Country statistics


Land area: 172,317 sq miles (446,301 sq km)

Total area: 172,413 sq miles (446,550 sq km)

Population (2010 est.): 31,627,428 (growth rate: 1.0%); birth rate: 19.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 28.6/1000; life expectancy: 75.6; density per sq km: 76

Capital City: Rabat

Monetary unit: Dirham

Languages: Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often used for business, government, and diplomacy

Ethnicity/race: Arab-Berber 99.1%, Jewish 0.2%, other 0.7%

Religions: Islam 99%, Christian 1%

Country introduction

A man praying with the Atlas Mountains in the background

Morocco is situated in North Africa at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, but at its northern-most point lies only 12 km (7 miles) from mainland Europe, across the Strait of Gibraltar. The western coastline of Morocco borders the North Atlantic Ocean, Algeria is to the east, and the Western Sahara to the south. The northern regions have a Mediterranean climate, while the south comprises of semi-arid deserts, which means it has slightly more rainfall than dry deserts.

Morocco's varied geography includes no less than four separate mountain ranges, in addition to lush river valleys, beautiful sandy coasts, and wide expanses of desert. The three most prominent mountain ranges, which run parallel to each other from the south-west to the north-east, are the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas. The ascent of the country's highest peak, Jebel Toukbal (4,165 m / 13,665 ft), is a spectacular and not particularly difficult High Atlas trek.

The Moroccan coastline, which fronts onto both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, offers plenty of great beaches as well as a number of fascinating old coastal cities. In the south-east, Morocco's mountain ranges yield inexorably to the desolate expanse of the Sahara. The rivers that flow down this side of the High Atlas support long, narrow, and lush river valleys that resemble linear oases.

Morocco is a country where African, Arab and European cultures are entwined. Morocco is a land of tolerance, a blend of cultures and religions, a country known for its amazing hospitality. The fascinating mixture of history, art, food, music and architecture makes Morocco an unforgettable destination.

The culture

Jemma el Fna Square and Souks

Morocco is a multi-ethnic country with a rich culture and history. It is a unique blend of African, Arabic and European, that have impacted the social structure of Morocco. It has also hosted many forms of belief, from Paganism, Judaism, Christianity to Islam.

Moroccan people are among the most hospitable in the world. They are warm, open and make friends quickly with everyone. It is not unlikely to receive an invitation to their home just moments after meeting them.

The Moroccan artisans are known all over the world for their intricate woodworks, most of which are sculpted and painted ornately. The colorful and the beautifully adorned pottery done by the Berber people of Morocco is also very popular with the tourists. However, amongst the various handicrafts, it is the lovely carpets that have garnered a great deal of attention from the international art world, due to Morocco's traditional weaving culture.

The predominantly Arabic population in Morocco has given its music a pleasant Arabic tone but there is also some Andalusian strains in Moroccan music. There are other varieties of Berber folk music and ritual music that exist such as Chaabi (popular) music, the Gharnati music and the languorously mystical Gnawa music of the Sub-Saharan people. There are also many dance forms prevalent in Morocco, the most prominent amongst them being the Guedra Dance, the Casbah Dance and the very exotic and enchanting Belly Dance.

Attractions & landmarks

Ourika Valley

Morocco is a country of contrasts, where only short drives out of modern city centres leads into societies where large parts of the social fabrics remain intact from centuries back in time.

Situated at the foot of the Atlas mountains, the imperial city of Marrakech is a fascinating place to visit, full of history, beauty and culture. An entire day can be dedicated to wandering around and seeking out the best bargains from all the different souks adjacent to the Djemaa el-Fna square. Close by is the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque, the city's most recognizable landmark. Marrakech also offers several historical and architectural sites, as well as some interesting museums. Some attractions include the Ville Nouvelle, Majorelle Gardens, the Museum of Islamic Art, El Bahia Palace, Musée de Marrakech, Bab Agnaou, the ramparts, the Saadian Tombs and the hammams. About 32 km (20 miles) from the city is Ourika Valley, which is spread between the first foothills of the Atlas Mountains, extending along the Wadi River. A hiking tour can be taken along the rocks to see the famous waterfalls at the end of the valley.

Agadir, a 3 hour coach trip from Marrakech, is the best destination for a holiday, filled with sun, beach activities and even nightclubbing. It is the only real modern city of Morocco, rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1960's according to the ideas of European architects. The 10 km long beach is littered with many bars and restaurants with a promenade between it and the sandy beach. A stroll will offer a complete panorama of the whole bay. There are also many water based activities such as jet skiing, parascending and windsurfing.

The city walls, Taroudant

An hour from Agadir is Taroudannt, a great place to visit to see the ancient Morocco. The town in the heart of the Sous Valley is known for having the best preserved walls that surrounds it. The city walls provide some nice views, which is accessable by the main gate. There are many souks near each of its two main squares, Assarag and Talmoklate that sell local crafts, including jewellery and carpets. There is also a weekly souk outside the city walls, near the future university district. Good hotels and restaurants makes this city a great place to relax.

Essaouira is by many considered the world's most beautiful place and a popular destination for beach fanatics and those looking for a relaxing atmosphere. Fishing is a popular activity, and the harbour there is one of the best-loved fishing spots in all of Morocco. There are also a good range of water sports, which include jet skiing and windsurfing, as well as the option to hire out pedalos or yachts for the day.