Moroccan people

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This article is about the people of Morocco. For a specific analysis of the population of Morocco, see Demographics of Morocco.
Moroccan people
ⵉⵎⵓⵔⴰⴽⵓⵛⵉⵢⴻⵏ - المغاربة
18 Moroccans.jpg
Total population
~ 38M
Regions with significant populations
 Morocco 33,403,000[1]
 France 1,514,000[2][3][4]
 Spain 754,080[5]
 Israel 686,600[6]
 Italy 449,058[7]
 Belgium 450,000[8]
 Netherlands 368,662[9]
 Germany 102,000[10]
 United States 77,468[11]
 Canada 71,910[12]
 Saudi Arabia 43,216
 Kuwait 21,843
 Sweden 20,000
 Australia 15,000
 Denmark 15,000
  Switzerland 13,500
 United Arab Emirates 7,400
Predominantly Arabic and Berber.
Predominantly Sunni, Nondenominational Muslims[13] and Sufi Islam, Judaism, Christianity.[14][15]

The Moroccan people (Berber: ⵉⵎⵓⵔⴰⴽⵓⵛⵉⵢⴻⵏ, Imgherbiyen, Arabic: المغاربة‎, al-Magharibah, Moroccan Arabic: Lemgharba) are a people that share a common Moroccan culture and ancestry.

In addition to the 33 million Moroccans in Morocco, there are large migrant populations of Moroccan origins in France, Belgium, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and smaller groups in United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Berber genetic identity

Moroccans descend from Berbers (Amazigh/Imazighen), Arabs, Europeans (mainly Spanish) and Black Africans exactly like the neighboring Maghrebians. The Berbers are the prehistoric populations of Morocco and are related to the wider group of Paleo-Mediterranean peoples.

The Afroasiatic family may have originated in the Mesolithic period, perhaps in the context of the Capsian culture.[16][17] By 5000 BC, the populations of Morocco were an amalgamation of Ibero-Maurisian and a minority of Capsian stock blended with a more recent intrusion associated with the Neolithic revolution.[18] Out of these populations, the proto-Berber tribes formed during the Late Paleoltihic Era.[19]

Berber children near the Atlas mountains range

Physical anthropology of Moroccans

Moroccans were identified genetically and anthropologically as Berbers, The anthropologists identify Moroccans as within the Mediterranean race, but declared that successive migrations from sub-Saharan Africa had diluted their race to the point that they were no longer pure Mediterranean like Italians, Spaniards, or French, especially those who are living near the Algerian frontiers and western Sahara of Morocco, who are mostly identified as Sahrawis or Haratins and Gnawa.[20]

The skin of some Moroccans darkens readily under the influence of sunlight, and many of them become quite dark in the exposed parts of the body, which is typically a Mediterranean characteristic. Riffians and other Berbers of Atlas mountains of Morocco show a high percentage of blondism, higher than the other Berber groups in North Africa and some parts in Southern Europe, with about two thirds of Riffians being pinkish-white skinned with mixed or light eyes (reaching or 80% in central Rif); the rest are of Mediterranean (mainly of classic Mediterranean or Berberid type, but many Moroccan Berbers show some blending with Classic Mediterraneans).[21]

Nordics are ancient in Northern Africa as the Egyptian monuments of the Middle Kingdom (circa 2000 B.C.), and perhaps older. They survive today mostly in the mountains of the Rif, in Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Canary Islands.[22] Moroccans in General are the most Lighted haired People in Africa . blondism is more common in The Rif, and less common in the Middle Atlas and the Atlantic seacoast; >45% of Berber Moroccan population has blond or light brown hair, in the rest of Morocco is just less than 25% of the Population are blond.[21] Moroccan Berbers of the Rif Mountains and Middle Atlas mayhave the highest percentages of Light Eyes in Continental Africa. In the Rif, dark eyes are found among 30% of the men, mixed eyes 45%, and light eyes in 25%; and the mixed eyes have green or blue elements rather than gray

First settlers

According to the leading evolutionary theory of human origins, known as the Out of Africa theory, anatomically modern humans first emerged in Africa 150,000-200,000 years ago. All non-Africans are descended from at least one group of humans who migrated out of Africa into western Asia 50,000-70,000 years ago. The first modern humans in Europe, the Cro-Magnons, arrived from north-west Africa and are believed to have completely replaced the previous inhabitants, the Neanderthals. Cro-Magnons are known as Ibero-Maurisians or Mechta-Afalou people; they were in Morocco 45,000 years ago. They probably evolved from the Aterians, the Cro-Magnon people who had populated much of North Africa. There was a massive major human migration from Morocco, and this Paleolithic population was weakly mixed with later Capsian migrations during the Neolithic Era. This prehistoric population survived isolated in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, known in our time as Berbers.

Y-chromosome DNA

Distribution of Y haplotype E-M81 E1b1b1b in North Africa, West Asia and Europe

Recent studies make clear no significant genetic differences exist between Arabic and non-Arabic speaking populations. The human leukocyte antigen HLA DNA data suggest that most Moroccans are of a Berber origin and that Arabs who invaded North Africa and Spain in the 7th century did not substantially contribute to the gene pool.[23][24] The Muslim refugees from Iberia settled in the coast-towns.[25] According to a 2000 article in European Journal of Human Genetics, Moroccans from North-Western Africa were genetically closer to Iberians than to Africans of Bantu ethnicity and Middle Easterners.[26]

The different loci studied revealed close similarity between the Berbers and other north African groups, mainly with Moroccan Arabic-speakers, which is in accord with the hypothesis that the current Moroccan population has a strong Berber background.[27]

The E1b1b1 clade is presently found in various forms in Morocco. Total E1b1b1 (E-M35) frequencies reached at 93.8% in Moroccans.[28]

E1b1b1b1(E-M81), formerly E1b1b1b, E3b1b, and E3b2, is the most common Y chromosome haplogroup in Morocco, dominated by its sub-clade E-M183. This haplogroup reaches a mean frequency of 100% to 50% in North Africa, decreasing in frequency from approximately 85% or more in Moroccan Berber populations, including Saharawis, to approximately 25% to the east of this range in Egypt. Because of its prevalence among these groups and also others such as Mozabite, Riffians, Chleuhs, Middle Atlas, Kabyle and other Berber groups, it is sometimes referred to as a genetic Berber marker and is found in highest frequencies amongst the Tuareg berbers.

This phylogenetic tree of the Berber haplogroup subclades is based on the YCC 2008 tree and subsequent published research as summarized by ISOGG.[29][30][31]

Average North African Moroccan Berbers have frequencies of E3b3 of +80%. The Alvarez et al. (2009) study shows a frequency of E3b1b of 28/33 or 84.8% in Berbers from Marrakesh, with the rest of the frequencies being 1/33=3% E3a*, 1/33=3% E3b*, 1/33 or 3% E3b1a, and 1/33 or 3% E3b1c.[28]

The most basal and rare E-M78* paragroup has been found at lower frequencies in Moroccan Arabs. The sub-clade E1b1b1a1d (E-V65) is found in high levels in the Maghreb regions of far northern Africa. Cruciani et al. (2007) report levels of about 20% amongst Libyan Arab lineages, and about 30% amongst Moroccan Arabs. It appears to be less common amongst Berbers, but still present in levels of >10%. The authors suggest a North African origin for this lineage. In Europe, only a few individuals were found in Italy and Greece. Capelli et al. (2009) studied the beta cluster in Europe. They found small amounts in Southern Italy, but also traces in Cantabria, Portugal and Galicia, with Cantabria having the highest level in Europe in their study, at 3.1% (5 out of 161 people).

Other frequencies of E1b1b1a1c (E-V22) are reported by Cruciani et al. (2007), including Moroccan Arabs (7.27%, 55 people) and Moroccan Jews (8%, 50 people).

Distribution density of E1b1b1a (E-M78) in select areas of Africa and Eurasia
Distribution of E1b1b1c in select areas of Europe, Asia, and Africa

E-M123 (without checking for the E-M34 SNP) is found at small frequencies in Morocco. A low regional percentage for E-M123 was reported in Moroccan Berbers, around 3%.

Population Language n E1b1a E1b1b G I  J L N R1a R1b T Reference
Arabs (Morocco) AA (Semitic) 44 85 0.0 0.0 3.8 Pericic et al. 2005[32]
Arabs (Morocco) AA (Semitic) 49 85.5 2.4 Semino et al. 2004[33]
Berbers (Marrakesh) AA (Berber) 29 92.9 Semino et al. 2000[34]
Berbers (Moyen Atlas) AA (Berber) 69 87.1 Cruciani et al. 2004[35]
Berbers (southern Morocco) AA (Berber) 40 2.5 85 0 2.5 0 0 0 Bosch et al. 2001[36]
Berbers (North Central Morocco) AA (Berber) 40 0 93.8 0 0 0 0 0 Alvarez et al. 2009[28]
Berber Riffians (North Morocco) AA (Berber) 54 0 95.9 0 0 0 0 0 Dugoujon et al. (2005)[37]
Beni Snassen (Northern Morocco) AA (Berber) & (Semitic) 67 0 95.1 0 0 0 0 0 Dugoujon et al. (2005)[37]

Eurasian haplogroups such as Haplogroup J and Haplogroup R1 have also been observed at very minimal frequencies. A thorough study by Cruciani et al. (2004) which analyzed populations from Morocco concludes that the North African pattern of Y-chromosomal variation (including both J1 and R1b haplogroups) is largely of Neolithic origin, which suggests that the Neolithic transition in this part of the world was accompanied by demic diffusion of Berber-speaking pastoralists from the Algerian desert into Eastern Morocco, although later papers have suggested that this date could have been as long as ten thousand years ago, with the transition from the Oranian to the Capsian culture in North Africa.[38][39]

Haplogroups G and T are rarely found in Morocco, In 147 samples taken in Morocco, 1% were found to be G.[40]

In another study 1% of 312 samples in Morocco were G.[41]

Another study gathered samples only from hamlets in Morocco's Azgour Valley, where none of 33 samples were determined to be G.[42] These hamlets were selected because they were felt to be typically Berber in composition.

A study of 20 Moroccan Jews found 30% were G.[43] The tested men were then apparently living in Israel. Another study of Jewish men found 19.3% of 83 Jewish men from Morocco belonged to haplogroup G.[44] over G Moroccan samples are likely positive on the SNP G2a2b Haplogroup; it has been identified in Neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000 and 3000 BC. Furthermore, the majority of all the male skeletons from the European Neolithic period have so far yielded Y-DNA belonging to this haplogroup like the mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman. The National Geographic Society places haplogroup G origins in the Middle East 30,000 years ago and presumes that people carrying the haplogroup took part in the spread of the Neolithic into Africa and then Europe.[45] Two percent of Arab Moroccans and 0% to 8% of Berber Moroccans of Asni Oasis were likewise found to be G.[46]

Haplogroup T is found amongst central Berbers of Asni Oasis near the Algerian frontiers at 1.9% and observed in Moroccan Jews at 4%.

E1b1a is found at low frequencies in Morocco. These lineages are found in some specific areas, especially around the Great Desert linked to the slavery trade across the Sahara, like the presence of Haratins or Gnawa amongst Berbers of Asni Oasis located in north central Morocco near the Algerian frontiers, Sahrawis, Moroccan Arabs and in Southern Morocco.[47]

Haplogroup A1a is observed in southern and central Moroccan Berbers at 3%. related to the Homo sapiens presence in north-west African Aterian and Mousterian industries, one of the oldest human branching events, thought to have occurred about 140,000 years ago.[48]

The most basal and rare E1a* paragroup has been found at lower frequencies in samples obtained from Moroccan Berbers and Sahrawis, dated around 45.000 BC, linked to Eurasian migration from the Near East back into North Africa along together with E1b1b during Paleolithic times.[49]

Genetic Berber heritage continuity of Moroccan Arabs

The cultural differentiation present in North Africa between Berber and Arab samples seems not to reflect genetic differences between both groups, as shown in the AMOVA analyses, and the MDS and PC analyses. If Arabs in Northern Africa were mostly descendants of Middle Eastern Arabs, the frequencies of haplogroups such as N, U1, U3, U7, and HV that are much more prevalent in the Middle East than elsewhere should be larger in North African Arabs than in Berbers. However, the opposite is observed: these haplogroups add up to 5% in North African Arabs but to 10% in Berbers.[50]

The lack of differentiation between North African Arabs and Berbers has also been observed using other genetic markers such as classical markers (Bosch et al. 1997): autosomal STRs (Bosch et al. 2000), Alu insertion polymorphisms (Comas et al. 2000); and Y-chromosome lineages. This pattern suggests that the Arabization of the area was mainly a cultural process, rather than a demographic replacement of the Berber populations that inhabited the region where the Arabic expansion took place.[50]

Haplogroup distributions in Moroccan people

Y chromosome haplogroup distribution of Moroccan people

The major components of Y-DNA haplogroups present in Morocco (E3b ; 94%) are shared with European and neighboring North African and Near Eastern populations. A minor share of haplogroups also include those related to North West Africans (E1a, A1a; 1%), Near Easterners (J, G, T; 2,4%), sub-Saharan Africans (E3a; 1,7%) and Europeans (R1b, I1; 2%) affinity.

Some of the major percentages identified were:

Physical differences between Berbers and Arabs of Morocco

It is easier to tell a Berber from an Arab by dress and behavior than by external physical characteristics, but there are statistical differences, particularly between the tribal Arabs and the mountain Berbers.

According to Carleton S. Coon the Arabs of Morocco tend to be darker-skinned, less frequently light-eyed, more negroid by appearance and rarely blond. Compared to the Berbers, fewer have broad faces and more have convex nasal profiles.

The highest frequencies of L-mtDNA in Moroccan cities is reported for the Moroccan Arabs of the surrounding area of El Jadida at 46%. Harich et al 2010

Frequencies (> 1%) of L-mtDNA

Country Ethnic Group Number tested Reference L-mtDNA%
Morocco Moroccan (Arabs) 81 Harich et al. (2010) 46%
Morocco Moroccan Arabs 56 Turchi et al. (2009) 30.00%

The Andalusians can not be regarded as Arabs in Morocco; mostly they seem to be a mixture of Berbers and local Iberians in the historical context.

A small minority of the population is identified as Haratin and Gnawa, dark-skinned sedentary agriculturalists from the southern and eastern oases that speak either Berber or Moroccan Arabic.

Berber groups


Main article: Culture of Morocco
A Moroccan kaftan

Through Moroccan history, the country had many cultural influences (Europe, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa). The culture of Morocco shares similar traits with those of neighboring countries, particularly Algeria and Tunisia and to a certain extent Spain.

Each region possesses its own uniqueness, contributing to the national culture. Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its diversity and the preservation of its cultural heritage.

The traditional dress for men and women is called djellaba, a long, loose, hooded garment with full sleeves. For special occasions, men also wear a red cap called a bernousse, more commonly referred to as a fez. Women wear kaftans decorated with ornaments. Nearly all men, and most women, wear balgha (بلغه) —- soft leather slippers with no heel, often dyed yellow. Women also wear high-heeled sandals, often with silver or gold tinsel.

Moroccan style is a new trend in decoration which takes its roots from Moorish architecture; it has been made popular by the vogue of riad renovation in Marrakech. Dar is the name given to one of the most common types of domestic structures in Morocco; it is a home found in a medina, or walled urban area of a city. Most Moroccan homes traditionally adhere to the Dar al-Islam, a series of tenets on Islamic domestic life. Dar exteriors are typically devoid of ornamentation and windows, except occasional small openings in secondary quarters, such as stairways and service areas. These piercings provide light and ventilation.

Moroccan cuisine is home to Berber, Moorish, and Arab influences. It is known for dishes like couscous, pastilla, and others. Spices such as cinnamon are used in Moroccan cooking. Sweets like halwa are popular, as well as other sweets. Cuisines from neighbouring countries also influence the country's culinary traditions.

Moroccan craftsmanship has a rich tradition of jewellery, pottery, leather-work and woodwork.

The music of Morocco ranges and differs according to the various areas of the country. Moroccan music has a variety of styles from complex sophisticated orchestral music to simple music involving only voice and drums. There are three varieties of Berber folk music: village and ritual music, and the music performed by professional musicians. Chaabi (الشعبي) is a music consisting of numerous varieties which descend from the multifarious forms of Moroccan folk music. Chaabi was originally performed in markets, but is now found at any celebration or meeting. Gnawa is a form of music that is mystical. It was gradually brought to Morocco by sub-Saharan Africans and later became part of the Moroccan tradition. Sufi brotherhoods (tarikas) are common in Morocco, and music is an integral part of their spiritual tradition. This music is an attempt at reaching a trance state which inspires mystical ecstasy.


Main article: Languages of Morocco
Linguistic map of Morocco

Morocco's official languages are Classical Arabic and since July 2011, also "Amazigh language" which is a standardized version of the Berber languages.

The majority of the population natively speaks Moroccan-Arabic. More than 12 million Moroccans speak Berber — which exists in Morocco in three different dialects (Riff, Shilha, and Central Atlas Tamazight) — either as a first language or bilingually with Moroccan Arabic.

Hassaniya Arabic is spoken in the southern part of the country. Morocco has recently included the protection of Hassaniya in the constitution as part of the July 2011 reforms.

French is taught universally and still serves as Morocco's primary language of commerce and economics; it is also widely used in education and government.

Spanish is also spoken by some in the northern part of the country as a foreign language. Meanwhile English is increasingly becoming more popular among the educated, particularly in the science fields.

See also


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