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Morocco : The Country

Some facts & figures

Area: 710,850 sq km (274,461 sq miles)

Population: 26,069,000 (1993 estimate)

Population density: 36,7 per sq km

Capital: Rabat - population : 1,397,000 (1993 estimate)

Geography: Morocco is located on the westernmost tip of north Africa, bordering Algeria to the east and Mauritania to the west. Running through the middle of the country is the Atlas mountains range, which leads to the fertile plains and sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast. The Middle Atlas range sweeps up from the south, rising to over 3000 m (9850 ft), covered with woodlands of pine, oak and cedar, open pastureland and small lakes. The Rif Mountains run along the north coast. The ports of Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast are adminitered by Spain.

Language: The official language is Arabic, Berber and French are widely spoken throughout the country, while spanish is more predominant in the northern regions. English is also understood particularly in the north and around Agadir.

Religion: Predominantly Muslim with Jewish and Christian minorities. Morocco's population and culture stems from a cross section of origins including Berbers, Arabs, Moors and Jews.

Time: GMT

Climate: The coast as a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds. Inland areas have a hotter, drier, continental climate. In the South of the country, the weather is very hot and dry throughout most of the year, with the nights coolest in the months of December and January. Rain falls from November to March in coastal areas. Mostly dry with high temperatures in summer. Cooler climate in the mountains. Marrakech and Agadir enjoy an average temperature of 21 C the winter.

Currency: Moroccan Dirham (DH) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denomination of DH 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denomination of DHS 5 and 1 and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes. Credit cards: Major credit cards are accepted (Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Eurocard, Amex, Diners Club...).

Travel: How can I travel to and in Morocco ?

AIR: Royal Air Maroc (RAM), the national company provides many international and domestic flights between cities in Morocco, using Boeing , ATR. and Airbus. A new private company, Regional Airlines (RAL) is also operating in Morocco, Spain, Portugal and Balearic Island with a Beechcraft fleet (19 seats per plane). But for clients who wish to hire a private plane, there are private companies with small planes and experienced pilots. Unfortunately, there is no helicopter rental services for the moment. Airlines serving Morocco include : Air France, British Airways, Alitalia, Lufthansa, Sabena, Iberia, KLM, Swissair, Tunis Air, Saudia Airlines, Aeroflot, Kuwait Airways and Gulf Air..

SEA: Principal ports are Tangier, Casablanca and Ceuta. Lines serving these ports are Comarit, Comanav, Trasmediterranea, Isnasa, Limadet. Car and passenger ferry links Tangier and Ceuta in the north of Morocco to Algeciras, Tariffa and Gibraltar in the South of Spain.

RAIL: The Moroccan rail system is all standard gauge and, though limited, provides regular and cheap services with first-class available. The network runs from Oujda in the northeast to Casablanca on the west coast, Tangier on the north coast and Marrakech in the interior. The main routes include : Marrakech-Casablanca-Rabat-Meknes-Fes-Oujda, Marrakech-Casablanca-Rabat, Marrakech-Casablanca-Meknes-Fes and Casablanca-Rabat-Tangier. Fares are among the cheapest in the world.

LAND : Morocco has recently improved its road network by constructing some motorways. All the main cities will be connected by 2002 by motorway. Otherwise good national roads allow you to go almost everywhere and comfortably in Morocco, except in the deep south where you may need a 4X4 vehicle.

Food and Drinks In Morocco

Morocco' s traditional haute cuisine dishes are excellent and good value for money. They are often exceedingly elaborate. Typical specialities include : harira, a rich soup, bastella, a pastry stuffed with pigeon and almonds, couscous, a complete dish with semola, meat and vegetables, a range variety of tagine, meat, fish or poultry combined with vegetables and other flavours, stewed in a terracotta on a charcoal fire, mechoui is a whole piece of lamb roasted, pastries are delicious : kab el ghzal, briouats, beghrir, with almonds and honey. Restaurants - traditional, French or other european specialities, offer a good quality at good rates. The national drink is mint tea. Coffee is prepared very strong.

Shopping

The cooperative shops of Moroccan craftsmen, Coopartim, operate under state control selling local handicraft at fixed prices and issue an authenticity receipt or a certificate of origin for customs when exporting. Souks are worthwhile places to visit for local products. Special buys are leather, tanned and dyed in Fez or Marrakesh, copperware, silver, silk or cotton garments, wool, cotton and silk rugs, carpets and blankets, wooden articles, embroidery, silver and gold jewells. Bargaining is essential. In traditional medinas, some shops may close on Friday (religious holiday of the week) and stay open on Saturday and Sunday.

Leisure and sport activities

Watersports: swimming in the Atlantic or the Mediterranean sea or in swimming pools, Windsurf in Essaouira or Oualidia.

Fishing (permits are sometimes necessary) Hunting in the region of Arbaoua (permits necessary) are some of the main pleasure Morocco may offer you.

Golf: there are marvellous golf courses (18 holes, 9 holes) at Rabat, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Marrakech, El Jadida, Agadir, Tangier, Tetuan.

Wintersports: Ifrane in the Middle Atlas and Oukaimeden in the High Atlas offer skiing facilities.

Horse-riding: there are horseriding clubs in all major towns, notably Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Fes and Agadir.

Casinos

Le Grand Casino La Mamounia in Marrakech: is a worldwide renowned casino, next to La Mamounia hotel. English roulette, black-jack, Carribean stud poker, mini-punto-banco. Slot machines.

Le Casino at Es Saadi Hotel in Marrakech: slot machines only.

Shem's Casino in Agadir: is a brand new casino - roulette, black jack, poker, punto banco, chemin de fer, slot machines.

Le Mirage Casino in Agadir Village club Valtur: slot machines, pocker, English roulette, black jack.

 

 

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