Culture of Morocco

Culture of Morocco

Morocco is a country with a multiethnic society and a rich culture, civilization, and etiquette. Throughout Moroccan history, Morocco has hosted many peoples, in addition to the indigenous Berbers, coming from the East (Phoenicians, Jews, and Arabs), South (Sub-Saharan African), and North (Romans and Vandals). All of these have had an impact on the social structure of Morocco. It has also hosted many forms of belief, from Paganism, Judaism, Christianity to Islam.
Each region possesses its own uniqueness, contributing to the national culture. Morocco has set among its top priorities, the protection of its diversity, and the preservation of its cultural heritage.

In the political world, Morocco is referred to as an African state. The majority of Morocco's population is Arab by identity. At least a third of the population speaks the Amazigh language. During the Islamic expansion, some Arabs came to Morocco and settled in the flat regions, such as Tadla and Doukkala. For example, there are groups called Charkawa and Arbawa who settled in Morocco from Arabia. The Charkawa claimed to be descended from Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam.

Facts and figures

The following figures are taken from the CIA Factbook.
Population: 33,757,176 (July 2007 est.)
Ethnic groups: Maghrebians (Arab-Berbers) by heritage, and Arab or Berber by identity.
Classical Arabic (official, though not used in daily speech)
Amazigh (A standardized version of all Moroccan Berber languages, official since July 2011)
Moroccan Arabic (not used in writing, locally known as Darija)
Vernacular Berber: Tarifit, Tachelhit, and Central Atlas Tamazight (spoken and written but not fully standardized).
Hassaniya Arabic: Primarily in the south
French: used along Arabic in business, government, military, and diplomacy.
Literacy: (definition: age 15 and over can read and write) total population: 52.3% (male: 64.7% / female: 40.6%) (2004 census)
Legal system: based partly on Islamic law, French and Spanish civil law systems; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of The Moroccan Higher Council (the equivalent of the US Supreme Court).


The history of Moroccan literature started in the early Middle Ages. In the era of the Berber dynasties, coinciding with the flowering of Al-Andalus, there were several important Moroccan writers, especially in the fields of religion and historiography, as well as poets employed in the courts of, for instance, the Marinid sultans. The same goes for the period of the Saadian and Alaouite kings. The influence of France and the English-speaking world (Paul Bowles) on Morocco started in the 1930s.

Ethnic groups and languages

Morocco is considered by some as an Arab-Berber country. Others insist on the Berber-African identity of Morocco.
different people in morocco
Classical Arabic is an official language of Morocco, rather than a mother tongue, and is used in a limited and formal socio-economic and cultural range of activities (like newspapers and official documents), in competition with French, and until recently, Berber. The most common spoken languages of Morocco are Berber and Moroccan Arabic.
Linguistically, Berber belongs to the Afro-Asiatic group, and has many variants. The three main varieties used in Morocco are Shilha, Central Atlas Tamazight, and Riff (also called Tamazight by its speakers). Collectively, they are known as Shelha in Moroccan Arabic, and as Barbaria in the Classical Arabic used in the Middle East. The terms Barbar and Shelha are considered offensive by most Berber activists, who prefer the term Amazigh.
Shilha (also known locally as Soussia) is spoken in southwest Morocco, in an area between Sidi Ifni in the south, Agadir in the north, and Marrakesh and the Draa/Sous valleys in the east. Central Atlas Tamazight is spoken in the Middle Atlas, between Taza, Khemisset, Azilal, and Errachidia. Riff is spoken in the Rif area of northern Morocco in towns like Nador, Al Hoceima, Ajdir, Tetouan, Taourirt, and Taza.

Most Berbers embraced Islam quickly, though their non-Arab ethnic and linguistic distinction has resisted the Arab-Islamic influence. Hundreds of Amazigh (Berber) associations have been created to defend their culture and identity in the last few decades in Morocco and Algeria. Newsstands and bookstores in all the major cities are filled with new Berber publications that provide articles and essays about the Amazigh culture and art. In 1994, the state-owned TV station RTM (now TVM) started broadcasting a daily, 10 minute long news bulletin in the 3 Berber dialects. Berber activists are repeatedly demanding a 50% share of broadcasting time in standardized Berber (Tamazight) on all state-owned TV channels. There is also a national Tamazight channel in Morocco, called Tamazight TV. It opened in 2010, and broadcasts for over 6 hours a day, with an extended broadcast on weekends.

Traditional clothing

The traditional dress for men and women is called djellaba; a long, loose, hooded garment with full sleeves. For special occasions, men also wear a red cap called a bernousse, more commonly referred to as a Fez. Women wear kaftans decorated with ornaments. Nearly all men, and most women, wear balgha (بلغه) —- soft leather slippers with no heel, often dyed yellow. Women also wear high-heeled sandals, often with silver or gold tinsel.
The distinction between a djellaba and a kaftan is that the djellaba has a hood, while a kaftan does not. Most women’s djellabas are brightly colored and have ornate patterns, stitching, or beading, while men's djellabas are usually plainer and colored neutrally. Women are strongly attached to their "Moroccan wardrobe," despite the financial costs involved; the production of such garments is relatively expensive, as most of the work is done by hand, yet most women purchase a minimum of one new kaftan or takchita every year, normally for a special social event, such as a religious festival or a wedding. These days, it is an unwritten rule that traditional Moroccan dress is worn at such events.


Main article: Cinema of Morocco
1944: Establishment of the "Moroccan Cinematographic Center" (CCM/the governing body). Studios were open in Rabat.
1958: Mohammed Ousfour creates the first Moroccan movie "Le fils maudit"
1982: The first national festival of cinema – Rabat.
1968: The first Mediterranean Film Festival was held in Tangier. The Mediterranean Film Festival in its new version is held in Tetouan.
2001: The first International Film Festival of Marrakech was held in Marrakech.

Movies in Morocco

Many foreign directors have been inspired by Morocco or filmed there. In 1952 Orson Welles chose Essaouira as the setting for several scenes in his adaptation of Shakespeare's "Othello", which had won the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film at that year's Cannes Film Festival. In 1955, Alfred Hitchcock directed The Man Who Knew Too Much and in 1962, David Lean shot the Tafas Massacre scene of Lawrence of Arabia in the city of "Ouarzazate", which houses Atlas Studios. Aït Benhaddou has been the setting of many films. The film Hideous Kinky was filmed in Marrakech.

Domestic architecture

Dar, the name given to one of the most common types of domestic structures in Morocco, is a home found in a medina, or walled urban area of a city. Most Moroccan homes traditionally adhere to the Dar al-Islam, a series of tenets on Islamic domestic life. Dar exteriors are typically devoid of ornamentation and windows, except occasional small openings in secondary quarters, such as stairways and service areas. These piercings provide light and ventilation. Dars are typically composed of thick, high walls that protect inhabitants from thievery, animals, and other such hazards; however, they have a much more symbolic value from an Arabic perspective. In this culture the exterior represents a place of work, while the interior represents a place of refuge. Thus, Moroccan interiors are often very lavish in decoration and craft.

Consistent with most Islamic architecture, dars are based around small open-air patios, surrounded by very tall thick walls, to block direct light and minimize heat. Intermediary triple-arched porticos lead to usually two to four symmetrically located rooms. These rooms have to be long and narrow, creating very vertical spaces, because the regional resources and construction technology typically only allow for joists that are usually less than thirteen feet.

Upon entering a dar, guests move through a zigzagging passageway that hides the central courtyard. The passageway opens to a staircase leading to an upstairs reception area called a dormiria, which often is the most lavish room in the home adorned with decorative tilework, painted furniture, and piles of embroidered pillows and rugs. More affluent families also have greenhouses and a second dormiria, accessible from a street-level staircase. Service quarters and stairways were always at the corners of the structures.
Tanjier is one of the heart places of Morocco as now its destroyed by the builders with big empire buildings.


Moroccan cuisine is home to Berber, Moorish, and Arab influences. It is known for dishes like couscous, pastilla, and others. Spices such as cinnamon are used in Moroccan cooking.
Sweets like halwa are popular, as well as other sweets. Cuisines from neighbouring countries also influence the country's culinary traditions.
(see the cuisine page )


(see Music of Morocco page)

See also

Sport in Morocco page

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