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AGADIR (Morocco)

Agadir One of newly independent Morocco's greatest challenges must surely have been the reconstruction of a city totally destroyed by the earthquake of February 1960. The will and determination of a young King, Hassan II, on the throne for scarcely a year, gave reality to the hopes of an entire nation in seeing Agadir reborn form the ashes.

These days it is a fine modern city with a host of excellent hotels, wide avenues, gardens in bright bloom, a magnificent port and a first-rate airport-and, above all, a splendid beach stretching for six kilometres, the air scented by pine, eucalyptus and tamarisk.

Agadir's reputation as a beach resort has spread worldwide. From a cliff-road flanking the hill, the Old Kasbah, dating from the 16th century, overlooks the azure spread of the ocean, the verdant valleys of the Great Souss and the majestic slopes of the Anti-Atlas. Agadir is not only the kingdom's main fishing-port, it is also its first holiday haven, and the city is very much organized around seeing to the comfort of its visitors.

Bathed in sunshine the whole year round, the city offers facilities for sailing, wind surfing, horse-riding, tennis, golf and a host of other sports activities. Those in search of the quiet life may simply lounge in the shade of a eucalyptus, sipping a fresh fruit cocktail.

Perched between the mountainous regions of the Anti-Atlas and the western extreme of the High Atlas, Agadir is a departure point for a variety of marvellous excursions.

To the West lies Taroudant, a medieval town nicknamed "little Marrakesh", with its tawny ramparts, picturesque souks and bustling little cafes beneath the arches of Assarag square.

Tiznit, on the edge of the Sahara at the feet of the Anti-Atlas, lies 90 kilometres south of Agadir-a town famed for its beautiful Berber silver jewellery and its long tradition of fine craftsmen. And then there is Tafraout, a little town nestled in the heart of a great valley, with its delightful pink granite terraces and its pale ochre houses jostling against one another beneath breezes wafting the scents of almond and fig.