Your comprehensive travel guide to Morocco - All in one place!
Peppered with a population touching 35 million inhabitants, Morocco is a sovereign state in the North African region and has been a regional power, historically. The capital city of the state is Rabat whereas the ancient city of Casablanca is its largest municipality. Morocco is a major contributor to Africa’s economy and primarily depends upon the services sector, manufacture of goods, mining, and agriculture. Tourism, on the other hand, has also registered record-breaking gains over the years. It is galore of incredible tourist destinations that include the four imperial cities and their unending grandeur, breathtaking palaces, colorful medinas and exuberant beaches of state of the art quality.
History and Government
Morocco has been the home of the Berbers since the second millennium B.C. In A.D. 46, Morocco was annexed by Rome as part of the province of Mauritania until the Vandals overran this portion of the declining empire in the 5th century. The Arabs invaded circa 685, bringing Islam. The Berbers joined them in invading Spain in 711, but then they revolted against the Arabs, resenting their secondary status. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Morocco was one of the Barbary States, the headquarters of pirates who pillaged Mediterranean traders. In 1904, France and Spain concluded a secret agreement that divided Morocco into zones of French and Spanish influence, with France controlling almost all of Morocco and Spain controlling the small southwest portion, which became known as Spanish Sahara.
In 1912, the sultan of Morocco, Moulay Abd al-Hafid, permitted French protectorate status. Nationalism grew during World War II. Sultan Muhammed V was deposed by the French in 1953 and replaced by his uncle, but nationalist agitation forced his return in 1955. In 1956, France and Spain recognized the independence and sovereignty of Morocco. In 1999, King Hassan II died after 38 years on the throne and his son, Prince Sidi Muhammed, was crowned King Muhammed VI. Since then, Muhammed VI has pledged to make the political system more open, allow freedom of expression, and support economic reform. He has also advocated more rights for women, a position opposed by Islamic fundamentalists.
Morocco is geographically located in Northern Africa along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Algeria and Western Sahara. It also still shares borders with two enclaves that are considered a part of Spain — Ceuta and Melilla. The topography of Morocco varies as its northern coast and interior regions are mountainous, while its coast features fertile plains where much of the country's agriculture takes place. There are also valleys interspersed between Morocco's mountainous areas. The highest point in Morocco is Jebel Toubkal which rises to 13,665 feet, while its lowest point is Sebkha Tah which is -180 feet below sea level.
The country has an area of 446,550 square kilometers with an estimated 2019 population of 36.47 million. Morocco's population currently ranks 40th in the world. This culminates in an overall population density of about 81 people per square kilometer. The majority of Morocco's population lives to the west of the Atlas Mountains, a large range that protects the country from the Sahara Desert.
The culture of Morocco is a blend of ethnic tradition and religion, reflecting the Berber, African, Arabs, and Jewish influence. The majority of the population are Berbers and Arabs while at least 30% of the population are Amazigh speakers. Berber influence is most prominent in a wide range of activities and way of life of the Moroccan people. Although the cuisine differs from one region to another, the spices used are mainly those of the Berbers. The use of fresh fruits and vegetables is mainly as a result of the country’s proximity to the Mediterranean. The Moroccan music is characterized by several traditional instruments mainly of the Arab and Amazigh origin. It is home to Andalusian classical music which is common throughout North Africa.
Food and Drink
Morocco is a predominantly Islamic country, with both Arabs and Berbers calling the nation home. Each ethnic group has played a part in shaping Morocco’s cuisine via traditional recipes, methods of cooking, and ingredients. Andalusian Muslims and Moroccan Jews had an influence on culinary traditions in the past. Colonial powers, such as France, Spain, and Portugal, introduced new ideas too. Diverse immigrants and traders brought new ingredients and techniques to the country, and there had been influences from nearby nations in both Africa and Europe. The typical Moroccan kitchen today is naked without a good selection of spices, at least one tagine pot, a rolling pin, and an oven.
The celebration is an important aspect of Moroccan culture. Morocco is an exciting and entertaining country that lays claim to cultural, historical and religious holidays and festivals. Moroccan celebrations can last anywhere from a few days up to two weeks. The exception is Ramadan which lasts for thirty days. While Moroccans celebrate numerous Muslim and national festivals through the year, the dates for most of their religious festivals are based upon the lunar calendar. During Moroccan festivities, one can expect to encounter fasting, dancing and feasting – all depending on the type of holiday being celebrated.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Morocco is between November to March when the sunny days are in surplus, and the towns and attractions are begging to be visited. The north of the country may still be wet and chilly. The low season is between May to September. It may be important to note, that unlike other countries, the seasons to visit are not as much determined by the weather as they are by the festivals and religious occasions. May to September is when two major religious festivals, Ramadan and Eid-al-Adha commence.