Theme Week Morocco

Monday, 24 July 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Bon voyage, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  12 minutes

Former Portuguese fortress of Mazagan in El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0

Former Portuguese fortress of Mazagan in El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0

Morocco, officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco (Arabic: al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyah, literally The Western Kingdom), is located in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Geographically, Morocco is characterized by a rugged mountainous interior, large tracts of desert, and a lengthy coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It has the fifth largest economy of Africa. 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. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours. 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.

As Europe industrialised, North Africa was increasingly prized for its potential for colonisation. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830, not only to protect the border of its Algerian territory, but also because of the strategic position of Morocco on two oceans. In 1860, a dispute over Spain‘s Ceuta enclave led Spain to declare war. Victorious Spain won a further enclave and an enlarged Ceuta in the settlement. In 1884, Spain created a protectorate in the coastal areas of Morocco. France’s exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa sparked active opposition to the French and Spanish protectorates. The most notable violence occurred in Oujda where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets. France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year. In March 1956 the French protectorate was ended and Morocco regained its independence from France as the “Kingdom of Morocco”. A month later Spain ceded most of its protectorate in Northern Morocco to the new state but kept its two coastal enclaves (Ceuta and Melilla) on the Mediterranean coast. Sultan Mohammed became king in 1957. Upon the death of Mohammed V, Hassan II became King of Morocco on 3 March 1961. Morocco held its first general elections in 1963. However, Hassan declared a state of emergency and suspended parliament in 1965. King Hassan II died in 1999 and was succeeded by his son, Mohammed VI. He is a cautious moderniser who has introduced some economic and social liberalisation.

Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilisation. Through Moroccan history, it has hosted many people coming from East, South and North. All those civilisations have affected the social structure of Morocco. Since independence, a veritable blossoming has taken place in painting and sculpture, popular music, amateur theatre, and filmmaking. The Moroccan National Theatre (founded 1956) offers regular productions of Moroccan and French dramatic works. Art and music festivals take place throughout the country during the summer months, among them the World Sacred Music Festival at Fès. Each region possesses its own specificities, thus contributing to the national culture and to the legacy of civilization. Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its diverse legacy and the preservation of its cultural heritage. Culturally speaking, Morocco has always been successful in combining its Berber, Jewish and Arabic cultural heritage with external influences such as the French and the Spanish and, during the last decades, the Anglo-American lifestyles.

Former Portuguese fortress of Mazagan in El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0 The Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou © Donar Reiskoffer/cc-by-sa-3.0 Casablanca Cathedral © Elisa.rolle/cc-by-sa-4.0 High Atlas in central Morocco © Nouari0/cc-by-sa-3.0 Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech © flickr.com -  joaomaximo/cc-by-2.0 Old American Legation Museum in Tangier © Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Former Portuguese fortress of Mazagan in El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0
The indigenous Berber people and a series of foreign invaders as well as religious and cultural influences have shaped Morocco’s architectural styles. The architecture can range from ornate with bold with colours to simple, clean lines with earth tones. Influences from the Arab world, Spain, Portugal and France are seen in Moroccan architecture, both on their own and blended with Berber and Islamic styles. Among the buildings, and old Kasbah walls, sit French style-towns left behind by colonisation and intersect with intricately detailed mosques and riad-style homes. Sleek, modern designs are being constructed in cities like Rabat and Casablanca that give no particular homage to any of the past Moroccan architecture styles.

Moroccan cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. This is a result of the centuries-long interaction of Morocco with the outside world. The cuisine of Morocco is mainly Berber-Moorish, European, Mediterranean cuisines. The cuisine of Morocco is essentially Berber cuisine (sometimes referred to as the Moorish cuisine). It is also Influenced by Sephardic cuisine and by the Moriscos when they took refuge in Morocco after the Spanish Reconquista. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients such as saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Morocco. The most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco is beef; lamb is preferred but is relatively expensive. The main Moroccan dish most people are familiar with is couscous, the old national delicacy. Beef is the most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco, usually eaten in a Tagine with vegetables or legumes. Chicken is also very commonly used in Tagines, knowing that one of the most famous tagine is the Tagine of Chicken, potatoes and olives. Lamb is also consumed, but as North African sheep breeds store most of their fat in their tails, Moroccan lamb does not have the pungent flavour that Western lamb and mutton have. Poultry is also very common, and the use of seafood is increasing in Moroccan food. In addition, there are dried salted meats and salted preserved meats such as kliia/khlia and “g’did” which are used to flavor tagines or used in “el ghraif” a folded savory Moroccan pancake”. Among the most famous Moroccan dishes are Couscous, Pastilla, Tajine, Tanjia and Harira. Although the latter is a soup, it is considered as a dish in itself and is served as such or with dates especially during the month of Ramadan. A big part of the daily meal is bread. Bread in Morocco is principally from durum wheat semolina known as khobz. Bakeries are very common throughout Morocco and fresh bread is a staple in every city, town and village. The most common is whole grain coarse ground or white flour bread. There are also a number of flat breads and pulled unleavened pan-fried breads. The most popular drink is “atai”, green tea with mint leaves and other ingredients. Tea occupies a very important place in the culture of Morocco and is considered an art form. It is served not only at mealtimes but all through the day, and it is especially a drink of hospitality, commonly served whenever there are guests. It is served to guests, and it is impolite to refuse it.

Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Moroccan economy. It is well developed with a strong tourist industry focused on the country’s coast, culture, and history. Morocco attracted more than 10 million tourists in 2013. Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in Morocco after the phosphate industry. The Moroccan government is heavily investing in tourism development, in 2010 the government launched its Vision 2020 which plans to make Morocco one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world and to double the annual number of international arrivals to 20 million by 2020, with the hope that tourism will then have risen to 20% of GDP. A large government sponsored marketing campaigns to attract tourists advertised Morocco as a cheap and exotic, yet safe, place for tourists, most of the visitors to Morocco continue to be European, with French nationals making up almost 20% of all visitors. Most Europeans visit in April and the autumn, apart from the Spanish, who mostly visit in June and August. Morocco’s relatively high amount of tourists has been aided by its location, Morocco is close to Europe and attracts visitors to its beaches. Because of its proximity to Spain, tourists in southern Spain’s coastal areas take one- to three-day trips to Morocco. Tourism is increasingly focused on Morocco’s culture, such as its ancient cities. The modern tourist industry capitalises on Morocco’s ancient Roman and Islamic sites, and on its landscape and cultural history. 60% of Morocco’s tourists visit for its culture and heritage. Agadir is a major coastal resort and has a third of all Moroccan bed nights. It is a base for tours to the Atlas Mountains. Other resorts in north Morocco are also very popular. Casablanca is the major cruise port in Morocco, and has the best developed market for tourists in Morocco, Marrakech in central Morocco is a popular tourist destination, but is more popular among tourists for one- and two-day excursions that provide a taste of Morocco’s history and culture. The Majorelle botanical garden in Marrakech is a popular tourist attraction. It was bought by the fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980. Their presence in the city helped to boost the city’s profile as a tourist destination.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Government Morocco, Marocco Tourism, Western Sahara, History of Morocco, Culture of Morocco, Moroccan cuisine, Tourism in Morocco, Economy of Morocco, Politics of Morocco, Human rights in Morocco, Wikitravel Morocco, Wikivoyage Morocco and Wikipedia Morocco. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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