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Morocco or Kingdom of Morocco

Morocco or Kingdom of Morocco is a country of northwestern Africa. It is bordered by Algeria, Mauritania, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. Across the narrow Strait of Gibraltar lies Spain. Morocco’s area, including Western Sahara, which is claimed and administered by Morocco, is roughly 275, 000 square miles. Spain is 9 miles (14 km) to the north, across the Strait of Gibraltar. The Moroccans are chiefly of Arabized and Berber stock and belong to the Sunnite branch of Islam. The country is known as el-Maghreb el-Aqsa, meaning “the far West (of Islam).

” Traditionally an agricultural country, it has developed an important export trade in minerals, particularly phosphates (see “Morocco”). The area, whose indigenous inhabitants were Berbers, was colonized by Carthage and by Rome and then conquered by Arabs in the 7th-8th centuries. Morocco became an autonomous state, effectively independent of the caliphate, at the end of the 8th century. Between the 11th and 13 centuries, two Berber dynasties, the Almoravids and the Almohads, ruled both Morocco and Spain, during this period Morocco was influenced by the Hispano-Muslim culture of the Iberian Peninsula.

The country retained its independence until 1912, when it was split into a French and Spanish protectorate and an international one (Tangier). In addition to the main area of the former French protectorate and the smaller former Spanish (northern) zone and the international zone of Tangier, the country includes the former southern Spanish zone (Tarfaya), retroceded in 1958 (Barbour, 2005); the enclave of Ifni, retroceded in 1969; and the greater part of former Spanish (Western) Sahara (Saqiet el-Hamra and the northern half of Rio de Oror), retroceded in 1976. Morocco has no natural land boundaries.

On the parts of its borders have been demarcated and the central section of the border with Algeria was in dispute. In addition, Morocco has unofficially laid claim to the western part of Algeria. Thesis Statement: This paper intent to: (1) give geographic overview of Morocco; (2) scrutinizes its history and culture such as clothing, holidays, food, arts and crafts, architecture, and communication; thus, finding out the foods habits and patters and identify its food taboos; (3) identify therapeutic uses of food and wine and; (4) be aware of the major holidays celebrated each year and the major foods served for those holidays.

II. Background A. Geographic Overview Morocco’s terrain divides into high mountains, coastal plains and lowlands, and vast stretches of the Sahara. The mountainous region consists of the Atlas Mountains and high plateaus and valleys, all of which extend roughly northeast-southwest through much of the northern half of the country. Peaks reach a maximum elevation of 13, 665 feet (4, 165 m) in the High Atlas range. Er Rif, a lower mountain range extends along the Mediterranean coast. Between the Atlas Mountains and the Atlantic is a fairly broad region of low plateaus and level plains.

Inland from the Atlas Mountains and throughout the southern part of the country stretches arid expanses of the Sahara. Nearly all the permanently flowing rivers, including the Moulouya, Sebou, Oum er Rbia, Tensift, and Sous, begin in the Atlas Mountains and flow to the coast. Wadis (seasonally flowing streams) prevail elsewhere. Climate varies widely in Morocco due mainly to differences in latitude, elevation, and proximity to the sea. In general, it is characterized by high temperature and scant precipitation.

The climate is most moderate in the north and northwest, especially along the coast, where sea breezes bring relief from the heat. The north and northwest is also the rainiest section, receiving some 20 inches (500 mm) or more annually. Except in the high mountains, extremely hot summers are typical, particularly in the Sahara. Winters are normally mild. The high mountains are snow-covered for several months. Virtually no rain falls in the Sahara. II. Discussion A. History Morocco is strategically located on the land and sea routes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and on the crossroad between Europe and Africa.

Because of this fact, its civilization has been molded by successive waves of migration and imperial conquest, and Morocco has continually operated on the edges of Great Power relations. In prehistoric times Morocco was overrun by the ancestors of the Berbers, who may have migrated from the Middle East. It entered recorded history about 1100 B. C. when the Phoenicians, and later the Carthaginians, established settlements there. In 25 B. C. the Romans made Juba II king of Mauritania (see “Morocco”), an area that extended from Rabat to eastern Asia Algeria (Mauritania should not be confused with modern Mauritania).

Plagues by Berber rebellions from the Atlas, western Mauritania, called Mauritania Tingitanis after its capital Tangier, became a Roman province after 42 A. D. Few notable ruins of the Roman period remain, apart from Volubilis near Meknes. The Vandal invasion of 492 cut the Roman tie. It was restored in 533-534 to nominal East Roman (Byzantine) control for a century. The Arab conquest began in 680 with an extended raid on Tangier, Tafilalt, and the Atlantic coast by Uqba Ibn Nafi, governor of Tunisia. In 711 another raid, under a Muslim Berber, Tariq Ibn Ziyad, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar (Jebel Tariq) and conquered Spain.

The small Arab armies sought above all to convert the Berbers to Islam rather than to establish a state (Barbour, 2005). However, about 788, Idris (I) Ibn Abdullah, a descendant of Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed the prophet, fled from the Abbasid court in Baghdad and established a kingdom over the converted Berber tribes around Volubilis. The Idrisid dynasty, founded by Idris I establiahed Fez as the capital. Moreover, Morocco gradually became a powerful center of the Muslim world. By the 11th century the ruling Moorish dynasty in Morocco controlled an empire extending from Spain to Libya.

The Moors were driven from Spain in the 15th century, and a few Spanish and Portuguese settlements were made in Morocco. During the next four centuries Morocco successfully discouraged European settlements and resisted the Turks (Laroui, 2004). In the 19th century European powers began to take an active interest in North Africa. Morocco was defeated in a battle with Spain in 1859. France, already established in Algeria, invaded and occupied northern Morocco in 1860. Both Spain and France managed to establish themselves in the country, despite British and German disapproval.

In 1912 Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates as mentioned earlier. It remained divided until 1956, when France and Spain recognized its independence and it was admitted to the United Nations. Friction with Spain continued over Spanish enclaves, and in 1969 Ifni, the largest one, was returned to Morocco. In 1976 Morocco annexed the northern part of Spanish Sahara and Mauritania took the southern part. The takeover was fiercely resisted by guerrillas wanting independence, and Mauritania relinquished its claim in 1979 (see “Morocco”).

Morocco then annexed the Mauritanian region, Guerrilla warfare continued into the 1980’s. B. Culture and Way of Life Moroccan society has been transformed in the modern era by two major developments: the middle class and the growth of an industrial proletariat. The middle class is primarily involved in a commerce and administration. The proletariat consists chiefly of those who have recently migrated from the countryside. They live in the medinas (the old quarters of the cities), dainty-towns (bidonvilles), or low-cost housing developments, trying to adjust to urban life and to find permanent employment as wage earners (Laroui, 2004).

The modern sections of the cities were scarcely distinguishable from modern French cities. On the other hand, the medinas in the cities are distinctively North African. The “row houses” generally have two or more stories. They are grouped around narrow, dead-end alleys (derbs) and are closed to all but the family. Women are requested inside their quarters, and some are all veiled when they go out. There are mosques for Friday and evening prayers, wells and fountains, the public health bath (hammam), and the suq (market). In the country, life traditionally is centered on clusters of houses of varying styles of architecture.

Village housing may be of mud brick, word, or tin. Fortified adobe agglomerates surrounding a high, decorated granary are found south of the Atlas. Typical of the desert regions are the encampments of khaima (Zartman, 2003). In rural life there is little family seclusion. Women in the country are usually unveiled. The mosque and school are only rudimentarily differentiated from other buildings, and the wells are the important social centers. Clothing. Though Western-style clothing is worn by many Moroccans, particularly in the cities, traditional styles prevail throughout the countryside.

The Moroccan national dress is the jellaba, a long, hooded robe with long sleeves and an embroidered seam in the front. In the countryside it serves both as a coat and a sleeping bag and is made of varying patterns of coarse wool. In the past, women wore gray jellabas and veils, which covered all but the eyes. Today’s women jellaba no longer has a hood, and the sleeves have been opened to form a modern coat or dress. A finer, embroidered full dress, usually of brocade, is the caftan (Zartman, 2003). The traditional shoe (babouche or belgha) is backless and has a pointed toe.

Other traditional items of dress include baggy pants (serwal) and hooded capes (gondura). Holidays. There are a lot of holidays in Morocco but Muharram Islamic New Year, Aid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Mawlid al-Nabi (Prophet Muhammad birthday) and Aid al-Fitr are the most important religious celebrations in the country. Moroever, “The Feast of Sacrifice” is considered as the most important among the religious holidays because it serves as the conclusion of the Pilgrimage to Mecca and remembers the obedience of Abraham to God by offering a ram (Laroui, 2004).

Food. The Moroccan cuisine is one of the most distinctive and tasty in North Africa and the Middle East. The basic food is couscous (semolina), usually served with a meat stew. Other standard dishes are tajine (meat in sauce), meshwi (over-roasted lamb) and bastilla (sweet pigeon pie). Dates, almonds, and fruits are plentiful. Hot sweet mint tea is the national drink. In addition, the traditional food habits of the Moroccans are expressed through hand washing and a big plate that will be used by all (Barbour, 2005).

During “The Feast of Sacrifice,” Moroccans prepare the following delicious dishes as their main course: 1. Couscous 2. Grilled Meat 3. Tajine 4. Meshwi For their desserts, Moroccans prepare the following delicious and mouthwatering food and drink: 1. Mint Tea 2. Fekkas 3. Msemmen 4. Kab-el-ghzal Moreover, the mint tea is considered as good therapy for body and mind. It can cure physical illnesses. On the other hand, food taboos in Morocco are not totally different from other Muslim countries. Moroccans do not eat amphibians such as frogs and reptiles as other nations do so.

They do not also eat the pork as they considered it as unhealthy and “dirty” food (Barbour, 2005). Arts and Crafts. Moroccan leather stamped and tooled, is known throughout the world. Moroccan craftsmen also produce brass and copperwork (trays, utensils, and vase), pottery, woven and embroidered cloth, massive silver jewelry cloisonne work, and carved woods. Fez and Marrakech are the two leading artisan centers. But pottery also comes from Safi, silverwork from Tiznit and Taroudant, and embroidery from Rabat and Meknes. Rugs are woven with twisted wool in high pile.

For the most part they are the work of Berbers in the High and Middle Atlas (Laroui, 2004). Finer rugs in the Oriental style come from Rabat. Architecture. A distinctive Moroccan architecture has developed over the past millennium. Characteristics features are the square towers (such as minarets), white walls, and green tile roofs of the mosques and other public structures, such as city gates and palaces. The interiors of these buildings display intricate tile work, sculptured plaster friezes and ceilings, painted and inlaid woodwork, and both broken and horseshoe arches.

Royal tombs and palaces in Marrakech and the many madrasas or madersas (secondary religious schools), notably in Fez and Sale, provide superb examples of Moroccan architecture (Zartman, 2003). Less imposing architectural style can be found in the decorated Berber granaries south of the Atlas. In the mountains, Berber villages cling to the slopes. Communication. The national radio and television service is under the government sponsorship. Morocco has one of Africa’s freest presses, despite occasional closures by censors for political reasons.

Six daily newspapers and several periodicals in French or Arabic are published by the government, political parties, and others. However, very few books are published. Most books come from France or the Middle East (Zartman, 2003). IV. Conclusion In conclusion, Morocco is a country that is so rich in culture. Its delightful food has represented the culture of its people. The country itself has followed the teachings of Islam faith so its foods are associated with its beliefs. One of the food taboos as mentioned earlier is the pork eating. They believe that God prohibits them to eat it.

Thus, it also symbolizes the absence of morality such as gluttony, indulgence and dirtiness. On the other hand, Moroccans do not failed to prepare food during significant holidays especially those religious related celebrations. Reference: 1. Barbour, Nevill (2005). Morocco (Walker & Co. ). 2. Geertz, Clifford (2001). Islam Observed (Yale University). 3. Laroui, Abdallah (2004). The History of the Maghreb (Princeton University Press). 4. Zartman, William (2003). Man, State, and Society to the Contemporary Maghreb (Praeger). 5. Morocco. http://www. infoplease. com/ipa/A0107800. html

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