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Useful Facts

Geography & Environment

Morocco is located on the westernmost tip of north Africa, bordering Algeria to the east, Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara to the southwest and southeast, the Atlantic ocean to the west and the Mediterranean to the north. Running through the middle of the country is the Atlas mountain range, which leads to the fertile plains and sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast. The Middle Atlas range sweeps up from the south, rising to over 3,000m (9,850ft), covered with woodlands of pine, oak and cedar, open pastureland and small lakes. The Rif Mountains run along the north coast. The ports of Ceuta (Sebta) and Melilla on the north coast are administered by Spain. Spectacularly diverse, Morocco combines sand, sea and snow. The southern coast stretches to the edge of the Western Sahara while to the north the bulk of Morocco's population fills the foothills of the often snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Between the mountains and Morocco's Atlantic coast are plateaus and plains which are fertile and well-watered. In the extreme south, at the edge of the Anti-Atlas, the gorges which, like the rivers that flow at their bases, gradually peter out into the endless sand and stony wastes of the vast Sahara.

Religion

Islam is the official religion in Morocco, Nearly 99 percent of Moroccans are Sunni Muslim but it exists in perfect co-existence with the other religions (freedom to practise other religions of revelation is guaranteed by the constitution). The day is marked by five calls to prayer. The muzzin announces them from the top of his minaret.
During the month of Ramadan, the Moroccans fast, refraining from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset. The fast broken each evening with a meal that traditionally features soup, dates, egg, milk etc. A dinner is served after AlAisha prayer and the s’hoor (like a normal breakfast) is usually served one hour before dawn.

Cultural side
The richness of the Moroccan culture comes from the various civilizations that Morocco encountered trough different eras in its history. From the Byzantine civilization to the Roman influence to the Arab civilization, then the Spanish and French colonization, Morocco is now a panorama of genuine values of multiculturalism and gets its unity in its diversity. That is how the Moroccan identity is preserved. Traditions and folk are remain very much alive in Morocco. Music is present everywhere in the country, accompanying festivities and ceremonies. In the towns it has developed into an instrumental form. This is traditional classical or popular Arab music. In rural or Berber tribes, music is intimately linked with poetry and dance. The folk dances are magnificent and accompany the tribes’ everyday life. 

Greetings
Moroccans generally shake hands when greeting each other. To show one’s pleasure to see the other person or to show personal warmth, one touches the heart after the handshake. Rural children conventionally kiss the right hand of their parents or elders to show respect when greeting. Westernized people might greet close friends or relatives kissing cheeks. The most common general greeting is "As-salamu ‘alaykum" (Peace be upon you),"Sbah al Kheir" (Good morning) and "Msa al Kheir" (Good evening) are also used. Greetings between friends also include inquiries about each other’s well-being and that of their families. Repeated enthusiastic phrases of welcome are often extended to guests. It is polite to greet an acquaintance when passing on a street. 

Holidays:

Religious holidays
Are based on the lunar calendar, their dates vary each year.
First of Moharram - the first day of the hegira, the Muslim year
Aid El Mawlid - the birth of the prophet Mohamed (PBUH)
Aid El Fitr - the end of Ramadan
Aid El Adha - the commemoration of the “sacrifice” of Isaac by Abraham

National holidays:
January 1, New Year
January 11, Independence Manifesto
July 30, Throne Day
August 14, Commemoration of Oued Eddahab
August 21, Youth Day (King Mohammed VI Birthday)
August 20, Revolution of the King and the People
November 6, Commemoration of the Green March
November 18, Independence Day

Gastronomy
Morocco is a not just a land of fantastic sights, there are the sublime smells of Moroccan cuisine at every corner, estimated to be one of the most refined, this cuisine which offers refined preparations of sun-drenched fruit and vegetables, rare and aromatic spices, delicate fish and succulent meats. This is the very best of oriental cuisine, famous throughout the world, here are some of the main Moroccan dishes: 

Couscous:
 It is also the Moroccan national dish cooked mainly on Fridays. A veritable mountain of white granular semolina hides within carrots, turnips, zucchini and various vegetables with pieces of mutton or chicken.
Mechoui: Roasted lamb in a special natural oven served in one piece. It is eaten with salt and cumin.
Pastilla: Is a sweet dish, the most caloric part of the Moroccan menu consisting of wafer-thin layers of flakey feather-light pastry filled with cream
Tajine: Is specially cooked meat with vegetables in a spiced sauce.
And the most common Moroccan drink is mint teawhich is usually a symbol of greeting and hospitality, usually served with some Moroccan pastries:Honey cakes, cornes de gazelles, almond feqqas, raisins, ghoriba with almonds or sesame... quite irresistible!!

Main Cities

RABAT : Capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. One of the imperial cities.
CASABLANCA : Big trade and industry centre, economic capital (where the biggest companies have their head office).
MARRAKESH : Southern capital, called also the red town, because of the red wall surround the old town, with a big tourist potential.
FEZ : Spiritual and cultural capital, the oldest imperial city.
AGADIR : Famous beach city and renowned spa resort.
TANGIER : The most cosmopolitan city of the Kingdom.
MEKNES : Imperial city, with an attractive countryside.
OUARZAZATE : A beautiful southern city, with a local charm famous for its amazing countryside
 
 

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