Morocco

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Morocco is a northern African country, bordering the Mediterranean and full of breathtaking architecture and natural landscape. Rooted in the beauty of Africa and its Islamic background, this country is deserving of its nickname, “Oasis of the Senses.” The cities of Morocco are something noteworthy—alluring, mysterious and often romanticized; from Casablanca to Marrakesh, this country has a wide array of history and culture that will entrance any traveller.

Languages: Berber, Moroccan Arabic and Hassaniya
Currency: Moroccan Dirham (MAD)
Government: Unitary Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy

Did you know?

  • The national drink of Morocco is mint tea; the national dish is couscous.
  • Morocco is the only African country that is not currently part of the African Union.
  • During World War II, Moroccan troops stormed a German stronghold at Monte Cassino, helping to end the war.
  • The Moroccan city of Tangiers was an international city from 1922 to 1956; it was ruled by representatives of eight European countries.

Climate

Morocco has several distinct areas: the Atlas Mountains in the interior, the Rif Mountains in the north, the coast on the west and the Sahara Desert to the south and to the east. While each area has its own climate, they are all great for catching some sun. The Atlantic coast is the rainiest, especially during the winter months. The Sahara brings a drier climate, while the Atlas Mountains have a good amount of snowfall. The north coast and the Rif Mountain region have a Mediterranean climate: hot between May and September, with little rain the rest of the year.

  • Winter: December–February
  • Spring: March–May
  • Summer: June–August
  • Autumn: September–November

History

Morocco’s history has seen various waves of invaders, all of whom have left their different marks on the country. In 702, after years of invasions by groups such as the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines, the Berbers of Morocco finally submitted to the armies of Islam and adopted it as their religion.

After this, the country saw centuries of growth. In the mid-1800s, history saw the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the East, and with it came a new European interest in Morocco, particularly from France. In 1912, the Treaty of Fez made Morocco a French protectorate. For eight years, this arrangement was peaceful, until the 1920s, when the Moroccan people rebelled against the French and Spanish in the south.

In 1953, the nationalist leader and Sultan Mohammed V ibn Yusuf ruled Morocco. That year, France, which was occupying Morocco, forced the sultan into exile. After both nationalist and religious groups called for his return, France allowed Mohammed v ibn Yusuf to return in 1955. Following this event, Morocco gained independence in 1956; in 1977, it became a constitutional monarchy. By 1979, Morocco gained all its land back from Spain and France and to this day is a fully self-governing nation.

Must See:

MARRAKESH
Marrakesh, the third largest city in Morocco, is home to the country’s largest traditional market, or souk. Even better, Marrakesh hosts the largest square in Africa—and the world! Get lost in a world of acrobatics, night food stalls, storytellers, dancers and musicians in the square, which becomes an open-air restaurant at night.

HASSAN II MOSQUE
Found in the city of Casablanca, this architectural marvel took five years and 6,000 traditional Moroccan artisans. This is the largest mosque in the country and seventh largest in the world, with a capacity of around 100,000 people.

FESTIVAL OF FANTASIAS
The Moroccan Festival of Fantasias is a sight to behold. It is essentially a war exercise, in which armed men on horseback preform acrobatic tricks and fire their muskets at a full gallop.