Flag of Morocco

Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco in a country in North Africa bounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar to the north, Algeria to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. There are also two Spanish exclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, bordering Morocco to the north. The border to the south is disputed; Morocco claims ownership of Western Sahara and has administered most of the territory since 1975. The name Morocco in many western languages originates from the name of the former capital, Marrakech, whilst the Arabic name (Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiya) translates to The Western Kingdom.

Morocco is an initiation into the exotic magic of the Islamic, Arabic, African world, the world of medinas and minarets, desert and mountain; yet it almost touches western Europe and, for all the differences, retains a European patina, the legacy of the French Protectorate.

To absorb the spirit of Morocco, wander the streets of the great cities. Fès - the ancient capital - has a stunning array of medieval buildings, whilst Marrakech compels attention, its world-famous souk selling a bewildering array of goods; both cities 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. All Moroccan cities are crowded, the hustlers a fact of life; for a change of pace, visit Essaouira, a laid-back seaside town.

Morocco's charm lies in its diversity. For sun-worshippers, there are miles of beaches, whilst inland lies Berber country where, among the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the energetic can walk or trek. Beyond the Atlas are the fringes of the Sahara, where the caravans once stopped on their way south to trade in spice and ivory. Whether scaling distant ridges, idling by the sea, haggling for exotic artefacts, gazing at ancient wonders or marvelling at the pink and indigo of a desert dawn, you'll be mesmerised.

Map of Morocco