Morocco is a country renowned for its vibrant culture, beautiful landscapes, and warm hospitality, but what truly sets it apart is its people.
With a diverse population made up of Berber, Arab, and European communities, among others, Morocco’s people are a fascinating mix of ethnicities and cultures.
From the lively souks of Marrakech to the tranquil villages of the Atlas Mountains, the people of Morocco bring a burst of energy and color to every setting.
Whether you’re exploring the bustling cities or the remote countryside, you’re sure to be captivated by the warmth, diversity, and charm of Morocco’s people.
Stick with me if you would like to know additional information about the diversity of Morocco’s population, their appearance, statistics, and more.
The Different Ethnicities And Races Of People Living In Morocco
Morocco, with a population of over 36 million, is home to a diverse mix of people, primarily composed of Arabs and Amazigh (Berbers).
The dominant religion in Morocco is Islam, which has had a profound impact on the country, owing to the influence of the Arabs who came to the region.
Despite the prevalence of Islam, there is a significant minority of Jews and Christians who live in harmony with their Muslim counterparts, making the Moroccan people a shining example of how people of different religions and ideologies can coexist peacefully.
To know more details about religions, I invite you to read our full guide about religion in Morocco.
Moroccan people are well-known for their warmth, hospitality, and generosity. They are tolerant and welcoming people, particularly towards foreigners, treating everyone with respect and kindness regardless of their race or beliefs.
It’s worth noting that Morocco’s population can be divided into four major distinct races:
- Amazigh (also known as Berber)
1. Amazigh (Berbers)
If you have researched North Africa, you may have come across the term “Amazigh” or “Berbers”. The Amazigh people are the original inhabitants of the region and have lived there for thousands of years.
The word “Amazigh” means “The free people”, which is how they refer to themselves, while “Berbers” is a term derived from the Roman word “barbarians” that was first used by the Romans to refer to the non-Latin population and also by the French.
Most Amazigh people prefer to be called Amazigh instead of Berbers for the reasons mentioned above. They are located between the Siwa Oasis in the eastern outskirts of Egypt and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean’s west, and from the Mediterranean to the Sahara in the south.
The Amazigh Congress, established to defend their rights, adopted the Amazigh flag in 1997. It represents unity and cultural renaissance, and you can read more about it in my previous article on Morocco flags.
For decades, the Amazigh have been demanding official recognition of their language. In 2011, Morocco recognized it as an official language of Morocco, and Algeria followed suit five years later.
Despite ongoing struggles for language recognition and cultural rights, the resilient Amazigh community has maintained its vibrant culture, which continues to thrive across the region.
The Arabs arrived in North Africa from the Arabian Peninsula during the latter half of the 7th century with the intention of spreading Islam. The Arab conquest of North Africa was swift and successful in the Northeast, but they encountered significant resistance as they moved Westward.
The Amazigh of Morocco were particularly resistant to the Arab invasion, but the Arabs eventually offered incentives to convert to Islam. Many Amazighs converted, but some historians suggest it was for political reasons rather than genuine religious beliefs.
Regardless, Islam has since become an integral part of North African identity.
Along with religion, the Arabs also introduced new customs and practices to Morocco. Their influence can be seen in everything from clothing and food to governance and language.
Arabic has spread and quickly became one of the official Morocco languages to this day. The merging of Amazigh and Arab cultures was not always smooth, and conflicts between the two groups were common.
Over time, however, the cultural differences between Arabs and Amazigh began to diminish, especially in urban areas.
Amazighs living in Arab-dominated regions still maintain their ethnic identity but often adopt Arab cultural practices. The same is true for Arabs who settle in Amazigh-dominated areas.
The arrival of the Arabs in Morocco is one of the most significant events in the country’s history. The influence of Arab culture is so deeply ingrained in Moroccan life that it is difficult to separate the two.
Moroccans often identify themselves as Arabs and feel a strong connection to the Middle East, sometimes more so than their African neighbors.
If you head down toward the far south of Morocco, cities like Dakhla, Tantan, and Laayoune you’ll recognize a big difference in the appearance of people. Those are another ethnicity living in Morocco called “Saharawis”.
The Saharawi people are primarily nomadic tribes living in the Western Sahara region, with some similarities to the Moors in neighboring Mauritania. During the colonial era, Spain controlled the area, allowing the Saharawi to maintain their traditional lifestyle with little outside influence.
However, harsh droughts have forced many Saharawi to leave their traditional roles as herders and move to cities established by the Spanish or Moroccan governments, where they often get assistance from the government and have a lower standard of living than the average Moroccan.
The Saharawi have many cultural similarities to Moroccan Arabs and Amazigh, including their Islamic faith, emphasis on family, and Arabic dialects.
The term “Saharawi” is a controversial term, with some viewing it as a political term and others as a distinct ethnic group.
The Harratines, a population of black Muslims, predominantly inhabit the arid expanses of southern Morocco, and their precise roots have yet to be ascertained.
However, it is widely acknowledged that they are the offspring of enslaved black individuals, and their legacy of strength and resilience is a testament to their indomitable spirit.
Despite their unwavering spirit, the Harratines struggle to integrate into mainstream society and often eschew marriage with Arabs or Amazigh.
Additionally, although they possess freedom, their job prospects are mostly limited to manual labor and other menial jobs, which perpetuates their struggle with poverty, making them one of the most underprivileged populations in Morocco.
Genetics Of The Moroccan Population
Morocco boasts a colorful and multifaceted history shaped by a diverse cast of ruling entities, including but not limited to the Romans, Amazigh, French, Spanish, Jews, and Arabs.
The richness of this varied heritage reverberates throughout every aspect of Moroccan life, from the languages spoken and clothing worn to the tantalizing cuisine and vibrant culture.
In January 2012, a genetic study was published that uncovered a striking similarity between the indigenous North West African ancestry and populations beyond the African continent.
Interestingly, this divergence between the Moroccan people and Near Eastern/European populations likely predates even the Holocene period (12,000 years ago) and can be traced back to the Paleolithic era (40,000 years ago).
According to recent studies, there appear to be no significant genetic variations between Moroccan populations who speak Arabic and those who do not. In fact, DNA data research indicates that most Moroccans, regardless of their ethnic and linguistic identity, are of Amazigh descent.
Research indicates that the ancestral Arabs from Arabia who conquered North Africa and portions of Southern Europe did not have a significant influence on the genetic makeup of the Moroccan population.
According to a 2000 article in the European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa, although still diverse, share a closer genetic affinity with Southern Europeans than with Sub-Saharan Africans of Bantu ethnicity.
About one-third of the Moroccan population has a substantial contribution of Sub-Saharan African DNA, with West Eurasian Berbers displaying an average contribution of 1-10% Sub-Saharan African DNA.
Non-Berber populations exhibit substantially higher Sub-Saharan African DNA contributions, while differences among Berber populations regarding Sub-Saharan African contributions are not significant.
Various population genetics studies, including the works of renowned historians such as Gabriel Camps and Charles-André Julien, lend support to the notion that the bulk of the gene pool of modern Northwest Africans, irrespective of their linguistic background, stems from the Berber populations of the pre-Islamic period.
What Are Moroccans Known For?
Morocco is known for many things. It’s famous for its rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and delicious food. From the ancient city of Marrakesh to the snow-capped villages in the High Atlas Mountains, there is something for everyone!
Below are some of the top things Morocco and Moroccans are known for:
Hospitality & Generosity
Moroccans are known for their hospitality and generosity especially towards you as a visitor. Don’t be surprised if you traveled and you see everyone going out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable, often inviting you into their homes to have a meal or tea.
This warm and friendly attitude is a hallmark of Moroccan culture and has been passed down from generation to generation.
Moroccan cuisine is famous for its rich and complex flavors, blending sweet and savory tastes with a variety of spices.
If it happens and you visited Morocco, I advise you to try dishes like Tagine, Couscous, Harira, Pastilla, or maybe some handmade sweets like Shabakiya, you’ll absolutely love how it tastes.
Morocco has a rich cultural heritage, blending influences from Arab, Amazigh, and European traditions. The country is home to a wealth of historical sites, from the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis to the stunning architecture of the Hassan II Mosque.
Moroccan music, art, and literature are also fascinating and varied, reflecting the diversity of the country’s people and history.
Carpets & Rugs
Anyone who has traveled to Morocco will agree that carpets and rugs are all over the place, especially in cities like Marrakech.
Moroccan carpets and rugs are well-known for their intricate designs and vivid colors. Hand-woven by skilled artisans using old traditional techniques, these textiles are both beautiful and functional.
Hammams (Traditional spa)
For more of a more fun and luxurious experience people traveling to Morocco must try taking a bath in one of the traditional Moroccan Hammams.
Hammams, or traditional Moroccan spas, offer a unique and rejuvenating experience. Visitors can indulge in a variety of treatments, from steam baths and massages to exfoliating scrubs and beauty rituals.
Hammams are an important part of Moroccan culture, which offer a unique way to relax and practice self-care while traveling.
Mint tea is a beloved beverage in Morocco, served in small glasses and often accompanied by sweet pastries or nuts. This kind of tea is made from fresh mint leaves and gunpowder green tea, and it’s a symbol of hospitality and friendship.
Drinking mint tea is a social ritual, bringing people together to chat and unwind. So, if you visit Morocco then I am sure you’ll drink some mint tea somewhere because it’s so popular.
Argan oil is a highly prized beauty product made from the kernels of the argan tree, which is native to Morocco. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids, making it an effective moisturizer and anti-aging treatment.
Moroccan women have used argan oil for centuries to nourish their skin and hair.
When it comes to Moroccan cuisine the first thing that is more noticeable is the use of a wide variety of spices, including cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger.
These spices add depth and complexity to Moroccan dishes, and they’re often used in combination to create unique and delicious flavor profiles.
If you visit the Moroccan markets, you’ll surely see colorful spices wherever you turn your head.
For more details, check out our article about the best things Morocco is famous for.
People Of Morocco: How Do They Look Like?
Moroccan people are easily identifiable by their distinctive physical features: brown hair, big brown almond-shaped eyes, pouty lips, and olive skin.
But it’s not just their appearance that sets them apart. Their culture, values, and morals are also unique, as is the average height of Moroccan men and women, which stands at 171.8cm and 159.2cm, respectively.
Moroccans have a strong connection to their identity, traditions, and culture. However, they are also respectful and open-minded, and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need, despite the challenges they may face.
Are Moroccans black or white?
You can find all colors in Morocco; some Moroccans look like Europeans, some look like Arabs, some look like Latinos, and some Moroccans look, Black. Similarly, in the north of Africa, people living around the Mediterranean are mostly white, while people from sub-Saharan Africa are mostly dark-skinned or black.
Are Moroccans beautiful?
Moroccans are so beautiful because of their unique culture and heritage. They have a rich history and tradition reflected in their physical appearance. Their dark skin, almond-shaped eyes, and exotic features are just some of the things that make them stand out from the rest.
Are Moroccans friendly?
Yes. Moroccans are very famous for their strong sense of hospitality. They are tolerant, generous, welcoming, and friendly to foreigners. They treat others well in responding to their traditions, values, and culture.
Are Moroccan Amazigh or Arabs?
Moroccans are not all Arab. There is a big percentage of the “Amazigh” people or “Berbers” as referred to them by the Western culture.
What are people from Morocco called?
People from Morocco are called Moroccans.
What are the indigenous people of morocco?
The Amazigh are the indigenous people of Morocco. “Amazigh” means “Free Men”.