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The People and Culture of Morocco
The following figures are taken from the CIA Factbook.
Population: 33,241,259 (July 2006 est.)
Independence: 2 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday: Throne Day, 30 July
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%
GDP - per capita (PPP): $4,200 (2005 est.)
Literacy: total population: 51.7% (male: 64.1% / female: 39.4%) (2003 est.)
Legal system: based on Islamic law and French and Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of Supreme Court
Ethnics and languages
Morocco is considered an Arab-Berber country. About 40% acknowledge a Berber identity, though many more have Berber ancestry. Berbers are identified primarily by language but also by traditional customs and Moroccan culture - such as the distinctive music and dances. Berber is not yet officially recognized in Morocco, though French is. Arabic remains the official language of Morocco and used in daily socio-economic and cultural activities.
The Cuisine of Morocco
The rich culinary heritage is one of the major attractions for many visitors to Morocco. The fusion of cultures and traditions has led to a rich and varied cuisine that includes familiar dishes such as couscous and tangine as well and recently, fusions of traditional dishes with modern French and Spanish influences.
Use of spices
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food, these are mainly to add depth of flavour, rather than top make a dish spicy (hot). While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron, mint, olives, oranges and lemons are home-grown. Common spices include cinnamon, kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (tumeric), skingbir (ginger), libzar (pepper), paprika, anis seed, sesame seed, kasbour (coriander), maadnous (parsley), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and mint.
The main meal is usually eaten at midday, with the exception of the holy month of Ramadan, when meals are taken before dawn or after dusk. The typical meal begins with a series of hot and cold salads, followed by a tangine. Bread is eaten with every meal. Often a lamb or chicken dish is next, followed by couscous topped with meats and vegetables.
A cup of sweet mint tea is commonly used to end the meal. It is common for Moroccans to eat using the fingers of their hand, and use bread as a utensil.
The most commonly eaten meat in Morocco is lamb. The breed of sheep in North Africa has much of its fat concentrated in its tail. This means that Moroccan lamb has a much more subtle and delicious taste than UK lamb and mutton.
Other famous Moroccan dishes are Pastilla (tasty filled savoury pastries) and Harira (soup), this is considered as a dish in itself and is mainly served with dates especially during the month of Ramadan.
Sweets are not necessarily served at the end of a Moroccan meal. A common dessert is kaab el ghzal ("gazelle's horns"), which is a pastry stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar.
Another dessert is honey cakes, which is essentially pretzel-shaped pieces of dough deep-fried and dipped into a hot pot of honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Halwa Shebakia are cookies eaten during the month of Ramadan. Zucre Coco are coconut fudge cakes.
The most popular drink is green tea with mint. Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and the drinking of it with friends and family members is one of the important rituals of the day. The technique of pouring the tea is as crucial as the quality of the tea. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.
Moroccan tea pots have long curved pouring spouts, this allow the tea to be poured even into tiny glasses from a height. To acquire the optimum taste, glasses are filled in two stages. We hope you enjoyed learning about part of the Morocco culture.