(Kingdom of Morocco, المملكة المغربية, al-Mamlakah al-Maġribiyah, Tagldit N Lmaġrib)
- Location: Northwestern Africa
- Capital: Rabat
- Language(s): Arabic, Tamazight
- Population: 36,356,575
- Total Area: 710,850 sq km (with the disputed Western Sahara)
- Currency: Moroccan Dirham
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Alcohol is sold in some bars and is not as popular as the national drink (mint tea).
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 1.44 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Mint tea (the national drink)
Located in the northwestern part of the continent, the Kingdom of Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, and I discovered that monarchies (either absolute or constitutional) are not really common on the continent. Morocco is part of the western union of Arab states called the Maghreb. The neighbors of the Kingdom are Algeria, Mauritania, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. By a fantastic stroke of geography, Morocco is the only country in Africa that has coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is also a ‘stone throw’ from Europe as it is only separated from the Iberian Peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar. The capital is the city of Rabat but the largest settlement in the country is Casablanca, a port city on the Atlantic coast. Other important cities are Marrakech, Fes, Agadir and Tangier.
Morocco is quite homogenous in the sense that there almost 100% of the population are either of the Arab stock or the Berber stock and it is also common to see those with a mixed Arab-Berber background and lineage. The Berbers are also referred to as the Imazighen. Those that can be considered to be the minority in this country are the French or Spanish, many of which are either expatriates, contractors or descendants of the colonists from Europe. The national language is Arabic and is also the language of administrative function, spoken by more than 60% of the populace. More than a quarter of the population speak Tamazight, the language of the Berbers. To some extent, Spanish, French and English are spoken.
I discovered that eating food is not just an ordinary activity, you learn a lot. Moroccan dishes can be described as works of art, and the cuisine is influenced by African, Mediterranean, Arabian and European practices. Thus, whatever you eat in Morocco is truly unique, a perfect blend of culinary skills. Most, if not all the meals I took in Rabat and other cities were laden with ginger, pepper, turmeric and various kinds of spices, and that added to the distinct nature of the meals. One of such foods is kiftah. This is prepared from chopped beef and spices, it is usually served in the shape of balls and rolls that easily be munched on.
By far, the most popular drink in Morocco is the mint tea and is even regarded as the national drink. After the mint tea, you will find most Moroccans guzzling jugs of fresh fruit juice. You can find any of the above at most stalls and restaurants. For those after something stronger, there is the Casablanca, a beer that is sold in restricted areas. In Morocco, public consumption of alcohol is frowned upon and that means you have to be ‘diplomatic’ about liquor so that you do not behave in a manner that is interpreted as either offensive or rude.
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Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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