Morocco officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco is a sovereign country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Geographically, Morocco is characterised by a rugged mountainous interior, large tracts of desert and a lengthy coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
Morocco has a population of over 33.8 million and an area of 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, and the largest city is Casablanca. Other major cities include Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan, Salé, Fes, Safi, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours. Since the foundation of the first Moroccan state by Idris I in 789, the country has been ruled by a series of independent dynasties, reaching its zenith under the Almoravid and Almohad dynasty, spanning parts of Iberia and Northwestern Africa. Marinid and Saadi dynasties continued the struggle against foreign domination, and Morocco remained the only North African country to avoid Ottoman occupation. The Alaouite dynasty, the current ruling dynasty, seized power in 1666. In 1912 Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates, with an international zone in Tangier, and regained its independence in 1956. Moroccan culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African, and European influences.
Morocco claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara as its Southern Provinces. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975, leading to a guerrilla war with indigenous forces until a cease-fire in 1991. Peace processes have thus far failed to break the political deadlock.
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. He can also dissolve the parliament after consulting the Prime Minister and the president of the Constitutional court.
Morocco’s predominant religion is Islam, and the official languages are Arabic and Berber. The Moroccan dialect, referred to as Darija, and French are also widely spoken. Morocco is a member of the Arab League, the Union for the Mediterranean, and the African Union. It has the fifth largest economy of Africa.
- Rabat – The capital of Morocco; very relaxed and hassle-free, highlights include a 12th-century tower and minaret.
- Casablanca – This modern city by the sea is a starting point for visitors flying into the country. If you have the time, both the historical medina and the contemporary mosque (the third largest in the world) are well worth an afternoon
- Fez – Fez is the former capital of Morocco and one of the oldest and largest medieval cities in the world.
- Marrakech (Marrakesh)– Marrakech is a perfect combination of old and new Morocco. Plan to spend at least a few days wandering the huge maze of souks and ruins in the medina. The great plaza of Djeema El Fna at dusk is not to be missed although the sheer number and concentration of tourists may be off putting for some.
- Meknes – A laid back city that offers a welcome break from the tourist crush of neighbouring Fez. Was once an imperial capital and retains its extensive walls and an “old city” smaller yet similar to that of Fez. There are a number of vineyards in the area around Meknes.
- Ouarzazate – Considered the Capital of the South, Ouarzazate is a great example of preservation and tourism that hasn’t destroyed the feel of a fantastic and ancient city.
- Tangier –Tangier is the starting point for most visitors arriving by ferry from Spain. An enigmatic charm which has historically attracted numerous artists (Matisse), musicians (Hendrix), politicians (Churchill), writers (Burroughs, Twain) and others (Malcolm Forbes).
- Taroudannt – A southern market town.
- Tetouan – Nice beaches and is the gateway to the Rif Mountains.
- Al Hoceima – Beach town on the Mediterranean coast
- Agadir – Agadir is best-known for its beaches. The town is a nice example of modern Morocco, with less emphasis on history and culture. Take the local bus for MAD5/10 to the north town of Auorir and Tamraght where there are great beaches
- Amizmiz – With one of the largest Berber souks in the High Atlas Mountains every Tuesday, Amizmiz is a popular destination for travelers looking for a day trip that is easily accessible (about an hour) from Marrakech
- Chefchaouen – A mountain town just inland from Tangier full of white-washed winding alleys, blue doors, and olive trees, Chefchaouen is clean as a postcard and a welcome escape from Tangier, evoking the feeling of a Greek island
- Essaouira – An ancient sea-side town newly rediscovered by tourists. From mid-June to August the beaches are packed but any other time and you’ll be the only person there. Good music and great people. Nearest Coast from Marrakech
- Imouzzer a traditional Berber town perched in the Atlas mountains, beautiful scenery and a wonderful waterfall. Excellent handicrafts, argan oil and berber jewellery.
- Merzouga and M’Hamid – From either of these two settlements at the edge of the Sahara, ride a camel or 4×4 into the desert for a night (or a week) among the dunes and under the stars
- Tinerhir – This town is the perfect point of access to the stunning High Atlas