Moroccan History

Moroccan history is full of interesting facts and events, and many countries have had a hand in it. Around 5,000 B.C., the country started to see a significant number of settlers, though human activity started as far back as 75,000 to 125,000 years ago. The native Berbers started to establish themselves about 3,000 years ago, and they have seen considerable foreign influence over the centuries. Thought to be descents of ancient Egyptians, the Berbers are still the country's main ethnic group. After enjoying relative isolation for about 300 years, the Berbers were joined by other ethnic groups. Around 800 B.C., the Phoenicians started to arrive, and this moved the history of Morocco in another direction.

The Phoenicians helped to establish trade in what is today Morocco, and this brought further interest to the region. East Africans came after the Phoenicians, contributing further to the mixed makeup of the country. It didn't take long after that for Romans to show up. Rome founded an African colony named Ifrikiya, which inspired the continent's name. Morocco was part of this colony, and the Romans did their best to tame what they called barbarians; hence the name Berber. The Berbers had established various independent kingdoms before the arrival of the Romans, and one of the most interesting facts about Morocco revolves around this relative Berber stronghold. The Romans never managed to establish complete control over modern-day Morocco, as the oft-unified Berber groups made it a point to hassle their increasingly unwelcome guests. Some Roman settlements were established in places like Essaouira, but they didn't have longstanding success.

The history of Morocco is largely defined by the relations that the Berbers had with various foreign entities. In addition to the Byzantine Empire, the Berbers established relations with a number of nations, often signing treaties that both overlapped and contradicted each other. This helped to keep any specific foreign nation from ever truly gaining control of the land. This in turn contributed significantly to the overall culture in Morocco. That being said, the Berbers had to face group after group, and it didn't stop with the Romans. After the Romans left, tribal law took over for centuries. Then the Muslim Arab invaders came, and like those who came before them, they played a key role in Moroccan history.

The Muslim Arabs began arriving in modern-day Morocco in and around 700 A.D. Inspired by the Prophet Mohammed, these invaders looked to expand their religion's influence. It took about 70 years to take control of the Moroccan lands from the Berbers, which is one of the more interesting facts about Morocco. After all, it took less than ten years for these Muslim invaders to conquer the Middle East. The Muslim Arabs were on a mission to conquer western Europe, and Morocco stood in their way. In 711, the Muslim Arabs eventually made it to the southern coast of Spain after conquering Tangier, which started their long-running reign over the Iberian Peninsula. Some historic mosques from the country's Islamic period survive to this day, as do their soaring minarets. The most iconic minaret in the land looms over the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech. La Giralda is another renowned Arab minaret, and it can be found in the Spanish city of Seville.

The Muslim Arabs eventually lost all control over the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, and together with the native Berbers, many of whom had converted to Islam, they continued to rule Morocco. The Portuguese eventually came looking to establish some trade routes through the Sahara, not to mention exact some revenge for the nearly 800 years that they had to put up with the invading Arabs. Spain and France took interest in the country as well in the 1800s, and interestingly enough, a few destinations on the north coast are still part of Spain. French and Spanish architecture is noticeable in many Moroccan destinations, and French is widely spoken across the land, which gives insight into the roles that these countries played in Moroccan history.

Many groups and nations managed to lay some sort of claim to Morocco, or parts of it anyways, and this has contributed significantly to the country's history. Many native traditions survived in this Arab-Berber nation, and visitors can get a glimpse into the history of Morocco when wandering the streets of its medinas. These old districts are where many of the country's best historical landmarks can be found, and they are also excellent places to shop and dine. The cuisine of Morocco, much like the country's history, was influenced by various peoples and nations.

As a side note, travelers interested in learning more about the history of Morocco can always plan a visit to the American Legation Museum. Free tours in English are offered at this Tangier museum, and they highlight some of the most interesting historical facts about Morocco. Some of the country's other museums also offer insight into Moroccan history, and they are also worth adding to the itinerary when looking for things to do.

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