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Morocco 2024



Late afternoon is a perfect time to gather for conversation in the main square in Chefchaouen, located in northern Morocco’s Rif region. A public bench close to the mosque is a good place to await the call to prayer and is also conveniently placed to greet neighbors returning from shopping or work—and even the occasional tourist. Western influences from television, films, and tourism can be seen even in traditional areas of Morocco, where acceptable casual clothing can be anything from djellabas and traditional headwear to baseball caps, sneakers, and blue jeans.

Charles O. Cecil © 2016
U.S. Ambassador to Niger 1996–1999

Kingdom of Morocco/Al Maghrib

Northern Africa

Area 276.7K mi2; 716.6K km2

Arable 18%

Population 37.1 (134/mi²; 52/km²)

Gov’t Parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Capital Rabat (2M)

GCP/Capita $8,100

Unemployment 11%

In Poverty 5%

Infant Mortality 19/1K live births (86th)

Life expectancy 74 yrs

Median Age 25 yrs

Literacy 68%

Languages Arabic, Tamazight (both official), other Berber languages, French (business and government)

Religions Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 99%, other 1%

Health 6% of GDP

Education 7% of GDP (23rd)

Military 5% of GDP (13th)

Labor Force Agriculture 39%, industry 20%, services 41%

PCVs 1963–present CURRENT: Yes, TTD: 5,309

Adult Books

In the Country of Others
By Leila Slimani. Translated by Sam Taylor.

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin (2021; 1st French edition: 2020)
ISBN-10: 0143L13597X
ISBN-13: 978-0143135975

For this first volume of a planned Moroccan trilogy, Goncourt Prize-winning feminist writer Slimani draws on stories passed down in her own family to construct a convincingly realistic fictional world around themes of belonging, displacement, and the incomprehension inevitable in a community defined by social, cultural, and class divides. Her French-Moroccan grandparents, who lived as newlyweds and young parents in colonial Meknes, serve as models for the characters at the heart of the novel. “In a world whose rules she does not understand […], Mathilde goes from being reduced to a farmer's wife to defying the country's chauvinism and repressive social codes by offering medical services to the rural population. As tensions mount between the Moroccans and the French colonists, [her husband], Amine, finds himself caught in the crossfire: in solidarity with his Moroccan workers [… despite his position as] a landowner” (Publisher’s note).

“Mathilde’s journey in In the Country of Others is a rite of passage as much through language and motherhood as through war. In Sam Taylor’s seamless, poetic translation, Slimani masterfully captures these nuanced shifts [from French to Arabic to] the Berber that she picks up as a healer for local women, who ‘[…] shared with her their most intimate memories.’” (Meena Kandaswamy, New York Times, August 10, 2021)

“Between intimacy and the political, […] Slimani leaves no stone unturned: nationalism, religion, sexuality, feminism, agriculture. And the power of description of everyday life in 1950’s Morocco is captivating.” (Le Devoir [Montreal], April 4, 2020)

“An affecting tale of evolution and revolution.” (Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2021)

”Her willowy prose is dense with emotional depth and insight, and blunt observations elucidate every scene with force.” (Boston Globe, August 6, 2021)

Kids' Books

A Sweet Meeting on Mimouna Night
By Allison Ofanansky, illus Rotem Teplow

Format: HC, 36 pp, col illus.
ISBN-10: 1773063979
ISBN-13: 978-1-77306-397-3
Age Range: 4–8 / Grades K–3
Publisher: Groundwood Books (October 27, 2020)

Jews in Morocco celebrate the end of Passover. Miriam and her family live in Fès in Morocco, and as Passover concludes, she and her mother walk to the house of a Muslim family for flour. Miriam meets Jasmine, a girl her own age. This sweet story of friendship and shared customs will introduce North American readers to the Mimouna holiday.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal:
Gr 1–5—When Passover ends, along with dietary restrictions the Moroccan Jewish holiday of Mimouna begins, but where do observant Jews find flour at that time of night for the traditional and delicious moufleta? Miriam's mother responds to her daughter's question with a walk to the Muslim part of town, where they have tea with Jasmine, a girl Miriam's age, and her mother. After tea, Jasmine's mother sends them home with a bag of flour and is invited to the celebration. Preparations and the party ensue, quietly conveying the traditions of this holiday. As Jasmine repeatedly saves the day when Miriam keeps tripping, the shy girls shed their fears and become fast friends. The next Mimouna finds Miriam's family in Jerusalem, where she remembers Jasmine fondly. Ofanansky's text is dense but flows nicely. It conveys a lot of information while remaining accessible. In a mix of full- and half-page spreads, Teplow's illustrations depict wonderful facial expressions and add texture and life to the text, while her use of patterns, architecture, and colors effectively evokes Morocco. Despite the North African setting, everyone shown has pale skin, although yarmulkes, fezzes, and other head coverings abound. The back matter provides more loving details and a recipe. VERDICT The lesson of intercultural cooperation is subtle but compelling. This introduction to an important holiday and sharing will be a welcome addition to many collections.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Lib., Troy, NH


Film: Le bleu du caftan (The Blue Caftan)
Genre: Documentary
Director: Maryam Touzani
Country: Morocco
Release Date: 2022
Language: Arabic
Color: Color
Run Time: 2 hr 2 minutes

Halim and Mina run a traditional caftan store in one of Morocco's oldest medinas. In order to keep up with demanding customers, they hire a talented young man as an apprentice, and find their relationship turned upside down.


International Critics’ Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, 2022
Top prize for International Feature at New York’s Newfest, 2022
Haifa International Film Festival, 2022
Marrakech International Film Festival, 2022

Viewer Comment:
A sensitively drawn chamber piece for the three actors. Lubna Azabal especially delivers a finely crafted performance encompassing the breadth of human emotions. Wonderful.

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