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Friday 24th May
Morocco Facts
It is said that Hercules (a hero of Greek legend) decided to pull Africa and Spain apart, using Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountain of Jbel Musa as his handgrips. They are known as The Pillars of Hercules.

A stone Venus figure found on the banks of the River Draa near Tan Tan is thought to be one of the oldest figurines discovered.

Morocco has a number of stone circles which prove contact with the megalithic cultures of Atlantic Europe (Brittany, Ireland and Britain).

At Oujda, the most eastern city of Morocco, is the shrine of Sidi Yahya which is said to be the tomb of John the Baptist.

The University in Fes founded in 859 AD claims to be the world's oldest university.

The numbers we use today are called Arabic numbers; the Arabs were responsible for much of the growth of learning in mathematics and the word "algebra" is itself an Arabic word.

It is said that Pope Sylvester II learned mathematics at Fes over one hundred years before the first European university was founded in Bologna (Italy).

One of the world's most famous trade routes ran from Morocco (taking salt from the Mediterranean) through the Sahara to the market cities on the river Niger. Gold, slaves, ostrich feathers, spices and precious wood were carried back, eventually to the ports on the Atlantic coast.

Date palms, which can remain productive for over a hundred years, have always been important in Morocco. It used to be unlawful to sell a tree, because it was the family's source of food.

In September the tribes of the Atlas mountains traditionally meet for their great Marriage Festival. Young men and women from different clans meet and families negotiate dowries.

One of the most spectacular of Morocco's festivities is the war exercise, Fantasias, where armed men on horseback perform acrobatic tricks and fire their muskets at a full gallop.

From 1922 to 1956 Tangier was an International City, ruled by representatives of eight European countries.

In World War Two it was Moroccan troops who finally stormed the German stronghold at Monte Cassino, at the end of one of the war's hardest-fought battles.

In 1975 over 350,000 Moroccans, led by King Hassan, marched to take back the Spanish colony of Western Sahara. This is known as the Green March.

A giant system of sand wall defenses was built in the 1980s to keep back the Polisario guerillas (who were fighting for independence for their part of the Sahara).

In 2004 over 500 people were killed when an earthquake hit the northern part of the country.

In early 2011, at a time of unrest across the Arab world, protests took place across Morocco.

In April 2011 fifteen people were killed in a bomb attack on a cafe in Marrakech.

On 8 September 2023, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco's High Atlas Mountains and Marrakesh. The Red Cross reported that 3,000 were killed and over 300,000 people affected.

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