All You need to Know About Morocco
Morocco! it’s not a Latin country. You think “Maracas” it’s in the arab world, but it’s not really Arab much. it’s in Africa and not the Middle East. but it borders Spain literally, three times.
The Kingdom of Morocco is the most westerly of the North African countries known as the Maghreb – the “Arab West”. It has Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, a rugged mountain interior and a history of independence not shared by its neighbours.
Most of you have at least heard of this country, has so many iconic images of Casablanca, the markets of Marrakech, couscous, and a fez hat. although they did not originate here. but they totally made it popular.
there’s a lot going on in a lot of stuff to cover. so let’s just find this place on the map first shall we?
Morocco, they have its own interesting way of doing things and you kind of have that west coast arab vibe. they’re kind of California of the arb world, I guess you could say. oddly enough they also kind of have the same size and population as California.
The country is located in the North African region known as the Maghreb, it straddles the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean to the northeast with a narrow 8-mile wide or 13 km corridor between them and the tip of Spain known as the strait of Gibraltar, even though Gibraltar, an overseas territory of the UK.
the country is divided into 12 regions locked in areas with a confusing dispute, and the capital Rabat, is located along the west Atlantic Coast,
the largest city Casablanca is just a skip away whereas the next largest cities are Fez, closer to Inland, while Tangier and Marrakesh have almost identical populations and sometimes switch off for third place. of course, the busiest airport is Casablancas Mohamed the Fifth International. however, the next busiest is actually Marrakesh and Agadir both incredibly popular destinations for business and tourism.
Now let’s get into the good stuff; first off context! Morocco has gone through a lot of sovereignty switches. historically they were a French protectorate and parts of it were colonized by the Spanish, The
South Of Morocco: United Nations labels this area as the largest and most populous non-self-governing territory in the world and nutshell, basically, there was a war between the three sides ( Morocco – Polisario and Mauritania ) Mauritania stepped down and morocco kept going until this day, about 80% of the land, starting at around the 27th parallel ( including almost the entire coast and most of the resources with a sizable offshore oil) is a de facto run by morocco.
Out of the half million residents in this area, only about 1/5 live in the Polisario-claimed areas, and about 40% alone live in the Moroccan-run city of Laayoune, if you move Inland though you reach the sand berm a militarized wall in the middle of the Sands. that separates the SADR separatists from the rest of Morocco. you reach the last and probably most intense Moroccan Outpost, GARGARAT which sits right on the berm wall, and from there the map literally says no man’s land until you reach the very tip of the nouadhibou Peninsula.
this is technically the only Coastal land that the Polisario Front has in their territorial claim ( NOT ANY MORE ). however, they don’t really use it much because most of their Imports come in from Mauritania or Algeria, and their headquarters is located in the town of Tindouf, Plus you know Morocco, is kind of keeping a very close eye on making sure don’t try anything funny with access to the ocean.
If you want to visit Western Sahara though you can pretty much only enter from Morocco and even then it might get closed off during times of tension, whereas entrance to the Polisario front claim territory is almost impossible to any Outsiders. to this day about 40 countries have diplomatic relations with the SADR. No Nation fully recognizes Morocco’s full sovereignty over the entire area, however many do support the idea of Morocco annexing the area as an autonomous self-governing region under the kingdom of Morocco.
Morocco & Spain
and if that wasn’t enough say hello to Spain’s little friends, if you go up north on the Mediterranean you’ll find the Plaza de Sobranie, these are like the last and final remnants of the Spanish Empire in Northern Africa scattered along the coast.
According to international law: the legality of these areas falls under Morocco as Scholars have been able to defend the claim that the modern state of Spain was founded after these areas were already constitutionally part of Morocco
The Two largest entities are the cities closer to Spain, in the west with a population of 82,000, and Melilia a little further east with a population of about 80,000 and it has its own airport.
In addition, you have the three Alhoucima Islands the three chafarinas islands, and finally, peñón de Velez de la Gomera, an incredibly small military Outpost only connected by an 85 M wide Sandy Isthmus making it the world’s shortest international land border, in addition, two more islands fall under disputed territory, there is Isla Perejil, nube island and Isla del alboran
Liste of the coolest notable sites of morocco:
- Baadi Castle,
- Jardine Majorel,
- Mohamed 5 Mausoleum,
- Hiraculus cave,
- Fez Tannery,
- Volubulis ruins,
- Al Karaouin University
- Mount Toubkal
This University is the oldest in the world the Marinette tombs and of course, Hassan the second mosque in Casablanca, the seventh largest mosque in the world. and it has the highest minaret in the world.
And speaking of things that have height, Morocco has some amazing mountains, which brings us to:
Topography of Morocco
first of all, the country lies right on the boundary where the African plate meets the Eurasian plates with the atlas thrust fault lines cutting through the country just at the very Northern tip of the Rif mountains, this also creates the other three Mountain chains:
- the Middle Atlas,
- the anti-atlas and
- the high Atlas,
or the tallest peak in North Africa can be found Toubkal, also you can find the largest lake the ben l’ouidan Reservoir and the source of the longest river the Daraa river, which flows all the way into the Atlantic. if you include Western Sahara down south you get more dry and empty best desert land with a decent mineral deposit used for mining,
basically, the coastal areas north of the mountains where the majority of the population lives, are of course flatter and arable with more Lush vegetation sometimes it even snows in the high altitudes.
Morocco even has the largest ski resort in Africa whereas everything south of that is pretty much dry Rocky and hot.
Despite the rain, Morocco actually has quite a comfortable set of natural resources, but 18% of the land is arable in about 12% of the country is a forested country also has a wide range of biodiversity, many are endemic like: gazelles boars and fennec foxes over, 90 speeches of reptiles and macaque monkeys and yes you may have seen the pictures of that tree climbing goats yep they do exist, unfortunately, due to Illegal animal trade and human intervention much of the species are disappearing and some like the national symbol of Morocco, the Barbary lion have gone extinct in the area the last one was seen in 1922.
Otherwise, Morocco has the fifth largest economy in Africa by GDP per person with parity, service industry jobs, mostly in mining, take the largest chunk of the workforce, I mean they do hold about 75% of the world’s known phosphorus mines, nonetheless, they still have an agrarian nation as the sector employs about 40% of the populace, it is said that morocco has the largest fish market in Africa, taking about 3% of their entire GDB and they are the largest export of sardines in the world
Hachich in Morocco
finally, a little interesting side note, even though it’s illegal to smoke it, they are the top exporter of legally grown cannabis in the world, sold in the form of hashish, on average they produce about 70% of Europe’s Imports.
Food in Morocco
Speaking of resource food some top dishes in Morocco: include things like anything Cooks in a tajine pot, pizza, Harira soup, pastilla, Seffa, Merouzia, and of course the national dish of couscous. everyone knows this one and sweets like chebbakia, and baklava, and finally, you cannot go around Morocco without stumbling upon their favourite drink mint tea.
Morocco is pretty much the only country that produces Argan Oil, it is using a variety of ways, sometimes in food sometimes in cosmetics or hair products
People of Morocco
in the arab world, Morocco is kind of seen as the strange cousin that got brought into the family by marriage, most Moroccans probably wouldn’t even identify as Arab, let’s explain:
first of all the country has about 36 million people and has the largest Native Berber / Amazigh community in all of Africa it’s hard to get exact estimates but the censuses say that somewhere around 41 to 80% of the entire population, has Berber ancestry whether it be full or partial
whereas 90% are non-berbers identifying Arabs. the remaining 1% is made up of other groups mostly French in Spanish, as well as west African immigrants
What is Berber / Amazigh they are the native indigenous semi-nomadic people that have inhabited various regions of north Africa, prior to arab conquests?
they have a completely different story and background from Arabs. they have their own Traditions, Customs, art, clothing, and language. today Berber/Amazigh is an official language alongside Arabic in both Morocco and Algeria, and it can be written in both Latin and in Tiphenagh script which looks awesome, it looks like dancing people and you can find it on street signs and billboards all over.
that being said most Metropolitan Moroccans are trilingual, growing up with both languages and a European one as a third mostly French, they were French protectors at one point.
Moroccan speak Arabic with a distinct dialect known as darija very hard to understand from a standard speaker, and some say it could even be classified as its own language. much of it is influenced by Berber/Amazigh.
Moroccans have a very vibrant background most of which are Berber-Amazigh influenced. keep in mind though there are many different types of Berber/Amazigh people and tribes, some are light skin, some are dark skin, and some have different Customs. but overall there are some Universal traits that they all kinds of share
prior to the spread of Islam, most Berbers / Amazigh was traditionally animus, the practised things like ancestor veneration, and facial and body tattoos were common a long time ago, among women with each image symbolizing something important, but the practice has been dying out since the 1940s, and today you can only find it mostly amongst the elderly, the national dress for both men and women unisex scarves called Jalapa a long loose hooded garment which, serves to keep the person War but also protected from the Sun
Morocco is a monarchy
kingdom rules under Muhammad the 6 claiming to be a direct descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, he belongs to the Alaouite Dynasty, the second oldest ruling Dynasty in the world after Japan’s Yamato Imperial family. the country’s State religion is Islam the vast majority of about 99% identify as adhering to the faith, mainly in the Sunni branch and the remainder is mostly Christians and a small Jewish community.
speaking of Jewish, Morocco used to have the largest Jewish population in the Arab world, some estimates claiming to be up to 350,000, after War times of the 20th century though nearly all of them either fled or were expelled, most heading to Israel and today Moroccan Jews make up the second largest Jewish ethnic subgroup in Israel, and today less than 3,000 remain in Morocco.