Why Morocco? Ask anyone who has been there and they will tell you “Seek and you will find.” An initial sense of disbelief, swiftly followed by real pleasure is the frequent response of the newcomer to this surprising country.
The miracle is its seamless blend of past and present, a mix of traditions, customs and costumes you thought had vanished with time, but are still alive and thriving in a dazzling land that, while embracing new technology, has thrillingly escaped the creeping similarity that threatens to standardise identity in so many parts of the modern world.
Just three hours by air from Britain and 15 km across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain, no other land so close can offer such an air of mystery and romance, where the heartbeat of Africa and Arabia mingle with that of the original Berber inhabitants; a realm of luscious valleys, green cedar forests, rugged snowcapped mountains that soar so high they seem to touch the sky inspiring the ancients to name them Atlas after the mythical giant that carried the world on his shoulders. And, of course, to the south lies the great Sahara Desert.
It comes as a vast surprise to the first-time visitor to discover that much of the fiery beauty and spirit of that old Moorish empire which ruled Spain for 800 years and vanished when the Spaniards reconquered, is still in existence, miraculously preserved as though in a time warp, at the heart of a modern country, not fossilised but a living, thriving force.
Money: The Unit of Currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). Moroccan Dirhams can usually be exchanged at major airports exchange points (London Gatwick, Marrakesh Menara).
Local Time:Morocco lies within the Greenwich Time Zone and operates Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), same as UK
Morocco has its own national airline, Royal Air Maroc, and is also served by all major international airlines.
Most Areas in Morocco have electricity.
110-125 and 220 volt are both in use, depending on the region and the age of the buildings.
The Kingdom of Morocco is situated on the North West tip of Africa, with the Atlantic Ocean on one coast and the Mediterranean on the other. Morocco is easily accessible; it is only 14 Kilometres away from Europe across the straits of Gibraltar.
Area and Population
Morocco has a population of over 32 million and an area of 446,550 square km (172,410 sq mi).
Capital and Major Cities
Morocco’s capital is Rabat, although the largest city is Casablanca; other major cities include Marrakech, Tangier, Tetouan, Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Essaouira and Oujda.
The weather varies from Mediterranean in the North, to sub-tropical in the South. The nearness of the sea and the Rif and Atlas mountain ranges guarantees a pleasant climate all year round.
Morocco’s road system comprises 60,000 kms, of which 11,000kms are main routes, including motorway system from:
The remaining network is made up of second and third class roads, around two-fifths of which have been resurfaced.
Arabic is the official language but local dialects are spoken in the mountain regions. French is the most popular second language, followed by Spanish and English.