Independent monarchy, divided into 37 provinces, and the 2 governorates (wilaya) of Casablanca and Rabat-Sale.
Morocco claims, and occupies most of Western Sahara. Morocco also claims the territory of Spanish North Africa. Some hash producing regions in the north are out of control of the central authorities.
Day of independence: March 2, 1956.
Throne Day: July 30, 1999Head of state: Muhammad 6
Prime ministers: Driss Jettou.
The government is made up of 31 ministers.
National Assembly: There are 2 chambers, the Representative with 325 members, and the Advisers with 270 members. All members of the Representative Chamber are elected from general elections. For the Advisers Chamber, 162 seats are elected by local councils, 81 by chambers of commerce and 27 by trade unions.
Inhabitants: 31.2 million (2005 estimate).
Founded in 1070-72 by the Almoravids, Marrakesh remained a political, economic and cultural centre for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia. It has several impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, monumental doors, gardens, etc. Later architectural jewels include the Bandiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs, several great residences and Place Jamaâ El Fna, a veritable open-air theatre.
The first feeling one has when entering this particular imperial capital is of pure enchantment. We are bewitched-falling under the spell of the place and its people, folk artists to their very souls who have only one aim in view to make a stay in their city as entrancing an experience as possible. With its world-famous square, Jamaâ El Fna, the beacon city of the Almoravids was founded in about 1070 with a view to controlling traffic from the nearby Atlas. It was from this rudimentary settlement that the earliest conquests were launched. Abou Bakr, head of the Almoravids, undertook the construction of a kasbah, nicknamed the "stone castle" only yards away from the present site of the Koutoubia.
Marrakesh became the capital of a vast empire in the reign of Youssef Ben Tachfine-an empire which, under the Almohads, reached as for as the frontiers of Libya.
The first Almohad sovereign, Abdelmoumen began the construction of the Koutoubia mosque, which his grandson Yacoub El Mansour adorned with a superb minaret, still standing today. His son Youssef had reservoirs dug and a spreading administrative district constructed
-Marrakesh reached the height of its glory. Built in the same epoch as Seville's "la Giralda" and Rabat's "Tour Hassan", the Koutoubia, dating from the 11th century, is a truc masterpiece of hispano-moorish art. Its minaret rises to almost 70 metres.
The Badii Palace bas long been regarded as a wonder of the Muslim world. It was the sovereign Ahmed El Mansour Dahbi who undertook construction of the palace following his victory over the Portuguese in the year 986 of the hejira (1578), a victory well-known in the Western World under the name of the Battle of the Three Kings. The major construction work went on for sixteen years. Other marvels to be found in the Red City are the Dar Si Said museum, containing much quintessential Moroccan art and displaying the glittering array of gold and marble ornaments collected by Ahmed El Mansour (1578-1603), greatest of Saadian rulers, the Medersa Ben Youssef, a koranic school founded in 1570 by Moulay Abdallah and a truc masterpiece of Merinid architecture, the Agdal gardens, laid out in the 12th century during the reign of Abdelmoumen and the Menara, a magnificent artificiel lake fringed with flowers ...
Framed by the snowy heights of the Atlas, with rose-coloured ramparts and a thousand year old palm grove, Marrakesh casts a magic spell. Sumptuous and exuberant, it radiates splendour and mysticism ; at the dye merchants, in the explosion of multicoloured wools ; at Festival time, in the rhythm of the music, in the emotion of the dancers ; in the idle talk of the merchants and in the skill of the jugglers. Enchantment, you feel in the shade of the blue gardens and in the overwhelming perfection of the Koutoubia.
Between the souks and the riads , the charm of Marrakech has an immediate effect on the visitor.
Some like it for its medina, others appreciate it for its monuments, and others still adulate it for its trendy restaurants …
Marrakech has unanimity : the ochre city is the city to visit
WHAT'S A RIAD ?
The Term médina , in Arabic madina , means old city in contrast to the modern (European style) city.
In Morocco , the riads (also transcribed riyads or ryads ) represent the traditional dwelling in the medina. Etymologically, a riad means « garden » in Arabic.
As you go through the alleys of one of the medinas in Morocco , you will have no doubt that behind the great walls with decent-looking entrance doors, there hide those sumptuous dwellings.
From the very entrance, you will have to go through an elbow-shaped corridor. It is designed in such a way as to leave no chance for any inquisitive eye to steal a glimpse of the splendor of the place: Riads being traditionally constructed in such a way as to be totally closed on the outside world to protect the intimacy of the women inside.
The Riads of Morocco are still full of yesteryear ambiances; their mystery continues to fascinate a large number of foreign visitors who come for a sojourn there.
Understanding Marrakech :
The Medina , once the only part of town, is still the core of Marrakech. Since the Protectorate, new neighborhoods have been added to the city.
The Modern part shelters the Gueliz and the Hivernage : neighborhoods famous for their many restaurants and stores.
Not to forget the beautiful Palmeraie (Palm grove) without which Marrakech would never be the same ! Thirty years ago , superb hotels, palaces and other villas were constructed there. The Palmeraie (palm grove), far from downtown hubbub, offers isolation, tranquility and quietude within a magic framework !
Around Marrakech :
Marrakech is blessed with an extraordinary setting in Morocco : East, the Atlantic coast- the coastal cities (Agadir and Essaouira) are only a few hours drive away.- To the South, the High Atlas protects Marrakech from the arid climate of the South, and provides a source for irrigating the city gardens and the three magnificent internationally-known golf courses. -North, the economic cities of Casablanca and Rabat are accessible via highway.
Only a few hours away from Marrakech, sea, snow, and desert are all on offer!