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Morocco, Marrakech : the origins

Morocco is the most occidental country in the Mediterranean basin. In Arabic language, it is called Al Maghrib el Aqsa, which means “the land of the setting sun”, or “the Extreme West”. This country is an integral part of Maghrib (Maghreb) or sunset, the West of the Arab world.

The English name “Morocco” derives from the Spanish pronunciation of the name of the city of “Marrakech”, Marruecos. Founded in 1070, it has been the capital under three dynasties which reigned on all or part of Maghreb and Andalusia. During centuries, Spanish and Andalusian sailors exported “maroquinerie” to Europe, the leather goods shaped in Marrakech, which gave its name to the former country of the Moors.

During Antiquity, Greeks would call Maurusians the inhabitants of the Pillars of Hercules region (the strait between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean). The central and western part of North Africa became the kingdom of Mauretania, allied to Rome from the fall of Carthage in 146 B.C. to its annexation to the Roman Empire in 40 A.D., while its Eastern part continued to be the “Ifrikiya“. Mauretania had been divided in two provinces by Romans, including the Tingitane Mauretania on the West around the city of Tangier (Tingis), with Volubilis as its capital. Mauretania was the country which opened on the “infernal seas”, this ocean  which owes its name to the Atlanteans, this mythical people living in the middle of the Atlas mountains. It was in the country of the Moors that the Ancients would place the mythical “garden of Hesperides”.

Source (translated into English) : Pierre Vermeren « Le Maroc » Collection « Idées reçues ». Paris, 2010, Le Cavalier Bleu Editions