For centuries, Morocco, whose essence lies in a culturally rich mosaic of Arabic, European, and African influences, has lured and intrigued foreigners. With a complex and tumultuous history dating back more than 5000 years, Morocco today is as unique and exotic as the diverse ethnic civilizations that have shaped everything here from language, music, art and architecture to politics, education, and the economy.
At the crossroads between East and West, Africa and Europe, Morocco has attracted invading conquerors seeking a strategic foothold in fertile valleys, desert oases, and coveted coastal outposts on the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Excavations from the 12th century BC show the remains of Phoenician settlements in ancient times. It was not until the 17th century, when Arabian crusaders introduced Islam, that the Moroccan political landscape became more spectacular , often extreme, with radical religious reformers founding Muslim Kingdoms in the midst of Christian encroachments and nomadic Berber tribal rule. Rural Berber tribes engaged in lawless conflict, battling it out with bloody family feuds in the harsh Sahara and unforgiving cliffs of the Atlas mountains. Successive invasions by Arab, French, and Spanish civilizations ensured, but the indigenous Berber survived, remaining an integral component of today’s Morocco. European colonization ultimately gave way to Morocco’s independent state and centralized constitutional government, still ruled today by sultan monarchs, descended from the Alaouite Dynasty.