Virtual Vacations: Morocco, Northern Africa
Posted on: March 21, 2021.

Where is Morocco located?

Morocco is a spectacular country located in northwestern Africa, that shares territorial borders with Algeria and Western Sahara, and maritime borders with the Alboran Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

Morocco is a small country—roughly the size of California—separated from the vast Sahara Desert by the soaring Atlas Mountains. The Strait of Gibraltar separates Morocco from the southern tip of Spain in Europe.

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Alboran Sea—the westward extension of the larger Mediterranean Sea—with the North Atlantic Ocean, but separates the continents of Africa and Europe.

What are certain facts about Morocco?

The capital of Morocco is Rabat, and the national currency is Moroccan Dirham. Berber and its dialects, Arabic, and French are the official languages.

The Atlas and the Rif are the major mountain ranges of Morocco. The form of government is a “constitutional monarchy”, with official steps being taken to move towards democracy.

Olive trees grow across Morocco’s flat plains, while the woods on the mountains are commonly of evergreen oaks and giant cedars.

How is the lifestyle, architecture, culture, and tradition of Moroccans?

Most Moroccans are Muslims, while the rest are Berber and Arab. For centuries, the Berbers have inhabited North Africa, and many of them used to live in the mountains, and spoke the Berber language.

Mint tea sweetened with sugar is a Moroccan favorite enjoyed by the people, taking time to make and sip with family and guests. The coastal cities of Fez, Casablanca, and Marrakech are Morocco’s most populated.

Mosques with ornate, traditional towers or ‘minarets’, and bazaars or ’souks’—open-air markets where vendors sell ceramics, jewelry and metal lanterns—are commonplace in Moroccan architecture and culture.

“Medina”—the walled medieval quarter of a town or city, commonly found in most North African countries, not just Morocco—means city or town in modern-day Arabic.

‘Kasbahs’ are old Moroccan fortresses—strong buildings built from palm-tree fibers and mud from the riverbanks. The cuisine of Morocco—based mostly on fresh seafood—has a strong Spanish influence.

Where can I enjoy some of Morocco’s best sights?

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech—sprawling, luxuriant, and vibrant botanical gardens, originally created in the 1920’s, owned and maintained historically by French artists.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca—a spectacular, oceanfront mosque overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, with a soaring 210-meter-tall minaret—world’s second tallest—built in Moorish architectural style.

Agadir Beach, Agadir—clean pure sands, clear tranquil waters, and a spacious sandy shoreline, is well-complemented by volleyball courts, lifeguards, restaurants, and other sightseeing spots.

Medina of Fez—a walled medieval city with narrow, car-free streets and ornamented entryways, housing a lively market square. Medinas are typically walled, with narrow streets, fountains, palaces, and mosques.

Souk vendors at the Medina of Fez specialize in perfumes, spices, lamps, and leather, while dining choices range from street kebabs to stylish gourmet restaurants.

Caves of Hercules, Tangier—Roman mythological hero Hercules—during the 11th of the “12 Labors of Hercules”—allegedly rested in these caves, one of which has two openings—one to sea, and one to land…

and the shape of the seaward opening is identical to the outline of Africa! While Phoenicians were believed to have created this Africa-shaped opening, the Berbers created the landward one by quarrying for stones.

How has the history of Morocco evolved?

Morocco is in that part of Africa which brings it closest to the southern tip of the European country of Spain. Historically, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish zones from 1912 to 1956.

Since 1999, Morocco—officially, the Kingdom of Morocco—is ruled by King Mohammed VI, claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad. However, two small Spanish-controlled areas in Morocco—Ceuta and Melilla—still remain today.

There are only three “kingdoms”—including Morocco—in the continent of Africa. The other two are the small southern African countries, Lesotho and Swaziland.

What is the weather like in Morocco?

Morocco has a tropical climate with temperatures reaching as high as 35°C and as low as 5°C in the Sahara. Coastal areas have a warm, Mediterranean climate, while inland areas are hotter and drier.

Springtime—mid-March to May—and Fall—September to October—is when the weather is warm but pleasant. January is Morocco’s coldest month, and March is when it rains.

Rains are an unpredictable source of natural water, and thus insufficient to supply all the water needed by Moroccans—more than 34.3 million people.

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