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Summary: Morocco is in northwestern Africa lying against the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and bordering Algeria and Western Sahara, and is mostly mountainous with intervening plateaus valleys and some coastal plains. The Berbers have dominated Moroccan history for thousands of years, and a strengthening economy is helping to engaging the nation to freer trade with the EU and other partners while boosting education and living standards.

Capital: Rabat
Time Zone: UTC
Population: 32,209,101
Languages: Arabic, French, Berber Dialects
Power: 127/220V, 50 Hz
Currency: Moroccan Dirham - Currently 1 MAD = 0.1288 USD $
Climate: Morocco has a Mediterranean climate that becomes more extreme in the interior, and has a cooler and wetter winter from November to March and a hotter and drier summer from June to late August.


Rabat: Rabat, Morocco's capital, offers a mixed bag of attractions ranging from architecture to beaches. Some of the must-sees are the Kasbah des Oudaias, the Alhomad citadel built in 1195 with a museum, gardens, terraces, and the Masbah Mosque which dates back to 1050, the Hassan Tower, the city's main landmark which was also begun in 1195 and no partially ruined, and the National Archaeological Museum, with locally recovered exhibits dating back 2,000 years.

Marrakech : The pink or red brick buildings help to identify Marrakech, but its plazas and markets, called souqs, have made it the cultural center of Morocco. The Place Djemaa el-Fna is the place to start, the main square with stalls, shops and peddlers, the shopping at the Medina, or old city quarter, which spreads for blocks around the Place with sporadic gardens, and El Badi Palace, where the Festival of Popular Arts takes over almost the whole city every June.

Casablanca : Casablanca has come a long way from Bogart's day, and now features both excellent cafes and shopping in its medina, or old city quarter, as well as the tallest mosque in the world, the Hassan II Mosque, with a minaret 575 feet high. If you can, go on a guided tour of the Hassan II, otherwise, relax in the Place Mohamed V, a French influenced square with a tranquil fountain, or make a pilgrimage to the Marabout, just outside the city on a small islet reachable by foot at low tide and thought to be the burial place of holy leaders and a spot of mystical healing.

Tangier : Tangier has become a gateway to Morocco from the ferries that carry tourists over from Gibraltar or Spain and is considered a very accepting city. Once known as the Amsterdam of Africa, the city has become tamed, however, the Socco areas, along with the Kasbah, deserve a stroll to see the architecture and understand the lifestyle, or just give up and head to the beach with your towel in hand. Asilah, 25 miles to the southwest, is one of many small towns you can avoid the tourist crowd to enjoy.  

Security and Guides: When seeking a guide, speak to either your hotel or a tourism office or agency ? this makes sure you get where you want to go safely and get the most fulfilling experience. Be aware of your surroundings, and women in particular should avoid overt interactions with people on the streets. Western Sahara is a disputed area, and travel to or near that region is either prohibited, or advised against.

Local Customs: Handshakes are common, and generally speaking, more modest dress is appreciated, covering shoulders and legs to the knee, although local Muslims may dress more conservatively than the tourists they interact with. Tolerance pervades the country, and although Muslims don't drink alcohol, those drinks are available at most restaurants. Ramadan, the holy time of fasting during daylight, will often affect store and restaurant hours of business.

Banking: ATMs are common in larger cities, and traveler's checks and credit cards have fairly good acceptance, more easily done at banks, of course, which are open weekdays and closed over the lunch period.

When To Visit: The best time of year to visit the country is from October to April, when temperatures aren't as hot, however, the tourist peak season is from June to September when the landscape is at its most lush. The Festival of Popular Arts in Marrakech is held in June and two long weeks of folk art, Berber music, and dancing in the area around the El Badi Palace.

Food: Moroccan dishes are flavorful including tagine, a thick vegetable and meat stew, djaja mahamara, chicken stuffed with couscous, almonds and raisins, mchoui, roasted or grilled mutton, and mint tea, available everywhere you go.

Tipping: Tipping is widespread through the country, so check your bill and be prepared to add 10% to 15% for good service if a service charge hasn't already been added, and 10% on top of a taxi fare.

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