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10 Interesting Historical Facts About the Kingdom of Morocco

posted on: Feb 23, 2022

Photo: Get Your Guide Morocco

By: Nouha Elyazidi / Arab America Contributing Writer

Morocco is a stunning country blessed with plentiful natural resources, vibrant culture, and spectacular cuisine. The country is rather well globally, but there are some interesting facts about the countries history you may not be aware of. Let’s go back in time and explore fascinating historical information about the Kingdom of Morocco!

1. Morocco was the First Country to Recognize the Independence of the United States

Photo: Why did Morocco recognize the United States

The Kingdom of Morocco under Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abdullah recognized the independence of the newly founded United States of America on December 20, 1777. On this day, the Sultan welcomed American ships into the ports of Morocco and 9 years later, Morocco-United States relations became official. In 1786 the Morocco-American Treaty of Friendship was signed into action and since then, Morocco has continued its support for the United States during major historical events such as the Civil War (union), World War I, World War II, and even now during the 21st century. 

2. The Oldest University Was Founded in Morocco

Photo: Fatima al-Fihri: Founder of the world’s oldest university

Morocco is home to Al Quaraouiyine, the oldest university in the world! The university was founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri in the city of Fez. Fatima al-Fihri was highly educated on topics of religion and built Al Quaraouiyine as a center for religious and faith studies and it became a prime education center in North Africa. 

3. The Oldest Known Human Sculpture was Found in Morocco

Photo: The Art of the Ice Age-Exploring the Deeper History of Art the Tan Tan

The Venus of Tan-Tan is an incredibly small (measuring only 5.8 cm tall and 2.6 cm wide) figure made of stone resembling a human figure. The Tan-Tan is estimated to be between 500,000-300,000 years old. This was found near a riverbank in Morocco, archeologists predict it dates back to the ice age.

4. The Explorer Ibn Battuta was From Morocco

Photo: Why Moroccan Scholar Ibn Battuta May Be the Greatest Explorer of all Time

Ibn Battuta is an incredibly famous explorer and scholar who wrote the travel log “El Rihla” and is estimated to have traveled over 75,000 miles during his lifetime. His perspective and explorations give historians an insight into life during the 12th century. Ibn Battuta was originally Moroccan, from the city of Tanger. Battuta traveled across North Africa, to the Arabian Peninsula, to Eastern Europe, through Iran, and past India all the way to Beijing China, Battuta even surprised Marco Polo by 24,000 km!

5. Northern Morocco was Ruled by a Descendent of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Photo: Idris I of Morocco

From 789-974, Morocco was ruled by the Idrisid Dynasty. The founder of the dynasty, Idris ibn Abdullah was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) daughter. Idris ibn Abdullah fled Mecca during the Battle of Fakhkh and arrived in Morocco. When he arrived in Morocco, he founded the city of Fes in 789 and made it the first capital of Morocco

6. Morocco Gained Independence in 1956

Photo: Independence Day: Importance of November 18 in Morocco’s History

France took control of Morocco in 1912, this was a time of revolts and turmoil in the country. The King of Morocco at the time, Mohammed V, was exiled to Madagascar and the French seized control of the government. Morocco regained its independence following the French-Morocco Agreement of 1956

7. The National Dish of Morocco Couscous Is Estimated to Have Been Introduced as Early as 238 BCE

Photo: What is Couscous

Couscous is believed by some historians to have been used in cooking in Berber civilizations in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula as early as 238 B.C.E. Couscous was and continues to be, a staple in Moroccan cuisine and it is the national dish of Morocco.

8. The Geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi was Moroccan

Photo: Muhammad al-Idrisi – was a Moroccan Arab Muslim geographer, cartographer and Egyptologist who for some time lived in Palermo, Sicily at the court of King Roger II

Muhammed al-Irdrisi was a cartographer and geographer who was born in northern Morocco in the year 1100. Al-Idrisis’s most famous work is his map Tabula Rogeriana, a book featuring one of the most advanced map in the medieval world. Having traveled to Italy, al-Idrisis had a broader global spectrum than many and his work was published and even used by the King of Sicily Roger II.

9. Morocco Has Four Historical Capitals

Photo: Rabat in the Heartland of the Fascinating City

Throughout the history of Morocco, the county has had four capitals: Fes, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat. Fes was the first capital in 789 established by Idrisi I until the fall of the Idrissi dynasty. Marrakesh was first founded in 1071 and served as the country’s capital from around 1500-1600, during the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties. The city of Meknes was the capital during the rule of Mawlay Isma’il in 1673 and because of the vast palaces and mosques built during this time it was nicknamed “The Versailles of Morocco.” The current capital of Morocco, Rabat is home to the countries political and economic life and became the capital following the French invasion of Morocco in 1912.

10. The Morocco Flag Was Created in 1915

Photo: Introducing the flag of Morocco

Prior to 1915, Morocco had a flag, but it was simply red. Morocco’s famous green flag was added by Sultan Mulay Yusef. The five lines of the start are symbolic of the five pillars of Islam. Following the progression of French invasion and imperialism, the flag became outlawed but developed into a sign of resistance and Moroccan identity. The flag was proudly raised once again following Moroccan independence in 1956.

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