Morocco

Quick Facts

Region: Middle East & North Africa

Population:
34,272,000

Religion:

The majority of Moroccans are Sunni Muslims and the king is the supreme Muslim authority in the country. About 1 percent of the population are Christian and less than 0.2 percent are Jewish.

Language:

The official language is Arabic, however French is the dominant business language throughout Morocco. Spanish is often spoken in the north. English is fairly widely spoken. The Berber languages (mainly Tamazight), once dominant throughout Morocco, have declined in importance, and now only about 25% of the people use Berber as their first language.

Area (sq. km):
446,550 square meters

Time:

GMT (GMT + 1 from April to September).

When To Travel

The climate varies from area to area. The coast has 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. In Summer, the country is mostly dry with high temperatures. In the Atlas Mountains the weather is much cooler, with daytime temperatures descending to around 5ºC from October to March. We highly recommend warm clothes (thermals) for your night in the desert and also during your Atlas Mountain trek during this time.

Morocco has an extremely variable climate, depending on where you are planning to go. October/November, February-April and September are probably the best ‘all-round’ months but this is also when most other travellers will be there. If you like the heat, go in the summer months (June, July and August) but note that it will be very hot in the desert, with temperatures hitting the 30s in Fes and Marrakech. At this time Essaouira is particularly pleasant, with temperatures rarely exceeding 25°C. In December and January it can be cool and rainy and the beaches are not so good during this period.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

The main international airport, Mohammed V, at Casablanca (CMN) is located 19 km south of the city and approximately 40 minutes by car. There is also a regular train shuttle to/from downtown Casablanca. There is also an international airport in Marrakech (RAK) located 6 km from the city centre and accessible by taxi or bus.

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Morocco is +212. A full IDD service is available. The outgoing international code is 00. Mobile phones work throughout the country, except in parts of the High Atlas. Internet cafes can be found in all major cities. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange 'global roaming' with your service provider, however charges are generally high so be sure to check this option thoroughly.

Electricity:

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are the two-pin type

Food:

Moroccan food is characterized by rich spices. Cumin, coriander, saffron, chilli, ginger, and paprika are all used extensively. Harissa is a paste of garlic, chilli, olive oil, and salt, which makes for fiery dishes that stand out among the milder foods that are more the Mediterranean norm. Couscous, a form of granular semolina, is central to Moroccan cuisine and is often cooked with spices, vegetables, nuts, and raisins. Lamb is principal meat that can be grilled, stewed, or cooked in an earthenware tagine (the name for both the pot and the dish). Lemons, preserved in a salty mixture, bring a unique face to many Moroccan chicken and pigeon dishes. Nuts are also prominent. Moroccan sweets are rich and dense confections of cinnamon, almond, and fruit perfumes that are rolled in filo dough, soaked in honey, and stirred into puddings.

Transport:

There is an extensive rail system and local bus service between major cities. The rail service is efficient and you will pay extra for air-conditioned and sleeper cabins. Bus journeys, for which tickets should be purchased in advanced, are sometimes oversold so it recommended that you arrive in plenty of time to get a seat. Petits taxis are metered and readily available in the cities. There are also larger taxis but the fares for these should be negotiated prior to getting in to the vehicle.

Shopping:

Local handicrafts (including embroidered cloth and mosaic artwork), gold and silver products, leather (dyed in Fes), and carpets are just some of the things that are easily purchased in Morocco. If visiting the souks and markets, bartering is expected and you can often pick up some good bargains.

Visa: Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British citizens do not require a visa to visit Morocco for stays up to 90 days; however, if you intend to be in Morocco for more than 21 days, you should report to the nearest police station. All other nationalities should check with the Moroccan Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information.

Useful Words & Phrases

Arabic

1: Wahed
10: Ashera
1000 thanks: Elph Shuk (as in shook)
2: Etneen
3: Talata
4: Arbaa
5: Hamsa
6: Setta
7: Sabah
8: Tamaniah
9: Tes'ood
Can I take your photo?: Mumkin photo?
Goodbye: Ma Salama
Hello: Ahlan
How are you ?: Izziyek (Egypt colloquial)
How are you?: Izziyek
How Much: Bikam (Bi as in biscuit; kam as in camshaft)
How much is it?: Bshhal?
How much?: Bikam?
I want to change some money: Bgheet nserref shee floos
My name is ...: Smeetee ...
My name is_____: Ana_____
No: La
Please: Menfudlak (Min-fud-luck)
Thank You: Shukran
Thank you: Shukran (shook-run)
That's very expensive.: Ghalee bezzaf
Too much!: Kefayer! (pronounce as one syllable - K-fire)
Too much?: Ketir!
What is your name?: Asmeetek?
Yes: Aiwa

French

Hello: Bonjour
Good Bye: Au revoir
Please: S’il-vous-plait
Thank You: Merci
You're Welcome: Je vous en prie
Yes: Oui
No: Non
Excuse me (request): Excusez-moi
Sorry: Pardon
How are you? (formal): Comment allez-vous
How are you? (informal): Ça va
Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas
What is your name?: Comment vous appelez vous?
My name is...: Je m’appelle...
Where is...: Où est...
I’d like...: Je voudrais...
How much is it?: Combien ça coûte?
Which way to...: Comment faire pour aller...
City centre: le centre-ville
Train station: la gare
Bank: la banque
Toilet: les toilettes
Exchange office: un bureau de change
1: un
2: deux
3: trois
4: quatre
5: cinq
6: six
7: sept
8: huit
9: neuf
10: dix
20: vingt
50: cinquante
100: cent

Further Reading

Morocco Footprint Guide, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet Culture Shock!-Orin Hargreaves Dreams of Trespass-Fatima Mernissi Escape to Morocco - Pamela Windo The Berbers - Michael Brett