Widening horizons - Building bridges between cultures

Non-profit organization for cross-cultural education



The Kingdom of Morocco is the most westerly of the North African countries. For centuries Morocco has been drawing travelers who have a spirit of adventure. For many travelers the country provides the first taste of Islam, Africa and the developing world. The ancient Arabs knew Morocco as Al-Maghreb al-Aqsa, the ‘Farthest Land of the Setting Sun’. From Ceuta, the Spanish coast is only a one-hour ferry ride away and Morocco has long been the gateway for Europeans into Africa. The country has a wealth of experiences to offer, including a diverse cultural history and a rich architectural tradition, which has left a colorful tapestry of medieval cities, Roman ruins, Berber kasbahs, and beautiful Islamic monuments.


The Phoenician and Roman Empires stretched up to Morocco; Vandals and Byzantines invaded; Arabs conquered North Africa in the 7th century; Jews settled centuries ago; Moroccan dynasties rose and fell; the Portuguese, the French and Spanish have all been here and left their marks.

Berber tribes: Morocco is still populated by the descendants of an ancient race that has inhabited Morocco since Neolithic times. Though the country has long been dominated by the Arabs, Berbers have managed to hang onto their culture with amazing tenacity.


Islam in Morocco

Islam, the faith of most Moroccans except a diminishing Jewish community and a small European colony, provides the foundation for the nation's spiritual life and the traditional social system. Practice in many regions is unorthodox and the demands of industrialization organization have made the traditional devotion difficult for those employed in the modern sector. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, describes the nation as Muslim and the king as the "Amir El Mouminin", or commander of the faithful. Although many practices and beliefs of the Berbers, as well as other rural and urban inhabitants, deviate from, the orthodox Islam of the Koran, personal devotion to the religion has rarely wavered. The Islam practiced in Morocco is considerably less strict than that in other parts of the Muslim world, although Moroccans follow Islam to the letter during Ramadan, the holy month.

Islam and The West

Misconceptions about the nature of Islam abound. Ever since the Crusades, fearful images Muslims have dominated the Western subconscious and terrorist associations are especially strong after September 11th. Counter to these stereotypes, Moroccans are widely recognized for their warmth and hospitality to visitors.

Perceptible differences between Islamic and Western worldviews may be a source of conflict and contention, but they are also hold potential for profound insight into both cultures and individuals. Unlike Western societies where atheism is acceptable or even fashionable, for the Moroccan a life without God would be unthinkable. Islam is a very important element in their lives, and one that Moroccans love to discuss. For travelers open to heightening their cultural and self awareness, Morocco offers countless opportunities for genuine cross-cultural connection.


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Kingdom of Morocco
447,000 sq km
31,6 million (UN, 2008)
55% Arab, 44% Berber, 0.7% foreigners
Arabic (officially), Berber, French, Spanish, English
Constitutional monarchy
King Mohammed VI
69 years (men), 73 years (women) (UN)
US$107 billion
US$2,250 (World Bank 2007)
Minerals, seafood products, citrus fruit
Agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, tourism
EU, US, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil