According to legend it was Hercules who created Morocco when he opened the Strait of Gibraltar. Whatever the case, the presence of mankind here has been shown to date back 300,000 years. Originally inhabited by Amazighs, the country opened up to Phoenician and Carthaginian influences, before submitting until the 5th century to the Romans. They would leave relics, such as the site at Volubilis, testifying to the prosperity which came from agricultural production. From 647, the Arab and Islamic conquest began.
The Amazigh tribes are the original population of Morocco, either living in settlements as farmers or roving about as nomads - and today, about a third of the country’s inhabitants are Amazigh. There are about 300 clans settling mainly in the mountainous regions of the Middle and Higher Atlas and the Rif Mountains. In addition, another third of the people are of Arab-Amazigh descent, living in the northern cities. Over the centuries, the Amazighs mingled with the Arab immigrants and took over their customs and languages. There is also a small percentage of pure Arabs and Haratin. The adobe villages and protective castles of the Amazighs in the Higher Atlas have inspired many a visitor’s fantasies while visiting this southern range of mountains. The scenery of the village Ksar Aït Ben Haddou is exactly what European guests have in mind when picturing the Orient back in biblical times. So it is no surprise that Hollywood has also discovered these impressive landscapes and came to shoot scenes for various movies in the past years, among them “Alexander”, “Gladiator” and “Kingdom of Heaven”.