18 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT
MOROCCO is a North African country that has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has borders with Western Sahara to the south, Algeria to the east and the Spanish North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast in the north. It is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar.
Rainbows of color, spice-market smells, an urban orchestra of sounds: Morocco can be overwhelming at first. Lying 13 kilometers, or 8 miles, from the coast of Spain, the North African country mixes Middle Eastern magic, Berber tradition and European flair.
The official name of Morocco is the Kingdom of Morocco.
Morocco is about the same size as the state of California.
There are over 32 million people living in Morocco (32,649,130) as of July 2013.
The capital city of Morocco is Rabat, although the largest city is Casablanca with nearly 4 million people.
Other major cities in Morocco include Marrakech, Tangier, Tetouan, Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador.
Ethnically, Moroccans are predominately of Berber (North African indigenous) and Arabic decent.
- The Berber people have been living in North Africa for centuries, historically living in the mountainous areas but in more recent times moving to the cities for work.
- The official languages of Morocco are Berber and Arabic. The distinctive group of Moroccan Arabic dialects are collectively called Darija. French and to a lesser extent Spanish and English are also spoken in the country.
- From 1912 to 1956, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish zones. There are just two small Spanish-controlled areas still remaining today (Ceuta and Melilla).
- Morocco is quite a mountainous country with the Atlas Mountains running from northeast to the southwest through the center and the Rif Mountains located in the north.
- The southeast of the country is intersected by the Sahara Desert and direct to the south lies the Western Sahara. Morocco claims that the Western Sahara is part of its territory and refers to the area as its Southern Provinces, although officially this area is still a disputed territory.
- The currency in Morocco is called the Dirham.
- Moroccan cities commonly have mosques with beautiful towers called minarets, market areas called bazaars, old medieval sections called medinas and old fortresses called kasbahs.
- Green tea with mint and sweetened with sugar is a popular beverage in Morocco.
- The most famous of Moroccan dishes is couscous, other popular dishes include pastilla, tajine, and harira. Chicken is the most widely eaten meat.
- There are very large concentrations of Moroccan migrants living in France (over 1 million) and Spain (over 700 thousand).
- The most popular sport in Morocco is football (soccer), the Moroccan national team became the first African and Arab country to make to the 2nd round of a World Cup when they did so in 1986.
- The university called al-Qarawiyin was founded in the city of Fes in 859 as a madrasa (an Arabic educational institution) and is considered by some to be the oldest university in the world.