Morocco is located in the North East of Africa. It is bordered by the Strait of Gibraltar to the North and the Mediterranean Sea, by Mauritania to the South, Algeria to the East and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. Morocco´s coastline is about 3500 km long. Surface area: 710. 850 km2.
The climate is mainly Mediterranean; it is milder in the West and the North due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. In the inmost regions, the climate is more continental with great differences in temperature. In the Atlas, it is humid and that is why it is not unusual to find snow very frequently. As you go southwards the climate is desert.
Two languages are spoken, classical Arabic, the educated standard for administration and means of communication, and the Arabic dialect, the everyday language. Tamazight (Berber) is also spoken in the Rif, the Atlas and the Souss, and it varies according to the different regions. Most people in Morocco speak French, and a lot can speak Spanish and English.
Islam is the official religion of Morocco, but it coexists together with others, the practice of which is guaranteed by the constitutions. The day is divided into five calls to prayer. The muezzin summons the faithful from their tall minarets. During the month of Ramadan, Moroccans fast, stop drinking and smoking from dawn to dusk. Of course, this interrupts and modifies their daily routine. Most part of public administration, services, monuments and shops adjust their schedules to Ramadan. Nevertheless, people other than Muslims can find some hotels and restaurants to have something to eat or drink.
When you are visiting a foreign country you should respect the local habits and traditions. It is a matter of courtesy.You should adjust yourself to the people’s customs to avoid misunderstandings and awkward situations. Some basic rules may be the following:
In Morocco, if you are not a Muslim, entrance to mosques and sacred places is forbidden. There are a few exceptions:
·Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca,
·Mohamed V Mausoleum in Rabat,
·Moulay Ismaïl Mausoleum in Meknès,
·Moulay Ali Chérif Mausoleum in Rissani.
Avoid provocative clothing. When offered some mint tea, accept it as it is their way of showing hospitality. If you are invited to join them for lunch, you must wash your hands symbolically.
Lunch will start after the host pronounces the "bismillah", praise to God. Eat you’re your right hand, try everything but you are not expected to eat all that is in your plate, which is almost impossible! Avoid drinking, eating and smoking in public in the day during the Ramadan. And if you want to take a picture of someone, ask for their permission first.
ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE
Moroccan food is very refined – vegetables and fruits, rare and fragrant spices, delicate fish and tasty meat...
The following are the most typical Moroccan dishes you shouldn’t miss:
·Brochettes: at the souk entrance, in a public square, on the roadside, you can find brochettes being cooked, delicious, cheap and quick.
·Couscous: it is the traditional Friday lunch for all the family, but you can find everyday in most restaurants. During your trip you will enjoy thousand different ways of preparing couscous, which varies according to the regions and the cook. Try to eat it with your fingers, in the Moroccan style.
·Roast lamb: lamb is cooked in a barbecue pit or mud oven.
·Pastilla: a thin puff pastry, the famous Moroccan sweet and salty dish. It could be made of fish, chicken and milk, for dessert.
·Ramadan dishes: at dusk, fasting is over and it’s time for rich and tasty harira (soup made of meat, lentils and chickpeas), with beghrir (pastry honeycombs served with honey and butter), shebbakias (fried honey cookies). This “light” meal paves the way to the real diner which will take place later on during the night.
·Tagine : the same Word designates the container (a terracotta plate decorated with a cone-shaped lid) and the food (stew made of meat, chicken or fish with vegetables, slowly cooked). Try it and then you will understand why tagine is Morocco’s national dish.
·Mint tea: it is refreshing, it perks you up and it can heat you up, too. It is drunk in the morning, after a meal or any time. A pleasure nobody will turn down.
·Pastries: honey pastries, almond or raisin feqqas, almond or sesame ghoriba... Irresistible!
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