The MAGHREB or the BERBER WORLD or BARBARY or BERBERY (Arabic
: المغرب al-Maɣréb; Berber : TAMAZɣA or TAMAZGHA,
ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵗⴰ) is a major region of northern
consists of five main countries:
Tunisia , Libya
Mauritania . As of 2017, the region has a population of about 100
This region geographically includes the disputed territories of
Western Sahara (mostly controlled by Morocco) and the cities of
Ceuta (both controlled by
Spain and claimed by Morocco).
In historical English and European literature, the region was known
Barbary Coast or the
Barbary States, derived from "
Berbers " .
Sometimes it was referred to as the LAND OF THE ATLAS, derived from
Atlas Mountains . In some current Arabic media and literature
it's referred to as the "Greater Maghreb" (Arabic : المغرب
الكبير, al-Maghrib al-Kabīr). In current Berber language
media and literature, the region is known as "Tamazgha" or "Tamazɣa"
which correspond to the English words "Barbary" and "Berbery".
The region is usually defined as much or most of northern Africa
including a large chunk of Africa's
Sahara Desert , excluding
The traditional definition of the region that restricted it to the
Atlas Mountains and the coastal plains of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia,
and Libya, was expanded by the inclusion of
Mauritania and of the
disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Al-Andalus era in
Spain (711–1492), the Maghreb's
inhabitants, the Muslim
Maghrebis , were known as "
Morocco also transliterates into Arabic as "al-Maghreb" (The
Before the establishment of modern nation states in the region during
the 20th century,
Maghreb most commonly referred to a smaller area
Atlas Mountains in the south and the
Mediterranean Sea .
It often also included eastern Libya, but not modern Mauritania. As
recently as the late 19th century it was used to refer to the Western
Mediterranean region of coastal North
Africa in general, and to
Tunisia in particular.
The region was somewhat unified as an independent political entity
during the rule of the Berber kingdom of
Numidia , which was followed
Roman Empire 's rule or influence. That was followed by the
brief invasion of the Germanic
Vandals , the equally brief
re-establishment of a weak Roman rule by the
Byzantine Empire , the
rule of the Islamic
Caliphates under the Umayyads , the Abbasids , and
the Fatimids . The most enduring rule was that of the local Berber
empires of the Almoravids , Almohads , Hammadids , Zirids , Marinids ,
Saadi and Wattasids (to name some of those among the most prominent)
from the 8th to 13th centuries. The
Ottoman Turks ruled the region as
Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and
Libya established the
Maghreb Union in 1989 to promote cooperation and economic integration
in a common market . It was envisioned initially by
Muammar Gaddafi as
a superstate . The union included
Western Sahara implicitly under
Morocco's membership, putting Morocco's long cold war with
a rest. However, this progress was short-lived, and the union is now
frozen. Tensions between
Morocco over Western Sahara
re-emerged strongly, reinforced by the unsolved borderline issue
between the two countries. These two main conflicts have hindered
progress on the union's joint goals and practically made it inactive
as a whole. However, the instability in the region and growing
cross-border security threats revived the calls for regional
cooperation – foreign ministers of the
Arab Maghreb Union declared a
need for coordinated security policy in May 2015 during the 33rd
session of the follow-up committee meeting, which brings back the hope
of some form of cooperation.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Prehistory
* 2.2 Antiquity
* 2.3 Middle Ages
* 2.4 Early modern history
* 2.5 Modern history
* 3 Population
* 4 Religion
* 4.1 Maghrebi traders in Jewish history
* 5 Geography
* 5.1 Ecoregions
* 5.2 Mediterranean
* 5.3 Saharan
* 6 Culture
* 7 Genetics of the
* 8 Economy
Maghreb countries by GDP (PPP)
* 9 Medieval regions
* 10 See also
* 11 Notes and references
* 12 External links
In classical antiquity , the
Maghreb or portions of the region was
known by various toponyms, including
Barbary , Berbery,
Africa , and the Land of the Atlas .
The toponym maghrib is a geographical term that the Muslim Arabs gave
to the region extending from
Alexandria in the east up to the Atlantic
Ocean in the west. Muslim historians and geographers divided the
region into three areas: al-Maghrib al-Adna (the near Maghrib) which
included the lands extending from
Alexandria up to Tarabulus
Tripoli ) in the west; al-Maghrib al-Awsat (the middle
Maghrib) which extended from
Tripoli to Bijaya (
Béjaïa ); and
al-Maghrib al-Aqsa (the far Maghrib) which extended from Tahart
Tiaret ) to the Atlantic Ocean. They disagreed, however, over the
start of the eastern boundary. Certain authors made it extend as far
as the sea of Kulzum (the
Red Sea ) and thus include in the Maghrib
Egypt and the country of Barca .
Ibn Khaldun does not accept this
delimitation, because, he says, the inhabitants of the
Maghreb do not
Egypt and Barca as forming part of their country. The latter
commences only at the province of
Tripoli and encloses the districts
of which the country of the
Berbers was composed in former times.
Later Maghribi writers limit themselves to reproducing with a few
variations in detail, the information of Ibn Khaldun.
As of 2017 the term Maghrib is still used in opposition to Mashriq
in a sense near to that which it had in medieval times, but it also
Morocco when the full al-Maghrib al-Aksa is
abbreviated. Furthermore, the political union of the North African
countries which certain politicians seek is called al-Maghrib al-Kabir
(the grand Maghrib) or al-Maghrib al-Arabi (the Arab Maghrib). The
Berber-lanuage speakers now call this region Tamazɣa or Tamazgha,
which translates to: "Berbery" (land of the Berbers), a term that
has been popularized by
Berberism activists since the second half of
the 20th century.
Maghreb head ornament (Morocco) The Great Mosque of
Kairouan , founded by the Arab general Uqba Ibn Nafi (in 670), is the
oldest mosque in the
Maghreb city of
Prehistoric North Africa
Around 3,500 BC changes in the tilt of the Earth's orbit created a
rapid desertification of the
Sahara and formed a natural barrier that
severely limited contact between the
Maghreb and sub-Saharan
Maghreb or western North
Africa is believed to have been inhabited
Berbers since from at least 10,000 BC.
North Africa during Antiquity and
Partially isolated from the rest of the continent by the Atlas
Mountains and the
Sahara desert, inhabitants of the northern parts of
the Berber world have long had commercial and cultural ties to the
inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries of
Southern Europe and
Western Asia , going back at least to the
Phoenicians in the 1st
millennium BC (the Phoenician colony of
Carthage having been founded,
according to tradition, in what is now
Tunisia circa 800 BC).
Berber coast ports and cities were predominantly constructed by the
Berbers. Later some
Phoenicians and Carthaginians arrived for trade.
The main Berber and Phoenician settlements centered in the Gulf of
Carthage , Utica,
Tunisia ) along the
North African littoral
Pillars of Hercules
Pillars of Hercules and the Libyan coast east of ancient
Cyrenaica . They dominated the trade and intercourse of the Western
Mediterranean for centuries. The
Carthage defeat in the Punic Wars
during 206 BC allowed Rome to establish the
Province of Africa and
control many of these ports and eventually control the entire Maghreb
north of the Atlas Mountains. Rome was greatly helped by the defection
Massinissa and Carthaginian's eastern Numidian Massylii
client-allies. Some of the most mountainous regions such as the
Rif remained outside Rome's control and the pressures put on
Roman Empire by the invading forces of the Barbarian
Spain ) in the 5th-century reduced Roman
control and establishment of the
Vandal Kingdom with its capital at
Carthage in 430 AD. A century later, the Byzantine emperor Justinian I
sent a force under General
Belisarius that succeeded in destroying the
Vandal kingdom; Byzantine rule lasted for 150 years. The Berbers
contested outside-the-area control although after the 640s-700 AD
period the Arabs controlled the entire region.
Umayyad Caliphate ,
Abbasid Caliphate , Idrisid
Almoravid dynasty ,
Almohad Caliphate ,
Hafsid dynasty ,
Marinid dynasty ,
Ziyyanid dynasty , and
The Arabs reached the
Maghreb in early
Umayyad times. Islamic Berber
kingdoms like the Almohads expansion and the spread of Islam
contributed to the development of trans-Saharan trade . While
restricted due to the cost and dangers, the trade was highly
profitable. Commodities traded included such goods as salt, gold,
ivory, and slaves . Arab control over the
Maghreb was quite weak.
Various Islamic variations, such as the Ibadis and the
Shia , were
adopted by some Berbers, often leading to scorning of Caliphal control
in favour of their own interpretation of Islam.
Arabic language and dialects spread slowly without eliminating
Berber, as a result of the invasion of the
Banu Hilal Arabs, unleashed
by the Fatimids in punishment for their
Zirid former Berber clients
who defected and abandoned
Shiism in the 12th century. Throughout this
period, the Berber world most often was divided into three states
roughly corresponding to modern Morocco, western Algeria, and eastern
Tunisia . The region was occasionally briefly unified, as
Almohad Berber empire, and briefly under the Marinids .
EARLY MODERN HISTORY
Barbary Coast ,
Saadi dynasty ,
Alaouite dynasty ,
Algeria , Ottoman
Tunisia , and
1707 map of northwest
Guillaume Delisle , including the
After the Middle Ages, the
Ottoman Empire loosely controlled the area
east of Morocco.
Further information: Spanish
Morocco , Spanish
Sahara , French
Morocco , French
Algeria , French Protectorate of
Tunisia , and Italian
Libya Further information: North African
Campaign (World War I) ,
North African Campaign , and Western Desert
Campaign Further information:
Western Sahara War , Algerian War of
Independence , History of
Algeria since 1962 , History of modern
Tunisia , Kingdom of
Libya , and
Libya under Gaddafi
After the 19th century, areas of the
Maghreb were colonized by France
Spain and later
Today, more than two and a half million Maghrebi immigrants live in
France, many from
Algeria and Morocco. In addition, there are 3
million French of Maghrebi origin (in 1999) (with at least one
grandparent from Algeria,
Morocco or Tunisia). Another estimation
gives a number of six million.
Maghreb is primarily inhabited by peoples of Berber ancestral
Berbers are autochthonous to
Morocco (80%), and
Tunisia (>60%). French, Arab, West African and
Jewish populations also inhabit the region.
Maghreb population was 1/8th of
France in 1800, 1/4th in 1900 and
par in 2000. The
Maghreb is home to 1% of the global population as of
Various other influences are also prominent throughout the Maghreb.
In northern coastal towns, in particular, several waves of European
immigrants influenced the population in the Medieval era. Most notable
were the moriscos and muladies , that is, the indigenous Spaniards
(Moors) who forcibly converted to Catholicism and later to be
expelled, together with ethnic Arab and Berber Muslims, from the
Reconquista . Other European contributions included
French, Italians, and others captured by the corsairs .
Maghreb was home to significant Jewish communities
Maghrebim who predated the 7th-century introduction and
conversion of the region to Islam. These were later augmented by Jews
Spain who, fleeing the Spanish
Catholic Inquisition, established
a presence in North Africa, chiefly in the urban trading centers. Many
Spain emigrated to
North America in the early 19th century
France and Israel later in the 20th century.
Another significant group are Turks who came over with the expansion
Ottoman Empire . A large Turkish descended population exists,
Tunisia and Algeria.
Sub-Saharan Africans joined the population mix during centuries of
trans-Saharan trade . Traders and slaves went to the
Maghreb from the
Sahel region. On the Saharan southern edge of the
Maghreb are small
communities of black populations, sometimes called
Haratine , who are
apparently descended from black populations who inhabited the Sahara
during its last wet period and then migrated north.
Algeria especially, a large European minority, the "pied noirs ",
immigrated and settled under French colonial rule in late 19th
century. The overwhelming majority of these, however, left Algeria
during and following the war for independence.
The mausoleum of
The original religions of the peoples of the
Maghreb seem to have
been based and related with fertility cults of a strong matriarchal
pantheon , given the social and linguistic structures of the Amazigh
cultures antedating all Egyptian and eastern, Asian, northern
Mediterranean, and European influences.
Historic records of religion in the
Maghreb region show its gradual
inclusion in the Classical World, with coastal colonies established
first by Phoenicians, some Greeks, and later extensive conquest and
colonization by the Romans. By the 2nd century of the common era, the
area had become a center of Phoenician-speaking Christianity, where
bishops spoke and wrote in Punic, and even Emperor Septimius Severus
was noted by his local accent. Roman settlers and Romanized
populations converted to Christianity. The region produced figures
such as Christian Church writer
Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 202); and
Christian Church martyrs or leading figures such as
Felicity (martyrs, c. 200 CE); St.
Carthage (+ 258); St.
Monica ; her son the philosopher
St. Augustine , Bishop of Hippo I (+
430) (1); and St. Julia of
Carthage (5th century).
The domination of Christianity ended when Arab invasions brought
Islam in 647.
Carthage fell in 698 and the remainder of the region
followed in subsequent decades. Gradual Islamization proceeded,
although surviving letters showed correspondence from regional
Christians to Rome up until the 12th century. Christianity was still a
living faith. Although there were a fair number of conversions after
the conquest Muslims did not become a majority until some time late in
the 9th century and became vast majority during the 10th (Staying
Roman, Jonathan Conant, pp. 362–368, 2012). Christian bishoprics and
dioceses continued to be active, with relations continuing with Rome.
As late as Pope
Benedict VII (974-983) reign, a new Archbishop of
Carthage was consecrated. Evidence of Christianity in the region then
faded through the 10th century. However, by the end of the 11th
century only two bishops were left in
Carthage and Hippo Regius. Pope
Gregory VII, 1073–85, consecrated a new bishop for Hippo.
Christianty seems to have suffered several shocks that lead to its
demise. First many upper-class urban-swelling Latin-speaking
Christians left for
Europe after the Muslim conquest. The second were
large scale conversions to
Islam in the 9th century. Many Christians
of a much reduced community left in the mid-11th century. Finally the
small remnant were evacuated to Sicily in the 12th by the Normans. The
Latin-African language lingered on a while longer.
From the end of the 7th century the region's peoples began their
total conversion to
Islam which took more than 400 years. There is a
small but thriving Jewish community, as well as a small Christian
community. Most Muslims follow the
Maliki school. Small Ibadi
communities remain in some areas. A strong tradition of venerating
marabouts and saints' tombs is found throughout regions inhabited by
Berbers. Any map of the region demonstrates the tradition by the
proliferation of "
Sidi "s, showing places named after the marabouts.
Like some other religious traditions, this has substantially decreased
over the 20th century. A network of zaouias traditionally helped
proliferate basic literacy and knowledge of
Islam in rural regions.
Christian family from
There are communities of
Roman Catholics and
Mauritania (6,500), Morocco
Libya (170,000), and
Tunisia (25,000). Most of the Roman
Catholics in Greater
Maghreb are of French , Spanish, and Italian
descent who immigrated during the colonial era, while some are foreign
missionaries or immigrant worker. There is also a Christian
communities of Berber or Arab descent in Greater
mostly converted during the modern era or under and after French
colonialism . Prior to independence,
Algeria was home to 1.4 million
Catholic ), and
Morocco was home to half a million
Europeans , and
Tunisia was home to 255,000
Europeans , and Libya
was home to 145,000
Europeans . In religion, most of pieds-noirs in
Maghreb are Roman
Christians . Due to the exodus of the
pieds-noirs in the 1960s there are more
Berber or Arab descent live in
France than in Greater Maghreb.
Protestant community of Berber or Arab descent has
experienced significant growth, and conversions to Christianity,
Evangelicalism , is common in
Algeria , especially in
Tunisia . A 2015 study estimates 380,000
Muslims converted to Christianity in
Algeria . The number of the
Moroccans who converted to Christianity (most of them secret
worshippers) are estimated between 40,000 -150,000. International
Religious Freedom Report for 2007 estimates thousands of Tunisian
Muslims who convert to Christianity . A 2015 study estimate some
1,500 believers in Christ from a Muslim background living in the
MAGHREBI TRADERS IN JEWISH HISTORY
In the 10th century, as the social and political environment in
Baghdad became increasingly hostile to Jews, some Jewish traders
emigrated to the Maghreb, especially
Kairouan in Tunisia. Over the
following two or three centuries, such Jewish traders became known as
the Maghribis, a distinctive social group who traveled throughout the
Mediterranean world. They passed this identification on from father to
son. Their tight-knit pan-
Maghreb community had the ability to use
social sanctions as a credible alternative to legal recourse, which
was weak at the time anyway. This unique institutional alternative
permitted the Maghribis to very successfully participate in
Maghreb is divided into a
Mediterranean climate region in the
north, and the arid
Sahara in the south. The Maghreb's variations in
elevation, rainfall, temperature, and soils give rise to distinct
communities of plants and animals. The World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) identifies several distinct ecoregions in the Maghreb.
Dwarf fan palm , grown in
The portions of the
Maghreb between the
Atlas Mountains and the
Mediterranean Sea , along with coastal
Libya, are home to
Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub . These
ecoregions share many species of plants and animals with other
Mediterranean Basin . The southern extent of the
Maghreb corresponds with the 100 mm isohyet , or the
southern range of the European
Olive (Olea europea) and
* Mediterranean acacia-argania dry woodlands and succulent thickets
(Morocco, Canary Islands (Spain), Western Sahara)
Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe
Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe (Algeria, Egypt, Libya,
Mediterranean woodlands and forests
Mediterranean woodlands and forests (Algeria, Libya, Morocco,
Mediterranean conifer and mixed forests (Algeria, Morocco,
* Mediterranean High Atlas juniper steppe (Morocco)
Sahara extends across northern
Africa from the
Atlantic Ocean to
the Red Sea. Its central part is hyper-arid and supports little plant
or animal life, but the northern portion of the desert receives
occasional winter rains, while the strip along the Atlantic coast
receives moisture from marine fog, which nourishes a greater variety
of plants and animals. The northern edge of the
Sahara corresponds to
the 100 mm isohyet, which is also the northern range of the date palm
North Saharan steppe and woodlands : This ecoregion lies along the
northern edge of the Sahara, next to the Mediterranean forests,
woodlands, and scrub ecoregions of the Mediterranean
Cyrenaica. Winter rains sustain shrublands and dry woodlands that form
a transition between the
Mediterranean climate regions to the north
and the hyper-arid
Sahara proper to the south. It covers 1,675,300
square km (646,800 square miles) in
Tunisia , and Western Sahara.
Atlantic coastal desert
Atlantic coastal desert : The
Atlantic coastal desert
Atlantic coastal desert occupies a
narrow strip along the Atlantic coast, where fog generated offshore by
Canary Current provides sufficient moisture to sustain a
variety of lichens , succulents , and shrubs. It covers 39,900 square
kilometres (15,400 sq mi) in
Western Sahara and
Sahara desert : This ecoregion covers the hyper-arid central
portion of the
Sahara where rainfall is minimal and sporadic.
Vegetation is rare, and this ecoregion consists mostly of sand dunes
(erg ), stone plateaus (hamada ), gravel plains (reg ), dry valleys
(wadi ), and salt flats. It covers 4,639,900 square km (1,791,500
square miles) of Algeria,
Chad , Egypt, Libya,
Mali , Mauritania,
Niger , and
* Saharan halophytics : Seasonally flooded saline depressions in the
Maghreb are home to halophytic , or salt-adapted, plant communities.
The Saharan halophytics cover 54,000 square km (20,800 square miles),
Tunisian salt lakes
Tunisian salt lakes of central Tunisia,
Chott Melghir in
Algeria, and other areas of Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania, and Western
Traditional Maghrebi cuisine Further information: Moroccan
cuisine Further information:
Algerian cuisine Further information:
The countries of the
Maghreb share many cultural traditions. Among
these is a culinary tradition that
Habib Bourguiba defined as Western
Arab, where couscous is the staple food, as opposed to Eastern Arab
where white rice is the staple food. In terms of food, similarities
beyond the starches are found throughout the Arab world.
GENETICS OF THE MAGHREB POPULATION
The Y-chromosome genetic structure of the
Maghreb population seems to
be mainly modulated by geography, The Y-DNA Haplogroups E1b1b and J
make up the vast majority of the genetic markers of the populations of
the Maghreb. Haplogroup E1b1b is the most widespread among Maghrebi
groups, especially the downstream lineage of E1b1b1b1a , which is
typical of the indigenous
Berbers of North-West Africa. Haplogroup J
is more indicative of
Middle East origins, and has its highest
distribution among populations in Arabia and the Levant. Due to the
E-M81 (E1b1b1b1a), which has reached its highest
documented levels in the world at 95-100% in some populations of the
Maghreb, it has often been termed the "Berber marker" in the
scientific literature. The second most common marker, Haplogroup J
especially J1 which is typically Middle Eastern and originates in
the Arabian peninsula can reach frequencies of up to 35% in the
region. Its highest density is founded in the
Arabian Peninsula .
Haplogroup R1 , which is a Eurasian marker has also been observed in
the Maghreb, though with lower frequency. The Y-DNA Haplogroups shown
above are observed in both Arabs and Berber-speakers.
Y chromosome pool (including both Arab and Berber
populations) may be summarized for most of the populations as follows
where only two haplogroups E1b1b and J comprise generally more than
80% of the total chromosomes:
MAGHREB COUNTRIES BY GDP (PPP)
LIST BY THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (2013)
LIST BY THE WORLD BANK (2013)
LIST BY THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK (2013)
Tunisia , East
Algeria and West
* Draa Valley
Maghreb al-Awsat (Central
Maghreb - currently Northern Algeria)
Maghreb al-Aqsa (Western
Maghreb - currently Morocco)
Maghreb al-Adna (Eastern
Maghreb - currently
Libya and Tunisia)
* Francophonie portal
Arab Maghreb Union
* History of
* History of
* History of
* History of
* History of
* History of
Plazas de soberanía
Plazas de soberanía
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