Morocco is a land of spectacular scenery, with a rich history, and heady with tantalizing scents and colorful sights. The call of the muezzin seems to draw people from every corner of the globe. In 1956 Morocco gained independence from French colonial rule and was jolted into the 20th century.
Today it is a country in transition—a unique blend of Arab, African, and European ways of life. The teeming cities have an air of sophistication and joie de vivre, but life in rural areas has stayed much the same. And while the cities are highly westernized, tradition and religion still play a vital role in the everyday life of most people. With rapid change came problems. Lack of opportunity and high unemployment resulted in a "brain drain" as educated Moroccans made their way abroad, and a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam started gaining ground among the urban poor. Even so, as technology becomes widespread and the world shrinks further, Morocco today is coming into its own.
Culture Smart! Morocco describes the way the country's past has shaped its present, advising tourists and business travelers on what to expect and how to behave in different situations.
Lunch invitations are very common and a great way to get to know people. Traditionally, Moroccans eat with their hands or a piece of bread. Eat only from the section of the dish, or tajine, directly in front of you, using your right hand. It is appropriate at any time to praise the food and your host, and burping, followed by thanks to God (“alhamdulillah”), is perfectly acceptable!