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To imbibe the spirit of Morocco, wander the streets of the great cities. Fès - the ancient capital - has a stunning array of medieval buildings, while Marrakech compels attention, its world-famous souk selling a bewildering array of goods; both hark back to the Arab dynasties that ruled the country from the Muslim conquest. Casablanca, a thriving commercial centre, and Rabat, the capital, reflect their modern French origins; Tangier is mildly seedy, slightly melancholy.

Practical Information

Area: 710 850 km² (274 461 miles²)

Capital: Rabat. Population: 1.2 million

Population: 31.6 million

Currency: Moroccan Dirham (MAD) = 100 centimes

Government: Constitutional monarchy since 1956. Gained independence from France in 1956.

Tipping: Service charges are usually included in hotel bills; it is customary to tip waiters MAD1-2.

Time zone: GMT

Languages: Arabic

Additional descriptions

Morocco: Social customs

Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Many of the manners and social customs emulate French manners, particularly amongst the middle class. The visitor may find, in some social situations, thatRead more patience and firmness will pay dividends. Often visitors may find themselves the centre of unsolicited attention. In towns, young boys after money will be eager to point out the way, sell goods or simply charge for a photograph, while unofficial guides will always be offering advice or services. The visitor should be courteous but wary of the latter. Normal social courtesies should be observed in someone’s home. Casual wear is widely acceptable, although swimsuits and shorts should be confined to the beach or poolside. Women travelling alone, and/or wearing clothes regarded as provocative (eg strappy tops, short skirts, etc) may attract unwanted attention. Sexual relations outside marriage, and homosexual conduct, are punishable by law. Smoking is widespread and it is customary to offer cigarettes.

Morocco: Food and local specialties

Morocco’s traditional haute cuisine dishes are excellent and good value for money. They are often exceedingly elaborate, based on a diet of meat and sweet pastries. Hotel restaurants usually serve FrenchRead more cuisine. Restaurants offer a good selection of food, including typical Moroccan dishes, French, Italian or Spanish meals. The three-course fixed menus are not expensive. Many of the souks have stalls selling kebabs (brochettes) often served with a spicy sauce. Most restaurants have waiter service. Bars can have either waiter or counter service. Laws on alcohol are fairly liberal (for non-Muslim visitors) and bars in most tourist areas stay open late. Wines, beers and spirits are widely available. Locally produced wines, beers and mineral waters are excellent and good value, but imported drinks tend to be expensive. The national specialties are: Harira (a rich soup). Pastilla (a pigeon-meat pastry made from dozens of different layers of thick flaky dough). Couscous (a dish based on savoury semolina that can be combined with egg, chicken, lamb or vegetables). Tajine (a stew, often rich and fragrant, using marinated lamb or chicken). Hout (a fish version of the same stew). Mint tea made with green tea, fresh mint and sugar. It is very refreshing and its consumption is an integral part of Moroccan social courtesy. Coffee is made very strong, except at breakfast.

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