Morocco is an ancient kingdom. It came under the influence of Carthage and Rome, but its origins are Berber, Arab and African. Since the arrival of Islam in the 7th century, th country has been an independent power, and at times an empire. The only Arab country not to have fallen to the Ottomans, it entered the modern era under the Alaouite dynasty at the end of the colonial period.

"Morocco is like a tree whose roots lie in Africa but whose leaves breathe in European air". This is the metaphor that King Hassan II (1929-99) used to describe a country that is both profoundly traditional and strongly drawn to the modern world. It is this double-sided, seemingly contradictory disposition that gives Morocco its cultural richness.