Agadir is one of the major urban centres of Morocco. The municipality of Agadir recorded a population of 421,844 in the 2014 Moroccan census. According to the 2004 census, there were 346,106 inhabitants in that year and the population of the Prefecture of Agadir-Ida Outanane was 487,954 inhabitants.
Three languages are spoken in the city: Tashelhit (first language of the majority), Moroccan Arabic, and French.
The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960; it has been completely rebuilt with mandatory seismic standards. It is now the largest seaside resort in Morocco, where foreign tourists and many residents are attracted by an unusually mild year-round climate. Since 2010 it has been well served by low-cost flights and a motorway from Tangier. The city attracts all walks of life; it has had an annual growth rate of over 6% per year in housing demand while housing production barely exceeds 3.4%.
The mild winter climate (January average midday temperature 20.5 °C/69 °F) and good beaches have made it a major "winter sun" destination for northern Europeans.
The name Agadir is a common Berber noun agadir meaning "wall, enclosure, fortified building, citadel". This noun is attested in most Berber languages, and may be a loanword from Phoenician-Punic, a Semitic language spoken in North-Africa until the fifth century CE.
There are many more towns in Morocco called Agadir. The city of Agadir's full name in Tashelhit is Agadir n Yighir, literally "the fortress of the cape", referring to the nearby promontory named Cape Rhir on maps (a pleonastic name, literally "Cape Cape").
A single male inhabitant or native of the town is known in Tashelhit as a gg ugadir (also a common surname, "Gougadir" in French spelling), plural ayt ugadir "men of Agadir" (also collective name, "men and women of Agadir, people of Agadir"); a single feminine inhabitant is a ult ugadir "woman of Agadir", plural ist ugadir "women of Agadir". In Moroccan Arabic, an inhabitant is a gadiri, plural gadiriyin, feminine gadiriya, plural gadiriyat.
Little history is recorded on Agadir before the 12th century.
In the 2nd century AD, the historian Polybius referred to North Africa on the Atlantic, a place called cap Rhysaddir, that may have been located near Agadir but its location is still under debate.
The oldest cartographic mention of Agadir is on a map from 1325: at the approximate location of the modern city there was an indication of a place called Porto Mesegina, after the name of a Berber tribe already mentioned in the 12th century, the Mesguina, that is to say the Ksima.
At the end of the medieval period, Agadir was a town of some notoriety. The name itself, Agadir al-harba, was attested to for the first time in 1510.
In 1505, the Portuguese, who were already installed on the Moroccan coast, founded a trading post and a fort at the foot of the hill to the sea, Santa Cruz do Cabo de Aguer on the site of the now-vanished neighborhood of Founti (named after the Portuguese word fonte meaning fountain) under a governor.
Quickly, the Portuguese were exposed to the hostility of the tribes of the region. From 1530, they were blockaded in Santa Cruz. Portuguese weakness showed itself on 12 March 1541 when Sherif Saâdien Mohammed ash-Sheikh captured the fortress of Santa Cruz de Aguer. Six hundred Portuguese survivors were taken prisoner, including the governor, Guterre de Monroy, and his daughter, Dona Mecia. The captives were redeemed by the holy men mostly from Portugal. Dona Mecia, whose husband was killed during the battle, became the wife of Sheikh Mohammed ash-Sheikh but died in childbirth in 1544. In the same year, Mohammed ash-Sheikh released the Governor Guterre de Monroy, whom he had befriended.
The Portuguese possessions in Morocco, acquired between 1505 and 1520, were regressing. After the loss of Agadir, the Portuguese were obliged to abandon Safi and Azemmour. Morocco was beginning to be less important for Portugal which now turned to India and Brazil. After 1550, the Portuguese no longer held anything in Morocco other than Mazagan (now El Jadida), Tangier and Ceuta.
The story of the Portuguese presence (from the installation in 1505 until the fall on 12 March 1541) is described in manuscript (published for the first time, with French translation, by Pierre de Cenival in 1934) entitled "ESTE HE O ORIGEM E COMEÇO E CABO DA VILLA DE SANTA CRUZ DO CABO DE GUE D'AGOA DE NARBA", written by anonymous who was captured in 12-III-34 and was five years inprisioned in Taroudannt (cf. "Santa Cruz do Cabo de Gue d'Agoa de Narba – Estudo e Crónica", Joao Marinho e Santos, José Manuel Azevedo e Silva e Mohammed Nadir,bilingual edition, Viseu 2007).
In 1572, the Casbah was built on top of the hill by Moulay Abdallah al-Ghalib, successor to Mohammed ash-Sheikh. It was now called Agadir N'Ighir, literally: fortified granary of the hill in Tachelhit.
In the 17th century, during the reign of the Berber dynasty of Tazerwalt, Agadir was a harbour of some importance, expanding its trade with Europe. There was, however, no real port nor a wharf. Agadir traded mainly in sugar, wax, copper, hides and skins. Europeans took their manufactured goods, particularly weapons and textiles. Under the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail (1645–1727) and his successors, the trade with France, until then an active partner regressed to the English and the Dutch.
In 1731, the town was completely destroyed by an earthquake. The harbour of Agadir was then ordered to be closed when Essaouira was established farther north.
In 1746, the Dutch set up a trading post at the foot of the Casbah under the authority of the Sultan, and undoubtedly participated in the restoration of the city. Above the door of the Casbah, the Dutch inscription can still be seen with its transcription in Arabic: "Vreest God ende eert den Kooning", which means "Fear God and honour the King", and the date 1746.
After a long period of prosperity during the reigns of the Saadian and Alawite dynasties, Agadir declined from 1760 because of the pre-eminence given to the competing port of Essaouira by the Alawite Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah who wanted to punish the Souss for rebelling against his authority. This decline lasted a century and a half. In 1789, a European traveler gave a brief description of Agadir: "It is now a ghost town, there are no more than a few houses and these are crumbling into ruins".
In 1881, Sultan Moulay Hassan reopened the harbour to trade in order to supply the expeditions he planned in the south. These expeditions, which were to reassert his authority over the Souss tribes and counter the plans of English and Spanish, were held in 1882 and 1886.
In 1884, Charles de Foucauld described in Reconnaissance au Maroc (Reconnaissance in Morocco) his rapid passage to Agadir from the east:
I walk along the shore to Agadir Irir. The road passes below the city, half-way between it and Founti: Founti is a miserable hamlet, a few fishermen's huts; Agadir, despite its white enclosure which gives it the air of a city is, I am told, a poor village depopulated and without trade.
On the pretext of a call for help from German companies in the valley of the Souss, Germany decided on 1 July 1911, to extend its interests in Morocco and assert a claim on the country. It sent to the Bay of Agadir, (which harbour was, until 1881, closed to foreign trade) the SMS Panther which was quickly joined by the cruiser Berlin. Very strong international reaction, particularly from Great Britain, surprised Germany and triggered the Agadir Crisis between France and Germany. War threatened. After tough negotiations, a Franco-German treaty was finally signed on 4 November 1911, giving a free hand to France, who would be able to establish its protectorate over Morocco in return for giving up some colonies in Africa. It was only then that the gunboat Panther and the cruiser Berlin left the bay of Agadir.
Due to a miscalculation, the German sales representative Hermann Wilberg, who was sent to provide the pretext for the intervention, only arrived at Agadir three days after the Panther arrived.
In 1913, the cities (Agadir N'Ighir and Founti) totalled less than a thousand inhabitants. On 15 June 1913 French troops landed in Agadir. In 1916, the first pier was built near Founti – a simple jetty, later known as the "Portuguese jetty", which remained until the end of the 20th century. After 1920, under the French protectorate, a port was built and the city saw its first development with the construction of the old Talborjt district located on the plateau at the foot of the hill. Two years later, beside Talborjt along the faultline of the river Tildi construction of the popular district of Yahchech began.
Around 1930, Agadir was an important stop for the French airmail service Aéropostale and was frequented by Saint-Exupéry and Mermoz.
In the years from 1930, a modern central city began to be built according to the plans of the urban planner Henri Prost, director of the Urban Planning Department of the Protectorate, and his deputy Albert Laprade: a horseshoe layout based on the waterfront around a large avenue perpendicular to the waterfront – the Avenue Lyautey, since renamed Avenue du Général Kettani. In the 1950s, urban development continued under the direction of the Director of Urban Planning Morocco, Michel Ecochard.
After 1950 and the opening of the new commercial port, the city grew with fishing, canning, agriculture, and mining. It also began to open up to tourism thanks to its climate and beautiful hotels. Several years later from 1950 to 1956 Agadir organised the Grand Prix of Agadir and, from 1954 to 1956, the Moroccan Grand Prix.
In 1959, the port was visited by the yacht of the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and his guest, Winston Churchill.
By 1960, Agadir numbered over 40,000 residents when at 15 minutes to midnight on 29 February 1960, it was again almost totally destroyed by an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 on the Richter scale that lasted 15 seconds, burying the city and killing more than a third of the population. The death toll was estimated at 15,000. The earthquake destroyed the ancient Casbah.
On seeing the destruction in Agadir, King Muhammad V of Morocco declared: "If Destiny decided the destruction of Agadir, its rebuilding depends on our Faith and Will."
The current city was rebuilt 2 km further south, led by the architects Jean-François Zevaco, Elijah Azagury, Pierre Coldefy, and Claude Verdugo. Agadir became a large city of over half a million by 2004, with a large port with four basins: the commercial port with draft of 17 metres, triangle fishing, fishing port, and a pleasure boat port with marina. Agadir was the premier sardine port in the world in the 1980s and has a famous beach stretching over 10 km with one of the finest seafront promenades in the world. Its climate has 340 days of sunshine per year which allows for swimming all year round. The winter is unusually warm and summer heat is never oppressive (summer haze however is common).
With Marrakech, Agadir is a very important centre for tourism to Morocco, and the city is the most important fishing port in the country. Business is also booming with the export of citrus fruit and vegetables produced in the fertile valley of Souss.
With its white buildings, wide flowered boulevards, modern hotels and European style cafes, Agadir is not a typical city of traditional Morocco but it is a modern, active and dynamic city, turned towards the future.
The bay of Agadir and the nearby Bay of Taghazout are members of the "Club of the most beautiful bays in the world".
The city is served by the Agadir–Al Massira International Airport.
The current conurbation of Agadir is actually a combination of four communes:
This area is named after the old district of Talborjt (meaning "small fort" in local Berber, in remembrance of the water tower which was first built on the plateau in the former Talborjt). Lively, the New Talborjt which has been rebuilt away from the Old Talborjt, has as a main artery the Boulevard Mohammed Sheikh Saadi, named after the victor against the Portuguese in 1541. Other major avenues are the Avenue President Kennedy and the Avenue February 29. There is also the Mohammed V mosque, the Olhão garden (Olhão is a coastal city in southern Portugal that is twinned with Agadir) and its memorial museum and the garden Ibn Zaydoun. Some good hotels and restaurants have been built on the main arteries.
Over the decades, Agadir has had several ports: two fishing ports, a major trading port, and the recent port for leisure boats with its marina.
The Avenue du Port, the main artery of the Anza district, is surrounded by canneries and has many popular small restaurants adjacent to the fish market.
The fishing port is one of the premier major sardine ports in the world. The commercial port is also known for its exports of cobalt, manganese, zinc and citrus products.
The Casbah (Agadir Oufella, Agadir le haut, Agadir N'Ighir, or Agadir de la colline) was, along with Founti by the sea, the oldest district of Agadir. An authentic fortress with winding streets and lively, the Casbah was built in 1572 by Moulay Abdallah al-Ghalib. Above the front door; today, the original inscription in Arabic and in English reads: "Fear God and honour the King."
Of this fortress there remains, after the earthquake of 29 February 1960, a restored long high wall that surrounds land that is not buildable. The view, however, is exceptional over the bay of Agadir and the ports. The old people of Agadir remember the famous "Moorish café" of the Casbah and its panoramic view.
The hill bears the inscription in Arabic: "God, Country, King" which, like the walls, is illuminated at night.
Overlooking the waterfront and Wadi Tildi, this old district (whose name is sometimes spelled Talbordjt) was once a shopping area and very lively with its large square where there was a weekly market, hotels, schools, mosque 90% of the buildings in Old Talborjt were destroyed or severely damaged by the earthquake in 1960. Razed to the ground after the earthquake and now overgrown, it is classified as non-buildable area. Its main thoroughfare, the Avenue El Moun stretches over 2 km and serves only for driving schools who teach their students to drive.
One of the most popular neighbourhoods, it is known for its Square for taxis and buses. It is a junction that unites the heart of the city and its surroundings. This district was the least affected by the earthquake of 1960.
This is the largest market in the region. It has about 6,000 small shops. It is surrounded by walls and has several entrances. It is organized into different sectors: furniture, crafts, clothing, vegetables, meat, spices etc. It is possible to find all kinds of handicrafts and traditional decorations.
The walls have been restored and the interior design is being finished.
La Médina is a handicrafts space created in 1992 by the Italian artist Coco Polizzi, at Ben Sergao, a district close to Agadir 4.5 km from the city centre. Built using techniques of traditional Berber construction, it is a kind of small open-air museum, on five hectares and home to artisan workshops, a museum, individual residences, a small hotel, and an exotic garden.
Agadir features a subtropical-semiarid climate (Köppen: BSh ) with warm summers and mild winters. Located along the Atlantic Ocean, Agadir has a very temperate climate. The daytime temperature generally stays in the 20s °C (70s °F) every day, with the winter highs typically reaching 20.4 °C or 68.7 °F in December and January. The annual temperatures are very similar to Nairobi, Kenya, but with much less rainfall – about 290 millimetres or 11.4 inches annually – whilst mid-year nights are less chilly than the Kenyan capital.
Rainfall is almost entirely confined to the winter months and is heavily influenced by the NAO, with negative NAO indices producing wet winters and positive NAO correlating with drought. For instance, in the wettest month on record of December 1963, as much as 314.7 millimetres or 12.39 inches fell, whereas in the positive NAO year from July 1960 to June 1961 a mere 46.7 millimetres or 1.84 inches occurred over the twelve months. The wettest year has been from July 1955 to June 1956 with 455.5 millimetres or 17.93 inches.
Occasionally however, the region experiences winds from the Sahara called Chergui, which may exceptionally and for two to five days raise the heat above 40 °C or 104 °F.
The lowest temperature recorded in Agadir was −2.6 °C or 27.3 °F and the highest maximum recorded was 49.1 °C or 120.4 °F at Agadir airport on 30 July 2009
In 1950, a poster from the Navigation Company Pacquet proclaimed: “Winter or summer, I bathe in Agadir”
Agadir's economy relies mainly on tourism and fisheries. Agricultural activities are based around the city.
Agadir has one of the biggest Souks in Morocco (Souk Al Ahad)
The city has a cement company called Ciments du Maroc (CIMAR), a subsidiary of the Italian group Italcementi which is in process of being transferred to a new plant 40 kilometres from the city. There is also a shipyard in the port and the only Merchant Marine school in Morocco.
Agadir is served by Al Massira Airport, located 22 kilometres from the city. With the opening of the new Casablanca–Agadir expressway in June 2010, which runs from Casablanca via Marrakech to Agadir, access to the region is much improved.
For freight there is also a port, and for pleasure-craft there is a marina in Agadir.
ALSA was introduced in 2010 to provide bus services in Agadir.
The Timitar festival, a festival of Amazigh and music from around the world, has been held in Agadir every summer since its inception in July 2004.
The Morocco Movement association is involved in the arts and organizes concerts, exhibitions and meetings in the visual arts, design, music, graphic design, photography, environment and health
Other cultural events in Agadir are:
The city of Agadir has a university: the University Ibn Zuhr which includes a Faculty of Science, Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and the multi-disciplined Faculty of Ouarzazate.
There are also establishments of higher education such as:
There is an international French school: the French School of Agadir and also public schools: Youssef Ben Tachfine School, Mohammed Reda-Slaoui School, and the Al-Idrissi Technical College.
There is a range of highschools:
The Botola side Hassania Agadir is the local football team of Agadir. They play their home matches at the Stade Al Inbiaâte.
The Hassan II Golf Trophy and Lalla Meryem Cup golf tournaments of the European Tour and Ladies European Tour are held at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir since 2011.
Some of the most beautiful beaches in Morocco are located to the north of Agadir. Areas also known for excellent surfing are located near Taghazout village to Cap Ghir. Many smaller and clean beaches are located along this coast. Some of them between Agadir and Essaouira are: Agadir Beach, Tamaounza (12 km), Aitswal Beach, Imouran (17 km), Taghazout (19 km), Bouyirdn (20 km), Timzguida (22 km), Aghroud (30 km), Imiouadar (27 km).
The beaches of Taghazout and Tamraght. A large tourism development project in the Bay of Taghazout, Taghazout-Argana Bay was launched in 2007.
Agadir is also one of the first names of the city of Tlemcen in Algeria
Agadir is referenced in the Mike Batt song Ride to Agadir