Travel Guide: Morocco
Morocco Travel Guide: General Travel Guide Information about Morocco.
This is a concise travel guide for Morocco. We have written this travel guide on Morocco to help you to develop an understanding for Morocco and all of the beautiful points to travel. We also want you to understand the nuances of traveling to Morocco such as how to be safe, what places to see, and much more. We assure you that our travel guide to Morocco will be a very helpful tool when visiting this beautiful country. We also offer interpreters in Morocco whenever you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need an interpreter in Morocco or assistance in any way.
As a special service to our clients and readers, we at World Interpreting are working hard to offer you something different aside from our language translation and interpretation services. As we actively pursue excellence in our services, we also want you to experience what it will be like to travel to other countries by providing you with concise country and city profiles and other interesting tidbits of information about each country. Travel Guide Morocco is just one of these innovations we are introducing. We will be coming up with more.
Travel Guide Morocco is our initial offering to you. It will take you to different fantastic places in Morocco as well as some of the famous landmarks and notable cities, so you will already have a general idea about Morocco if and when you decide to actually travel and explore this fascinating and laid-back country in Europe.
Travel Guide Morocco will assist you in getting a bird’s eye view of the country’s geography, language, the places of interest, landmarks and things you can do in Morocco as well as give you travel safety tips. We do hope you will come back often to travel with us to other destinations around the world.
:: Introducing Morocco ::
Going to Morocco is like taking a step back in time into an entirely different world. It’s only a quick plane ride from Spain and is often the reason why it is part of the itinerary of many travelers who travel to Europe, even though the country is located in Northern Africa. The minute travelers step in Morocco, they know that they are somewhere truly unique and very special.
Combining both Arabic and Islamic cultures, with a dash of African culture and European flair, the Kingdom of Morocco is truly a sight to behold and will enthrall travelers of all ages.
Travelers going to Morocco can expect to be amazed by this country. Our Moroccan pocket travel guide gives travelers a unique peek and thorough overview on what the country is like. Travelers will pick up useful tips on the best places to go and what things to see and do. This allows travelers to plan a better travel itinerary, whether it’s going around the city of Tangier, swimming on the white sand beaches of Asilah, picking up souvenirs in Essaouira or feasting on Moroccan cuisine heavily flavored with a combination of spices. The sights, sounds and flavors of the country are truly a feast for the senses.
This travel guide includes useful travel safety tips to help ensure that you stay safe while having a delightful time discovering this amazing country. Best if all, you can learn a few useful Arabic words and phrases to help you talk to the locals in asking for directions or bargaining for the best prices from the markets in Marrakesh. Our Moroccan Travel Guide is written in brief yet concise sections to make it an easy reference source for those who need to look up some quick information as you make your way around Morocco.
The official name of the country is the Kingdom of Morocco. The full Arabic name of the country is Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiya, which means “The Western Kingdom.” The name “Morocco” comes from the Spanish word “Marruecos,” to refer to the city of Marrakesh, which has historically been the capital of Almoravid. In fact, some areas still refer to the country at Marrakesh. The name “Marrakesh” is from a combination of Berber words Murt n Akuc, which translates to Land of God.
The capital city is Rabat, while other major cities of the country include Agadir, Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh and Tangier.
Marrakesh is often the first stop for many people making a travel itinerary to Morocco. It is the travel capital of the kingdom. Travelers will enjoy getting lost in the many street markets or souqs of the city, while picking up a few colorful souvenir items along the way. Tangier is another one of the most popular cities to visit in Morocco as it is considered a gateway to Africa because of its strategic location near Spain. Rabat is the political capital of the country. On the other hand, Casablanca is probably one of the most famous cities of the country, thanks to Humphrey Bogart’s movie of the same name. It is also the largest city in Morocco. It’s a bustling city filled with art-deco architecture and a busy waterfront. For those who want something both historical and beautiful, a visit to Fez is a must, as it is considered the world’s most intact medieval Arab city.
Although Morocco is just a stone’s throw away from Spain, it is actually located in Northern Africa. It covers a land area of 446,550 square kilometers populated by over 35 million inhabitants (2011 census), and controls portions of the Western Sahara desert. About 250 kilometers are covered with water. This places the population density of the country at 71.6 inhabitants per square kilometer or 185.5 people per square mile. This ranks the country as 122nd in the world in terms of population density.
In terms of size, the Kingdom of Morocco is just slightly bigger than the US state of California. The country has a coastline of 1,835 kilometers. It is considered to be a part of the Maghreb region, along with other countries such as Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya.
The country is bordered by Algeria to the east, the Western Sahara desert to the south while facing the North Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its closest European neighbor is the country of Spain up on the north, separated only by the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco is strategically located along the Strait of Gibraltar. Morocco is the only country in North Africa that is not an African Union member. Instead, the country is a member of the Arab League.
Morocco is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, although the temperatures get more extreme as travelers go inland. The areas located near the Atlantic Ocean experience a maritime climate, while the regions near the mountainous areas can get quite dry and extremely hot, especially during the summer season. The lowlands near the Sahara have a desert climate.
For travelers going to Morocco, it’s best to pack lightweight clothing given the warm and varying temperatures. Also, conservative items are a must, especially for women. This is not only in consideration of the climate, but also in deference to the country’s Islamic way of life. Bare arms and legs are frowned upon especially in public areas and places of worship. Men and women are not known to wear shorts in Morocco, even when the temperatures get hot.
At the same time, the country enjoys a varied terrain. There are rolling plains, plateaus as well as a mountainous region found on the northern coast as well as in the interior of the country. Thanks to its varied terrain, Morocco has a prominent wildlife biodiversity. There are over 454 species of birds found in the country.
The country is rich in many natural resources, including phosphates, manganese, lead, iron ore and zinc. In fact, it is the largest exporter of phosphate in the world. From its seas, the people can harvest various fish and marine life as well as salt. The lowest point in the country is Sebkha Tah, which sits -55 meters below sea level, while the highest point is the Jebel Toubkal, which rises to a height of 4,165 meters. The mountains located in the northern region experience many earthquakes as well as periodic droughts.
Morocco is governed by a constitutional monarchy, with the king having executive powers and not merely acting as a symbolic figurehead. He has the power to issue decrees or dahirs for the Kingdom. The members of the parliamentary government are elected. The current king of the Kingdom of Morocco is Mohammed VI while the Prime Minister is Abdelillah Benkirane.
There are two official languages recognized in the country – Arabic and Tamazight or the Berber languages. The people are largely of Arab-Berber descent. In some instances, French is still spoken and used in business transactions. However, it is not a recognized official language in the country. Travelers who have a basic knowledge of speaking French will have an easier time communicating with locals. In some areas, Spanish is also spoken.
The majority of the 35 million Moroccans are Muslim, with just 1% of the population listed as Christians and only 6,000 people as Jews. The bulk of the population, about 66%, is between the ages of 15-64, meaning that the country has a high labor force. The median age in the country is only at 26.9 years, although the population is expected to live till the ripe age of 75.9 years old on average. There are slightly more women then men in Morocco. Close to 28% are below the age of 15, while seniors make up the remaining six percent of the population. The country’s population growth rate is only at one percent. However, the country is highly urbanized, with over 58% of the population living in the urban areas, the majority of which can be found in Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Tangier. Moroccans also suffer from literacy issues, with only 52% considered literate. Of this, 66% of men are literate while less than 40% of women can read or write by the age of 15.
The official currency used in the country is the Moroccan dirham. For travelers going to Morocco, it’s best to get the local currency by using local ATMs or having money changed at the bank, as the black market can sometimes be unreliable. Tipping when dining out is highly appreciated, as is bargaining when out shopping at the souqs or markets.
The Kingdom of Morocco earned a GDP of an estimated US$158.994 billion in 2011. This places the country’s GDP (PPP) 56th in the world. This translates to a GDP per capita of $4,940 or 115th in the world. The country’s growth rate is placed at 3.2% as of 2010. Morocco is attractive to investors because of its low labor cost, plus its convenient proximity to other European nations. There are over 11 million people in the labor force of the country, the bulk of which work in the agriculture and service industries.
Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are some of the industries that drive Morocco. Services generate over half of the country’s GDP, followed by the industry sector at 31.6% and agriculture at 17.1%. Some of the agricultural products of the country are barley, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, olives, wheat, wine and livestock. Phosphate rock mining and processing comprises the bulk of the industrial sector, and this is followed by food processing, textiles, leather goods, and construction. Tourism also contributes to the economy. These statistics rank Morocco as Africa’s 12th richest country.
Overall, the economy is considered stable and Morocco has a Free Trade Agreement with other nations, including the United States and the EU. The country’s main export partners are Spain, France, India, the United States and Brazil. On the other hand, it gets most of its imports from France, Spain and China.
However, the country still faces some issues, especially poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. The unemployment rate of the country is estimated at a high 9.1% as of 2010. There is a large disparity between the rich and the poor, with about 15% of the population below the poverty line as of 2007.
In spite of these issues, many travelers are still drawn to Morocco because of its history, scenery, culture and the people.
The Kingdom of Morocco has a long history, since it has been occupied for more than 200,000 years. At some point in its early history, Morocco was invaded by Phoenicians, the Carthaginian Empire, Romans, the Vandals as well as the Byzantines. The area of what is now northern Morocco began in the region of what used to be the Berber kingdom of Mauretania led by King Bocchus I back in 110 BC. It used to be part of the Roman Empire till 429 AD.
The Umayyad Muslims invaded the area in the 7th century and have influenced the people’s way of life ever since. During the Islamic era in 710 AD, the Kingdom of Nekor was established as the first Moroccan Muslim state under the rule of Salih I ibn Mansur. Morocco then became a major power and a center of learning under the Idrisid Dynasty.
Several powerful Berber dynasties emerged starting from 11th century, such as the Almoravid and the Almohad Dynasties. The influence of the Berber Muslims spread to various parts of the Mediterranean region and Spain. The succeeding centuries brought economic and political prosperity to Morocco, as well as the ability to ward of various invaders.
Because of its location near Europe, Morocco was often a target of European invaders, particularly the Portuguese, Spanish and the French. At the same time, the Kingdom was able to extend its reach to various parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. It was in the 15th century when the Reconquistas helped stop the spread of the Islamic control, forcing many Jews and Muslims to relocate to Morocco.
In the 17th century, the Alaouite Dynasty was reunited after years of struggle in managing the territories located in the Sahara. This is the same ruling house that rules the Kingdom of Morocco today. It was during this period that the kingdom gained control of the city of Tangier from the English. In 1689, control of the city of Larache was wrestled away from Spain.
In the 19th century, Morocco became a protectorate of France, through the treaty of Fez in 1912. At the same time, Morocco also became a Spanish protectorate. Spain had control of some of the southern parts of the country, extending to the northern region. The Rif Berbers of Morocco tried to rebel and gained their independence from the two European protectorates in the 1920s. However, this independence only lasted less than six years as the French and Spanish forces joined together to crush the Rif Republic.
The country gained independence from France on March 2, 1956, while it won its independence from Spain in April 7, 1956. Thus, 44 years after the French and Spanish occupations, the country became known as The Kingdom of Morocco.
In 1977, the country was transformed into a constitutional monarchy. However, in was only in 1976 when Spain finally left the Spanish Sahara region while Mauritania relinquished its Western Sahara operations in 1979, finally leaving the entire control of the country to the Moroccan government.
Travelers going to Morocco should be aware of the various holidays that the country celebrates. Ramadan is the most sacred of all celebrations, and begins sometime towards the end of October. Other Islamic holidays include ‘Eid al-Adha in February, the Islamic New Year, and ‘Eid al Fitr. New Year’s Day is a holiday, as well as Independence Manifesto, which falls mid January. May 1st is Labor Day. The Moroccans also celebrate Reunification day, as well as the Anniversary of the King and the People’s Revolution on August 20. There is also Young People’s Day in August, as well as the Anniversary of the Green March in November. Because Morocco is not a Christian country, the people do not celebrate Christmas.
Our Travel Guide Morocco is a pocket guidebook that provides many insightful ideas and information for travelers going to this African nation. There is a wealth of information of things to do and places to see, aside from many interesting facts and other statistics on Morocco. Morocco is famous for many things, such the various Muslim temples displaying Islam and Arab architecture, the delicious cuisine such as harira, a popular lentil and tomato soup dish and couscous, as well as luxurious carpets, intricate embroidery, miraculous Argan oil, snake charmers, busy souqs and a culture that is rich, vibrant and intact in the face of modern times. The best way to get to know all these things is to see it for your self when you travel to Morocco. One of the best ways to prepare for it is to use our Travel Guide Morocco.
Travel Guide Morocco will serve as the perfect travel companion as you trek across one of the most beautiful and interesting African countries. Morocco has a long and rich history, a culture influenced by diverse nations, delicious cuisine, interesting and historical sites, intricate artwork and crafts and scenery that are simply breathtaking and awe inspiring. Use our Travel Guide Morocco to discover what makes Morocco a must on any travel itinerary.
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