In the 1930s, only two French achievements are said to have surprised the Americans: the First World War and Casablanca. A boom town, nicknamed ‘the African Marseilles’, ‘Casa’ was a city where you could drive around at 130 kph and where the streets were filled with luxurious cars. The city grew from a small trading port at the end of the 19th century into one of Africa’s biggest cities. With a centre planned by Henri Prost in the early 20th century, the city, with its wide avenues, elegant buildings and huge port, was held to be the finest achievement of French colonial urbanism. It has remained the economic capital of independent Morocco, the centre for trade and industry, finance and the stock exchange. Sprawling and dynamic and with a population more than four million people, Casa is now a modern, noisy and chaotic metropolis with its fair share of urban problems, as well as some interesting neo-Moorish and art deco architecture, an enormous mosque and an enviable seafront location.

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