North Africa
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Introduction History Geography People Culture Transport and Industry Demographics Politics and Government Economy Agriculture and Food Tourism Economic Challenges African Arts and Crafts Folklore and Traditional Religion Languages Cuisine Implication of Development and Globalisation Media The Media Environment in North Africa Internet and Media Regulations …01 …03 …06 …08 …09 …11 …12 …14 …25 …27 …30 …31 …33 …34 …35 …38 …39 …42 …44 …45


Northern Africa (UN sub-region)

geographic, including above

North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes seven countries or territories; 1. Algeria 2. Egypt 3. 5. 6. Libya Sudan Tunisia 4. Morocco

7. Western Sahara


Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Libya together are sometimes referred to as the Maghreb or Maghrib, while Egypt is a transcontinental country by virtue of the Sinai Peninsula, which is in Asia. Three small Spanish plazas de soberanía – tiny islets with military bases off the coast of Morocco with no civilian population – are in the area, and the Spanish Canary Islands and Portuguese Madeira Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of the African mainland, are sometimes included in considerations of the region. The distinction between Northern Africa and the rest of Africa is historically and ecologically significant because of the effective barrier created by the Sahara. Throughout history this barrier has culturally separated the North from the rest of Africa and, as the seafaring civilizations of the Phoenecians, Greeks, Romans and others facilitated communication and migration across the Mediterranean, the cultures of North Africa became much more closely tied to Southwestern Asia and Europe than SubSaharan Africa. The Islamic influence in the area is significant, and North Africa, along with the Middle East, is a major part of the Arab World.


The Carthaginians were a commercial power and had a strong navy. North Africa remained a part of the Roman Empire. which produced many notable citizens such as Augustine of Hippo. The Carthaginians were of Phoenician origin. something previously contrary to Roman values to overcome the talented military leader Jugurtha. the Vandals. all Carthaginian territory was eventually conquered by the Romans. resulting in the Carthaginian North African territories becoming the Roman province of Africa in 146 B. Over a hundred years and more. 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. with the Roman myth of their origin being that Queen Dido.C. as Marius required a professional army. The Phoenicians colonized much of North Africa including Carthage and parts of present day Morocco (including Chellah. as Aeneas would eventually lay the foundations for Rome. and the wealth required to create 3 . a Phoenician princess was granted land by a local ruler based on how much land she could cover with a piece of cowhide.History Antiquity and Ancient Rome The most notable nations of antiquity in western North Africa are Carthage and Numidia. The Numidian wars are notable for launching the careers of both Gaius Marius. until incompetent leadership from Roman commanders in the early fifth century allowed the Germanic barbarian tribe. She was also rejected by the Trojan prince Aeneas according to Virgil. She ingeniously devised a method to extend the cowhide to a high proportion. to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. This led to tension and eventually conflict between Numidia and Rome. and Sulla. thus gaining a large territory. but relied on mercenaries for land soldiers. whereupon they overcame the fickle Roman defense. thus creating a historical enmity between Carthage and Rome. The Carthaginians developed an empire in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. Mogador and Volubilis). and stretching the constitutional burden of the Roman republic. the latter being the cause of First Punic War with the Romans.

Some Berbers were Christians (but evolved their own Donatist doctrine). Morocco. After the 19th century. and Sijilimasa. After the Middle Ages the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire.D.. the United Kingdom. In the eleventh century. expanded south into Sub-Saharan Africa. This is placed as the point of no return for the western Roman empire in a historical sense and the last Roman Emperor was deposed in 475 by the Ostrogoth generalissimo Odoacer who saw no purpose in regaining North Africa. the imperial and colonial presence of France. the last attempt by the Romans made a serious attempt to invade North Africa but were repelled. but was frustrated by Vandal victories and that the focus of Roman energy had to be on the emerging threat of the Huns. a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves Almoravids. In World War II from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign. In 468 armies. The Byzantine reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals began in 533 AD. and some adhered to their traditional polytheist religion. of Roman/Berber ancestry. Indigenous Berbers subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as Fez. as Justinian I sent his general Belisarius to reclaim the former Roman province of Africa. Arab Conquest to modern times The Arab Islamic conquest reached North Africa in 640 AD. Trade routes between Europe and North Africa remained intact until the coming of the Moslems. most of North Africa had fallen to Muslim rule. The issue of regaining North Africa became paramount to the Western Empire. African pope Victor I served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus. By 670. except Morocco. Spain and Italy left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation. During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained 4 . some were Jewish. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert. The North Africa's populous and flourishing civilization collapsed after exhausting its resources in internal fighting and suffering devastation from the invasion of the Bedouin tribes of Banu Sulaym and Banu Hilal.

5 . There remains a dispute over Western Sahara between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.independence.

the Nile valley and delta. Territories and regions Countries and territories Density Population (per km²) Capital Area (km²) GDP (Total) $239. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. and woods such as cedar and cork. figs.333. which extend across much of Morocco.) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.2 $7. Elsewhere.740 33. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe. and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. The Nile valley is particularly fertile.)[2] $477. Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1. They recede to the south and east.449 77. northern Algeria and Tunisia.001.036. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock.381. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains. some of which is more than four billion years old.Geography The Atlas Mountains.3 $12.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6.000 (2009 est.498.914 3 Tripoli $88. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region.300 Libyan 6 .540 6. rice and cotton. irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins. are grown. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land.759.

358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.[9] 7 .000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266. 15 July 2008.757.617 1.813 39. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).6 Morocco 446.000 382.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88.550 33.08 Sudan 2.610 10.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.379.505.billion (2008)[3] $136.102.71 Tunisia 163.552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.

Northwest Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers since before the beginning of recorded history. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with peoples that appear to have been Berber or proto-Berber. Christian. the Nile Valley. All countries in Africa have at least one of these religions: Muslim. while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians.People The inhabitants of North Africa are generally divided in a manner roughly corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb. The official language or one of the official languages in all of the countries in North Africa is Arabic. Most popular ethnic groups in North Africa are Arabs and Berbers.found in World Studies book on Africa 8 . and the Sahara. and Jewish.

In the Sahara. Vandals. often referred to as Berberists. This. The Arabic and Berber groups of languages are distantly related.or Arabicspeaking (see also Arabized Berber). Romans. The Sahara dialects are notably more conservative than those of coastal cities (see Tuareg languages). and almost exclusively follow Islam. The Nile Valley traces its origins to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Kush. The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combine indigenous Berber. Over the years. The Egyptians over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian to modern Egyptian Arabic (both Afro-Asiatic). may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber. however. Arabs. The diverse peoples of the Sahara chi que en categorized along ethno-linguistic lines. and lately Europeans. while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. In the Maghreb. Berber political and cultural activists for their part. Phoenicians. Egyptians.Culture The people of the Maghreb and the Sahara speak various dialects of Berber and Arabic. whether they are primarily Berber. the distinction between sedentary oasis inhabitants and nomadic Bedouin and Tuareg is particularly marked. these lines can be blurred. Asia and Africa. Most Egyptians are Sunni 9 . 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. regardless of ethnic background. Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Europe. may or may not exclude pride in and identification with Berber and/or other parts of their heritage. Arabic-speaking Northwest Africans. where Arab and Berber identities are often integrated. Berber peoples have been influenced by other cultures with which they became in contact: Greeks. both being members of the Afro-Asiatic family. often identify with Arab history and culture and may share a common vision with other Arabs.

Prior to the modern establishment of Israel. Spain and Portugal from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous Mizrāḥîm. including both Sfardīm (refugees from France.000 Jews in North Africa. almost all in Morocco and Tunisia. (See Jewish exodus from Arab lands. less than fifteen thousand remain in the region. Today.) 10 . many of whom emigrated to France or Israel when the North African nations gained independence. there were about 600. A smaller number went to Canada.000– 700. North Africa formerly had a large Jewish population.Muslim and a significant minority adheres to Coptic Christianity which has strong historical ties to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church.

Libyan oil is especially prized because of its low sulphur content. Morocco's major exports are phosphates and agricultural produce. which it means it produces much less pollution than other fuel oils. Oil rigs are scattered throughout the deserts of Libya and Algeria. 11 . the tourist industry is essential to the economy. Egypt has the most varied industrial base. and as in Egypt and Tunisia. importing technology to develop electronics and engineering industries.Transport and industry The economies of Algeria and Libya were transformed by the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the deserts. and maintaining the reputation of its high-quality cotton textiles.

Bantu-speaking Africans also predominate in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. respectively. Aside from the Nilotic groups of southern Sudan. the Arabs who arrived in the 7th century have basically assimilated the indigenous Berber people. The Semitic Phoenicians. but distinct from "Hottentots") have long been present. Black Nubians also developed civilizations in North Africa during ancient times. 12 . The peoples of North Africa are primarily Arab-Berber. the distinct people known as the Bushmen (also "San". Africans from the Northeast parts of the continent typically have a different appearance from those in other regions. and the European Greeks and Romans settled in North Africa as well. and a few remaining indigenous Khoisan ('San' or 'Busmmen') and Pygmy peoples in southern and central Africa. The Tuareg and other often nomadic peoples are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa.Demographics Africans may be conveniently grouped according to whether they live north or south of the Sahara Desert. Black Africans are predominant in Sub-Saharan Africa. but there are also several Nilotic groups in East Africa. closely related to. respectively. The San are physically distinct from other Africans and are the indigenous people of southern Africa. In the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa. There is a great diversity of physical types among Sub-Saharan African peoples -. "Pygmies" are the indigenous people of central Africa. Berber peoples remain a significant minority within Morocco and Algeria. and are also present in Tunisia and Libya.ranging from the Masai and Tutsi. and a Bantu African minority in Somalia. central and east Africa proper. Speakers of Bantu languages are the majority in southern. to Pygmies who are among the world's shortest adults. these groups are called North Africans and Sub-Saharan Africans. and are found in parts of southern Cameroon and southern Somalia. and Arabic speaking Arab-Berber peoples predominate in North Africa. some Nilotic groups in Ethiopia. known for their tall stature.

Eventually. South Africa also has a community of mixed-race people (Coloured people). and officials also established themselves in administrative centers such as Nairobi and Dakar. Ethnic Somalis as a people originated in the Ethiopian highlands. Their descendants. European colonization also brought sizeable groups of Asians. The French settled in large numbers in Algeria.Some Ethiopian and Eritrean groups (like the Amhara and Tigray. Europeans such as the Portuguese and Dutch began to establish trading posts and forts along the coasts of western and southern Africa. to British colonies. 13 . Decolonization during the 1960s often resulted in the mass exodus of European-descended settlers out of Africa -especially in Algeria. are the largest white group in South Africa today. particularly people from the Indian subcontinent. collectively known as "Habesha") have Semitic (Sabaean) ancestry. the white minority (10% of the population) has largely remained in the country after the end of white rule in 1994. and smaller ones are present in Kenya and Tanzania and some other southern and east African countries. the Afrikaners. but most Somali clans can trace Arab ancestry as well. a second phase of colonization brought a large number of French and British settlers to Africa. Smaller numbers of European soldiers. Kenya. Large Indian communities are found in South Africa. However in South Africa. In the 19th century. businessmen. a large number of Dutch. and on a smaller scale in other areas of North and West Africa. though many have since returned. and are far off in appearance from Arabs in Iraq or Algeria). Sudan and Mauritania are divided between a mostly Arab north and a black African south (although many of the "Arabs" of Sudan clearly have African ancestry. and in the highlands of what is now Kenya. particularly the island of Zanzibar and the Kenyan island of Lamu. received Arab and Asian Muslim settlers and merchants throughout the Middle Ages. A fairly large Indian community in Uganda was expelled by the dictator Idi Amin in 1972. Beginning in the 16th century. The British settled in South Africa as well as the colony of Rhodesia. and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). augmented by French Huguenots and Germans settled in what is today South Africa. Some areas of East Africa.

and new movements of people destabilized older regimes of power.Politics and Government The People of North Africa. as new mobile groups overran established rulers. Map 7: Colonial Territories in 1914 Map 8: Colonial Territories in 1945 Maps 7 & 8 Key 14 . and in North Africa they were for the most part created by colonial rulers. didn’t exist in world history until the 19th century. the societies of North Africa are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. The rule of the region was often changing. as we know them. Nation-states.

For a review of the political impact of colonialism please refer to Module Ten: African Politics and Government. etc. and these have adapted over time to their diverse populations and situations.matrix. Review the maps below. Activity Three—The Political Heritage of Colonialism. there are different types of governance and political practice in North Africa. the actual borders of the country were never entirely set—they were in flux as groups of people loyal to. they tried a variety of governance systems.msu. An excellent history of this is recounted by Gavin Maxwell in Lords of the Atlas (2000).html Colonial governments differed in the amount of autonomy they granted indigenous inhabitants. the involvement of locals in the governance of their country. Independence Dates of North African Countries As with the rest of Africa. http://ex. The colonists often capitalized on ethnic divisions in the region (especially between Arab and Berber peoples) to take over territories. or allied against. When the North African countries were granted independence (see map below). for the most part agreed upon today (we will see in our discussion of the Western Sahara situation how this colonial division has created problems for current states in the region).edu/africa/curriculum/lm10/actthree. they created the borders which are. For a review of politics and governance in the continent please link to 15 . the ability of elites to gain education in the ruling country. the amount of political opposition they allowed. etc. conquered or took over new areas. When European powers divided the continent between them.For instance. and notice how the colonial borders shifted and where the current political borders are. the throne moved around. though Morocco has the longest existing monarchy in the world.

In Tunisia. The major types of governance in North Africa are: Republican Democracy Algeria. it is necessary to 16 . In structure. Egypt. In Algeria and Egypt. but by percentages to each party based on what percentage of the vote they received). these governments modeled themselves after European parliamentary systems in which heads of state (head of the executive branch—the president) and heads of government (head of the legislative branch—the prime minister) are different. To be sure. may challenge our understanding of democratic practice. each country has illegalized certain forms of political participation. Though these countries are democracies. The governments of these countries defend the restrictions on political rights arguing that political rights without restrictions would result in political chaos and violence. meaning they are governed by elected legislative bodies. They all support many political parties and representation is proportional (seats in the legislature are awarded not to which party wins a certain region of the country. Activity Four: Politics and Government in Post-Colonial Africa. one fundamentalist Islamic party is outlawed as well.Module Ten: African Politics and Government. these governments argue. in structure and substance they are not necessarily like the United States. Consequently. the lack of economic opportunity. and Tunisia are all republican democracies. and Egypt requires all citizens 18 and above to vote. political parties based on religion have been outlawed. there is a variety of individual freedoms in each country. Both Algeria and Egypt have bicameral legislatures while Tunisia is unicameral. and social displacement (urbanization and modernization) have created conditions that foster Islamic fundamentalism which is completely opposed to democratic principles of governance. Freedom of the press is restricted to different degrees within each country. All three allow all citizens above the age of 18 (20 in Tunisia) to vote. They point out that social and political instability caused by poverty. Legislators and executive officers (presidents) serve terms of 5 to 6 years. However. On the substantive side—that is the quality of democratic practice—protection of political and human rights in these countries.

while the lower house is elected by popular vote for five-year terms. and labor syndicates for nine-year terms. Alternative Government Libya is a unique government in the region for two reasons. Constitutional Monarchy Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. the complete law of the state. who just took the throne when his father. Second. yet and considers Libya to be a Socialist Islamic State! You may have been taught about the concept of the separation of church and state in your social studies or government classes.S. Muammar Quadhafi. the upper house is elected indirectly by local councils. though it differs from Great Britain and other constitutional monarchies you may know. Indeed. First. a completely different adoption of Islamic rule and application of the Sharia is found in Libya. in theory. In Morocco. Islamic Laws The one factor all these countries have in common is the attempt to integrate some aspects of Islamic law into the judicial system of each country. However. in reality the nation is governed by a military dictatorship which hasn’t changed since it took over in 1969 when cornel Muammar Quadhafi took power in a military coup. as extracted directly from the Quran. King Mohammed VI. Islam. runs the executive branch and appoints the prime minister and his cabinet.) often maintain strong cultural ties to churches.restrict some political and democratic rights in order to protect their countries from becoming much more un-democratic. the military dictator. Interestingly. Islamic law—Sharia lawis included to varying extent in the national laws of the country. it is a socialist democracy in which people govern themselves through local political councils. The legislative branch is a bicameral Parliament. professional organizations. Hassan II died in 1999. This concept arises out of the enlightenment and the civil wars in parts of Europe where various Christian factions battled for political power. even these nations (including the U. though these councils do exist and function. was developed as a state religion even at the 17 . only in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan under the Taliban regime was Sharia law. unlike Christianity. bases laws on the codes of behavior outlined in the Quran.

both within individual countries and between neighboring countries. ask your librarian. drawn by colonialists. a paper by Dr. between southern Morocco and Mauritania. Algeria.htm. and on the relations of Muslim citizens with each other (especially in civil laws). or start by reading The Contradiction Between the Islamic State and the Religious State. was colonized by the Spanish rather than the French who colonized Morocco (with the exception of two Spanish cities on the Mediterranean coast). Political Conflicts As in other regions of Africa. Ahmed Subhy Mansour on the web at http://ahmed. Many scholars address the issue of the Islamic state. in the post-colonial era North Africa has experienced political conflicts.g3z. As the people of the region (called Saharawis) became sedentary. If you are interested in more information.time of its birth. Crisis Over the Western Sahara Because national borders and movements of people were fluid before colonialism. they 18 . North Africa is no exception. We will briefly look at examples of each type of conflict. have been in dispute in many areas throughout post-colonial Africa. the arbitrary and Tunisia. The Quran (Koran) includes instructions on running governments. An excellent example of this is the disputed territory of the Western Sahara. This area. on the rights of people.

it is rich in phosphate and in iron ore and supports rich fishing waters along its coast.began to reject colonial leaders and demand their independence. with virtually no arable land. Western Sahara is a sparsely populated. however maintains her sovereignty over the entire territory. Moroccan Soldier Patrols the Sahara © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. claiming Western Sahara as a Moroccan province (the anniversary of the Green March remains a celebrated national holiday in Morocco). However. However. very hostile desert. relations between Algeria and Morocco were cut off at times and remain very tense. Before signing the treaty with Spain. Morocco. Because of Algeria’s support for the Polisario. has been repeatedly postponed. Morocco and the Polisario waged war until a UN-brokered peace agreement in 1991. 300. A referendum on the future of the territory. the Polisario was formed to wage guerilla warfare against the Spanish colonists. overseen by the UN. including the portion first ceded to Mauritania. You may be wondering why all the fuss? There are both economic and social causes of this conflict. As we will learn in Activity 4 that follows. The Spanish gave up rights to the territory in 1976. In 1973. the Polisario demanded independence completely for the territory and Mauritania gave up her portion in a treaty signed with the group in 1979.000 soldiers and citizens of Morocco participated in the “the Green March” and walked south across the border. phosphate is a valuable 19 . granting the northern two-thirds to Morocco and the southern third to Mauritania.

etc. mediating team for the Western Sahara. Saharawi groups have. only the UN is actively engaged in a mediation effort. The African Union (formally known as the Organization of African Unity/OAU) and the United Nations have been engaged the crisis in the Western Sahara since it began. The situation remains complicated: a popular referendum to determine the future of the territory is constantly postponed as government and Polisario (along with United Nations negotiators) disagree on who should be allowed to vote (pre-Green March residents. Moroccans see Saharawis as another of the diverse peoples that make up the Moroccan Nation.S. former U. how the elections should take place. In addition to economic concerns. Morocco is the only African nation to withdraw its membership from the OAU/AU. James Baker. Crisis in Algeria 20 . Currently. Polisario argues that Saharawis are a separate nation from the Moroccans and that the Saharawi people should be independent of Moroccan rule. Both organizations have unsuccessfully attempted to mediate between the Polisario and Morocco since the beginning of the dispute in 1976. In effect. current residents. Saharawis in Algerian refugee camps. the identity of the Saharawi people is also contested. The OAU gave up it attempt to mediate in the dispute in the 1980s when Morocco withdrew it membership from the OAU because its government felt that the OAU was biased in favor of the Shararwi.mineral and is a main export of Morocco. Both sides consider the wealth of that resource worth the fight. at various historical times. been within the cultural and governance sphere of the Islamic states which ruled the region since the eighth century CE and from which the Moroccan dynasty traces its origin.).N. and what the referendum should say. is leading the U. Secretary of State in the first Bush administration. like other Berber and Arab ethnic groups.

In the eighth century CE the indigenous Berber peoples were conquered by the rapidly expanding Arab Islamic forces from the east. Algeria was located less than 500 miles away. What were the causes of this political violence? To answer this question we must go back in history. and vegetables. The history of French colonization in Algeria was unique—very different from the history of France’s other African colonies. particularly to the cultivation of fruits. Moreover. though very narrow. just across the Mediterranean Sea to the south. And. 21 . some missionaries. the coastal region of Algeria. Algeria became the first of many French colonies in Africa. is very amenable to agricultural.Without a doubt. In addition.000 Algerians were killed as a result of politically motivated acts of violence. providing wheat and other agricultural products that helped feed Rome. Unlike France’s other African colonies which were thousands of miles from France. It is estimated that in the decade between 1992 and 2002 CE more than 100. finally in 1830 the Ottomans in Algeria (but not elsewhere) were defeated by the French who fully colonized Algeria in 1848. Algeria has a long history of occupation by outside rulers. In France’s other African colonies the only French people to live there were officials of the colonial government. The coastal region of contemporary Algeria was an important part of the Roman Empire. geographical proximity to France and agricultural potential. grains. These two factors. and a few business people. in the recent past Algeria has suffered more from internal conflict and violence than any other country in North Africa. In the 16th century Algeria became part of the powerful Ottoman Empire. made Algeria attractive immigrants from France.

most of the French officials who lived in an African colony spent only part of their adult lives in that colony. many of the economic policies put in place during this time did not result in steady economic growth. Unfortunately. which governed Algeria from 1965. 1962 Algeria became independent with great optimism. and inspired in part by the American revolution. Algerians undertook a war of liberation which lasted from 1954-1962. some families for multiple generations. based on part on the growing revenues from her new petroleum industry. leading to increasing dissatisfaction with the government. On July 5. The military regime. During the next three decades (1962-1991) Algeria was governed by civilian and military governments which were secular and socialist in their orientation. France refused to grant independence to Algeria. During the nearly 120 years of French colonial rule thousands of French people moved to Algeria and settled there. due to resistance from the settlers in Algeria. The situation in Algeria was different. In the 1950s and 1960s when France (and other European colonial powers) submitted to the demands for political freedom by the African populations in their other colonies. Algeria. under the leadership of the National Liberation Front. By the late 1980s many Algerians. the military regime 22 . and political problems. You will more about these colonies in Module 20 Southern Africa. but as a province of France. This struggle resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Algerians and Frenchmen/women. Convinced that the French government would continue to side with the interests of the French settlers in Algeria. These settlers took control of the best agricultural lands in the country and also soon dominated the economies of urban areas. did not tolerate public dissent. social. unhappy with continuing economic decline and their inability to express their political displeasure. separated from the rest of France by just a couple hundred miles of the Mediterranean Sea. responded positively to new Islamic movements which claimed that a return to strict Islamic observance was the solution to Algeria’s economic. as a settler dominated colony. The French settlers came to view Algeria not so much as a French colony. shared similarities with South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) which were also settler dominated colonies within the British colonial system. At the same time.

However. Many of these attacks have been by Islamic fundamentalists hoping to “purify” their society and the political system of secular influences and to create state systems based exclusively or primarily on the Quran (you will remember from Learning Activity 2: The People of North Africa that fundamentalist revolutions have been common in the region since the Arab invasion of the late 600s). The elections were clearly and overwhelming won by the Islamic Salvation Front which advocated the establishment of an Islamic government in Algeria. it is also inappropriate to suggest or assume that North African (and other) Islamic governments support terrorism or violence. Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . Why did the military.2000 CE when the FSI agreed to disband. refuse to recognize the democratic choice of the Algerian people? These groups did not want to see the establishment of another Islamic Republic in region . agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December. the FSI agreed to disband. decided to ignore the results of the elections and installed a civilian government which excluded the Islamists. Islamic parties continue to be banned from participating in Algerian elections. After elections in 1999. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. This clearly thwarted the will of the majority of the people who rallied around the Islamic Salvation Front (FSI) to resist continued rule by a military controlled regime.responding to domestic and international pressure. Political violence did not disappear in Algeria.000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992. continuing at a much reduced level. which banned Islamic parties. In April 2004. Fortunately the Algerian story became somewhat more positive in the early 21st Century. with the tacit support of Western governments..S. with the tacit support of France and the U. The Algerian army. However. 1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. The people of North Africa have been familiar with terrorist acts perpetrated against their own governments (and against the people themselves) by a variety of terrorist groups. Terrorism It would be inappropriate to ignore the issue of terrorism in this region.

took responsibility for the bombing of the Pan American flight over Lockerbie. However.ruling political parties (like the Polisario in Western Sahara) and still others have been in response to former colonial regimes (terrorist bombings in France in the mid-1990s). the Middle East. Libya under Muammar Quadhafi supported some of these groups. Indeed. the UN imposed sanctions against Libya for this reason from 1992-2002. Scotland (paying millions of dollars of compensation to families of each of the victims of this tragedy). and dramatically ended Libya’s nuclear weapons development program. The other nations of North Africa long ago outlawed extremist and violent activities and have taken leading roles internationally in supporting peace initiatives throughout the region. in 2004 Quadhafi publicly renounced the use of terrorism. 24 . and the world.

most of the economy is formal: we use money. Formal economic behavior is what you’ve probably studied in Social Studies. you’ve bartered! In many part of Africa. making products in factories. the informal economy is very important. are taxed. etc. the government can exact taxes. Informal economic activities are those that are not regulated. These activities are called formal because they can be regulated: workers and customers have safety protections. etc. paying taxes. when people barter. Women barter with each other over who will do which domestic chores. we are really talking about two interrelated types of economic behavior: formal and informal. We do engage in informal economics all the time though—if you’ve ever offered to do your sibling’s chores this week so that she/he will do yours next week. the government doesn’t or can’t regulate the exchange so these are informal economic activities. 25 . like buying and selling goods. For instance.Economy North Africa and other countries. etc. In the United States. and people trade homemade crafts and surplus foodstuffs all without the regulation of the government. men negotiate whose animals will plow the fields. How much of a country’s economy is based on informal or formal economic activities varies by country. produce goods and are paid for our labor.

Moroccan Women Work in a Sardine Cannery (Formal Economy) © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin.Egyptian Women Weave at Home to Trade for Goods (Informal Economy) © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. 26 .

legumes like lentils and chickpeas. oats and even corn. 27 . grains like barley. and other Mediterranean and arid produce. including sugarcane. Tunisian Olive Harvesting © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. dates and figs in abundance. onions. both for feeding the population and for export. grapes (for eating and to produce wine). Egyptian Woman Prepares Bread To Sell © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. wheat.. The number of people employed in agriculture varies by country: about 50% in Morocco. 25% in Algeria and probably even fewer in Libya which imports close to 75% of its food. In the Nile Valley. cotton and even rice. like nuts. Egyptians also cultivate crops that need more water. peppers and eggplants.Agriculture and Food Agriculture is still one of the most important sectors of the economies of North Africa.S. including tomatoes that are shipped to the U. vegetables. The region depends on its fertile areas to grow crops. olives. including oranges and other citrus fruits. 40% in Egypt.

Minerals and other Natural Resources Much of North Africa is mineral rich. barytine. camels. manganese. goats. poultry. gold. gypsum. and. horses. especially for sheep but also for cows. silver.Moroccan Wheat Harvest in Atlas Mountains © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. and mules. and coal (in Morocco). copper. Egyptian Boy Guides Water Buffalo © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. Moroccan Herders Graze Sheep © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. The seas provide fish both for consumption and for export. The region also has deposits of other minerals including iron ore. zinc. lead. of course. donkeys. salt. As you remember from Learning Activity Three [link to this page] the Western Sahara is a major phosphate producer. Marginal lands in North Africa provide scrub for a large livestock livelihood. limestone. Petroleum and natural 28 .

Tunisian Olive Oil Refinery © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. North Africa also produces forest products. and even paper milling—are providing increasing employment for urban workers (as well as rural workers in areas like mining minerals.gas exports provide most of Libya’s revenues. raising livestock. Algeria refines and bottles its olive oil. Egypt has grown a flourishing textile industry from its cotton resources. 29 . especially Algeria and Egypt. Across the region these and other industries—including textile and leather goods manufacturing. food and beverage (especially wine) processing. Industry. Morocco produces leather goods from its livestock resources. construction materials fabrication. but the rest of the region also contains sizeable deposits of these resources. and is a leading producer of cork. their manufacturing and production capacities tend to start with their major resources exports and branch out into other industries. chemical and fertilizer producing. commerce and production bases As the countries of North Africa industrialize. including furniture and cabinet wood. Tunisia manufactures wood products. For example. metallurgy including iron and steel making as well as jewelry crafting. Lastly. and extracting oil and gas). and Libya refines its oil and natural gas resources.

Tunisia. and budget accommodations for backpackers and “adventure” tourists. Germany. mid-priced business convention centers. but not all tourists necessarily want to “rough it” in that manner. Tourism also increases both formal and informal economic opportunities as North Africans find formal employment with hotels and touring companies and offer their informal assistance as guides or open their homes to travelers. tourism is of increasing importance in North Africa—Morocco and Tunisia are high tourism earners. These remittances are vital to the economies of North Africa. This has important implication for the political structure of these nations as well as for the people who live in these countries. in that they continually add income to the region’s people.Tourism Like in East Africa. Hence Morocco. Italy. Along the coasts and the interior of the region are a variety of luxury resorts and hotels. and Spain) or other regions of the world to find employment. When North Africans emigrate to Europe (particularly to France. and Egypt are popular destinations while the recent instability of Algeria and Libya make these less appealing to European. note that remittances are vital to North African economies. but many agencies. they often send a portion of their earnings back to their families at home. Remittances North African economies also depend on the remittances of emigrated workers. American. 30 . including the United Nations and regional governments. this is informal economic activity and cannot be regulated until inhabitants spend the money on their foodstuffs and other necessities. Stability and safety are absolutely necessary in attracting tourism so governments that can contain popular unrest and stability can actively seek tourism as an alternative economic industry. and Asian travelers. However. It is almost impossible to accurately measure remittances. You already learned about Tuaregs in the Sahara inviting tourists to learn about and experience their traditional lifestyles in Learning Activity 2.

See the African Cultural Center’s webpage on wealth to see how the nations of Africa compare to each other. which is slightly higher due to oil revenues) all have GDP per capita of $1000-$2000. including fundamentalism. due both to its proximity to European markets and its natural resources. Libya often has the highest GDP per capita of the continent since it produces large amounts of petroleum. though the region’s nations (with the exception of Libya. This disparity of wealth and significant poverty. Morocco © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. are some of the factors that have lead to increasing anti-government movements. both in urban slums and in rural areas. Urban Market in Fez. As you learned in Learning Activity Two. there is great diversity of wealth within North African countries.Economic challenges Disparity of wealth/resources North Africa is one of the wealthiest regions of Africa. 31 .

32 .Libyan Rural Market © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin.

and more distorted portrayal of the stranger indicates proportionately greater gap from the stranger. Couples may represent ancestors. The couple theme rarely exhibit intimacy of men and women. community founder. African arts and crafts find expression in a variety of woodcarvings.African Art and Crafts Africa has a rich tradition of arts and crafts. African arts and crafts also include sculpture. and an outsider or a stranger. The man with the weapon or animal theme symbolizes honor and power. mythological characters and deities. ceremonial and religious headgear and dress. Many pieces of such jewellery are made of cowry shells and similar materials. In most of traditional art and craft of Africa. masks are made with elaborate designs and are important part of African culture. Similarly. The mother with the child or children reveals intense desire of the African women to have children. married couple or twins. certain themes significant to African culture recur. 33 . African culture has always placed emphasis on personal appearance and jewelry has remained an important personal accessory. paintings. Masks are used in various ceremonies depicting ancestors and spirits. a male with a weapon or animal. pottery. a woman with a child. brass and leather art works. including a couple. The theme is also representative of mother mars and the people as her children. A stranger may be from some other tribe or someone from a different country.

Like almost all civilizations and cultures. a mythological story from Côte d'Ivoire states that a charitable man gave away everything he had. Similarly.Folklore and traditional religion Like all human cultures. For example. and sent six months of rains to destroy his selfish neighbors. Chameleon hearing a strange noise in a tree cut open its trunk and water came out in a great flood that spread all over the land. advised him to leave the area. The first human couple emerged with the water. flood myths have been circulating in different parts of Africa. African folklore and folktales represent a variety of social facets of African culture. The God Ouende rewarded him with riches. according to a Pygmy myth. 34 .

English. French. others are spoken by millions. Very few countries of Africa use any single language and for this reason several official languages coexist. Swahili and Hausa. Four prominent language families of Africa are: • • • • Afro-Asiatic Nilo-Saharan Niger-Kordofanian Khoisan An early center of literature was the "African Ink Road". 35 . The language of Africa presents a unity of character as well as diversity. African and European. the number is much higher. and if dialects spoken by various ethnic groups are also included. Spanish. Bambara.Languages The continent of Africa speaks hundreds of languages. and many more. Among the most prominent languages spoken are Arabic. All these languages and dialects do not have same importance: some are spoken by only few hundred persons. Some Africans may also speak different languages such as Malagasy. Sotho. as is manifest in all the dimensions of Africa.

There are four major language families native to Africa. By most estimates. and northern Tanzania. Kenya.Map showing the distribution of African language families and some major African languages. • The Afro-Asiatic languages are a language family of about 240 languages and 285 million people widespread throughout the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia. Afro-Asiatic extends from the North Africa through the Horn of Africa to Southwest Asia. • The Khoisan languages number about 50 and are spoken in Southern Africa by approximately 120 000 people. Niger-Congo is divided to show the size of the Bantu sub-family. • The Niger-Congo language family covers much of Sub-Saharan Africa and is probably the largest language family in the world in terms of different languages. and parts of the Sahel. North Africa. Southwest Asia. A substantial number of them are the Bantu languages spoken in much of subSaharan Africa. Sudan. Many of the Khoisan languages are endangered. Uganda. Africa contains well over a thousand languages. 36 . Nilo-Saharan languages are mainly spoken in Chad. • The Nilo-Saharan language family consists of more than a hundred languages spoken by 30 million people.

Portuguese.The Khoi and San peoples are considered the original inhabitants of this part of Africa. nearly all African countries have adopted official languages that originated outside the continent and spread through colonialism or human migration. commerce. With a few notable exceptions in East Africa. 37 . in numerous countries English and French are used for communication in the public sphere such as government. For example. Afrikaans and Malagasy are other examples of originally non-African languages that are used by millions of Africans today. both in the public and private spheres. Arabic. education and the media.

cinnamons. The cuisine of South Africa and neighboring countries have largely become polyglot cuisines. starchy cassava. including dried fish. as also glimpses of colonial food traditions. banana and plantain are some of the more familiar fruits. curds and whey. accompanied by stew containing meat or vegetables. Africans also use steamed greens with hot spices. Nigeria and coastal parts of West Africa love chilies in food. Cassava and yams are the main root vegetables. In each African locality. peanuts and maize introduced by the colonizers. Arabic influences are also reflected in East African cuisine – rice cooked with spices in style. Dishes of steamed or boiled green vegetables. 38 . Traditional African cuisine is characterized by use of starch as a focus.Cuisine Africa is a huge continent and the food and drink of Africa reflect local influences. beans and cereals. sheep and goats were regarded as a form of currency. Malays who came with their curries with spices. several other spices. Exotic game and fish are gathered from Africa's vast area. there are numerous wild fruits and vegetables which are used as food. East African cuisine is distinctive in the sense that meat products are generally absent. Watermelon. along the Mediterranean from Morocco to Egypt has different food habits than Saharan Africans who consume subsistence diet. North Africa. peas. Cattle. which goes well with most African cuisine. having influences of several immigrants which include Indians who brought lentil soups (dals) and curries. or both. Thus. and juice. milk and meat products. The most familiar alcoholic drink in the interior Africa is the Ethiopian honey wine called Tej. The African village diet is often milk. use of cloves. yams and sweet potatoes are widely consumed. and are not generally consumed as food. The African cuisine is a combination of traditional fruits and vegetables. Cooking techniques of West Africa often combine fish and meat. including use of food products like peppers. and Europeans with "mixed grills" that now include African game meats. Non-Muslim population of Africa also uses alcoholic beverages. Differences are also noticeable in eating and drinking habits across the continent of Africa. Traditionally.

As you may remember from the late 1990s. This is not just true of our economic lives—as we can see in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the tenets of development today is that all people have the right to self-determination. Egyptian Caretakers of Cairo Apartment Building © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. Since shortly after World War Two. As globalization increases. Not only do we need markets to sell our goods. economic problems in one region (at that time East Asia) can reverberate around the world. the goals of this development have changed. 39 . and Asia. North America. the economic wellbeing of foreign nations becomes more and more important to our livlihoods. Throughout the course of this movement. labor and other resources that African countries (and the rest of the developing nations) provide. not only conflict but also peace. there has been a movement to “develop” the rest of the world in line with the industrial development of Western Europe and the United States and Canada. North African countries are called developing nations because they have a significantly lower GDP than the industrialized nations of Europe.Implications of development and globalization Like the rest of Africa. we need the raw materials. Development is more relevant to our lives than you may think. instigating economic recession in a variety of places. how we interact with other governments and people can produce not only terrorists but also allies. that no nation should be forced to follow a prescribed path to their future. from economic modernization to provision of social services to the poor to redesign of economic systems to political and social empowerment of populations.

and Sub-Saharan Africa. These messages highlight how people in the developed world. and to develop new and better ways of conserving the world’s natural assets. Also including parts of Oceania.Development is also expanding beyond purely economic concerns. but has fallen out of fashion in African studies. and to survive. The wide distribution of Bantu peoples across Sub-Saharan Africa. Niger-Congo (mostly Bantu) in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. and that we should leave enough for future generations. The notion of a "Pan-African" culture was discussed in seriousness in the 1960s and 1970s in the context of the Négritude movement. 40 . and India. Nilo-Saharan in parts of the Sahara and the Sahel and parts of Eastern Africa. which is in turn divided into a great number of ethnic and tribal cultures. Egyptian Shopkeeper Takes a Smoke Break © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. The main split is between North Africa. Development also relates to social-cultural change as well as environmental concerns. we also need to change our behavior. especially the United States. use far more resources than other people and that to be good neighbors. Horn of Africa). Chad. Sustainable development is based on a concept that no one should take more from the environment than it can sustain. and Khoisan (indigenous minorities of Southern Africa). The main ethno-linguistic divisions are Afro-Asiatic (North Africa.

The wide use of Swahili as a lingua franca further establishes the Bantu peoples as a nearly "PanAfrican" cultural influence.encompassing parts of Western Africa. 41 . Central Africa as well as Southern Africa is a result of the Bantu expansions of the 1st millennium AD. Eastern Africa.

BBC. especially with the introduction of technologies that overcome poor ICT infrastructure that hinders Internet access in the region. and Tunisia. and Thomson Foundation are among the partners of the zone. In this regard. Morocco and Tunisia. the United Arab Emirates launched a new content creation zone to support media content creators in the Middle East and North Africa. and commercial 3G mobile services have been launched in Egypt. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.4 Additionally.1 In addition to existing regional hubs Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. Among the major examples are Jordan’s plans to establish a free IT zone in Amman. for example.5 42 . Kuwait. some countries have initiated efforts to develop Arabic Web content. which will give sales and income tax breaks to the software companies and business development firms based in the zone. Thomson Reuters Foundation. It aims to increase employment in the sector and to boost the sector’s revenues from $2. broadcast.2 At the same time. Morocco. CNN. was commercially available by end of March 2009 in Algeria.2 billion in 2009 to $3 billion by end of 2011. The zone is part of a strategy designed to increase the number of Internet users from 26 percent to 50 percent. Libya. Sudan. broadband markets are growing fast in Algeria.3 The number of Internet users is likely to continue to rise. Microsoft is working on translation technology that would make the Arabic language more accessible to Internet users as part of Qatar’s Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology’s initiative to develop more Web sites with Arabic content. digital and publishing. The new Abu Dhabi-based zone aims to employ Arab media professionals in film. while operators in other parts of the region have started testing the service. Jordan.Media Countries in the Middle East and North Africa continue to invest in IT infrastructure and media projects as part of their strategies to develop the local economies and create employment. Egypt. Syria. the Financial Times. WiMAX. Bahrain.

the privatization of which has been postponed due to the global economic crisis. technologically accomplished demographic group—its youth—who are comfortable with it and will customize it to their own requirements.” The report also revealed that. “Digital media will thrive in the Arab market because the market has a large. The Arab Media Outlook 2008–2012 says that.Demographic factors are also expected to contribute to the growth of Internet population. with exception of Algerie Telecom. while in the rest of the countries the under-25. Morocco and Egypt are estimated to be currently less than 25 years old. ‘net generation’ makes up around 35% to 47% of total population.”6 Liberalization of telecommunications markets has already taken place in several Arab countries. a matter which does not encourage direct foreign investment. Most incumbent telecom companies in North Africa are already in private hands. experts say telecom liberalization in the Middle East and North Africa still lags behind the rest of the world in terms cost and efficiency. Saudi Arabia. Jordan.8 43 .7 However. Oman. “over 50% of the population in Yemen.

the president. resulting in a number of arrests across the region.9 This media environment created by authorities has been hostile to bloggers and online activism. the monarch or the religion. four such countries (Egypt. Human rights watchdogs and free speech advocacy groups continue to criticize the media restrictions and repressive legal regimes. stating that the laws in most of the region’s countries still permit the jailing of journalists for undermining the reputation of the state. The International Federation of Journalists called for a radical overhaul of media laws .10 44 . Tunisia.The Media Environment in North Africa The North Africa is one of the most heavily censored regions in the world. a great number of bloggers and cyber-dissidents have been jailed. In a list created by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the ten worst countries to be a blogger. Syria. In April 2009. and over the past few years. and Saudi Arabia) were from the region. Such laws have often been used to suppress reporting of corruption or scrutiny of government actions.

Rifts between the censors and local and regional advocates of freedom of speech have intensified.mostly online pornography . The head of the center was later criticized by Qatar officials as well as some journalists and was accused of endorsing pornography.11 Another example of such a rift is from the Gulf countries." The Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information deplored the charges and described them as a black comedy. For instance.12 which is a sensitive topic in many North African societies. an Arabic Web site called Ehjeb (Arabic for the verb "to block") is becoming increasingly popular. While it is common for Internet groups and online activists in the region to organize online campaigns to condemn online censorship and arrests of bloggers and online writers. some Internet users in North African countries where there is no social filtering have organized online campaigns to demand filtering of sexually explicit content. particularly among users of Web forums. other online campaigns which call for and support social censorship .” In Egypt for example.have emerged in the past few years. The site offers to facilitate blocking of Web sites by sending user-submitted URLs of questionable content to the censors in some of the region’s countries. the authorities arrested a blogger in May 2009 under the accusation of "Exploitation of the democratic climate prevailing in the country to overthrow the regime. which limit freedom of speech online. some governments claim they arrest bloggers and online activists because they abuse what the regimes call “media freedom. while advocates in the region criticize the regimes for the repressive regulations. Interestingly. where the head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom criticized Dubai Police for allegedly asking Google to censor YouTube.13 45 . Also.Internet and Media Regulations The last few years have witnessed an increase in the debate over media and Internet censorship in the region. and more voices continue to express concern about media regulations in the region.

The court rejected the lawsuit in December 2007 and emphasized support for freedom of expression as long as the Web sites do not harm local beliefs or public order.Pro-censorship advocates and anti-censorship activists have also used the court system in their attempts to implement or remove censorship. In May 2009 however. The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. and also indicate that different players will continue the debate and challenge each other. These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms. For example. a blogger challenged the Web filtering regime in the country by filing a legal suit against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) for censoring the social networking site Facebook after it was briefly blocked in August 2008. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive. a Cairo court ruled in favor of an Egyptian lawyer and ordered the Egyptian government to ban access to pornographic Web sites because they are deemed offensive to the values of religion and society. 46 . In Tunisia however.

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