65 Interesting Facts About Morocco

Morocco is a North African country with beautiful scenery, fascinating history and lots of culture, including delicious cuisine, to explore. With these 65 interesting facts about Morocco learn about its history, geography, culture, tourism, economy, people, food, and lots more.

Facts about Morocco’s History

Fact 1. Historic evidence suggests that Morocco has been inhabited by humans since the Paleolithic era of prehistoric times. The Maghreb (as the Northern Africa area is called) was a fertile savannah then and not at all like today’s modern arid landscape.

Fact 2. In still ancient, but more recent, history Morocco has been occupied by the Romans, Vandals, Visigoths and Byzantines. Morocco and the rest of North Africa were drawn into the emerging Mediterranean world by the Phoenicians as they established settlements and trading colonies. The earliest known independent Moroccan kingdom was the King Bocchus I, a Berber of Mauretania.

Fact 3. There was apparently a famine in the country in 1520 that killed many people. One woman who wrote about it described it this way: “. . . a famine in Morocco so terrible that for a long time other events were dated by it.” Whether or not that famine was real, there have been suggestions that Morocco’s population dropped from 5 to under 3 million between the early 16th and 19th centuries.

Fact 4. The year 1549 saw the beginning of the rule of a succession of Arab dynasties all claiming direct descent from the great Islamic prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) The Saadi Dynasty was succeeded by the Alaouite Dynasty, who assumed power in the 17th century.

Fact 5. Sultan Mohammed III established the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship in 1786. As the American Revolution began, the country’s Atlantic Ocean merchant ships were being attacked by Barbary pirates. On December 20, 1777, the Sultan declared that all American merchant ships were now under his protection and thus could enjoy safe passage. Therefore, Morocco was the first nation to recognize the newly formed country of the United States formally as an independent nation. This treaty today is the U.S.’s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.

Fact 6. As Europe industrialized, North Africa was increasingly prized for its potential for colonization. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830, not only to protect the border of its Algerian territory, but also because of the strategic position of Morocco on two oceans. In 1860, a dispute over Spain’s Ceuta enclave led Spain to declare war. Victorious Spain won a further enclave and an enlarged Ceuta in the settlement. In 1884, Spain created a protectorate in the coastal areas of Morocco while France and Spain carved out zones of influence in Morocco.

Fact 7. Morocco gained their independence in 1956 and has a history of being a prominent and independent regional power, a history not shared by their neighboring countries. King Hassan II assumed the throne in March of 1961 but never established a democratic republic. Human rights abuses were investigated during his reign and some 592 Moroccans were reported to have been killed.

Fact 8. Morocco laid claims to the territory of Western Sahara, leading to a war that continued until a cease-fire agreement was reached in 1991. The standoff continues today. The Moroccan government refers to this area as its Southern Provinces.

Fact 9. Today Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. King Mohammad VI, who claims to be directly descended from the prophet, holds vast legislative as well as executive powers.

Fact 10. Morocco celebrates their national holiday of Throne Day on July 30 each year, which celebrates and honors the accession of King Mohammad VI to the throne in 1999.


Morocco on map with neighboring countries
Morocco on map with neighboring countries

Fact 11. The Northern African country of Morocco, officially named the Kingdom of Morocco, is situated between Algeria and the annexed Western Sahara (the Southern Provinces). It borders both the Mediterranean Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, one of only three countries in the world that does (the others being France and Spain). Its borders with Algiers have been closed since 1994.

Fact 12. Morocco is geographically characterized by its two mountain ranges, the Atlas and Rif Mountains; its portion of the Sahara desert; and its beautiful coastal areas. Many think of the arid Sahara as being the typical North African landscape but it’s the green mountains to the north and beyond where most Moroccans make their livelihood in the fertile coastal plain.

Fact 13. The Atlas Mountains form the backbone of Morocco, running from the northeast of the country down to the southwest, and are in fact three distinct ranges. These divide the country into sections at different altitudes: the Middle Atlas, Anti-Atlas and High Atlas. They run from the city of Agadir into Tunisia and Algeria.

Fact 14. In the High Atlas Mountains are many Berber villages, terraced on small ledges and preserving their ancient culture. These are the highest and most dramatic of all Morocco’s mountains and their highest peak is Jebel Toubkal, topping out at 4,167 meters (2.6 miles) high.

Fact 15. The Rif Mountains in the north of the country are also inhabited by the Berber people. They stretch from the northwest of Morocco to the northeast, bordering the Mediterranean ocean. Home to the endangered Barbary macaques, this region receives more rainfall annually than any other part of Morocco.

Fact 16. The Sahara Desert covers most of the southeastern portion of Morocco so this region is not only sparsely populated but not very productive economically for the country. More people live to the north and to the south in the Western Sahara, in the former Spanish Colony Morocco annexed as its Southern Provinces in 1975.

Fact 17. The Moroccan coast by the Atlantic reaches up through the Strait of Gibraltar and on into the Mediterranean Sea. Spain is only 15 miles away across the Strait. The Canary Islands (belonging to Spain) are to the west in the Atlantic Ocean.

Fact 18. The capital city of Morocco is Rabat. The largest city is Casablanca. Other major cities include Fes, Agadir, Oujda, Tangier, Marrakesh and Nador. Its main port city is Casablanca.

Fact 19. The High Atlas are easily accessed from Marrakesh, about 40 minutes away, and also offer wonderful mountain retreats, rustic but full of local character and set amidst stunning scenery.

Fact 20. Agadir is located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains a little north of where Morocco’s Sous River enters the ocean.


Fact 21. Morocco’s economy is governed by supply and demand and is today considered fairly liberal, as it has privatized some economic sectors which used to be controlled by the government.

Fact 22. Morocco is in the top five African economies by its GDP and a few years ago ranked as the first by the quality of life index of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Today it has the sixth largest economy in all of Africa.

Fact 23. Morocco was once a member of the African Union but removed its membership in 1984 when the AU let one of the Western Sahara disputed territories enter as a member. Today Morocco is the only African state that is not a member of the African Union.

Fact 24. Morocco is, however, a member of the Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), the community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) plus the United Nations. Morocco has been granted major non-NATO ally status by the United States government as well.

Fact 25. Morocco has had strong economic and political ties to the West. France and Spain are Morocco’s primary trade partners, as well as their primary foreign investors and creditors. The EU’s European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), which aims to bring its neighbors and the EU closer, includes Morocco.

Fact 26. Morocco’s economy is heavily reliant on its natural resources, as are many African economies. Its major resource is phosphate, used in many pesticides, fertilizers, and animal feeds. Industry and mining contribute almost a third of their yearly GDP. Their Western Sahara (Southern Provinces) contains almost two-thirds of the earth’s potential reserves of phosphate. Other Moroccan minerals include cobalt, barite, lead and fluorspar.

Fact 27. The other major Moroccan resources are agriculture and tourism. Top exports include citrus fruits such as tangerines (named after Tangiers), clementines, and mandarins; oranges; tomatoes; and olives. They also export leather goods and textiles.

Fact 28. Though the majority of Morocco’s electricity is generated from coal, the government has an initiative underway to build a solar thermal energy power plant. They are also exploring the use of natural gas.

Fact 29. The Morocco population suffers from unemployment and a large external debt, but they do make considerable income from tourism.

Fact 30. Cannabis is grown in the Rig Mountains and according to the French Ministry, 80 percent of the hashish consumed in Europe comes from here.

Facts about Moroccans and their culture

Fact 31. Morocco has an ancient and rich civilization and culture. Morocco’s distinct culture is a blend of many influences, including indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African, Arab, and European influences. All have affected the country’s social structures. Morocco considers it a priority to preserve its cultural heritage. Recently it has even successful incorporated some Anglo-American influences.

Fact 32. More than half of the Moroccan population lives in towns or cities. There a man’s social life includes going to a café to meet friends or watch television (particularly football/soccer). Women fill the traditional Islamic female role of tending the family and the home. A recent revision of the family law code of Mudawana due to changing attitudes has granted women more rights. Woman can now have custody of their children and the first wife must approve before a man may take a second one.

Fact 33. The predominant religion in Morocco is Islam. Most people are Sunni Muslims. Any Moroccan who is sherfa (believed to be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad) is given the title Lalla, Sidi, or Moulay.

Fact 34. Morocco’s official languages are Berber and Arabic. The people also speak Moroccan Arabaic (Darija) and French is used in government, media and international commerce as well as substantial sized companies. Many Moroccans also speak Spanish.

Fact 35. Since Morocco gained its independence, it has undergone a blossoming in the arts: sculpture and painting, amateur theatre, filmmaking, and music. Regular productions of French and Moroccan dramatic words are offered at the Moroccan National Theatre. Music as well as art festival are held throughout the summer months. One is the World Sacred Music Festival at Fes. Andalusian classical music evolved under the Cordoban Moors.

Fact 36. Morocco’s architectural styles range from clean, simple lines to ornate designs in bold colors, influenced by the indigenous Berbers as well as Moroccan religion and culture. Arab, Portugal, France, and Spain as well as Islam and the Berbers have influenced Moroccan architecture.

Fact 37. Buildings common to Moroccan cities include mosques with beautiful minarets (towers), bazaars (market areas), medinas (old medieval sections) and Kasbahs (old fortresses). They are often built of traditional adobe (sand, straw/manure, and clay) and stone. Many rural villages have no piped water or electricity.

Fact 38. School is mandatory for children aged seven to 15 but children who work with their parents might not be able to attend. Many girls never receive an education. The national literacy rate among adults is 50 percent. French is required to be taught in all schools.

Fact 39. There health care is scarce as there are 6.46 physicians for every 10,000 Moroccans. 

Fact 40. Morocco’s chief of state since 1999 is King Mohammad VI. He has brought the country closer to democracy, but it is still a Muslim state based on Islamic law.

Facts about Tourism and Cuisine in Morocco

Fact 41. Morocco’s Mediterranean climate is moderate even in the summer. The mountain ranges experience several different kinds of climates. Southeastern Morocco is very hot.

Fact 42. Tourism is one of the country’s most important economic industries. As many as 10 million people visit Morocco each year. Morocco makes the coast, their culture and their history the focus of tourism promotions.

Fact 43. Most of Morocco’s visitors are European. Its close proximity attracts vacationers to its beaches. Almost 20 percent of tourists are French Nationals and the Spanish also visit often, especially for long weekend trips.

Fact 44. The Moroccan government has launched its Vision 2020 which plans to make Morocco one of the world’s top 20 tourist destinations by the year 2020 to double the annual number of international visitors.

Fact 45. Morocco’s modern tourist industry focuses on its cultural history, and ancient historic and Islamic sites. Sixty percent of all visitors come for these reasons.

Fact 46. Agadir is a major coastal resort and the base for tours going to the Atlas Mountains. Casablanca is a major cruise point and its market is the best developed for tourist who are interested in shopping. Marrakech is also a popular tourist attraction.

Fact 47. Adventure tourism in the two mountains ranges is the fastest growing area of tourism in Morocco. There are great hikes here from late March to mid-November and the government is developing more. They are also competing with Tunisia to develop desert tourism.

Fact 48. Morocco has one the most diversified of the world’s cuisines due to its centuries of interaction with cultures from the larger world. It is heavily influenced by Berber-Moorish, Mediterranean and European cuisines.

Fact 49. Moroccan food dishes feature spices extensively. Saffron, mint, lives, oranges and lemons are all grown locally. Chicken is the predominant meat. Pork is forbidden by religious dietary laws. Beef is also eaten. Lamb is more expensive and used for special occasions.

Fact 50. Tagines are names for the pot in which they are cooked. They are a medley of the national dish of couscous, vegetables and meat, usually chicken. They are cooked and served in a two piece pot. Harira is a soup that is a meal in itself, especially eaten during the month of Ramadan. Bread is a staple in the country and there are many bakeries.

The City of Agadir

Fact 51. Agadir is one of the major urban centers of Morocco and is located on the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the gateways to the nearby Atlas Mountains and close to the Sous River. It has a dense population. Agadir is actually a combination of four communities: the former town of Agadir city, the rural towns of Tikiwine and Ben Sergao, and the urban commune of Anza.

Fact 52. Agadir was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960 but has since been completely rebuilt to stringent and mandatory anti-quake standards of construction. It is now the largest of all Morocco’s seaside resorts. Agadir is home to the ancient and heavily restored Casbah (Kasbah), an historic walled fortress now mostly destroyed. Above the front door the original inscription remains: “Fear God and Honor the King.”

Fact 53. Agadir has more than one port. It has its major trading port, two fishing ports, and a more recent marina port for leisure boats. One of the fishing ports is one of the world’s major premier sardine ports. There are canneries and many small restaurants adjacent to the ports’ fish market.

Fact 54. Souk El Had is Agadir’s largest regional market with around 6,000 small shops to explore. Surrounded by walls, it has several entrances. It is organized into sections by the types of products sold there. Look here for traditional decorations and all kinds of handicrafts.

Fact 55. Agadir is the sight of many cultural festivals each year. Some of the most prominent include the Noiz Makerz Concert of Urban Music, Film Festival for Immigration, Concert for Tolerance (in November) and the International Festival of University Theatre plus the Festival of Laughter. The Timitar festival of Amazigh and music from all over the world begin in 2004 and has been held in Agadir annually since. Other major events include the Breaking South National Break-Dancing Championship and the International Documentary Film Festival (FIDADOC) held in November.

Fun facts about Morocco

Fact 56. The national drink is a green tea with mint leaves and other ingredients known as “atai” that is important in the culture of the Moroccan people. Served all day long and at all meals, it is most definitely the drink served for hospitality and refusing it is considered extremely rude.

Fact 57. Speaking of rude, if you are offered meat by your Moroccan host, it is important to their hospitality. And you must again say “yes” or be unspeakably rude.

Fact 58. Street dancers, monkey charmers and snake charmers expect to be paid if you take their photograph. They also will charge you for giving directions, so be prepared.

Fact 59. Taxis are plentiful, cheap and seldom use their meters. You would be wise to have the driver name his price before entering for a ride, or you might get a big shock at the end of the ride.

Fact 60. Thanks to the red walls and buildings Marrakech is known as the Red City, and is popular with tourists. They should wear sun protection, light clothing like cotton or linen and head protection all year long.

Interesting Morocco facts for Kids

Fact 61. The national Moroccan sport is football or soccer, known as Koura. The national team’s name is The Lions of Atlas. They were the first team from an African and Arab country to make it to the second round of the World Cup ever. Kickboxing is also popular with Moroccans.

Flag of Morocco
Flag of Morocco

Fact 62. The flag of Morocco is red. Centered on it is a green five-pointed linear star known as a pentacle (also known as Solomon’s or Sulayman’s seal). Green and red are traditional colors for Arab flags. The pentacle represents the five different pillars of Islam. It also signifies the relationship between the nation and God. It was designed in 1912.

Fact 63. Traditionally, the heart is not the symbol of love for the Moroccan people. The liver is.

Fact 64. The national animal, Barbary Lions, as well as elephants and bears used to wander through Morocco. They are all extinct now. Those lions were believed to be the heaviest and largest lions in the world when they existed. Today you will see reptiles like snakes, chameleons and geckos as well as goats, sheep, various antelopes and camels. Barbary macaques and wild boar also roam freely across the country.

Fact 65. A Moroccan woman won the 400 meter hurdles and became the first woman from any Arab or Islamic country to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Her name is Nawal EL Moutawakel and she is a council woman today.

Morocco today is the sum of all its historic and cultural influences as well as a land of beautiful geography and climate. Share your thoughts about Morocco in the comments section below.

Morocco facts – country at a glance

Independence2 March 1956 (from France)
Capital CityRabat
34°02′N 6°51′W
Largest CityCasablanca
33°32′N 7°35′W
Area446,550 sq km
Population33,655,784 (2016)
Official LanguageArabic and Berber
National Anthem"Hymne Cherifien" (Hymn of the Sharif)
ReligionSunni Islam
BordersAlgeria, Western Sahara and Spain
GDP - per capita (PPP) (est. 2015)$8,200 (2015 est.)
Life Expectancy (2016)76.91 years (2016)
Industriesautomotive parts, phosphate mining and processing, aerospace, food processing, leather goods, textiles, construction, energy, tourism
Exports$21.15 billion (2015 est.)
clothing and textiles, automobiles, electric components, inorganic chemicals, transistors, crude minerals, fertilizers (including phosphates), petroleum products, citrus fruits, vegetables, fish
Imports$37.32 billion (2015 est.)
crude petroleum, textile fabric, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas and electricity, transistors, plastics
Drives on theRight
Birth rate18.2 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate4.81 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.97 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
National symbol(s)pentacle symbol, lion; national colors: red, green
Government typeparliamentary constitutional monarchy
Natural resourcesphosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
Terrainmountainous northern coast (Rif Mountains) and interior (Atlas Mountains) bordered by large plateaus with intermontane valleys, and fertile coastal plains
Agricultural land67.5%
CurrencyMoroccan dirham (MAD)
Internet country code.ma
Time ZoneWET (UTC+0)
Summer (DST) WEST (UTC+1)
Internet users19.021 million
percent of population: 57.1% (July 2015 est.)
Calling Code+212