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Location: Meknes&Rissani, Morocco, and Boston USA
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The Kingdom of Morocco is a country located in North Africa. Its capital is Rabat. Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that is linked by the strait Gibraltar to the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Spain to the north, Algeria to the East, and Mauritania to the South. The land of the kingdom is divided geographically into three main districts; The Northern district separated by the Atlas mountains into the West where the majority of largest cities are located, the Eastern district which is called the Southeast Sahara,and the Western Sahara, located in the South of Morocco.
Morocco is a land of diversified cultures and regions. Once you take your first steps in the region, you observe that each geographic region has its own special climatic conditions and its own people. The nation and culture has been influenced by ancient civilizations and conquerors such as Romans, Arabs, and Europeans. The population in Morocco consists of heterogeneous ethnic groups and cultural identities. Cultural groups mainly range from Berbers, to Arabs to Afro-Moroccans, to a few members of Moroccan Jewish people. Each cultural clan or group has adapted to a specific physical environment and has its own properties and specialties so that people live side by side in peace.
People of Morocco
· Berbers were the first habitants of North Africa (Since 6000-8000 years BC) according to scripts in caves. The largest populations of Berbers currently live in Morocco and Algeria. They are mainly pastoral people herding domestic animals in rough or mountainous environment. They have learned how to survive mostly on milk and meat of camels, goats, and sheep. They have their own culture and they speak a typical language called "Berber" or ''Tamazikht.” Berbers prefer to be called Imazighen than being called Berbers, Imazighen plural of Amzigh means free people.Their culture has been influenced over the centuries by Arab invaders, Imperialism and Technological advances.
· Historically, Arabs coexist with Berbers peacefully in Morocco. When Arabs conquered Morocco in the 7th century, they brought the Islamic religion and their culture from the Middle East. At that time they were well skilled and highly developed in all domains of science, architecture, philosophy, art, and astronomy so they found North Africa as a convenient land to practice, develop, and pass on their knowledge and culture to Europe; especially to Andalusia (Spain and Portugal) via the strait Gibraltar.
· "ISMKHAN" in Berber or "GNAWA" in local Arabic are descendants of Black slaves who were brought into Morocco from African countries as slaves of Moroccan kingdoms - Moulay Ismail being one such King. Many slaves worked for him and his family. Others were bought by Saharan pastoral tribes to work on their properties tending camels, goats, or sheep. Although former slaves, the GNAWA's of the 21st century are part of the the Moroccan population. They share in making economic and political decisions and perform and practice their culture in their own way notably through festivals and music.
· According to archeological research, many Jewish families were living in Morocco before 6th century BC working chiefly as experts in all aspects of handicrafts, traders of gold, clothes, and jewelry. They had a close relationship with other Moroccan groups, so that many Berber and Arab tribes, the "Filala", (Arabs who live in Tafilalt) and "Souasa"(Berber people who live in Souss) learned from them the techniques and skills of handicrafts and trade. The majority of Jews spoke Arabic, Berber, and Hebrew. In 1947 when the State of Israel was created, a majority of Jews left Morocco and immigrated to Israel to live. Evidence of synagogues, ancestral burial grounds and homesteads still exist as evidence of the Jewish life in Morocco.
Several dialects of Arabic and Berber are spoken in Morocco. However, this cultural and linguistic diversity doesn't affect the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of the diversified Moroccan population.