Morocco’s largest city Casablanca and the historic shopping section of Tangier, the Casbah, help attract thousands of tourists per year to this relatively modern and safe nation on the northwestern corner of Africa.
In addition the colorful and exciting city of Marrakesh attracts visitors just as it has since the early days of Berber and Arab rule.
It is on the open square of Marrakesh and down the narrow streets leading away that visitors and tourists will find an atmosphere much like it has always been down through the ages. There are performances including comedians, jugglers, snake charmers, acrobats, dancers, trained animal acts along with other outdoor activities.
The narrow streets are filled with people shopping for all sorts of handmade crafts, metalworks, wool dyers, arts and many other assorted items.
It can be said the Morocco is only a hop for Europe and particularly Spain which at the Strait of Gibraltar is only nine miles away.
Morocco has a varied landscape from beaches to 13,000 feet high mountains making up the Atlas and Rif chain. This variation also gives the country a varied climate with perhaps the best times to visit the coast during the mild and sunny winter months. Overall April through October are generally dry for the whole country.
Popular cities include:
Casablanca – The largest and a chief port includes an old-world Arab community with modern high-rises and the glitter of Western life.
Rabat – The second largest city. The capital and a beautiful coastal city.
Marrakesh – Third largest and founded in the 11th century.
Tangier – Known for its Casbah is perhaps the greatest tourist center in the county and has a mild climate and lovely seacoast. Many artist and writers from around the world come here to visit and to live and its here that scenes from many movies have been shot.
The Berbers were the first people to settle in Morocco and they have continued to retain their basic culture, beliefs and language.
Bedouin Arabs later moved in the area bringing their language, culture and the Muslim religion. Today Berber children attending state schools receive classrooms similar to Arabs. Berbers are noted for being tall, slim, blue-eyed and a variety of skin color from light to black due to generations of intermarriage with surrounding peoples and cultures. Most are Muslims but freedom of religion is allowed in Morocco so most Spanish and French are Roman Catholic.
As with many countries Morocco continues to deal with unemployment and in the past 20 years has made much progress. Modernized cities drew thousands seeking jobs but this created slums in larger cities where the unemployed and hungry set up shanty towns or bidonvilles. New, simply designed homes were built by the government and this has helped over the past 15 years.
So visitors may find shanties to luxury, modern buildings and apartments. Foods is a collection of exciting tastes and varies according to customs. Couscous is a favorite as is other cereals, some mixed with meats. Lamb and chicken are basic meat dishes and mint tea is a favorite drink and often served to visitors.
Tourists to Morocco will find the people some of the world’s best practitioners of hospitality. Many of the old traditions have changed as women have become more “westernized”. Education is one of the highest priorities with several major universities located in the country.
Morocco once had a large Jewish population but that had decreased due to the large numbers moving to Israel.
In addition to the colorful and historic cities, tourists will also enjoy the National Folkore Festival held in Marrakesh.