Facts About Morocco’s Culture, Geography, and History
The Kingdom of Morocco has a population of 35 million people. Its official languages are Arabic and Berber. French and Spanish are also popular. This is the only kingdom remaining in the entire Maghreb region.
Morocco is a unique country with plenty to learn about. We have put together 12 fun facts about Morocco just to enable you to have a glimpse of this amazing country.
12. An Arabic name for Morocco, al-Magrib al-Aqsa, means “the extreme west” and attests to Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world.
Morocco is the Western-most of the Maghreb countries. It is officially known as ‘The Kingdom of Morocco’ It is the only African country that shares both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coastlines. This is the place to be if you want to enjoy both oceans within a short distance apart.
11. Morocco is only 8 miles (13 km) from Europe, across the Strait of Gibraltar.
The proximity of Morocco to Europe makes it have a lot of European influence. In fact, Morocco has always endeavored to join the European Union. Its application has been under review for decades.
This is the best point to enjoy both African and European environments and cultures just as if you are commuting between work and home.
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10. Oukaïmeden, in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, is the highest ski resort in Africa.
The Atlas Mountains are a series of mountain ranges spreading from central parts of Morocco, cutting through northern Algeria right into northern Tunisia. It has a range of about 1,500 miles.
Oukaïmeden is the only true ski resort in the entire Maghreb region and one of the three in entire Africa. It is about 50 miles from Marrakesh town and stands at an altitude of between 2,600 meters and 3,200 meters.
This is the only place for your skiing endeavor should you want to enjoy natural skiing in a desert environment.
9. In Morocco, it is considered impolite to handle food with the left hand and to say no to meat if it is offered at a meal.
The most favorite of Moroccan cuisine is couscous. This is a fine pasta mostly rolled by hand. It is then steamed over a stew of meat and vegetables. For service, meat is placed in a communal bowl and is covered by a pyramid of couscous and vegetables are pressed into the sides. It is garnished with sweet raisin.
When eating, avoid eating with the left hand as it is considered ‘unclean’. Rejecting an offered meat is interpreted as a sign of ‘poverty’ on the host.
Other than eating, greeting should also not be done using the left hand. During the fasting month of Ramadhan, avoid eating in public or outdoor, as this is considered disrespectful to the holy month.
The best way to appreciate Morocco is to sample their traditional cuisine.
8. White is the color of mourning in Morocco. A Moroccan widow wears white for 40 days after the death of her husband.
Unlike in the western culture where black is the color of mourning, in Morocco and most Arab countries, wearing black dress is common with women. Thus, distinguish mourning dress from their traditional black dress; widows wear white during the 40 days of mourning.
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7. Moroccans jokingly call their tap water Sidi Robinet (Sir, or Lord, Tap), and it is drinkable in most parts of the country.
Morocco being a hot country, high rate of dehydration is the norm. Thus, water is of utmost necessity. Bottled water is common. The three most popular brands are Sidi Ali, Sidi Harazem, and (of course) Sidi Robinet.
Sidi is an Arabic word for ‘saint’. Robinet is a French word for ‘tap’. Since the two most popular brands start with ‘Sidi’, Moroccans have found it a good joke to brand their tap water as Sidi Robinet.
Water companies managing tapped water in Morocco are European-based, mainly from France. The water purification is based on European standards making it safe to drink. However, as a guest visiting a foreign land, it is always good to avoid tapped water until you get accustomed to its environment.
6. Casablanca, the film named after the Moroccan city, won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture in 1942 and is considered one of the best films of all time.
Casablanca is themed around a captivating wartime adventure of romance and intrigues. It was directed by Michael Curtiz. It was a star-studded film based on “Everybody comes to Rick’s” stage play by Joan Alison and Murray Burnett. It is packed with bittersweet emotions and haunting songs.
Casablanca city is chosen due to its World War II role pitting the Berlin axis against the invading Allied forces. This film lifted the popularity of Casablanca thus boosting its tourism.
There are many tourists who visit Casablanca just to have the best feel of this great film.
5. Moroccans have been writing about the world since the 14th century, beginning with Moroccan Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta, who traveled an astounding 5,000 miles over 30 years, recounting his story in the Rihla (The Journey).
Literature is the best memory of a people’s worldview. Rihla is a great travelogue that expresses the Islamic worldview as captured through the eyes of Ibn Battula. Ibn Battuta is the pioneer of Moroccan literature and inspiration of other literary scholars not only in Morocco but also in the entire Arab world.
Whether going for pilgrimage or simply adventuring into the Maghreb region and the rest of the Arab world, Ibn Battula’s Rihla is an inspiring pacesetter.
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4. Morocco was the first nation to sign a treaty with the United States in 1786.
Morocco’s relationship with the United States is one of the longest and most enduring diplomatic relationships. A relationship unbroken since 1786 when the Treaty of Friendship was signed. Morocco was also the first country to officially seek a diplomatic relationship with the newly independent America on December 20, 1777.
This unbroken enduring relationship makes it easy for Americans to visit Morocco without the requirement of a visa. Morocco remains the most welcoming Arab country to the West. Citizens of most EU Member States do not require a visa to visit Morocco.
Being in Morocco makes one have a feel of this treaty, as the people are very friendly by nature and so welcoming to visitors from the West.
3. Koura, or soccer, is Morocco’s most popular sport. The national team is called the Lions of Atlas.
The Lions of Atlas was the first African team to qualify for the World Cup finals, in 1970. In 1986, it became the first African team to win a group at the World Cup.
The most popular soccer teams in Morocco include Raja Casablanca, FAR Rabat, and Wydad Casablanca.
If you are a soccer lover, you will find yourself at home in Morocco regardless of where you come from. It is the easiest way to get new friends.
2. Coveted since Roman times, Morocco’s rare and beautiful thuya wood can be found only in the western foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
Rolls Royce is to cars what Thuya is to woods. No wonder Rolls Royce chose Thuya wood as the first most preferred wood for its dashboard console. This aromatic native of Atlas region is revered as the treasure of beauty. It has a sacred tradition whose artisanship has been handed over generations.
Some of Thuya wood products include Thuya treasure boxes, tables, chests, utensils (bowls, spoons, etc), among others. If you are an admirer of Thuya wood products, do not fail to learn a few tips on its artisanship while you are on a visit to Morocco.
1. The Atlas film studios, 4 miles (6 km) outside of Ouarzazate, are known as Morocco’s Hollywood.
Located on an expansive acreage of more than 322,000 square feet, Atlas film studios is the largest studio in the world by its sheer size. Some of the world’s best films including Gladiator, Star Wars, The Living Daylight, Body of Lies, among others have had a shootout at Atlas.
This is a place where you can greatly enjoy film shooting holiday, film festivals and even business events. Unique environments such as Kasbahs, Tibetan temple, and Egyptian palaces can greatly enhance your sense of ambiance.