Factsheet - Morocco
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Population: 31 million
Capital City: Rabat
People: 55% Arab, 44% Berber, 0.7% foreigners
Language: Arabic, French, Spanish, English
Religion: 98% Muslim, 1% Christian, 1% Jewish
Time: GMT/UTC (GMT/UTC)
Electricity: 220V or 110V ,50Hz
Dialling Code: 212
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Best time to go
On the coast the weather is tourist-friendly pretty much all year round, although winter can bring cool and wet conditions in the north. In the lowlands, the cooler months from October to April are popular among visitors. This time of year is pleasantly warm to hot (around 30ýC) during the day and cool to cold (around 15ýC) at night. Winter in the higher regions demands some serious insulation. If you're heading into the hills, the ski season usually lasts from December to March. For most trekking trips you should book in the high season (June 15 to September 15) or you may find areas full.
Moroccan Dirham (Dh) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denominations of Dh200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Dh10, 5 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes. Moroccan Dirhams can only be obtained in Morocco. National currencies should be exchanged at official bureaux de change only (identified by a golden sign); changing money in the street is illegal. There is no commission charge and visitors will be issued with a receipt which they must keep in order to exchange Moroccan currency back into the original national currency upon departure. Money can be withdrawn in banks with a credit card and a cheque book or directly from an ATM in some larger towns. Some credit cards are accepted.
Food and drink
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. Typical specialities include:
harira, a rich soup, and 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, is a staple Moroccan dish.
Tajine is a stew, often rich and fragrant, using marinated lamb or chicken. Hout is a fish version of the same stew, while djaja mahamara is chicken stuffed with almonds, semolina and raisins. Also popular are mchoui, pit-roasted mutton, and kab-el-ghzal, almond pastries.
Hotel restaurants usually serve French cuisine. Restaurants offer a good selection of food, including typical Moroccan dishes, French, Italian or Spanish meals. Many of the souks have stalls selling kebabs (brochettes) often served with a spicy sauce. The national drink is mint tea made with green tea, fresh mint and sugar.
Coffee is made very strong, except at breakfast. Laws on alcohol are fairly liberal (for non-Muslim visitors) and bars in most tourist areas stay open late. Locally produced wines, beers and mineral waters are excellent and good value, but imported drinks tend to be expensive.
The co-operative shops of Moroccan craftsmen, coopartim, operate under state control selling local handicrafts at fixed prices and issue an authenticity receipt or a certificate of origin for customs when exporting. Souks are also worthwhile places to visit for local products. Special buys are leather, tanned and dyed in Fès; copperware; silver; silk or cotton garments; and wool rugs, carpets and blankets. Bargaining is essential, and good buys generally work out at around a third of the asking price.
- Morocco by Lonely Planet
- The Rough Guide to Morocco
- The House of Si Abdallah: the oral history of a Moroccan family, by Henry Munson Jr
- The Conquest of Morocco by Douglas Porch
- Their Heads Are Green by Paul Bowles