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NORTH AFRICA is a collective term for a group of Mediterranean countries situated in the northern-most region of the African continent . The term "North Africa" has no single accepted definition. It is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Morocco
Morocco
in the west, to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea
Red Sea
in the east. Others have limited it to the countries of Morocco
Morocco
, Algeria
Algeria
, Libya
Libya
, and Tunisia
Tunisia
, a region known by the French during colonial times as “Afrique du Nord” and by the Arabs as the Maghreb (“West”). The most commonly accepted definition includes Morocco
Morocco
, Algeria
Algeria
, and Tunisia
Tunisia
, as well as Libya
Libya
and Egypt
Egypt
. It is important to note that the term “North Africa”, particularly when used in North Africa and the Middle East, often refers only to the countries of the Maghreb and Libya. Egypt, due to its greater Middle Eastern
Middle Eastern
associations, is often considered separately.

The countries of North Africa
Africa
share a common ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity that is unique to this region. North west Africa has been inhabited by Berbers since the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa
Africa
has been home to the Egyptians . Following the Muslim
Muslim
conquest in the seventh century C.E., the region underwent a process of Arabization and Islamization that has defined its cultural landscape ever since.

The distinction between North Africa
Africa
and Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa
is historically and ecologically significant because of the effective barrier created by the Sahara
Sahara
Desert for much of modern history. From 3500 BC, following the abrupt desertification of the Sahara
Sahara
due to gradual changes in the Earth's orbit, this barrier has culturally separated the North from the rest of the continent. As the seafaring civilizations of the Phoenicians , Greeks , Romans , Muslims and others facilitated communication and migration across the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
Sea , the cultures of North Africa
Africa
became much more closely tied to Southwestern Asia and Europe
Europe
than Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islamic influence in the area is also significant, and North Africa
Africa
is a major part of the Muslim world .

Some researchers have postulated that North Africa
Africa
rather than East Africa
Africa
served as the exit point for the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent in the Out of Africa
Africa
migration.

CONTENTS

* 1 Geography * 2 Countries, territories and regions * 3 People * 4 Culture

* 5 History

* 5.1 Early history * 5.2 Antiquity and ancient Rome
Rome
* 5.3 Arab conquest to modern times

* 6 Transport and industry * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 External links

GEOGRAPHY

The Atlas Mountains extend across much of Morocco
Morocco
, northern Algeria and Tunisia
Tunisia
, are part of the fold mountain system that also runs through much of Southern Europe . They recede to the south and east, becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara
Sahara
desert, which covers more than 75 percent of the region. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock , some of which is more than four billion years old. North Africa, consisting of the Sahara
Sahara
and north, in the northern red climatic zone and northwards

Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains , the Nile
Nile
Valley and Delta , and the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
coast are the main sources of fertile farming land. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals, rice and cotton, and woods such as cedar and cork, are grown. Typical Mediterranean
Mediterranean
crops, such as olives, figs, dates and citrus fruits, also thrive in these areas. The Nile
Nile
Valley is particularly fertile, and most of the population in Egypt
Egypt
live close to the river. Elsewhere, irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.

COUNTRIES, TERRITORIES AND REGIONS

COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES Area (2016) (km²) POPULATION (2016) Density (2016) (per km²) CAPITAL TOTAL GDP (2016) GDP PER CAPITA (2016) CURRENCY GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

Algeria
Algeria
2,381,740.00 40,606,052.00 17.05 Algiers
Algiers
$160,784 $15,026 Algerian dinar
Algerian dinar
Presidential republic
Presidential republic
Arabic
Arabic
and Berber (both official), French is commonly used

Egypt
Egypt
1,001,450.00 95,688,681.00 96 Cairo
Cairo
$332,349 $12,554 Egyptian pound
Egyptian pound
Semi-presidential republic
Semi-presidential republic
Arabic
Arabic

Libya
Libya
1,759,540.00 6,293,253.00 3.58 Tripoli
Tripoli
$33,157 $8,678 Libyan dinar Provisional authority Arabic
Arabic

Morocco
Morocco
446,550.00 or 710,850 (including the disputed Western Sahara
Sahara
) 35,276,786.00 73.1 Rabat
Rabat
$1103,615 $8,330 Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
Constitutional monarchy Arabic
Arabic
and Berber (both official), French is commonly used

Tunisia
Tunisia
163,610.00 11,403,248.00 63 Tunis
Tunis
$141,869 $11,634 Tunisian dinar
Tunisian dinar
Parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
Arabic
Arabic
, French is commonly used.

SOURCE:

* The World Bank
The World Bank

PEOPLE

Main articles: North African Arabs , Arabs , Maghrebis
Maghrebis
, Berbers , and Nubians
Nubians
Beduin
Beduin
women in Tunisia
Tunisia

The inhabitants of North Africa
Africa
are roughly divided in a manner corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb , the Nile
Nile
valley, and the Sahel
Sahel
. The Maghreb or western North Africa
Africa
on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers since at least 10,000 B.C., while the eastern part of North Africa
Africa
or the Nile
Nile
Valley has mainly been home to the Egyptians . The edge of the Sahel, to the south of Egypt
Egypt
has mainly been inhabited by Nubians. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with people that appear to have been Berber or proto-Berber, as well as Nubians
Nubians
from the south. As the Tassili n\'Ajjer and other rock art findings in the Sahara
Sahara
have shown, the Sahara
Sahara
also hosted various populations before its rapid desertification in 3500 B.C and even today continues to host small populations of nomadic trans-Saharan peoples .

In the eleventh century, the Banu Hilal
Banu Hilal
invaded the North African plains and plateaus, but not the mountains ( Rif
Rif
, Kabylie
Kabylie
or Aures ) and brought with them Hilalian dialects of Arabic
Arabic
, which over the centuries have been in significant contact with other languages, including the languages of Europe
Europe
. They have contributed to the Arabized Berber populations.

The official language or one of the official languages in all of the countries in North Africa
Africa
is Arabic. Today, the largest ethnic groups in North Africa
Africa
are Arabs , Berbers and West Africas . The region is predominantly Muslim
Muslim
with a Jewish minority in Morocco
Morocco
and Tunisia
Tunisia
and significant Christian minority—the Copts
Copts
—in Egypt
Egypt
, Algeria
Algeria
, Morocco
Morocco
and Tunisia
Tunisia
.

CULTURE

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Main article: Culture of North Africa
Africa
Market of Biskra
Biskra
in Algeria, 1899

The people of the Maghreb and the Sahara
Sahara
regions speak Berber languages and several varieties of Arabic
Arabic
and almost exclusively follow Islam. The Arabic
Arabic
and Berber languages are distantly related, both being members of the Afroasiatic language family . The Tuareg Berber languages are notably more conservative than those of the coastal cities.

Over the years, Berbers have been influenced by contact with other cultures: Greeks , Phoenicians , Egyptians , Romans , Vandals , Arabs, Europeans and native Africans . The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara
Sahara
therefore combine indigenous Berber, Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Africa
Africa
and beyond. In the Sahara, the distinction between sedentary oasis inhabitants and nomadic Bedouins and Tuaregs is particularly marked. The kasbah of Aït Benhaddou
Aït Benhaddou
in Morocco
Morocco

The diverse peoples of the Sahara
Sahara
are usually categorized along ethno-linguistic lines. In the Maghreb, where Arab and Berber identities are often integrated, these lines can be blurred. Some Berber-speaking North Africans may identify as "Arab" depending on the social and political circumstances, although substantial numbers of Berbers (or Amazighen) have retained a distinct cultural identity which in the 20th century has been expressed as a clear ethnic identification with Berber history and language. Arabic-speaking Northwest Africans, regardless of ethnic background, often identify with Arab history and culture and may share a common vision with other Arabs. This, however, may or may not exclude pride in and identification with Berber and/or other parts of their heritage. Berber political and cultural activists for their part, often referred to as Berberists , may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber, whether they are primarily Berber- or Arabic-speaking.

Egyptians over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian (in its late form, varieties of Coptic ) to modern Egyptian Arabic
Arabic
while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslim
Muslim
, although there is a significant minority of Copts.

The Maghreb formerly had a significant Jewish population, almost all of whom emigrated to France or Israel
Israel
when the North African nations gained independence. Prior to the modern establishment of Israel, there were about 600,000-700,000 Jews
Jews
in Northern Africa, including both Sephardi Jews
Jews
(refugees from France, Spain
Spain
and Portugal
Portugal
from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous Mizrahi Jews
Jews
. Today, less than fifteen thousand remain in the region, almost all in Morocco
Morocco
and Tunisia, and are mostly part of a French-speaking urban elite. (See Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim
Muslim
countries .)

HISTORY

Main articles: Prehistoric North Africa
Africa
and History of North Africa
Africa

EARLY HISTORY

Due to the recent African origin of modern humans, the history of Prehistoric North Africa
Africa
is important to the understanding of pre-hominid and early modern human history in Africa. The earliest inhabitants of central North Africa
Africa
have left behind significant remains: early remnants of hominid occupation in North Africa, for example, were found in Ain el Hanech, near Saïda (c. 200,000 BCE); in fact, more recent investigations have found signs of Oldowan technology there, and indicate a date of up to 1.8 million BC.

The cave paintings found at Tassili n'Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset, Algeria, and at other locations depict vibrant and vivid scenes of everyday life in central North Africa
Africa
during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (about 8000 to 4000 BCE). Some parts of North Africa
Africa
began to participate in the Neolithic revolution in the 6th millennium BC, just before the rapid desertification of the Sahara
Sahara
around 3500 B.C. due to a tilt in the Earth's orbit.

While Egypt
Egypt
and Sudan
Sudan
due to the early civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Nubia
Nubia
entered historicity by the Bronze Age, the Maghreb remained in the prehistoric period longer. Some Phoenician and Greek colonies were established along the Mediterranean
Mediterranean
coast during the 7th century BC.

ANTIQUITY AND ANCIENT ROME

The first Roman emperor native to North Africa
Africa
was Septimius Severus , born in Leptis Magna in present-day Libya.

The most notable nations of antiquity in western North Africa
Africa
are Carthage
Carthage
and Numidia . The Phoenicians colonized much of North Africa including Carthage
Carthage
and parts of present-day Morocco
Morocco
(including Chellah , Essaouira
Essaouira
and Volubilis
Volubilis
). The Carthaginians were of Phoenician origin, with the Roman myth of their origin being that Dido
Dido
, a Phoenician princess, was granted land by a local ruler based on how much land she could cover with a piece of cowhide. She ingeniously devised a method to extend the cowhide to a high proportion, thus gaining a large territory. She was also rejected by the Trojan prince Aeneas
Aeneas
according to Virgil
Virgil
, thus creating a historical enmity between Carthage
Carthage
and Rome
Rome
, as Aeneas
Aeneas
would eventually lay the foundations for Rome. Ancient Carthage
Carthage
was a commercial power and had a strong navy, but relied on mercenaries for land soldiers. The Carthaginians developed an empire in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily , the latter being the cause of First Punic War
First Punic War
with the Romans .

Over a hundred years and more, all Carthaginian territory was eventually conquered by the Romans, resulting in the Carthaginian North African territories becoming the Roman province of Africa
Africa
in 146 B.C. This led to tension and eventually conflict between Numidia and Rome. The Numidian wars are notable for launching the careers of both Gaius Marius , and Sulla
Sulla
, and stretching the constitutional burden of the Roman republic, as Marius required a professional army, something previously contrary to Roman values to overcome the talented military leader Jugurtha .

North Africa
Africa
remained a part of the Roman Empire, which produced many notable citizens such as Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
, until incompetent leadership from Roman commanders in the early fifth century allowed the Germanic peoples , the Vandals , to cross the Strait of Gibraltar , whereupon they overcame the fickle Roman defense. The loss of North Africa
Africa
is considered a pinnacle point in the fall of the Western Roman Empire as Africa
Africa
had previously been an important grain province that maintained Roman prosperity despite the barbarian incursions, and the wealth required to create new armies. The issue of regaining North Africa
Africa
became paramount to the Western Empire, but was frustrated by Vandal victories. The focus of Roman energy had to be on the emerging threat of the Huns . In 468 AD, the Romans made one last serious attempt to invade North Africa
Africa
but were repelled. This perhaps marks the point of terminal decline for the Western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
. The last Roman emperor was deposed in 476 by the Heruli general Odoacer
Odoacer
. Trade routes between Europe
Europe
and North Africa
Africa
remained intact until the coming of Islam. Some Berbers were members of the Early African Church (but evolved their own Donatist doctrine ), some were Berber Jews
Jews
, and some adhered to traditional Berber religion . African pope
African pope
Victor I served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus

ARAB CONQUEST TO MODERN TIMES

The Great Mosque of Kairouan
Great Mosque of Kairouan
, founded by Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi in 670, is the oldest and most important mosque in North Africa; city of Kairouan
Kairouan
, Tunisia
Tunisia
.

The early Muslim
Muslim
conquests included North Africa
Africa
by 640. By 670, most of North Africa
Africa
had come under Muslim
Muslim
rule. Indigenous Berbers subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as Fez and Sijilmasa
Sijilmasa
. In the eleventh century, a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves the Almoravid dynasty expanded south into Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa
.

North Africa's populous and flourishing civilization collapsed after exhausting its resources in internal fighting and suffering devastation from the invasion of the Banu Sulaym and Banu Hilal
Banu Hilal
. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal
Banu Hilal
invaders had become completely arid desert. 1803 Cedid Atlas
Cedid Atlas
, showing the Ottoman held regions of North Africa
Africa

After the Middle Ages the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
, except Morocco
Morocco
. The Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
conquered several coastal cities between the 16th and 18th centuries. After the 19th century, the imperial and colonial presence of France , the United Kingdom , Spain
Spain
and Italy
Italy
left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation.

In World War
War
II from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign
North African Campaign
. During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained independence. There remains a dispute over Western Sahara
Sahara
between Morocco
Morocco
and the Algerian -backed Polisario Front .

In 2010 - 2011 massive protests swept the region leading to the overthrow of the governments in Tunisia
Tunisia
and Egypt, as well as civil war in Libya. Large protests also occurred in Algeria
Algeria
and Morocco
Morocco
to a lesser extent. Many hundreds died in the uprisings.

TRANSPORT AND INDUSTRY

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Thousands of people in North Africa
Africa
depend on date palm trees for a living. Tunisia
Tunisia
in 1960

The economies of Algeria
Algeria
and Libya
Libya
were transformed by the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the deserts. Morocco
Morocco
's major exports are phosphates and agricultural produce, and as in Egypt
Egypt
and Tunisia
Tunisia
, the tourist industry is essential to the economy. Egypt
Egypt
has the most varied industrial base, importing technology to develop electronics and engineering industries, and maintaining the reputation of its high-quality cotton textiles.

Oil rigs are scattered throughout the deserts of Libya
Libya
and Algeria
Algeria
. Libyan oil is especially prized because of its low sulfur content, which means it produces much less pollution than other fuel oils.

SEE ALSO

* Geography portal * Africa
Africa
portal

* European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World * Sudan
Sudan
Military
Military
Railroad * List of modern conflicts in North Africa
Africa

NOTES

* ^ A B "Sahara\'s Abrupt Desertification
Desertification
Started by Changes in Earth\'s Orbit, Accelerated by Atmospheric and Vegetation Feedbacks". Science Daily. 1999-07-12. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. * ^ Was North Africa
Africa
the Launch Pad for Modern Human Migrations? Michael Balter, science 7 January 2011: 331 (6013), 20-23. doi :10.1126/science.331.6013.20 * ^ A Revised Root for the Human Y Chromosomal Phylogenetic Tree: The Origin of Patrilineal Diversity in Africa. Fulvio Cruciani, Beniamino Trombetta, Andrea Massaia, Giovanni Destro-Bisol, Daniele Sellitto, Rosaria Scozzari, The American Journal of Human Genetics - 19 May 2011 * ^ Earliest evidence of modern human life history in North African early Homo sapiens, Tanya M. Smith, Paul Tafforeau, Donald J. Reid, Rainer Grün, Stephen Eggins, Mohamed Boutakiout, Jean-Jacques Hublin, doi :10.1073/pnas.0700747104 PNAS April 10, 2007 vol. 104 no. 15 6128-6133 * ^ "World Economic Outlook Database". International Monetary Fund . 18 April 2017. * ^ World Economic Outlook Database, April 2016, International Monetary Fund. Database updated on 12 April 2016. Accessed on 14 April 2016. * ^ "The World Bank". The World Bank
The World Bank
. 12 October 2017. * ^ Hsain Ilahiane, Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen)(2006), p. 112 * ^ *(in French) Sadek Lekdja, Christianity in Kabylie, Radio France Internationale, 7 mai 2001 * ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld - Morocco: General situation of Muslims who converted to Christianity, and specifically those who converted to Catholicism; their treatment by Islamists and the authorities, including state protection (2008-2011)". * ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin (2003). The Encyclopedia of Christianity: J-O. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-2415-8 . * ^ Sahnouni 1998 * ^ C. Michael Hogan (December 18, 2007). " Volubilis
Volubilis
- Ancient Village or Settlement in Morocco". The Megalithic Portal. Retrieved 2010-05-23. * ^ The Punic Wars 264-146 BC, by Nigel Bagnall * ^ Sallust , De Bello Iugurthino * ^ The Berbers BBC World Service: The Story of Africa * ^ Küng, Hans (2006). Tracing The Way: Spiritual Dimensions of the World Religions. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-8264-9423-8 . , page 248 * ^ Populations Crises and Population Cycles,