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Morocco is an initiation into the exotic magic of the Islamic, Arabic, African world - the world of medinas and minarets, desert and mountain; yet it almost touches western Europe and, for all the differences, retains a European patina, the legacy of the French Protectorate.

To imbibe the spirit of Morocco, wander the streets of the great cities. Fès - the ancient capital - has a stunning array of medieval buildings, while Marrakech compels attention, its world-famous souk selling a bewildering array of goods; both hark back to the Arab dynasties that ruled the country from the Muslim conquest. Casablanca, a thriving commercial centre, and Rabat, the capital, reflect their modern French origins; Tangier is mildly seedy, slightly melancholy. All Moroccan cities are crowded, the hustlers a fact of life.

Morocco’s charm lies in its diversity. For sun-worshippers, there are miles of beaches, while inland lies Berber country where, among the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the energetic can walk or trek. Beyond the Atlas are the fringes of the Sahara, where the caravans once stopped on their way south to trade in spice and ivory.

Whether scaling distant ridges, idling by the sea, haggling for exotic artefacts, gazing at ancient wonders or marvelling at the pink and indigo of a desert dawn, you will be mesmerised.

The original inhabitants of Morocco, the Berbers, have experienced a series of invaders over the centuries. The first Arabs arrived from the west in AD682 and established a series of dynasties which have ruled Morocco ever since. As in much of North Africa, the conflict between Arabs and Berbers has been a central feature of the country’s history.

Morocco achieved independence from the French in 1956 and despite some progress, today two territorial disputes remain: in the Sahrawi region (previously known as Spanish Sahara), claimed by indigenous guerrilla movement, the Polisario Front and in the Spanish-occupied enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast.

General Information 
710,850 sq km (274,461 sq miles).
31.6 million (UN estimate 2005).
Population Density
44.4 per sq km.
Rabat. Population: 1.2 million (2005 estimate).
Constitutional monarchy since 1956. Gained independence from France in 1956.
The official language is Arabic, but Berber is spoken by a large minority. French is widely spoken throughout the country, except in the northern regions where Spanish is more predominant. English is also understood, particularly in the north and the main tourist areas.
Predominantly Muslim with Jewish and Christian minorities. Morocco’s population and culture stems from a cross-section of origins including Berbers, Arabs, Moors and Jews.

The climate varies from area to area. The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds. Inland areas have a hotter, drier, continental climate. In the south of the country, the weather is very hot and dry throughout most of the year, with the nights coolest in the months of December and January. Rain falls from November to March in coastal areas. Mostly dry with high temperatures in summer. Cooler climate in the mountains. Marrakech and Agadir enjoy an average temperature of 21°C (70ºF) in the winter.
equired Clothing:   Lightweight cottons and linens are worn during summer, with warm mediumweights for the evenings during winter and in the mountains. Waterproofing is advisable in the wet season, particularly on the coast and in the mountains.

Social Conventions 
Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Many of the manners and social customs emulate French manners, particularly amongst the middle class. The visitor may find, in some social situations, that patience and firmness will pay dividends. Often visitors may find themselves the centre of unsolicited attention. In towns, young boys after money will be eager to point out the way, sell goods or simply charge for a photograph, while unofficial guides will always be offering advice or services. The visitor should be courteous but wary of the latter. Normal social courtesies should be observed in someone’s home. Casual wear is widely acceptable, although swimsuits and shorts should be confined to the beach or poolside. Women travelling alone, and/or wearing clothes regarded as provocative (eg strappy tops, short skirts, etc) may attract unwanted attention. Sexual relations outside marriage, and homosexual conduct, are punishable by law. Smoking is widespread and it is customary to offer cigarettes.
127/220 volts AC, 50Hz, depending on age and location of building.
Head of Government 
Prime Minister Driss Jettou since 2002.
Head of State 
King Mohammed VI since 1999.
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