Morocco has been influenced by several civilizations since Antiquity. Each has marked the land with an indelible imprint. This has produced an incomparable historical heritage.
The different civilizations which have followed on from each other in Morocco have each influenced our identity. Which undoubtedly explains the tolerance and open-mindedness of Moroccans. There are no culture clashes here, just meetings and sharing.
According to legend it was Hercules who created Morocco when he opened the Strait of Gibraltar. Whatever the case, the presence of mankind here has been shown to date back 300,000 years. Originally inhabited by Berbers, the country opened up to Phoenician and Carthaginian influences, before submitting until the 5th century to the Romans. They would leave relics, such as the site at Volubilis, testifying to the prosperity which came from agricultural production. From 647, the Arab and Islamic conquest began.
Kingdom and dynasties
In 788, Idriss I, contesting the power of Baghdad, founded the Idrisid kingdom in Volubilis. There followed the Almoravid dynasties, the Berber conquerors of the south, then the Almohads whose power extended into Muslim Spain, and finally the Merinids, Berbers from the high plateaus.
Religious tolerance, Andalusian heritage, and the prosperity of these dynasties created treasures which now constitute the cultural, artistic and architectural richness of the country. From the 16th century, the empires of Arabic, Saadian then Alaouite origin ensured the unity and independence of Morocco. Today, Morocco is ruled by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, crowned on July 30th, 1999; he is the 23rd king in the Alaouite dynasty which came to power at the beginning of the 17th century. The monarchy ensures the unity of the country, and the reign of Mohammed VI is marked by a desire to build a unified and modern democratic state, which respects its traditions and its identity.
Inhabited for more than 300,000 years, Morocco is a meeting place for civilizations which are open to others, with their own strong identity.The variety of Moroccan landscapes is incredible. You move from summits to plains, from the greenest vegetation to the most complete aridity.
Landscape and geography
Morocco offers such geographical diversity that you can leave the beautiful beaches of Agadir in the morning to find yourself at the foot of the Oukmaiden ski slopes in the afternoon, before coming back down to experience a beautiful evening in the palm groves of Marrakech.
Plains and mountains
When seen from the sky, Morocco – inserted between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic – has a long strip of mountains which runs from East to West before embedding itself in the sand at Mauritania. The landscapes are very varied and astonishing: the vertiginous snowy peaks of the (upper) High Atlas mountains, the crags and gullies of the Rif massifs, the dense forests of oaks and thuyas of the central plateau, the fertile plains of the Meseta, the arid lands of the high plateaus, the almost desert steppes and luxurious oases of the Souss basin and the Saharan sand dunes. It is magical!
The various types of habitat have created diverse cultures which have enriched our identity. There is such a variety of landscapes that travelers will be happy no matter what the season. When snow blocks the Atlas roads, beach activities are still possible in the south.
Flora and fauna
Each area has its native flora and fauna, which are now protected as part of the sustainable tourism development idea. Gazelles, eagles, mountain sheep and bat-eared foxes are not rare and it is easy to observe them going about their business. Morocco, sacrosanct nature… he Kingdom of Morocco is a melting pot of cultures made diverse by successive newcomers. Communities here live in harmony, each respecting others’ differences.
Tradition of cohabitation
The numerous migrations that Morocco has experienced have created a spirit of tolerance and openness. Today Islam, Christianity and Judaism enrich one another spiritually and intellectually through the sharing and transmission of their culture.
The first inhabitants of Morocco, the Berbers are one of the pillars of the country and are contributing a new strength to the modern Morocco. The Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture was set up on October 17th, 2001. Since then Berber has become recognized as an official language. It is now included in school syllabuses and on national radio and televisions stations. The richness of Amazigh tradition is expressed most clearly during the Timitar festival in Agadir.
Down the centuries, Morocco has been able to encourage cohabitation between cultures. Mutual respect between religions practiced here has given birth to a peaceful society which shares traditions and values. Moroccan Islam’s capacity to adapt to the constant evolution of society and to scientific, social and cultural progress ensures it a long-term future and respect. Morocco is an Islamic land where tolerance and respect for other spiritual and cultural communities are the basis for an identity which is open to difference.Like the country, it is rich in flavors, aromas and colors. Its scents and sweet-and-sour combinations are famous around the world.
Usages and customs
A Moroccan meal is an experience which requires all the senses. The friendly atmosphere is complemented by the scents of saffron, cumin and coriander. And every region will reveal to you its specialties, traditions and its welcome.
The great classics
Of course you will taste the international star: couscous, or rather a whole range of couscous, for there are many depending on the time of year and the region. You will taste a subtle balance between spices and the rich combinations of meat and vegetables. You will savor the jewel of Moroccan cuisine: the pastilla. A delicate pie which wonderfully combines finely chopped pigeon, parsley, hard-boiled egg, almonds and honey. And then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. A real feast for the senses! You will also find this dedication to pastry in chicken or beef briouats. You will discover soup including harira, with a base of lentils and chick-peas. And how could you resist the pleasures of the tajine? This meat, chicken or fish stew, accompanied by vegetables and fruits, is traditionally cooked in a covered terracotta dish which has given it its name.
Tea and cakes
And finally, Moroccan patisseries: pancakes with honey and sesame seeds, cakes made with almonds or raisins, etc. And accompanied, of course, by traditional mint tea…