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North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of
Mauritania Mauritania (; ar, موريتانيا, ', french: Mauritanie; Berber languages, Berber: ''Agawej'' or ''Cengit''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: ''Moritani''; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Gànnaar''; Soninke language, Soninke: ''Murutaane''), officially ...

Mauritania
in the west, to
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
's
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
and the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
in the east. Varying sources limit it to the countries of
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
,
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
,
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
, and
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
, a region that was known by the French during colonial times as "Afrique du Nord" and is known by Arabs as the
Maghreb The Maghreb (; ar, المغرب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world. The region includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania (also considered part of West Africa), Morocco and ...

Maghreb
("West", ''The western part of Arab World''). The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
definition includes
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
,
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
,
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
,
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
, and the
Western Sahara Western Sahara ( '; ; ) is a disputed territory Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a com ...

Western Sahara
, the territory
disputed Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a composite of ''controversus'' – "turned in an opposite di ...
between
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
and the Sahrawi Republic. The
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organiza ...

African Union
definition includes the
Western Sahara Western Sahara ( '; ; ) is a disputed territory Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a com ...

Western Sahara
and
Mauritania Mauritania (; ar, موريتانيا, ', french: Mauritanie; Berber languages, Berber: ''Agawej'' or ''Cengit''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: ''Moritani''; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Gànnaar''; Soninke language, Soninke: ''Murutaane''), officially ...

Mauritania
but not
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
. When used in the term Middle East and North Africa (
MENA MENA is an English-language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading language of intern ...

MENA
), it often refers only to the countries of the Maghreb. North Africa includes the Spanish possessions of
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ber, Sebta, script=Latn; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other pl ...

Ceuta
,
Melilla Melilla ( , ; ; ber, Mrich / Mlilt; ar, مليلية ) is an of located on the northwest coast of Africa, sharing with . It has an area of . One of two Spanish autonomous cities in mainland Africa together with , it was part of the until ...

Melilla
and
plazas de soberanía The ''plazas de soberanía'' (, lit. "strongholds of sovereignty") is a term describing a series of Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language ...
and can also be considered to include other Spanish, Portuguese and Italian possessions such as
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
,
Madeira Madeira ( , , ), officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira ( pt, Região Autónoma da Madeira), is one of the two autonomous Regions of Portugal, autonomous regions of Portugal, the other being the Azores. It is an archipelago situated in t ...

Madeira
,
Lampedusa Lampedusa (; scn, Lampidusa ; grc, Λοπαδοῦσσα, Lopadoussa) is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Medite ...

Lampedusa
and
Lampione Lampione (; scn, Lampiuni, en, Lantern) is a small rocky island located in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: ...

Lampione
. The countries of North Africa share a common ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity with the Middle East or
West Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hem ...
that is unique to this region as compared to
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
. Northwest Africa has been inhabited by
Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, the Canary Islands, and to a lesser ...

Berbers
since the beginning of
recorded history Recorded history or written history is a historical narrative History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the History of writin ...
, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
. Between the A.D. 600s and 1000s, Arabs from the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
swept across the region in a wave of
Muslim conquest The early Muslim conquests ( ar, الفتوحات الإسلامية, ''al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya''), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began with the Islamic prophet Prophets in Islam ( ar, الأن ...
. These peoples formed a single population in many areas, as Berbers and Egyptians merged into
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and
Muslim culture Islamic culture and Muslim culture refer to cultural practices common to historically Islamic people. The early forms of Muslim culture, from the Rashidun Caliphate to early Umayyad period and early Abbasid period, were predominantly Arab, Byzantin ...
. This process of Arabization and Islamization has defined the cultural landscape of North Africa ever since. The distinction between North Africa, the
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
and the rest of the
continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...

continent
is as follows: The
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
or "African Transition Zone" has been affected by many formative epochs in North African history ranging from the
Ancient Roman In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC ...
colonization, the subsequent
Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, : , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an mainly inhabiting the . In modern usage the term refers to those who originate from an Arab co ...

Arab
expansion, to the
Ottoman Ottoman is the Turkish spelling of the Arabic masculine given name Uthman (name), Uthman (Arabic: عُثْمان ''‘uthmān''). It may refer to: Governments and dynasties * Ottoman Caliphate, an Islamic caliphate from 1517 to 1924 * Ottoman Empi ...
occupation. As a result, many modern African
nation-states A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
that are included in the Sahel evidence cultural similarities and historical overlap with their North African neighbours. In the present day, North Africa is associated with
West Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hem ...

West Asia
in the realm of
geopolitics Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...
to form a
Middle East-North Africa
Middle East-North Africa
region. The
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
ic influence in the area is also significant, and North Africa is a major part of the
Muslim world The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodne ...

Muslim world
.


Geography

North Africa has three main geographic features: the
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landma ...

Sahara
desert in the south, the
Atlas Mountains The Atlas Mountains ( ar, جِبَال ٱلْأَطْلَس, jibāl al-ʾaṭlas /ʒibaːl al atˤlas/, Tamazight The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifin ...

Atlas Mountains
in the west, and the
Nile River The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile River
and delta in the east. The
Atlas Mountains The Atlas Mountains ( ar, جِبَال ٱلْأَطْلَس, jibāl al-ʾaṭlas /ʒibaːl al atˤlas/, Tamazight The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifin ...

Atlas Mountains
extend across much of northern
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
,
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
and
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
. These mountains are part of the
fold mountain Fold mountains are formed by the effects of folding on layers within the upper part of the Earth's crust. Before the development of the theory of plate tectonics File:Earth cutaway schematic-en.svg, upright=1.35, Diagram of the internal layer ...
system that also runs through much of
Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth a ...

Southern Europe
. They recede to the south and east, becoming a
steppe In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grassland ...

steppe
landscape before meeting the
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landma ...

Sahara
desert, which covers more than 75 percent of the region. The tallest peaks are in the High Atlas range in south-central Morocco, which has many snow-capped peaks. South of the Atlas Mountains is the dry and barren expanse of the
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landma ...

Sahara
desert, which is the largest sand desert in the world. In places the desert is cut by irregular watercourses called wadis—streams that flow only after rainfalls but are usually dry. The Sahara's major landforms include ergs, large seas of sand that sometimes form into huge dunes; the hammada, a level rocky plateau without soil or sand; and the reg, a level plain of gravel or small stones. The Sahara covers the southern part of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and most of Libya. Only two regions of Libya are outside the desert:
Tripolitania Tripolitania ( ar, طرابلس '; Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated ...

Tripolitania
in the northwest and
Cyrenaica Cyrenaica ( ; ar, برقة, Barqah; grc-koi, Κυρηναϊκή παρχία Kurēnaïkḗ parkhíā after the city of Cyrene, Libya, Cyrene) is the eastern coastal region of Libya. Also known as ''Pentapolis'' ("Five Cities") in A ...

Cyrenaica
in the northeast. Most of Egypt is also desert, with the exception of the Nile River and the irrigated land along its banks. The Nile Valley forms a narrow fertile thread that runs along the length of the country. Sheltered valleys in the
Atlas Mountains The Atlas Mountains ( ar, جِبَال ٱلْأَطْلَس, jibāl al-ʾaṭlas /ʒibaːl al atˤlas/, Tamazight The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifin ...

Atlas Mountains
, the Nile Valley and
Delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), the fourth letter of the modern English alphabet * Delta Air Lines, an Ame ...
, and the 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 crops, such as olives, figs, dates and citrus fruits, also thrive in these areas. The Nile Valley is particularly fertile and most of the population in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
live close to the river. Elsewhere, irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.


Key information


People

The inhabitants of North Africa are roughly divided in a manner corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb, the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile
valley, and the
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
. The Maghreb or western North Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by
Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, the Canary Islands, and to a lesser ...

Berbers
since at least 10,000 B.C., while the eastern part of North Africa or the
Nile Valley The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nubi ...

Nile Valley
has mainly been home to the
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with people that appear to have been Berber or proto-Berber. As the
Tassili n'Ajjer Tassili n'Ajjer ( Berber: ''Tassili n Ajjer'', ar, طاسيلي ناجر; "Plateau of rivers") is a national park in the Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continen ...
and other rock art findings in the Sahara have shown, the
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landma ...

Sahara
also hosted various populations before its rapid
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or distu ...
in 3500 B.C and even today continues to host small populations of nomadic trans-Saharan peoples. The migration of the
Banu Hilal The Banu Hilal ( ar, بنو هلال or ) was a confederation of Arabian tribes The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peni ...
and the
Banu Sulaym The Banu Sulaym ( ar, بنو سليم) were an Arabs, Arab tribe that dominated part of the Hejaz in the pre-Islamic Arabia, pre-Islamic era. They maintained close ties with the Quraysh of Mecca and the inhabitants of Medina, and fought in a numbe ...
westward into the Maghreb in the eleventh century introduced Arabic culture and language to the countryside. Historians mark their movement as a critical moment in the Arabization of North Africa. The official languages in the countries making up the Maghreb are Arabic,
Tamazight The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, , ), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related l ...

Tamazight
as a second official language in Algeria and Morocco, and Spanish in Ceuta and Melilla. French is also used as an administrative language in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The most spoken language is
Maghrebi Arabic Maghrebi Arabic (Western Arabic; as opposed to Eastern or Mashriqi Arabic) is a vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The ...
, which is a form of ancient Arabic dating back from the 8th century AD that follows a Berber grammatical and syntactical structure. For the remaining North African countries, the official language is Arabic. The largest ethnic groups in North Africa are
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
,
Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, the Canary Islands, and to a lesser ...

Berbers
are considered the second largest ethnicity in north africa and
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania ...

West Africa
ns are the largest ethnicity in the west and the
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
are a majority also in the east approaching the Middle East. The region is predominantly
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...

Muslim
with a
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
minority in
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
,
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
and
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
, and significant Christian minority—the
Copts The Copts ( cop, ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, translit=niremənkhēmi; ar, الْقِبْط, ) are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group), or simply an ethnoreligion, is a grouping of people who a ...

Copts
—in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
, Morocco and Tunisia. The inhabitants of the Spanish
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
are of mixed Spanish and North African Berber ancestry, and the people of
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
are of primarily Southern Italian/Sicilian, as well as, to a lesser extent, North African and Middle Eastern ancestry and speak a derivative of Arabic. However, these areas are not generally considered part of North Africa, but rather Southern Europe, due to their proximity to mainland Europe and their European-based cultures and religion.


Culture

The people of the Maghreb and the Sahara regions speak
Berber languages The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, , ), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related l ...

Berber languages
and several
varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univer ...
and almost exclusively follow Islam. The Arabic and Berber languages are distantly related, both being members of the
Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and parts of the Sahel. ...

Afroasiatic language family
. The
Tuareg The Tuareg people (; also spelt Twareg or Touareg; endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify ...
Berber languages are notably more conservative than those of the coastal cities. Over the years, Berbers have been influenced by contact with other cultures:
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
,
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...

Greeks
, Punic people,
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
,
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
,
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
,
Europeans Europeans are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various indigenous groups that reside in the List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe, nations of Europe. Groups may be defined by commo ...
and
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
ns. The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combine indigenous Berber, Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Africa and beyond. In the Sahara, the distinction between sedentary
oasis In geography, an oasis (, plural oases, ) is a fertile land in a desert or semi-desert environment.
inhabitants and nomadic
Bedouin The Bedouin, Beduin or Bedu (; , singular ; , singular ) are nomadic Arab Tribes who have historically inhabited the desert regions in the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, Upper Mesopotamia, and North Africa. However, the Arabian Peninsula is th ...

Bedouin
s and
Tuaregs The Tuareg people (; also spelt Twareg or Touareg; endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify ...
is particularly marked. The diverse peoples of North Africa 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 ''Imazighen'') 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 Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
over the centuries have shifted their language from
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
(in its late form, varieties of Coptic) to modern
Egyptian Arabic Egyptian Arabic, locally known as Colloquial Egyptian ( ar, العامية المصرية, ), or simply ''Masri'' (), is the spoken vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people tha ...
while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. Most Egyptians are
Sunni Muslim Sunni Islam () is by far the largest branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, ...
, although there is a significant minority of Coptic Christians. The Maghreb formerly had a significant Jewish population, almost all of whom emigrated to France or
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
when the North African nations gained independence. Prior to the modern establishment of Israel, there were about 600,000–700,000 Jews in Northern Africa, including both
Sephardi Jews Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas ...
(refugees from France, Spain and Portugal from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous
Mizrahi Jews Mizrahi Jews ( he, יהודי המִזְרָח) or ''Mizrahim'' (), also sometimes referred to as Mizrachi (), Edot HaMizrach (; ) or Oriental Jews, are the descendants of the local Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO ...
. Today, less than fifteen thousand remain in the region, almost all in Morocco and Tunisia, and are mostly part of a French-speaking urban elite. (See
Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, or Jewish exodus from Arab countries, was the departure, flight, expulsion, evacuation and migration Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical ...
.)


History


Prehistory

Due to the
recent African origin of modern humans In paleoanthropology Paleoanthropology or paleo-anthropology is a branch of paleontology and biological anthropology, anthropology which seeks to understand the early development of anatomically modern humans, a process known as wikt:hominiza ...
, the history of Prehistoric North Africa is important to the understanding of pre-hominid and early modern human history in Africa. Some researchers have postulated that North Africa rather than
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
served as the exit point for the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent in the
Out of Africa ''Out of Africa'' is a memoir A memoir (; , ) is any nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought, often the manif ...
migration. The earliest inhabitants of central North 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 The Oldowan (or Mode I) was a widespread stone tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of Rock (geology), stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, ...

Oldowan
technology there, and indicate a date of up to 1.8 million BCE. Recent finds in Jebel Irhoud in Morocco have been found to contain some of the oldest ''Homo sapiens'' remains; This suggests that, rather than arising only in
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
around 200,000 years ago, early ''Homo sapiens'' may already have been present across the length of Africa 100,000 years earlier. According to study author Jean-Jacques Hublin, "The idea is that early ''Homo sapiens'' dispersed around the continent and elements of human modernity appeared in different places, and so different parts of Africa contributed to the emergence of what we call modern humans today." Early humans may have comprised a large, interbreeding population dispersed across Africa whose spread was facilitated by a wetter climate that created a "green Sahara", around 330,000 to 300,000 years ago. The rise of modern humans may thus have taken place on a continental scale rather than being confined to a particular corner of Africa. In September 2019, scientists reported the computerized determination, based on 260
CT scan A CT scan or computed tomography scan (formerly known as computed axial tomography or CAT scan) is a medical image, imaging Scientific technique, technique used in radiology to obtain detailed internal images of the body noninvasively for Diagno ...

CT scan
s, of a virtual
skull shape
skull shape
of the last common human ancestor to
modern human Early modern human (EMH) or anatomically modern human (AMH) are terms used to distinguish ''Homo sapiens'' (the only extant Hominina species) that are Human anatomy, anatomically consistent with the Human variability, range of phenotypes seen i ...
s/''H. sapiens'', representative of the earliest modern humans, and suggested that modern humans arose between 260,000 and 350,000 years ago through a merging of populations in East and
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
. 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 during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (about 8000 to 4000 BCE). Some parts of North Africa began to participate in the Neolithic revolution in the 6th millennium BCE, just before the rapid desertification of the Sahara around 3500 B.C. largely due to a tilt in the Earth's orbit. It was during this period that domesticated plants and animals were introduced in the region, spreading from the north and east to the southwest. There has been an inferred connection between areas of rapid drying and the introduction of livestock in which the natural (orbital) aridification was amplified by the spread of shrubs and open land due to grazing. Nevertheless, changes in northern Africa's ecology after 3500 BCE provided the backdrop for the formation of dynastic civilizations and the construction of monumental architecture such as the
Pyramids of Giza The Giza Pyramid Complex, also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Greater Cairo, Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid c ...

Pyramids of Giza
. When Egypt entered the Bronze Age, the Maghreb remained focused on small-scale subsistence in small, highly mobile groups. Some
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
n and
Greek colonies Greek colonization was an organised colonial expansion by the Archaic Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , o ...
were established along the Mediterranean coast during the 7th century BCE.


Antiquity and ancient Rome

The most notable nations of antiquity in western North Africa are
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...

Carthage
,
Numidia Numidia (Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifica ...

Numidia
and
Mauretania Mauretania (; ) is the Latin language, Latin name for a region in the ancient Maghreb. It stretched from central present-day Algeria westwards to the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, covering northern Morocco, and southward to the Atlas Mountains. Its ...

Mauretania
. The Phoenicians colonized much of North Africa including Carthage and parts of present-day Morocco (including
Chellah The Chellah or Shalla ( ber, script=Latn, Sla or ; ar, شالة), is a medieval fortified Muslim necropolis A necropolis (plural necropolises, necropoles, necropoleis, necropoli) is a large, designed cemetery A cemetery, burial ground or gr ...

Chellah
,
Essaouira Essaouira (; ar, الصويرة, aṣ-Ṣawīra; ber, label= Berber, ⵎⵓⴳⴰⴷⵓⵔ, ''Amegdul''; pt, Mogador) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pengu ...

Essaouira
and
Volubilis Volubilis (; ar, وليلي, walīlī; ber, ⵡⵍⵉⵍⵉ, wlili) is a partly excavated Berber-Roman city in Morocco situated near the city of Meknes, and may have been the capital of the Mauretania, kingdom of Mauretania, at least from the ...

Volubilis
). The Carthaginians were of
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
n origin, with the Roman myth of their origin being that
Dido Dido ( ; , ), also known as Elissa ( , ), was the legendary founder and first queen of the Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsAztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is th ...

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 Trojan or Trojans may refer to: * Of or from the ancient city of Troy * Trojan language, the language of the historical Trojans Arts and entertainment Music * ''Les Troyens'' ('The Trojans'), an opera by Berlioz, premiered part 1863, part 1890 ...

Trojan
prince
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from Greek language, Greek: Αἰνείας, ''Aineíās'') was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father ...
according to
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
, thus creating a historical enmity between Carthage and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
, as Aeneas would eventually lay the foundations for Rome.
Ancient Carthage Carthage (; xpu, 𐤒𐤓𐤕𐤟𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕, translit=Qart-ḥadašt, lit=New City; la, Carthāgō) was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
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 The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region ...

Iberian Peninsula
,
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
,
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
and North West
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, the latter being the cause of
First Punic War The First Punic War (264–241 BC) was the first of three wars fought between Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (m ...
with the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
. 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 Proconsularis was a Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and l ...
in 146 B.C. This led to tension and eventually
conflict Conflict may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Conflict'' (1936 film), an American boxing film starring John Wayne * ''Conflict'' (1938 film), a French drama film directed by Léonide Moguy * ''Conflict'' (1945 film), ...

conflict
between
Numidia Numidia (Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifica ...

Numidia
and Rome. The Numidian wars are notable for launching the careers of both
Gaius Marius Gaius Marius (; – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. Victor of the Cimbric and Jugurthine wars, he held the office of consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging t ...
, and
Sulla Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (; 138–78 BC), commonly known as Sulla, was a Roman general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infan ...

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 A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

military
leader
Jugurtha Jugurtha or Jugurthen (Libyco-Berber Tifinagh (; also written in the Berber Latin alphabet; Neo-Tifinaɣ: ; Tuareg Tifinagh: or ) is an abjad An abjad () is a type of writing system in which (in contrast to true alphabets) each symbol or ...

Jugurtha
. Kingdom of
Mauretania Mauretania (; ) is the Latin language, Latin name for a region in the ancient Maghreb. It stretched from central present-day Algeria westwards to the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, covering northern Morocco, and southward to the Atlas Mountains. Its ...

Mauretania
remained independent until being annexed to the Roman Empire by Emperor
Claudius Claudius ( ; Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial p ...

Claudius
in 42 AD. North Africa remained a part of the Roman Empire, which produced many notable citizens such as
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

Augustine of Hippo
, until incompetent leadership from Roman commanders in the early fifth century allowed the
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
, the
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
, to cross the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also no ...

Strait of Gibraltar
, whereupon they overcame the fickle Roman defense. The loss of North Africa is considered a pinnacle point in the fall of the Western Roman Empire as 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 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 The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
. In 468 AD, the Romans made one last serious attempt to invade North Africa but were repelled. This perhaps marks the point of terminal decline for the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
. The last Roman emperor was deposed in 476 by the
Heruli The Heruli (or Herules) were an early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Ger ...
general
Odoacer Flavius Odoacer ( ; – 493 AD), also spelled Odovacer or Odovacar ( grc, Ὀδόακρος, translit=Odóakros), was a soldier and statesman of Barbarian kingdoms, barbarian background, who deposed the child emperor Romulus Augustulus and bec ...

Odoacer
.
Trade route A trade route is a Logistics, logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of water. Allowing Good (economics and accountin ...
s between
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
and North Africa remained intact until the coming of Islam. Some Berbers were members of the
Early African Church The name Early African Church is given to the Christian communities inhabiting the region known politically as Roman Africa, and comprised geographically somewhat around the area of the Roman Diocese of Africa, namely: the Mediterranean littoral ...
(but evolved their own Donatist doctrine), some were
Berber Jews Berber Jews are the Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovern ...

Berber Jews
, and some adhered to
traditional Berber religion The traditional Berber religion is the ancient and native set of beliefs and deities adhered to by the Berbers (Amazigh Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group ...
. African pope
Victor I
Victor I
served during the reign of Roman emperor
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
. Furthermore, during the rule of the Romans, Byzantines, Vandals, Ottomans and Carthaginians the Kabyle people were the only or one of the few in North Africa who remained independent. The Kabyle people were incredibly resistible so much so that even during the Arab conquest of North Africa they still had control and possession over their mountains.


Arab conquest to modern times

The
early Muslim conquests The early Muslim conquests ( ar, الفتوحات الإسلامية, ''al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya''), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began with the Prophets of Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7 ...
included North Africa by 640. By 700, most of North Africa had come under Muslim rule. Indigenous Berbers subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as
Fez Fez most often refers to: * Fez (hat) The fez (, ), also called tarboosh ( ar, طربوش, translit=ṭarbūš, derived from fa, سرپوش, translit=sarpuš, lit=cap), is a felt headdress in the shape of a short cylindrical peakless hat, usuall ...

Fez
and
Sijilmasa Sijilmasa ( ar, سجلماسة; also transliterated Sijilmassa, Sidjilmasa, Sidjilmassa and Sigilmassa) was a medieval Moroccan city and trade entrepôt at the northern edge of the Sahara in Morocco. The ruins of the town extend for five miles alo ...
. In the eleventh century, a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves the
Almoravid dynasty The Almoravid dynasty ( ar, المرابطون, translit=Al-Murābiṭūn, lit=those from the ribat A ribāṭ ( ar, رِبَـاط; hospice, hostel, base or retreat) is an Arabic term for a small fortification built along a frontier during ...
expanded south into
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan 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 The Banu Sulaym ( ar, بنو سليم) were an Arabs, Arab tribe that dominated part of the Hejaz in the pre-Islamic Arabia, pre-Islamic era. They maintained close ties with the Quraysh of Mecca and the inhabitants of Medina, and fought in a numbe ...
and
Banu Hilal The Banu Hilal ( ar, بنو هلال or ) was a confederation of Arabian tribes The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peni ...
. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert. After the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
much of the area was loosely under the control of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
. The
Spanish Empire The Spanish Empire ( es, link=no, Imperio Español), also known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Hispánica) or the Catholic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Católica) during the Early Modern period, was a colonial empire ...

Spanish Empire
conquered several coastal cities between the 16th and 18th centuries. After the 19th century, the imperial and colonial presence of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
,
the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

the United Kingdom
,
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation. In
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the
North African Campaign#REDIRECT North African campaign {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...
. During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained independence. There remains a dispute over
Western Sahara Western Sahara ( '; ; ) is a disputed territory Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a com ...

Western Sahara
between
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
and the
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
n-backed
Polisario Front The Polisario Front, Frente Polisario, FRELISARIO or simply POLISARIO, from the Spanish abbreviation of (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra Saguia el-Hamra ( es, Saguía el Hamra, ar, الساقية الحمراء, lit=Red ...
. The wider protest movement known as the
Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low stand ...
began with revolutions in
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...
and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...
which ultimately led to the overthrow of their governments, as well as
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
in Libya. Large protests also occurred in Algeria and Morocco to a lesser extent. Many hundreds died in the uprisings.


Science and technology

''Further information in the sections of
History of science and technology in Africa Africa has the world's oldest record of human technological achievement: the oldest stone tools in the world have been found in eastern Africa, and later evidence for tool production by our hominin ancestors has been found across Sub-Saharan Afri ...
:'' *
Education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...
*
Astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
* History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 3, Mathematics * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 4, Metallurgy * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 5, Medicine * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 6, Agriculture * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa, Textiles * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 7, Maritime technology * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 8, Architecture * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 9, Communication systems * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa, Nile Valley, and the Sahel, Warfare * History of science and technology in Africa#Northern Africa and the Nile Valley 10, Commerce * History of science and technology in Africa#North Africa, By country


Transport and industry

The economies of
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
and
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
were transformed by the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the deserts.
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
's major exports are phosphates and agricultural produce, and as in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
, the tourist industry is essential to the economy.
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

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 (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
and
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
. Libyan oil is especially prized because of its low sulfur content, which means it produces less sulfur dioxide than other fuel oils.


See also

* Demographics of the Middle East and North Africa *Culture of Egypt * European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World * List of modern conflicts in North Africa


References


Further reading

* Cesari, Jocelyne. ''The awakening of Muslim democracy: Religion, modernity, and the state'' (Cambridge University Press, 2014). * Fischbach, ed. Michael R. ''Biographical encyclopedia of the modern Middle East and North Africa'' (Gale Group, 2008). * Ilahiane, Hsain. ''Historical dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen)'' (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). * Issawi, Charles. ''An economic history of the Middle East and North Africa'' (Routledge, 2013). * Naylor, Phillip C. ''North Africa, Revised Edition: A History from Antiquity to the Present'' (University of Texas Press, 2015).


External links


Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples

North Africa's Weather Forecasts and Weather Conditions

North Africa news and analysis

Africa Interactive Map
from the United States Army Africa {{Authority control North Africa,