A place where tradition blends with ethnicity, Morocco shares its international borders with Spain and Algeria. The picturesque rocky terrains and world renowned cuisines, along with its vibrant heritage, makes Morocco one of the most exotic places in the world. The uniqueness in every region contributes towards the national culture. The Arabic name for Morocco is "Al Maghrib", which means, "where the sun has set". French is widely spoken in this country, but the Arabic spoken here is the local dialect of this region.
A significant amount of revenue generated in Morocco comes from the tourism industry. It also happens to be one of the leaders in the export of phosphates. The street markets here, which are a colorful sight, are flooded with carpets, traditional dresses, and other handicrafts. For tourists, the art of bargaining is decisive in determining that hawkers don't burn a big hole in your pocket. For more of such interesting information about the Moroccan culture, read the paragraphs below.
Some consider Morocco as a Berber-Arab country, while others back the African-Berber identity. A majority of the people in this place practice Islam. Apart from this religion, other forms of beliefs include Christianity and Judaism. The culture is slowly embracing western values. Family values are given a lot of importance in this country. The elders in a family are respected and greatly influence the rest of the members of the family.
In Morocco, its a tradition that people of the same gender greet each other by kissing on eachother's cheeks. It is customary to take along dates, flowers, figs, or pastries whenever someone invites you over to their homes. If the family that invites you has children, a small gift is taken as a sign of affection.
Mosques are considered very holy places, and only Muslims are allowed to enter them, although in other places around the world, this is not the norm. It is considered offensive to take picture or photographs of the locals without seeking their permission, unless you are acquainted with the individual.
Women in Morocco look after the well-being of their homes, which means, you never find them assisting in restaurants and cafes. Men dominate the streets and places of business in this region. For a traveler, mannerisms are the central point of striking a friendship with the locals.
Being humble and courteous is all it takes to find yourself in the good books of the people. Once you develop a relationship with the locals, an invitation for a sumptuous meal is not far away. A guest invited for a meal occupies a place next to the host. A basin to wash your hands is provided on a knee-high round table. Once your hands are wiped clean, wait for the host to bless the food before you become a slave to your appetite.
- The influences of tradition and history reflect on the clothes worn by the Moroccans.
- The "Djellaba" is a robe that is commonly worn by the people in this region.
- The "Gandora", another popular robe worn by many people, is a short sleeved version of the Djellaba.
- The "Tarboosh", a cap, shaped like a flat-topped cone is commonly worn by men.
- Women also wear "Gandoras", which have detailed embroidery on them.
- "Babouche", i.e., comfortable slippers made from leather are worn by most people.
Moroccan cuisines are a mix of African, Middle Eastern, Arab, Mediterranean, and Berber influences. Spices, such as cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and parsley, are widely used all over the region. Chicken or lamb, along with bread, accompanied with cold and hot salads and vegetables are popular all over Morocco. Beef is another common meat consumed in most parts of this region. Fresh couscous with chickpeas and vegetables is a delicacy enjoyed by the people of Morocco.
The people of Morocco love desserts. A dessert which is commonly consumed all over this region is "Kaab el Ghazal" consisting almond paste stuffed in a pastry, coated with powdered sugar. Another favorite dessert here is "Halwa Shebakia", which are pieces of glazed and salted dough, deep-fried and immersed in honey and topped with sesame seeds. This honey cake appeals to the taste buds of tourists from all over the world. Another delicacy similar to cookies, is served during the holy month of Ramadan. "Zucre Coco", fudge cakes made from coconut are also very popular in this region. Moroccan recipes are renowned all over the world.
Tea is widely consumed all across Morocco. Drinking green tea with mint leaves is an important ritual performed with family and friends. The teapots in this region have curved spouts, which make pouring tea in tiny glasses relatively easy. The locals love their tea with bubbles, and that's the reason they hold their teapots high while pouring tea in glasses. Making tea involves a lot of precision and technique, which goes a long way in determining the quality of tea.
Street food too is becoming increasingly popular amongst tourists. "Bocadillo", which means sandwich in "Spanish", is widely appreciated by almost everyone. The filling varies in different regions, depending upon the choice of meat, accompanied with egg and salads.
Morocco is a place like no other, where multi-ethnic cultures combine with various traditions, which gives you many reasons to visit this fascinating country.