50 Fascinating Facts about Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco is a sovereign state in the far north west of Africa. Most of its 1,800 km coastline is on the Atlantic Ocean, with about a quarter on the Mediterranean Sea.

It is the 25th largest country in Africa, and the westernmost country of the Maghreb region. Its population is almost 34 million, who mainly live in the coastal cities.

These include Rabat, which is Morocco's capital city, and Casablanca, its largest. Its currency is the Moroccan dirham, and it has a robust economy which is the fifth biggest in Africa. Its official languages are Arabic and Berber, and French is often spoken as a second language.

Islam is the state religion, with Sunni Islam followed by the vast majority of Moroccans. The Moroccan flag is a deep, canna red with a green, five pointed star representing the Seal of Solomon in the centre.

Morocco Facts


1
    Morocco is one of the oldest recognized countries in Africa, with its first declaration of sovereignty dating back to the year 788.
2
    The city of Fez is a UNESCO world heritage site.
3
    Visitors from the UK, EU, Australia, Canada, USA, and Japan are allowed to stay in Morocco for up to three months without a Visa.
4
    Morocco encompasses desert (Sahara), mountainous (Atlas, Rif) and coastal (Atlantic, Mediterranean) regions.

5
    Half of Morocco's economy is based in the service sector.
6
    On a clear day, you can easily see Morocco from Spain.
7
    The world's original species of mountain sheep, the Mouflon, can be found in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
8
    Like the UK and other Western countries, the Kingdom of Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament.
9
    The present day country was once part of a kingdom which spread over a large part of Northwestern Africa and much of what today is Spain.
10
    Due to the country's geography and history, Moroccan cuisine has elements of Arab, Mediterranean and Berber traditional ingredients and cooking techniques.
11
    The Moroccan national football team will be participating in the 2018 world cup; the first time it has qualified for 20 years.
12
    Said Aouita, former world 1500 m and 5000 m world record holder, world and Olympic champion distance and Arab sporting pioneer, was born in the coastal city of Kenitra.
13
    Since 1975, Morocco has claimed dominion over Western Sahara, a territory which borders Morocco to the south.
14
    Morocco's national day is the 30th of July. Called Throne Day, it celebrates the date of the succession of the current monarch, King Mohammed VI, who has reigned since that date in 1999.
15
    Every May, the Dades Valley hosts the Festival of the Roses (Festival des Roses) to celebrate the annual rose harvest. The actual date is made public a month beforehand, when rose growers know better how the harvest is going.
16
    Morocco has 22 television channels, some only broadcasting at night, others are HD versions of standard channels. Traditional cookery programmes are very popular.
17
    RedOne is a Moroccan music producer, songwriter, performer and entrepreneur. He has worked with international stars from Shakira to U2. He was born Nadir Khayat in Tetouan.
18
    The Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Morocco from mainland Spain, is about nine miles, or 14 kilometres, wide.

19
    Berber people and culture, are part of the fabric of modern Morocco. Although having become integrated with other cultures and religions such as Arabic and Muslim, the term Berber was well known in ancient Greece and Rome.
20
    Morocco is part of the African Union, the Arab League and the United Nations.
21
    Barbary apes, a huge tourist attraction in the British colony of Gibraltar, are native to Morocco and the Maghreb.

22
    The Rif mountain range in the northern coastal area of the country takes its name from Berber for “edge.”
23
    Casablanca is a Spanish derivation of the Portuguese term Casa Branca, or white house. The Portuguese invaded and rebuilt the city in the 15th Century.
24
    Couscous is traditionally served on Fridays after Friday prayers, an extremely important feature of Islam. The dish takes a long time to cook properly, so is prepared through the week.
25
    The Moroccan national motto is Allah, Al Watan, Al Malik. This translates as God, Homeland, King.
26
    The climate in Morocco is extremely varied. Apart from geography, there are extremes in summer and winter which Westerners tend to avoid.
27
    The term Tajine comes from a Moroccan Arabic for shallow pot. It refers to the type of cooking and the pot in which the food is cooked and served.

28
    Despite a relatively healthy economy, away from service sector, tourism and industry, there is high rural unemployment in Morocco.
29
    The most popular type of music at Moroccan family gatherings is called Chaabi. It is a mixture of folk music from various origins which originated in markets.
30
    The Fez is a type of hat named after the Moroccan city. Ironically, it was made famous by the Ottomans, who never actually ruled Morocco.
31
    Marrakesh Express is the name of a song by Graham Nash which was very popular with hippies in the late 1960s. Although not spelled out in the song, cannabis has been produced in the Rif since the 7th Century.
32
    There are two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, Cueta and Melilla. Both on the Mediterranean, they are claimed by the Kingdom as Moroccan territories, but pay their taxes to Madrid.
33
    Morocco hosts Africa's highest ski resort. Yes, really. It is in Ouka├»meden, in the Atlas Mountains, at between 8,500 and 10,500 feet above sea level.

34
    Tea is Morocco's national drink. This dates back to the 19th century when British merchants became stranded off the coast and had to offload their cargos.
35
    King Mohammed VI is also the country's biggest businessman and banker. His family is one of the richest in the world.
36
    The inventor of the Belisha Beacon, the world's first pedestrian crossing light, is buried in Morocco. Leslie Hore-Belisha, a British politician who died in 1957, is buried in Essaouira, in its Jewish cemetery.
37
    In 1786, ten years after its independence, the USA signed its first overseas treaty, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, with Morocco.
38
    Morocco's most popular sport is Koura, or soccer (Association Football). The national football team are known as the Lions of the Atlas.
39
    Some traditional Berber women in Morocco sport extensive tattoos on their faces and necks.
40
    The canna is a native Moroccan plant related to the daisy. Its leaves are a deep red, giving a rich dye. This is the background colour of the national flag.
41
    Morocco has a vibrant art scene, sparked by l'Uzine in Casablanca, an artistic enclave in an old industrial area in the city.
42
    The Moroccan Alouite dynasty, the royal family, claims a direct ancestral link to the Prophet Mohammed.
43
    The USA recognizes Morocco as a “major non-NATO ally,” a status very rare among African or Arab countries.
44
    One of Morocco's major exports is tangerines. Tangerines are named after the coastal city of Tangier.
45
    Tourism is one of Morocco's growth industries. Between January and August 2017, 8 million tourists visited the country, most of these heading for Casablanca and Agadir.
46
    Human rights have prospered in Morocco since the 1990s. The country avoided the Arab Spring due to its relatively liberal government regimes.
47
    Agadir was the victim of a massive earthquake in 1960 which all but destroyed it. It has since been restored and rebuilt to become a huge tourist attraction and source of income.
48
    For Moroccans, the liver, not the heart, is the centre of love in the human body.
49
    The Moroccan national animal, with echoes in the football team, is the Barbary Lion. These are extinct today but were once the biggest lions the world has ever seen.
50
    Morocco has three athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics; Adam and Sami Lamhamedi in the Alpine skiing, and Samir Azzimani – the Couscous Rocket – in the Cross-country skiing.

Morocco is a very friendly country with an absolutely amazing set of landscapes. Its people have seen empires come and go for millennia and are consequently relaxed and philosophical. They truly appreciate the beauty of their country and its natural produce. Being at a crossroads, they have assimilated cultures and practices, and made peace with them all. The country faces economic and environmental challenges like any other but is generally regarded as an oasis of peace.

Sources