M o r o c c o
Tangier, Casablanca, Marrakesh…just the names of these cities stir a hint of spice in the nostrils. Morocco has been thoroughly mythologized and for good reason. Travelers extol the country’s unique living history, its shimmering light and its extraordinary art.
Morocco is the ideal African starting point for the traveler. An easy hop from Europe, it is hectic but friendly and stimulating as well. Open-air markets throughout the country are piled high with rugs, woodwork, jewellery and leather – said to be the softest in the world.
COUNTRY IN BRIEF
Official Name : Kingdom of Morocco
Geography : Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Capital City : Rabat
Other Cities : Agadir, Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, Tangier, Tetouan
Area : 446,550 sq km
Population : 31,627,428 (2010 est)
Nationality : Moroccan(s)
Groups : Arab, Berber, mixed Arab-Berber
Religion : 98% Muslim, 1% Christian, 1% Jewish
Time Zone : GMT 0
Language : Arabic, Tamazight (official), Spanish, Castilian, English, French
Currency : Moroccan Dirham (MAD)
Government : Constitutional Monarchy
On the Atlantic-Mediterranean coastline June to September are the most pleasant times to visit Morocco, offering mostly rain-free days and moderately humid and warm conditions, with the mercury lingering around the high 20°C during the daytime. Further inland, rain is sparse the year around and it can get quite hot. More comfortable conditions on the central plateau will be found during March to June and September to December.
Morocco, about one-tenth larger than California, lies across the Strait of Gibraltar on the Mediterranean and looks out on the Atlantic from the northwest shoulder of Africa. Algeria is to the east and Mauritania to the south. On the Atlantic coast there is a fertile plain. The Mediterranean coast is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains, running northeastward from the south to the Algerian frontier, average 11,000 ft (3,353 m) in elevation.
The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphates (after the United States and China), and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco's economy. Tourism and workers' remittances have played a critical role since independence. The production of textiles and clothing is part of a growing manufacturing sector that accounted for approximately 34% of total exports in 2002, employing 40% of the industrial workforce
The Moroccan people are a people that share a common Moroccan culture, ancestry and speak the Moroccan variant of the Arabic language or a Berber language as a mother tongue.
In addition to the nearly 32 million Moroccans in Morocco, there is a large population in France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and smaller groups in United Kingdom, United States and Canada ( see Moroccan diasporas ).
Because of wide-ranging diasporas, about estimated 4.5 million Moroccans living abroad and of full or partial Moroccan ancestry live outside of Morocco, most notably in Europe, North America and many Arabic-speaking countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait amongst others.
In Morocco, going to the museum is a way of discovering our history and our origins. Every region is proud of its particular characteristics. Embroidered fabrics, ceramics, jewelry, wooden sculptures and leather objects are the pinnacle of our craftsmanship. You can also discover the museums devoted to contemporary art, like the one in Tangier housed in the former British consulate, or to ceramics in Safi, where the national museum has been established in an old citadel erected by the Portuguese.
You will taste the international star: couscous or rather whole ranges of couscous, for there are many depending on the time of year and the region. You will taste a subtle balance between spices and the rich combinations of meat and vegetables. You will savor the jewel of Moroccan cuisine: the
A delicate pie which wonderfully combines finely chopped pigeon, parsley, hard-boiled egg, almonds and honey. And then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. A real feast for the senses! You will also find this dedication to pastry in chicken or beef briouats. You will discover soup including
harira, with a base of lentils and chick-peas. And how could you resist the pleasures of the tajine? This meat, chicken or fish stew,accompanied by vegetables and fruits, is traditionally cooked in a covered terracotta dish which has given it its name.
And finally, Moroccan patisseries: pancakes with honey and sesame seeds, cakes made with almonds or raisins, etc. And accompanied, of course, by traditional mint tea.
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The fourth of the imperial cities, Rabat is a curious mix of a long past and a highly modernized present. In the 12th century, then the sultan used the Kasbah (citadel) as a base for campaigns against the Spanish. It was during this time that the city’s most famous landmarks sprang up.
A haven for Muslims driven out of Spain in the early 17th century and a capital city only since the days of French occupation, Rabat’s ambience comes from Islam and Europe in fairly equal proportions. For every place of worship yhere are three or four European-style cafes.
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One of the Morocco’s important cultural centre, Marrakesh is a lively former capital famed for its markets and festivals. Follow its twisting arteries to its pulsing energy source – the Place Djemaa el-Fna – a huge square in the medina.
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Hassan II Mosque
North of the Medina, the Hassan II Mosque is the world’s third-largest religious monument. Reported to have cost 600 million, it was finished in August 1993 after 10,000 craftsmen worked on it for five years. The exterior is French inspired, but the interior is all Moroccan and powerful laser beams project from it in the direction of Mecca.
| Year || Amount |
| 2007 || 7,408,000 |
| 2008 || 7,879,000 |
For further information
OIC Tourism Directory