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

Introduction

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

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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.

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

In the eleventh century.new armies. as Justinian I sent his general Belisarius to reclaim the former Roman province of Africa. some were Jewish. 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. Trade routes between Europe and North Africa remained intact until the coming of the Moslems.. African pope Victor I served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus. By 670. Spain and Italy left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation.D. Arab Conquest to modern times The Arab Islamic conquest reached North Africa in 640 AD. of Roman/Berber ancestry. After the Middle Ages the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire. In 468 A. The issue of regaining North Africa became paramount to the Western Empire. After the 19th century. the imperial and colonial presence of France. except Morocco. a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves Almoravids. Indigenous Berbers subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as Fez. Some Berbers were Christians (but evolved their own Donatist doctrine). most of North Africa had fallen to Muslim rule. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert. and some adhered to their traditional polytheist religion. expanded south into Sub-Saharan Africa. During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained 4 . Morocco. 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 United Kingdom. and Sijilimasa. 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. The Byzantine reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals began in 533 AD. In World War II from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign.

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

The Nile valley is particularly fertile.333.)[2] $477. They recede to the south and east. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas.449 77.914 3 Tripoli $88. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals. rice and cotton. which extend across much of Morocco.498. figs.300 Libyan 6 . are grown. and woods such as cedar and cork. Elsewhere.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock. Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives.036. some of which is more than four billion years old.759. Territories and regions Countries and territories Density Population (per km²) Capital Area (km²) GDP (Total) $239. irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins. northern Algeria and Tunisia.) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.2 $7.3 $12. and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe.Geography The Atlas Mountains.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1.001. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region.381.740 33.540 6. the Nile valley and delta.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6.000 (2009 est.

billion (2008)[3] $136.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266.102.000 382.617 1.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).757.505.08 Sudan 2.6 Morocco 446.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88.71 Tunisia 163.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2.813 39.610 10.379.550 33.552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.[9] 7 .000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4. 15 July 2008.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

though it differs from Great Britain and other constitutional monarchies you may know. 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. the complete law of the state. it is a socialist democracy in which people govern themselves through local political councils. bases laws on the codes of behavior outlined in the Quran. Constitutional Monarchy Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. The legislative branch is a bicameral Parliament. a completely different adoption of Islamic rule and application of the Sharia is found in Libya. as extracted directly from the Quran. while the lower house is elected by popular vote for five-year terms. the upper house is elected indirectly by local councils.) often maintain strong cultural ties to churches. Islamic law—Sharia lawis included to varying extent in the national laws of the country. Islam. Hassan II died in 1999. only in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan under the Taliban regime was Sharia law. In Morocco. unlike Christianity. Alternative Government Libya is a unique government in the region for two reasons. First. was developed as a state religion even at the 17 . 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. However. the military dictator. in theory. even these nations (including the U.S. professional organizations. 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. Second. Muammar Quadhafi.restrict some political and democratic rights in order to protect their countries from becoming much more un-democratic. though these councils do exist and function. who just took the throne when his father. Indeed. and labor syndicates for nine-year terms. King Mohammed VI. Interestingly. runs the executive branch and appoints the prime minister and his cabinet. This concept arises out of the enlightenment and the civil wars in parts of Europe where various Christian factions battled for political power.

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

The Spanish gave up rights to the territory in 1976. the Polisario demanded independence completely for the territory and Mauritania gave up her portion in a treaty signed with the group in 1979. In 1973. has been repeatedly postponed. However. However. claiming Western Sahara as a Moroccan province (the anniversary of the Green March remains a celebrated national holiday in Morocco). Before signing the treaty with Spain. As we will learn in Activity 4 that follows. 300. it is rich in phosphate and in iron ore and supports rich fishing waters along its coast.000 soldiers and citizens of Morocco participated in the “the Green March” and walked south across the border. Morocco. granting the northern two-thirds to Morocco and the southern third to Mauritania. relations between Algeria and Morocco were cut off at times and remain very tense. the Polisario was formed to wage guerilla warfare against the Spanish colonists. Western Sahara is a sparsely populated. however maintains her sovereignty over the entire territory. very hostile desert. phosphate is a valuable 19 . A referendum on the future of the territory. Morocco and the Polisario waged war until a UN-brokered peace agreement in 1991. Moroccan Soldier Patrols the Sahara © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. overseen by the UN.began to reject colonial leaders and demand their independence. Because of Algeria’s support for the Polisario. with virtually no arable land. 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.

Secretary of State in the first Bush administration. former U. Crisis in Algeria 20 . Both sides consider the wealth of that resource worth the fight. is leading the U.). at various historical times. Currently. Saharawi groups have. current residents. like other Berber and Arab ethnic groups.S. Saharawis in Algerian refugee camps. In addition to economic concerns. 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. Moroccans see Saharawis as another of the diverse peoples that make up the Moroccan Nation. only the UN is actively engaged in a mediation effort. 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. 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. Polisario argues that Saharawis are a separate nation from the Moroccans and that the Saharawi people should be independent of Moroccan rule. James Baker. mediating team for the Western Sahara. etc.N. and what the referendum should say.mineral and is a main export of Morocco. how the elections should take place. the identity of the Saharawi people is also contested. Morocco is the only African nation to withdraw its membership from the OAU/AU. In effect. 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. Both organizations have unsuccessfully attempted to mediate between the Polisario and Morocco since the beginning of the dispute in 1976.

is very amenable to agricultural. the coastal region of Algeria. And. In France’s other African colonies the only French people to live there were officials of the colonial government. Algeria was located less than 500 miles away. though very narrow. just across the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The history of French colonization in Algeria was unique—very different from the history of France’s other African colonies. made Algeria attractive immigrants from France. geographical proximity to France and agricultural potential. 21 . Algeria became the first of many French colonies in Africa. What were the causes of this political violence? To answer this question we must go back in history.Without a doubt. Algeria has a long history of occupation by outside rulers. and a few business people. some missionaries. and vegetables. These two factors. The coastal region of contemporary Algeria was an important part of the Roman Empire. providing wheat and other agricultural products that helped feed Rome.000 Algerians were killed as a result of politically motivated acts of violence. 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. In the eighth century CE the indigenous Berber peoples were conquered by the rapidly expanding Arab Islamic forces from the east. Unlike France’s other African colonies which were thousands of miles from France. grains. particularly to the cultivation of fruits. Moreover. In addition. 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.

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

continuing at a much reduced level. 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 . Fortunately the Algerian story became somewhat more positive in the early 21st Century.responding to domestic and international pressure. In April 2004.2000 CE when the FSI agreed to disband. Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote.S. Why did the military. Political violence did not disappear in Algeria. with the tacit support of France and the U. 1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December. 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). After elections in 1999. the FSI agreed to disband. However. 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.000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . 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. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. However. which banned Islamic parties. The Algerian army. 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. with the tacit support of Western governments. 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.

However. 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. the UN imposed sanctions against Libya for this reason from 1992-2002. in 2004 Quadhafi publicly renounced the use of terrorism. Scotland (paying millions of dollars of compensation to families of each of the victims of this tragedy). and the world. the Middle East. took responsibility for the bombing of the Pan American flight over Lockerbie.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). 24 . Libya under Muammar Quadhafi supported some of these groups. Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four prominent language families of Africa are: • • • • Afro-Asiatic Nilo-Saharan Niger-Kordofanian Khoisan An early center of literature was the "African Ink Road". 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. the number is much higher. Swahili and Hausa. as is manifest in all the dimensions of Africa. others are spoken by millions. and many more. and if dialects spoken by various ethnic groups are also included. Sotho.Languages The continent of Africa speaks hundreds of languages. Bambara. The language of Africa presents a unity of character as well as diversity. African and European. Spanish. Very few countries of Africa use any single language and for this reason several official languages coexist. English. 35 . Some Africans may also speak different languages such as Malagasy. French.

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

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

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

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

and to develop new and better ways of conserving the world’s natural assets. The main split is between North Africa. we also need to change our behavior. Horn of Africa). 40 . The main ethno-linguistic divisions are Afro-Asiatic (North Africa. but has fallen out of fashion in African studies. and to survive. Niger-Congo (mostly Bantu) in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. and that we should leave enough for future generations.Development is also expanding beyond purely economic concerns. Chad. use far more resources than other people and that to be good neighbors. The notion of a "Pan-African" culture was discussed in seriousness in the 1960s and 1970s in the context of the Négritude movement. Nilo-Saharan in parts of the Sahara and the Sahel and parts of Eastern Africa. and Sub-Saharan Africa. and India. Also including parts of Oceania. The wide distribution of Bantu peoples across Sub-Saharan Africa. Development also relates to social-cultural change as well as environmental concerns. which is in turn divided into a great number of ethnic and tribal cultures. 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). especially the United States. Egyptian Shopkeeper Takes a Smoke Break © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. These messages highlight how people in the developed world.

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

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

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

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

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

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. 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. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive. 46 .Pro-censorship advocates and anti-censorship activists have also used the court system in their attempts to implement or remove censorship. In Tunisia however. 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. For example. The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. In May 2009 however. 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.

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