The Kairaouine Mosque became the world's first university and the world's foremost center of learning at the beginning of the second millennium. Built in A.D. 857 by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Kairaouine refugee, the Kairaouine Mosque was Morocco's largest mosque until Casablanca's Hassan II Mosque was built in the early 1990s. The Kairaouine Mosque became part of Morocco's state educational system in 1963, and today it is known as the University of al-Kairaouine.
The Moroccan national costume is called the djellaba, a one-piece unisex, hooded, coverall garment. Those of the highest quality have the most ornate needlework lining the seams. Wealthy Moroccans have their djellabas tailor-made. Djellabas are indicative of conservative politics and values.
In Morocco, very few citizens have private baths, and a ritual purification of the body is essential before Muslims can perform prayers, so many Moroccans bath at the public hamman (bath). The hammam is segregated and, along with the local zaouia (saints' shrine), is an important place for women to socialize.
Koura, or soccer, is Morocco's most popular sport. The national team is called the Lions of Atlas. In 2011, the 45,000-seat Stade de Marrakech was completed, allowing Morocco to host World Cup-type football events.
Lamb or Beef with Prunes. Even if you don't normally reach for prunes when grocery shopping, don't be put off by this particular combination of sweet and savory. The meat is cooked until buttery tender with saffron, ginger and onions, then topped with prunes which have been poached in syrup with cinnamon and honey. Crunchy fried almonds serve as a garnish.
Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives. This classic, versatile dish is also one of Morocco's most famous and ubiquitous. And no wonder! It's utterly delicious and works beautifully for any occasion ranging from casual family dinners to celebratory banquets. You'll find it offered in homes, restaurants and even on the street in tiny outdoor dining venues.
Africa's largest wind farm is located in Southwestern Morocco, along the Atlantic coast. It began generating power in 2014 and is part of the plan for the country to generate 45% of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2020.
In 2015, the Noor 1 Project went online in the city of Ouarzazate. This project is a complex of four mega solar plants linked together. It is as large as the entire city of Rabat and tracks the sun as it moves across the sky. The project can generate 580 megawatts of electricity.