Interesting Facts About Morocco
Morocco is a North African country with beautiful scenery, fascinating history and lots of culture, including delicious cuisine, to explore.
With these 65 interesting facts about Morocco learn about its history, geography, culture, tourism, economy, people, food, and lots more.
Facts about Morocco’s history
1. Historic evidence suggests that Morocco has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic era of prehistoric times. The Maghreb (as the Northern Africa area is called) was a fertile savannah then and not at all like today’s modern arid landscape.
2. In still ancient, but more recent, history Morocco has been occupied by the Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, and Byzantines. Morocco and the rest of North Africa were drawn into the emerging Mediterranean world by the Phoenicians as they established settlements and trading colonies. The earliest known independent Moroccan kingdom was the King Bocchus I, a Berber of Mauretania.
3. There was apparently a famine in the country in 1520 that killed many people. One woman who wrote about it described it this way: “. . . a famine in Morocco so terrible that for a long time other events were dated by it.” Whether or not that famine was real, there have been suggestions that Morocco’s population dropped from 5 to under 3 million between the early 16th and 19th centuries.
4. The year 1549 saw the beginning of the rule of a succession of Arab dynasties all claiming direct descent from the great Islamic prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) The Saadi Dynasty was succeeded by the Alaouite Dynasty, who assumed power in the 17th century.
5. Sultan Mohammed III established the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship in 1786. As the American Revolution began, the country’s Atlantic Ocean merchant ships were being attacked by Barbary pirates.
On December 20, 1777, the Sultan declared that all American merchant ships were now under his protection and thus could enjoy safe passage. Therefore, Morocco was the first nation to recognize the newly formed country of the United States formally as an independent nation. This treaty today is the U.S.’s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.
6. As Europe industrialized, North Africa was increasingly prized for its potential for colonization. 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 while France and Spain carved out zones of influence in Morocco.
7. Morocco gained their independence in 1956 and has a history of being a prominent and independent regional power, a history not shared by their neighboring countries. King Hassan II assumed the throne in March of 1961 but never established a democratic republic. Human rights abuses were investigated during his reign and some 592 Moroccans were reported to have been killed.
8. Morocco laid claims to the territory of Western Sahara, leading to a war that continued until a cease-fire agreement was reached in 1991. The standoff continues today. The Moroccan government refers to this area as its Southern Provinces.
9. Today Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. King Mohammad VI, who claims to be directly descended from the prophet, holds vast legislative as well as executive powers.
10. Morocco celebrates their national holiday of Throne Day on July 30 each year, which celebrates and honors the accession of King Mohammad VI to the throne in 1999.
11. The Northern African country of Morocco, officially named the Kingdom of Morocco, is situated between Algeria and the annexed Western Sahara (the Southern Provinces). It borders both the Mediterranean Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, one of only three countries in the world that do (the others being France and Spain). Its borders with Algiers have been closed since 1994.
12. Morocco is geographically characterized by its two mountain ranges, the Atlas and Rif Mountains; its portion of the Sahara desert; and its beautiful coastal areas. Many think of the arid Sahara as being the typical North African landscape but it’s the green mountains to the north and beyond where most Moroccans make their livelihood in the fertile coastal plain.
13. The Atlas Mountains form the backbone of Morocco, running from the northeast of the country down to the southwest, and are in fact three distinct ranges. These divide the country into sections at different altitudes: the Middle Atlas, Anti-Atlas and High Atlas. They run from the city of Agadir into Tunisia and Algeria.
14. In the High Atlas Mountains are many Berber villages, terraced on small ledges and preserving their ancient culture. These are the highest and most dramatic of all Morocco’s mountains and their highest peak is Jebel Toubkal, topping out at 4,167 meters (2.6 miles) high.
15. The Rif Mountains in the north of the country are also inhabited by the Berber people. They stretch from the northwest of Morocco to the northeast, bordering the Mediterranean ocean. Home to the endangered Barbary macaques, this region receives more rainfall annually than any other part of Morocco.
16. The Sahara Desert covers most of the southeastern portion of Morocco so this region is not only sparsely populated but not very productive economically for the country. More people live to the north and to the south in the Western Sahara, in the former Spanish Colony, Morocco annexed as its Southern Provinces in 1975.
17. The Moroccan coast by the Atlantic reaches up through the Strait of Gibraltar and on into the Mediterranean Sea. Spain is only 15 miles away across the Strait. The Canary Islands (belonging to Spain) are to the west in the Atlantic Ocean.
18. The capital city of Morocco is Rabat. The largest city is Casablanca. Other major cities include Fes, Agadir, Oujda, Tangier, Marrakesh and Nador. Its main port city is Casablanca.
19. The High Atlas are easily accessed from Marrakesh, about 40 minutes away, and also offer wonderful mountain retreats, rustic but full of local character and set amidst stunning scenery.
Author The Factfile
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