History

The modern Kingdom of Morocco has a very particular geographic location - rather like Spain, its neighbour to the north - and this has undoubtedly been a central factor in shaping the country's history. Morocco is the westernmost country in the Muslim world, and for centuries it was 'the Land of the Farthest West', El Maghreb el Aqsa, to the Arabs. Despite being the closest Arab land to Europe, Morocco was the last to come under European domination. Moroccans are highly aware of the particularities of their location, and are convinced that their history has given them a civilization combining the virtues of the Arabs, Berbers, Andalucíans, Jews and Christians who converted to Islam.

Conventionally, Moroccan history is divided into two major periods: the distant pre-Islamic past, marked by the Phoenicians and Romans, and the better-documented times of the Islamic dynasties - at their most brilliant during a period roughly equivalent to the European Middle Ages. From the 16th century onwards the rulers of Morocco were constantly fighting back the expansionist Iberian states, and then later France, under whose rule the majority of the Cherifian Empire (as it was called by the colonizers) came from 1912 to 1956. (The last areas under colonial rule, the former Spanish Sahara, were retaken in the 1970s.) The later 20th century saw the formation of the modern Moroccan State.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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