The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham which is composed of 100 centimes. Notes are available in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 25, 20, and (very rarely) 10 Dhs. Coins are available in denominations of 10, 5, 2, and 1 Dhs and 50, 20, 10, and 5 centimes. Current exchange rates can be checked at http://www.xe.com/ucc
Advise your bank or card issuer that you intend to travel abroad so that no block will be put on your credit or ATM cards. Memorize the PIN for your credit cards as they may be required for certain transactions.
The official language of Morocco is classical Arabic which is used for official government business, formal occasions, and official documents. Informal everyday conversation in the street and among families at home is in Moroccan Arabic which is called Darija.
- Darija is not a written language as much of Morocco’s culture is bound by an oral tradition.
- Darija expresses Morocco’s amazing cultural diversity with words taken from French, Arabic, and the Berber language, Tamazigh.
- In southern Morocco it is not unusual to hear people mixing Darija with Tamazigh in conversation.
- Hassaniya is spoken by 7% of the population, mainly in the southern regions and in Morocco’s Western Sahara. Communities of Hassaniya speakers exist elsewhere in Morocco too, especially in the metropolitan areas off Agadir, Marrakesh, Rabat, and Casablanca.
The Moroccan government has recently talked of having Darija taught in University and made an official language. Learning a few words and phrases in Darija will pay dividends when you talk to Moroccans. The Lonely Planet Moroccan Arabic phrasebook is a good starting point.
Amazingly, the Berber language spoken by 60% of the Moroccan population and is divided into three dialects.
- Tashelhit is spoken by residents of the Anti‐Atlas Mountains in central Morocco and Tuareg in the Sahara. The Tashelhit language is considered to be the most widely spoken as it covers the whole of the Region Souss-Mass-Draa and is also spoken in the Marrakech-Tesift-El-Haouz and Tadla-Azilal regions.
- Tamazigh is the second Berber language in Morocco. The language is most used in the regions of the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas, and the east High Atlas Mountains.
- Tarifit is spoken among inhabitants of the Rif Mountains.
French is widely spoken by the middle classes, is the language of commerce, and is widely taught in schools and universities. Although less common in rural areas, French is likely to remain widespread as French commercial interests in Morocco remain extensive and France is the closest ally of the Kingdom. Spanish is also spoken and understood in the north of Morocco which was part of the Spanish protectorate and also in the deep south of Morocco where the Spanish protectorate also operated until 1957. The use of English has greatly increased in recent years especially in the tourism industry due to an increasing American presence with American schools, USAID, and the British Council. English is now being taught at primary school level, but is not yet as widely used as French or Spanish.