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Morocco is a land of dramatic contrasts

The south of Morocco, meanwhile, which faces the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern side, are semi-arid, for this is the western edge of the great Sahara Desert, the biggest desert region in the world!

The dry climate over much of the eastern part is caused by its location in the rain-shadow of the Atlas Mountains, which form a chain across the middle of the country, from the north-east to the south-west.

The High Atlas, or "Haut Atlas" reach heights of 4000 metres, or 13,100 feet, so they are continually snow-capped.

The greenery of the north contrasts greatly with  the aridity of the south and east.

Not only are there contrasts in land-scape! Morocco is an exotic land full of contrasts.

It is profoundly traditional, yet, at the same time, strongly drawn to the Western World.

While its roots are unquestionably North African, Morocco also exudes a distinct European air, mixing Arabic charm with a little of the French and Spanish colonial influences of the past.

Morocco gained independence from France in 1956.

Visit MoroccoMeanwhile, Spain renounced control over its territories here, in the same year, except for the enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla and Ifni and territories in the south.

Ifni was returned to Morocco in 1969, but Spain still retains the two External Provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast.

The capital of Morocco is the imperial city of Rabat, on the north-western coast, facing the Atlantic.

Further down the coast, to the south-west of Rabat, and linked by a highway, is the major, world-famous city of Casablanca, forever linked to the great Humphrey Bogart, in the minds of millions of cinema-goers!

The very name, Casablanca, which in English is plain "White House", attracts droves of curious tourists.

However, of greater cultural interest to visitors is the  imperial city of Fes [or Fez], at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. This is a fascinating historical city.

Even more interesting, though, is Marrakech [or Marrakesh], which is known as the red city, because of the traditional terracotta colour of its buildings.

Magical Marrakech has a memorable beauty, located inland and set against the dramatic back-drop of the High Atlas mountains.

Palm-lined streets and a huge medina of flat roofed red houses are watched over by by the 65 metre minaret of the 12th Century Koutobia  Mosque.

It is a lively atmospheric city with a maze of narrow alleyways, markets, mosques, museums and palaces.

Do not miss a visit to the old town and its main square, Djemaa el Fna [sometimes written"Jemaa el-Fna"].

This truly exotic square bursts into life as dusk falls, with dancers, musicians, traders, food stalls, acrobats, jugglers, fortune-tellers and even snake charmers, catering for, and entertaining, the great mass of people that come here!

It is an amazing experience!

From the vibrant souks of Marrakech, where better to relax than sun-soaked Agadir on the Atlantic coast of southern Morocco?

This is a modern, relaxing resort that has gradually developed along an impressive 10 kilometres, or 6 miles, of golden sands.

Blessed with year-round sunshine, it makes for a perfect winter break.

It has all the facilities, plus watersports, of any modern holiday resort. It has a colourful souk and a long promenade for a leisurely evening strolls. It has a huge range of cafes, restaurants, bars and nightspots.

It is possible to book a twin-centre holiday, staying in both Marrakech and Agadir. A wonderful contrast!!

Fifty miles to the east of Agadir, is the oasis town of Taroudant, known as"Little Marrakech". It is an ancient citadel, encircled by beautiful dusky pink walls, with turrets and towers. It boasts an atmospheric kasbah and a colourful souk.

Morocco is a fascinating country, combining modern tourism facilities with scenes reminiscent of the middle ages. It will provide you with an unforgettable holiday, very different  from anything in Europe, if you choose to go looking for that difference!!

You can even go skiing in the Atlas Mountains, or enjoy hill-walking holidays amidst stupendous mountain scenery, surrounded by a great variety of wild-life, especially birds!

Why not give it a try? Morocco might surprise you with its contrasts!