Capital | Rabat
Population | 31,968,361 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 446,550 SQ KM
Official Language | Arabic
Holidays | Throne Day (accession of King MOHAMMED VI to the throne), 30 July (1999)
Currency | Dirham (MAD)
Time Zone | UTC 0
Best Time to Visit | October to April for pleasant temperatures countrywide
Connecting with the Culture | Indulging in Moroccan café culture- fresh croissants, mint tea and olives all round. Trekking in the mountains and sleeping at a home-stay to enjoy the legendary Berber hospitality. Exploring the medinas of Fés and Marrakesh—two of the world’s largest intact medieval towns. Visiting the Roman ruins and mosaics at Volubilis. Soaking in hammam (traditional bathhouse)—every town has at least one. Wandering past the snack stalls and entertainers of Marrakesh’s Djemaa el-Fna.
Read | Year of the Elephants by Leila Abouzeid, or Leonora Peet’s Women of Marrakesh, in which Peets gets about as close as a non-Muslim can to the lives of local women.
Listen | to Berber group master Musicians of Joujouka.
Watch | Le Coiffeur du Quartier des Pauvres by Mohammed Reggab, an insight into the plight of the poor in a working-class suburb of Casablanca. The classic Lawrence of Arabia includes scenes filmed in the fabulous Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou.
Eat | seksu (couscous) with tagine (a vegetable and lamb casserole).
Drink | sweet mint tea or fresh orange juice (with cinnamon or orange-flower water).
In a Word | Ssalamu ‘lekum (hello)
Characteristics | Mint tea; Berbers; Fés; couscous; quality rugs; Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca.
Surprises | The last Barbary lion, a species indigenous to Morocco and used in ancient Roman amphitheaters for disposing of Christians; died in captivity in the 1960’s.