HISTORY OF MOROCCO :
The ancient history of Morocco goes back to the Phoenicians who explored this corner of Africa around 1000BC and found the area away from the coast to be inhabited by people they called barbaroi (meaning "not our people"), which later became known as the Berbers. The Berbers may have had links with the Celts, Basques, or tribes from the Lebanon.
Around 150 years BC, the Romans added this part of the North African coast to their empire but did not generally disturb the Berbers who were further inland and in the mountains.
The 7th century AD saw the Arab armies spread across northern Africa and into Morocco. They didn't stop there of course, joining with the Berbers; they invaded most of Spain, where they had a presence for around 600 years.
In 788, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, named Moulay Idriss I, was proclaimed king by the Berber tribes. Moulay Idriss I quickly became powerful and influential but was murdered by a rival. The village which is the location of his tomb is now called Moulay Idriss and is one of the most sacred shrines in Morocco.
The son Moulay Idriss II took over and founded the present city of Fez, the capital at that time. After his death in 828, power was split between several sons, resulting in a weakness of leadership.
In the mid 11th century, an army of strict Muslims moved out from their fortified monastery in the desert to the south and conquered southern Morocco, destroying musical instruments and drinking places as they went. These Almoravids eventually captured Fez, after founding their own capital at Marrakech and later had influence in Spain also.
Later, in the mid 12th century, another fanatic group, the Almohads, moved from their fortified monastery in the Atlas Mountains to take control of all northern Africa and much of Spain.
Eventually the Almohads were weakened by infighting and in the mid 13th century the Beni Merin Berber tribe took control. The Merinids were more materialistic than their predecessors and built some fine buildings, including the Alhambra at Granada, Spain.
After the Christians eventually pushed the Moors (Arabs and Berbers) out of Spain, the Spanish and Portuguese invaded the Moroccan coastline (Spain still holds control of Ceuta and Melilla on the north Moroccan coast).
This encouraged the Saadi Arab tribe from the Draa valley to move north and eventually take control during the mid to late 16th century, bringing King Ahmed Al Mansour to power. The Saadians lavished much wealth on Marrakech.
After Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour's death in the early 17th century, the Saadians power fell apart and allowed the Alaouites to take control under the sultan Moulay Ismail. In fact the Alaouites were invited by the people of Fez to restore order to the country. Ismail was believed to be cruel and ruthless but was also a leader and restored order.
The Alaouites kept control for over two centuries but during the 19th century, Morocco became increasingly dependent on France (Europe had been colonizing Africa and the French had taken control of Morocco's neighbor, Algiers).
In 1912 Morocco became a Franco-Spanish protectorate but with an Alaouite sultan, chosen by the French. The French controlled the central and southern areas while the Spanish controlled north. Tangiers was an international zone and Rabat the capital.
During this time the Franco Spanish influence resulted in roads, railways and schools being built and many new towns were built beside the old.
The Second World War weakened the position of the French and there were as strong movement for independence. To control this, the French exiled the sultan Mohamed V to Corsica but only succeeded in strengthening the independence movement.
Eventually the French had to bring Mohamed V back and he became king in 1956 when independence was declared.
King Mohamed V died suddenly in 1961 and was succeeded by his son, Hassan II, who introduced a Social, Democratic and Constitutional monarchy, with elections for the parliament every 6 years but power remaining with the king.
The present king, Mohammed VI, succeeded king Hassan II on his death in 1999, has continued his father’s progressive reforms of health, education, and economics.
Morocco is modernizing but also retaining its culture which is a fascination to visitors.
MOROCCO GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE :
Morocco is geographically located in Northern Africa along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Algeria and Western Sahara. It also still shares borders with two enclaves that are considered a part of Spain—Ceuta and Melilla. The topography of Morocco varies as its northern coast and interior regions are mountainous, while its coast features fertile plains where much of the country's agriculture takes place. There are also valleys interspersed between Morocco's mountainous areas. The highest point in Morocco is Jebel Toubkal, which rises to 13,665 feet (4,165 m), while its lowest point is Sebkha Tah at -193 feet (-59 m) below sea level.
The climate of Morocco, like its topography, also varies with location. Along the coast, it is Mediterranean with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Farther inland, the climate is more extreme and the closer one gets to the Sahara Desert, the hotter and more extreme it gets. For example, Morocco's capital of Rabat is located on the coast and it has an average January low temperature of 46 degrees (8˚C) and an average July high temperature of 82 degrees (28˚C). By contrast, Marrakesh, which is located farther inland, has an average July high temperature of 98 degrees (37˚C) and a January average low of 43 degrees (6˚C).
MOROCCO POPULATION :
The current population of Morocco is 36,800,397 as of Wednesday, April 1, 2020, based on World meter elaboration of the latest United Nations data.
Morocco 2020 population is estimated at 36,910,560 people at midyear according to UN data.
Morocco population is equivalent to 0.47% of the total world population.
Morocco ranks number 40 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
The population density in Morocco is 83 per Km2 (214 people per mi2).
The total land area is 446,300 Km2 (172,317 sq. miles)
63.8 % of the population is urban (23,551,599 people in 2020)
The median age in Morocco is 29.5 years.
MOROCCO ECONOMY :
Morocco's economy is considered a relatively liberal economy governed by the law of supply and demand. Since 1993, the country has followed a policy of privatization of certain economic sectors which used to be in the hands of the government. Morocco has become a major player in the African economic affairs, and is the 5th African economy by GDP (PPP). The World Economic Forum placed Morocco as the 2nd most competitive economy in North Africa behind Tunisia, in its African Competitiveness Report 2009. Additionally, Morocco was ranked the 1st African country by the Economist Intelligence Unit' quality-of-life index, ahead of South Africa.
Tough government reforms and steady yearly growth in the region of 4-5% from 2000 to 2007, including 4.9% year-on-year growth in 2003-2007 the Moroccan economy is much more robust than just a few years ago. Economic growth is far more diversified, with new service and industrial poles, like Casablanca and Tangier, developing. The agriculture sector is being rehabilitated, which in combination with good rainfalls led to a growth of over 20% in 2009.
The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, is an additional quarter. The sectors who recorded the highest growth are the tourism, telecoms and textile sectors. Morocco, however, still depends to an inordinate degree on agriculture. The sector accounts for only around 14% of GDP but employs 40-45% of the Moroccan population. With a semi-arid climate, it is difficult to assure good rainfall and Morocco’s GDP varies depending on the weather. Fiscal prudence has allowed for consolidation, with both the budget deficit and debt falling as a percentage of GDP.
In 2009 Morocco was ranked among the top thirty countries in the off shoring sector. Morocco opened its doors to off shoring in July 2006, as one component of the development initiative Plan Emergence, and has so far attracted roughly half of the French-speaking call centers that have gone offshore so far and a number of the Spanish ones. According to experts, multinational companies are attracted by Morocco's geographical and cultural proximity to Europe, in addition to its time zone. In 2007 the country had about 200 call centers, including 30 of significant size, that employ a total of over 18,000 people.
The economic system of the country presents several facets. It is characterized by a large opening towards the outside world. France remains the primary trade partner (supplier and customer) of Morocco. France is also the primary creditor and foreign investor in Morocco. In the Arab world, Morocco has the second-largest non-oil GDP, behind Egypt, as of 2005.
Since the early 1980s, the Moroccan government has pursued an economic program toward accelerating real economy growth with the support of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Paris Club of creditors. The country's currency, the dirham, is now fully convertible for current account transactions; reforms of the financial sector have been implemented; and state enterprises are being privatized.
The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphates (after the United States and China), and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco's economy. Tourism and workers' remittances have played a critical role since independence. The production of textiles and clothing is part of a growing manufacturing sector that accounted for approximately 34% of total exports in 2002, employing 40% of the industrial workforce. The government wishes to increase textile and clothing exports from $1.27 billion in 2001 to $3.29 billion in 2010.
The high cost of imports, especially of petroleum imports, is a major problem. Another chronic problem is unreliable rainfall, which produces drought or sudden floods; in 1995, the country's worst drought in 30 years forced Morocco to import grain and adversely affected the economy. Another drought occurred in 1997 and one in 1999–2000. Reduced incomes due to drought caused GDP to fall by 7.6% in 1995, by 2.3% in 1997, and by 1.5% in 1999. During the years between droughts, good rains brought bumper crops to market. Good rainfall in 2001 led to a 5% GDP growth rate. Morocco suffers both from unemployment (9.6% in 2008), and a large external debt estimated at around $20 billion, or half of GDP in 2002.
A reliable European ally in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration, Morocco was granted an “advanced status” from the EU in 2008, shoring up bilateral trade relations with Europe. Among the various free trade agreements that Morocco has ratified with its principal economic partners, are The Euro-Mediterranean free trade area agreement with the European Union with the objective of integrating the European Free Trade Association at the horizons of 2012; the Agadir Agreement, signed with Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia, within the framework of the installation of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area; the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement with United States which came into force on January 1, 2006 and lately the agreement of free exchange with Turkey.
Tripadvisor previous guests reviews
We were booked and had paid a deposit for a trip late March of 2020, which was canceled due to the pandemic. Said, the owner of MD, went to extraordinary lengths to refund the deposits for our travel group of six from the U.S. Apparently the Moroccan banking system is not "user friendly" when it comes to wire transfers for reasons unclear to me. Nevertheless, Said managed to refund all our money using a very creative approach. We would DEFINITELY travel with MD in the future given this level of honesty and effort; but we do hope that MD will accept credit cards rather than wires in the future. Thank You Said & Morocco Discovery!
Three of use booked a 19-day with Moroccan Discovery Holidays for March, 2020 and paid a 50% deposit. When Morocco closed its borders due to Covid. Initially we put our trip on hold and asked Said to hold our deposit. Said agreed to this. When it appeared holiday travel would likely go on for many months we asked for a refund. Said again agreed but the Moroccan banks, being what they are, refused to release all of our deposit. With some pressure on the bank from us and Said's help we did receive 100% of our deposit.
We planned our April-May 2020 trip to Morocco in the late fall of 2019 and worked with Said at Morocco Discovery. We were taking our adult children and their partners and Said was patient and added everything we wanted and more. One month prior to travel we were surprised by the pandemic, with flights cancelled, borders closed and no idea when we could travel again. Said remained as diligent, helpful and honest throughout the arduous process of refunding our downpayment. We were thrilled with Said, and his company's commitment to customer service and would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone travelling to Morocco. As soon as it is safe again it is our intent to rebook with them!
From their already outstanding reviews when I started working with Sayd, this was an amazing experience. I got prompt friendly responses to every question I had and as this was our first trip to Africa I had a lot of questions. The price was incredibly reasonable - I don’t know how they can put the trip together on this budget. We stayed at amazing Riads in every city with excellent food every evening and great breakfasts - our driver was AMAZING- he was always ready wherever we were 1 minute before we needed him. The prearranged guides were the best. If you are going to Morocco - you want to go with Morocco Discovery and you definitely want a driver.
I have to admit, when I first started looking at using a local Moroccan tour company for our trip I was very nervous. After having toured Morocco for 11 days with Morocco Discovery Holidays, I would HIGHLY recommend them without any hesitation. Said worked with me for over a year to come up with a customized trip that included everything we (2 couples) wanted to see and more. Every change I made to the itinerary was completed within hours of my request.. and I made many. Said is very prompt at responding to e-mails and questions. Having a private driver was definitely the ideal way to see Morocco. Our driver, Mohamed was amazing. From the minute he met us at the airport (with sweets to welcome us) until he dropped us off at the port for our journey to Spain, Mohamed could not do enough for us. Mohamed is funny, engaging, very knowledgeable and was totally flexible and I felt very safe at all times, even on the curvy, narrow road. If I wanted him to turn around so I could take a picture, he would…and Did!! LOL Our Riads were beautiful and the meals that were included were some of the best meals we had in Morocco. I cannot say enough about the 5* service and attention we received from Morocco Discovery Holidays and Mohamed during our trip.
Mr Said provided us with a very pleasant and safe driver (Mustafa) as well as a new van, so we had a very enjoyable round trip Casablanca-Rabat-Fes- Marrakech-Casablanca. Local guides accompanied us in Fes and Marrakech, and we could have had other tours but we opted to spend more time walking around the towns. The Riads selected for us were very satisfactory and service all round was great. No hesitation at all in recommending Morocco Discovery.
Said arranged an excellent holiday for us. We began with one of the standard trips as our starting point and adapted it to better suit our needs with an added night here and there and starting in Marrakesh rather than Casablanca. Everything went very smoothly from start to finish.The choice of the Riads in which we stayed was great, as were the guides that were arranged for us. Abdoul proved to be a first rate driver - safe, dependable, friendly and very professional. We felt very comfortable being driven by him and we enjoyed his company.