A short history
Morocco has been influenced by several civilizations since Antiquity. Each
has marked the land with an indelible imprint. This has produced an
incomparable historical heritage.
Tolerance and openness
The different civilizations which have followed on from each other in
Morocco have each influenced our identity. Which undoubtedly explains the
tolerance and open-mindedness of Moroccans. There are no culture clashes
here, just meetings and sharing.
According to legend it was Hercules who created Morocco when he opened the
Strait of Gibraltar. Whatever the case, the presence of mankind here has
been shown to date back 300,000 years. Originally inhabited by Berbers, the
country opened up to Phoenician and Carthaginian influences, before
submitting until the 5th century to the Romans. They would leave relics,
such as the site at Volubilis, testifying to the prosperity which came from
agricultural production. From 647, the Arab and Islamic conquest began.
Kingdom and dynasties
In 788, Idriss I, contesting the power of Baghdad, founded the Idrisid
kingdom in Volubilis. There followed the Almoravid dynasties, the Berber
conquerors of the south, then the Almohads whose power extended into Muslim
Spain, and finally the Merinids, Berbers from the high plateaus.
Religious tolerance, Andalusian heritage, and the prosperity of these
dynasties created treasures which now constitute the cultural, artistic and
architectural richness of the country. From the 16th century, the empires of
Arabic, Saadian then Alaouite origin ensured the unity and independence of
Morocco. Today, Morocco is ruled by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, crowned on
July 30th, 1999; he is the 23rd king in the Alaouite dynasty which came to
power at the beginning of the 17th century. The monarchy ensures the unity
of the country, and the reign of Mohammed VI is marked by a desire to build
a unified and modern democratic state, which respects its traditions and its
Inhabited for more than 300,000 years, Morocco is a meeting place for
civilizations which are open to others, with their own strong identity.
The network of telephone boxes extends to the smallest villages. As well as
these, stores offering private telephone booths operated using coins are
springing up across cities. You will be able to spot them from their signs.
Most cell/mobile phone operators have a network here, but ask before you
leave. Top tip: don't forget pre-paid cards. Warning: rates charged by
hotels are sometimes high.
Cybercafés and internet stores abound in Morocco, particularly in cities.
They offer a good connection for an often modest sum.
It is not difficult to stay connected to the world from Morocco –
communication is of many types and well dispersed.
The extensive network of post offices makes it easy for you to send
telegrams, parcels and faxes wherever you are. In the case of a simple
postcard, you can find stamps in newspaper kiosks, cigarette stores and some
Arabic is the language used in Morocco, but you will also be understood in
French and Spanish in many places.
Modern and spoken Arabic
Spoken Moroccan Arabic is the product of the country's historic and cultural
influences. It includes expressions and words of Berber origin in everyday
language. Modern Arabic is used by government, the media, the justice
system, culture, religion as well as politics.
Geographical proximity and history make Spanish and French languages known
by many Moroccans. In Tangier, Tétouan and Chefchaouen, the language of
Cervantès is widely spoken. Meanwhile French is the country's first foreign
language and is spoken throughout the country.
A few common words in Moroccan
Yes = na’am/lyyeh
No = la
Thank you = choukran, barak el-lah fik
Okay = ouakha
Please = min fadlak / afak
Goodbye = be-slama
Good morning = sebah-el-kheir
Excuse me = smeh-li
How much is that? = chhal / chhal el-tamane
I do not understand = ma fhemt-
Health and safety
When traveling the body can be more sensitive before it soon adapts.
Remember to wash your hands frequently, do not consume water which has not
been opened in front of you and avoid ice cubes. As everywhere else in the
world, stomach upsets come from water or food which is not cooked enough or
Whereas Morocco is resolutely committed to the path of progress, the modern
customs of young people should not make them more familiar and less
respectful. Contact should occur with a spirit of openness and respect for
As for any journey, prepare photocopies of your identity papers and keep
them separately. Also keep a list of useful telephone numbers, in case you
loose your credit card for example. It is always useful to know the details
of diplomatic contacts for your country. They can point you towards health
professionals. Respect customs, and, of course, applicable laws and
Relax but be prudent
Safety rules to be observed are common sense. Your valuables and money must
be discreet – always try to keep them in pockets close to your body. The
safety of tourists is a priority here. The vigilance of the police and the
severity of prosecutions represent an effective and highly dissuasive
system. Morocco knows how to take care of its guests.
Morocco is a safe country, benefiting from all medical facilities. The rules
on health and vigilance imposed are strictly common sense.
The time is the same in Morocco throughout the year as Greenwich Mean Time
or universal time. When it is noon in Paris, it is 11am in Morocco. The
Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are on Madrid time, i.e. two hours (
later) ahead than Morocco.
The temperate Moroccan climate makes it possible to enjoy the richness and
diversity of the country all year round. Come and enjoy it!