municipalities (communes, sing. commune) or urban municipalities (communes urbaines, sing. commune urbaine) in other urban areas, and districts (cercles, sing. cercle) in rural areas. The districts are subdivided into rural municipalities (communes rurales, sing. commune rural). One prefecture (Casablanca) is also subdivided into préfectures d'arrondissements (sing. préfecture d'arrondissements), similar to districts (cercles) except they are grouping a few arrondissements instead of rural municipalities.
Note: The arrondissements and (urban) municipalities should probably be thought of as fourth-level subdivisions, on the same level as the rural municipalities, but they are not part of any district.
Most of Western Sahara is administered de facto by Morocco (where the area is informally named the Southern Provinces by the Moroccan government and media); the rest is administered by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The United Nations considers the territory to be disputed, as it was not legally transferred by Spain when it abandoned its former colony in 1975, and several states (notably members of the African Union) either recognize the SADR as the sole legitimate government of Western Sahara, or consider that the status of the region (either as an independent state, or as part of Morocco, or as part of Mauritania that initially claimed a part of it) has still not been autodetermined by the local population prior to its annexation. The United Nations has no legal instruments confirming the claims on the region made by the governments of Morocco or the self-proclaimed SADR, and in international treaties it is still a formal part of Spain that remains to be properly decolonized, even though Spain and Mauritania no longer claim any part of it.
Since the annexation, the situation is worsened by the fact that most of the historic Western Saharan population has fled either to the remaining free zone (now isolated by the Moroccan militarized berm), or to refugee camps in neighbouring countries (notably Algeria), due to lack of resources in the free zone. The remaining native Western Saharan population now lives as a minority among the new Moroccan occupants. The absence of a legal government with an permanent administration in the free zone has also introduced a threat to the security of the surrounding countries in the Saharan and Sahel regions, including Morocco itself.
|Geographic Code||Region||Capital||Subdivisions||Population (2014)||Area||Population density|
|# of provinces and prefectures||# of communes||Population||%||Area in km2||%|
|5||Béni Mellal-Khénifra||Béni Mellal||6||164||2,520,776||7.45||41,033||5.77||61.43|
|11||Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra||Laâyoune||4||20||367,758||1.09||140,018||19.7||2.63|
In Morocco, a wilaya is an administrative division created since 1981 that "brings together many provinces or prefectures or both at the same time, and is intended to endow big urban units such as Casablanca with an administrative organization capable of meeting the needs that emerge from these expanding cities and their growing populations." Therefore, strictly speaking, the level of wilayas are between the regions and prefectures/provinces (although wilayas only cover urban areas). However, they are often used synonymous with regions or prefectures/provinces in common usage.