In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco's sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country. A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were turned over to the new country that same year. Sultan MOHAMMED V, the current monarch's grandfather, organized the new state as a constitutional monarchy and in 1957 assumed the title of king. Since Spain's 1976 withdrawal from what is today called Western Sahara, Morocco has extended its de facto administrative control to roughly 80% of this territory; however, the UN does not recognize Morocco as the administering power for Western Sahara.
- The Marathon Des Sables is considered the toughest footrace in the world. The event is a six-day, 156-mile ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert.
- The national drink is mint tea.
- Marrakech is called “The Red City” because of the color of its walls and many red sandstone buildings.
- Moroccans speak a dialect of Arabic known as Darija.
- At 31,000 square metres (322,000sq ft) Atlas Film Studios is the biggest film studio in the world.
Religion and Ethnic Groups
- Muslim 99% (official; virtually all Sunni, <0.1% Shia) , other 1% (includes Christian, Jewish, and Baha'i); note - Jewish about 6,000 (2010 est.)
- Arab-Berber 99%, other 1%
- Shaking hands with the right hand is a common greeting.
- Close friends of the same sex greet each other with two kisses starting on the left cheek or hugs.
- Greetings between men and women: The woman must extend her hand first if she wants to be greeted. If she does not, a man should bow his head as a sign of acknowledgement.
- When greeting someone you commonly say ‘salaam aleikum’ (‘May peace be with you’).
General social etiquette
- There is no public display of affection between members of the opposite sex during conversation or in public places.
- Dress modestly. Women should wear long, loose-fitting clothing that covers the upper arms, knees, chest, midriff and back. Both, men, and women should not wear sleeveless T-shirts or very short shorts.
- Strict punctuality is not commonly practiced.
- If you are invited to a Moroccan’s home, it’s customary to a gift, such as, nuts, pastries or flowers. Also, remove your shoes before entering. Your host will offer you slippers or you can go barefoot.
- Gifts are generally given and received with both hands or only the right hand and tend not to be opened when received.
- Avoid giving leather items made from pigskin and sharp items, such as knives, since these indicate you want to sever the relationship. Also avoid dog-themed items, since dogs are considered unclean.
- Don’t wrap gifts in pink, yellow, or violet; these colors are associated with death.
- When invited to a home for a meal, it’s customary to wash your hands before the meal. A family member will bring a kettle with warm water, a basin, and towel to each guest.
- Whether eating at a café or at someone’s home, use your hands, specifically the right hand. The left hand is reserved for personal hygiene.
- When eating from a communal plate at someone’s home, take only what is immediately in front of you.
- Bread is often used in place of a fork. Hold the bread between your fingers and use your thumb as a scoop.
- Alcohol is generally not offered nor is it consumed with food.
- It’s considered offensive to offer pork to Muslims. Pigs and pig products are prohibited in the Islamic religion.
Hello: As-salaam alaikum (peace be with you)
(response): Walaykum As-Salaam
How are you?: labas
I’m good. And you?: Labess, wenti (wentu for a man)
What’s your name?: Ashno smiytek?
My name is: Smiyti____
Where are you from?: Mnin nta? (masculine), Mnin nti? (feminine)
I’m from_____: ana men____
Nice to meet you: Tasharafna
Good morning: sbah el kheyr
Good afternoon/evening: mselkheyr
Good night: Tesbah ala kheyr
I don’t understand: Ma fhemtsh
Please speak more slowly: tkellem beshwīya afak.
Sorry / Excuse Me: smehlia
Thank you (very much): shoukran (bezaf)
Help me please: Owni afak
How much is it?: beshhal hadīk?