The one minute summary on Morocco
This is it: one minute to the best info on Morocco. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Morocco, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, a series of Moroccan Muslim dynasties began to rule in Morocco. In the 16th century, the Sa’adi monarchy, particularly under Ahmad al-MANSUR (1578-1603), repelled foreign invaders and inaugurated a golden age. The Alaouite Dynasty, to which the current Moroccan royal family belongs, dates from the 17th century. In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco’s sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country.
A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were turned over to the new country that same year. Sultan MOHAMMED V, the current monarch’s grandfather, organized the new state as a constitutional monarchy and in 1957 assumed the title of king. Although Morocco is not the UN-recognized Administering Power for the Western Sahara, it exercises de facto administrative control over 80% of the territory.
The UN since 1991 has monitored a ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front and leads ongoing negotiations over the status of the territory. King MOHAMMED VI in early 2011 responded to the spread of pro-democracy protests in the region by implementing a reform program that included a new constitution, passed by popular referendum in July 2011, under which some new powers were extended to parliament and the prime minister but ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch. In November 2012, the Justice and Development Party – a moderate Islamist party – won the largest number of seats in parliamentary elections, becoming the first Islamist party to lead the Moroccan Government.
That was it. I promised one minute.
For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in Morocco
- Does my current phone work in Morocco ? Tips to cell phone usage in Morocco
- Local food you should try in Morocco and No miss drinks in Morocco
Now, cheers to the most Morocco aware person at the cocktail party.
What are the key history moments for Morocco?
The one minute summary for Morocco geography
Best places to see in Morocco
At just a few hours from the main European cities, Morocco has everything to overwhelm you with the amazing colors, smells and sounds of Islamic Africa. Imagine bustling souqs and spice markets, stunning mosques, white-washed sea side towns and medieval city centres. With panoramic views varying from snow-covered peaks in the High Atlas to the endless sand dunes of the Sahara, no-one ever has to be bored in this beautiful country. Movie-famous Casablanca might be the most famous of Moroccan cities and is home to the huge Hassan II mosque, the second largest mosque in the world with only the Grand Mosque of Mecca surpassing it.
Many travellers quickly leave this vibrant and modernist metropolis on a search for a more traditional Moroccan experience, but admiring the impressive colonial architecture, Hispano-Moorish and art-deco outlook of the city centre is actually time well spent. Marrakesh, known as the “Red City” and probably the most prominent former imperial capital, will leave you with memories to cherish for life. Spend your days wandering through the lively souqs, admiring the old gates and defensive walls, see the Saadian Tombs, the remnants of the El Badi Palace and visit the Koutoubia Mosque with its 12th century minaret.
However, when evening falls make sure to head back to Jamaa el-Fnaa, the largest square in Africa, as it fills up with steam-producing food stalls. Indulge in the bustling activity there, listen to Arabic story tellers, watch magicians and Chleuh dancers. Fez, once Morocco’s capital, is another gorgeous imperial city. Get lost in its lovely labyrinth of narrow Medieval streets, enjoy its huge medina, see the beautiful city gates, the ancient University of Al-Karaouine and the Bou Inania Madrasa. Also, make sure to visit a traditional leather tanning factory. The city of Meknes is often called the “Versailles of Morocco” for its beauty.
Its lovely Spanish-Moorish style center is surrounded by tall city walls with impressive gates and you’ll be able to see the 17th century blend of European and Islamic cultures even today. For a more laid-back experience of city life, catch a sea breeze at Asilah or lovely Essaouira. The blue-washed town of Chefchaouen is an old time travelers’ favorite and a great starting point to explore the impressive High Atlas Mountains. Climb Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North-Africa, passing lovely adobe villages and exploring the gorgeous Ourika and Amizmiz valleys on the way. The stunning panoramic view from the top will make it worth every bit of your effort to get there.
Other praised hiking routes lead through the beautiful Ameln Valley in the Anti-Atlas and the wooded Rif Mountains in the very north. Hop on a camel back for a trip through the golden Sahara sand dunes at Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. Spend the night in a desert tent, under the incredibly starred sky. The Sahara is also accessible near the town of Zagora; it’s easier to get to from Marrakech but doesn’t have the imposing dunes of Erg Chebbi. Somewhat less easy to reach but therefor also less crowded are the dunes of Erg Chigaga near M’hamid. On your way to the desert, make sure not to miss the stunning Todra gorge near Tinghir. The ancient fortified city of Aït-Benhaddou is another must-see sight. Although rainstorms damage the mud-brick kasbahs time and again, this mostly abandoned village remains an impressive sight and has been the decor for a range of movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.