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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 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.
North Africa remained a part of the Roman Empire. 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. The Carthaginians developed an empire in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. but relied on mercenaries for land soldiers. as Marius required a professional army. and Sulla. Mogador and Volubilis). to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. resulting in the Carthaginian North African territories becoming the Roman province of Africa in 146 B. all Carthaginian territory was eventually conquered by the Romans. The Carthaginians were of Phoenician origin. She ingeniously devised a method to extend the cowhide to a high proportion. something previously contrary to Roman values to overcome the talented military leader Jugurtha. This led to tension and eventually conflict between Numidia and Rome.History Antiquity and Ancient Rome The most notable nations of antiquity in western North Africa are Carthage and Numidia. with the Roman myth of their origin being that Queen Dido. as Aeneas would eventually lay the foundations for Rome. and stretching the constitutional burden of the Roman republic. whereupon they overcame the fickle Roman defense. The Phoenicians colonized much of North Africa including Carthage and parts of present day Morocco (including Chellah. which produced many notable citizens such as Augustine of Hippo. the Vandals. the latter being the cause of First Punic War with the Romans. a Phoenician princess was granted land by a local ruler based on how much land she could cover with a piece of cowhide. thus gaining a large territory. Over a hundred years and more.C. The Numidian wars are notable for launching the careers of both Gaius Marius. and the wealth required to create 3 . until incompetent leadership from Roman commanders in the early fifth century allowed the Germanic barbarian tribe. The Carthaginians were a commercial power and had a strong navy. thus creating a historical enmity between Carthage and Rome. She was also rejected by the Trojan prince Aeneas according to Virgil.
In the eleventh century. the last attempt by the Romans made a serious attempt to invade North Africa but were repelled. as Justinian I sent his general Belisarius to reclaim the former Roman province of Africa. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert. The Byzantine reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals began in 533 AD. During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained 4 . 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. Indigenous Berbers subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as Fez. In 468 A. except Morocco. The issue of regaining North Africa became paramount to the Western Empire. Some Berbers were Christians (but evolved their own Donatist doctrine). Morocco. the United Kingdom. African pope Victor I served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus. expanded south into Sub-Saharan Africa. Spain and Italy left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation. Arab Conquest to modern times The Arab Islamic conquest reached North Africa in 640 AD. the imperial and colonial presence of France. After the 19th century.new armies. By 670. and some adhered to their traditional polytheist religion. and Sijilimasa. In World War II from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign. Trade routes between Europe and North Africa remained intact until the coming of the Moslems.D.. 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. some were Jewish. but was frustrated by Vandal victories and that the focus of Roman energy had to be on the emerging threat of the Huns. most of North Africa had fallen to Muslim rule. of Roman/Berber ancestry. a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves Almoravids. After the Middle Ages the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire.
5 . There remains a dispute over Western Sahara between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.independence.
Elsewhere.759. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region. They recede to the south and east.036. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1.449 77.740 33.2 $7.381. northern Algeria and Tunisia. The Nile valley is particularly fertile. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land.) $477.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2. 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.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock.333.3 $12. are grown.914 3 Tripoli $88.) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals.540 6. rice and cotton. and woods such as cedar and cork. and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. the Nile valley and delta. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains. figs.000 (2009 est.300 Libyan 6 . Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives.001.498. some of which is more than four billion years old.Geography The Atlas Mountains. which extend across much of Morocco.
500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara Source: • 266.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008) $81.610 10.379.08 Sudan 2.000 382.550 33. 7 .617 1.175 70 Rabat billion (2008) $88.757.552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.6 Morocco 446.71 Tunisia 163.505.813 39.billion (2008) $136. 15 July 2008.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).102.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.000 62 Tunis billion (2008) El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007) (2007) dinar $4.
The official language or one of the official languages in all of the countries in North Africa is Arabic. Northwest Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers since before the beginning of recorded history.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 Nile Valley.found in World Studies book on Africa 8 . Christian. All countries in Africa have at least one of these religions: Muslim. and Jewish. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with peoples that appear to have been Berber or proto-Berber. and the Sahara. while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians. Most popular ethnic groups in North Africa are Arabs and Berbers.
Culture The people of the Maghreb and the Sahara speak various dialects of Berber and Arabic. Most Egyptians are Sunni 9 . whether they are primarily Berber. The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combine indigenous Berber. may or may not exclude pride in and identification with Berber and/or other parts of their heritage. these lines can be blurred. often referred to as Berberists. Egyptians. both being members of the Afro-Asiatic family. In the Sahara. the distinction between sedentary oasis inhabitants and nomadic Bedouin and Tuareg is particularly marked. Over the years. The Arabic and Berber groups of languages are distantly related. The Nile Valley traces its origins to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Kush. Arabs. Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Europe. Asia and Africa. Berber political and cultural activists for their part. however.or Arabicspeaking (see also Arabized Berber). In the Maghreb. while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. where Arab and Berber identities are often integrated. Phoenicians. The Egyptians over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian to modern Egyptian Arabic (both Afro-Asiatic). Arabic-speaking Northwest Africans. 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. Romans. often identify with Arab history and culture and may share a common vision with other Arabs. and almost exclusively follow Islam. The Sahara dialects are notably more conservative than those of coastal cities (see Tuareg languages). may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber. Vandals. Berber peoples have been influenced by other cultures with which they became in contact: Greeks. This. and lately Europeans. Some Berber-speaking North Africans may identify as "Arab" depending on the social and political circumstances. regardless of ethnic background. The diverse peoples of the Sahara chi que en categorized along ethno-linguistic lines.
less than fifteen thousand remain in the region.000 Jews in North Africa. Prior to the modern establishment of Israel. North Africa formerly had a large Jewish population. there were about 600.000– 700.) 10 . including both Sfardīm (refugees from France. (See Jewish exodus from Arab lands.Muslim and a significant minority adheres to Coptic Christianity which has strong historical ties to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church. A smaller number went to Canada. almost all in Morocco and Tunisia. many of whom emigrated to France or Israel when the North African nations gained independence. Spain and Portugal from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous Mizrāḥîm. Today.
which it means it produces much less pollution than other fuel oils. the tourist industry is essential to the economy. 11 . Egypt has the most varied industrial base. Oil rigs are scattered throughout the deserts of Libya and Algeria. and as in Egypt and Tunisia. and maintaining the reputation of its high-quality cotton textiles. Morocco's major exports are phosphates and agricultural produce. 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. Libyan oil is especially prized because of its low sulphur content.
central and east Africa proper. but distinct from "Hottentots") have long been present. but there are also several Nilotic groups in East Africa. and a few remaining indigenous Khoisan ('San' or 'Busmmen') and Pygmy peoples in southern and central Africa. respectively. closely related to. The San are physically distinct from other Africans and are the indigenous people of southern Africa. some Nilotic groups in Ethiopia. Black Nubians also developed civilizations in North Africa during ancient times. and a Bantu African minority in Somalia. Black Africans are predominant in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africans from the Northeast parts of the continent typically have a different appearance from those in other regions. and Arabic speaking Arab-Berber peoples predominate in North Africa. the Arabs who arrived in the 7th century have basically assimilated the indigenous Berber people. "Pygmies" are the indigenous people of central Africa. Aside from the Nilotic groups of southern Sudan. and the European Greeks and Romans settled in North Africa as well. respectively. The Tuareg and other often nomadic peoples are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa. these groups are called North Africans and Sub-Saharan Africans.ranging from the Masai and Tutsi. the distinct people known as the Bushmen (also "San". 12 . The peoples of North Africa are primarily Arab-Berber. and are also present in Tunisia and Libya. The Semitic Phoenicians. known for their tall stature. and are found in parts of southern Cameroon and southern Somalia. In the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa. Berber peoples remain a significant minority within Morocco and Algeria. There is a great diversity of physical types among Sub-Saharan African peoples -.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. Speakers of Bantu languages are the majority in southern. to Pygmies who are among the world's shortest adults.
a large number of Dutch. A fairly large Indian community in Uganda was expelled by the dictator Idi Amin in 1972. and officials also established themselves in administrative centers such as Nairobi and Dakar. Ethnic Somalis as a people originated in the Ethiopian highlands. though many have since returned. Smaller numbers of European soldiers. Some areas of East Africa. and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). 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. to British colonies. particularly people from the Indian subcontinent. the Afrikaners. are the largest white group in South Africa today. the white minority (10% of the population) has largely remained in the country after the end of white rule in 1994. particularly the island of Zanzibar and the Kenyan island of Lamu. a second phase of colonization brought a large number of French and British settlers to Africa. In the 19th century. and smaller ones are present in Kenya and Tanzania and some other southern and east African countries. European colonization also brought sizeable groups of Asians. Beginning in the 16th century. and in the highlands of what is now Kenya. augmented by French Huguenots and Germans settled in what is today South Africa. collectively known as "Habesha") have Semitic (Sabaean) ancestry. Decolonization during the 1960s often resulted in the mass exodus of European-descended settlers out of Africa -especially in Algeria. The French settled in large numbers in Algeria. The British settled in South Africa as well as the colony of Rhodesia.Some Ethiopian and Eritrean groups (like the Amhara and Tigray. Their descendants. Europeans such as the Portuguese and Dutch began to establish trading posts and forts along the coasts of western and southern Africa. and on a smaller scale in other areas of North and West Africa. but most Somali clans can trace Arab ancestry as well. businessmen. Kenya. and are far off in appearance from Arabs in Iraq or Algeria). South Africa also has a community of mixed-race people (Coloured people). received Arab and Asian Muslim settlers and merchants throughout the Middle Ages. 13 . Eventually. However in South Africa.
as new mobile groups overran established rulers. The rule of the region was often changing. as we know them. the societies of North Africa are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. and in North Africa they were for the most part created by colonial rulers. and new movements of people destabilized older regimes of power. didn’t exist in world history until the 19th century. Nation-states.Politics and Government The People of North Africa. Map 7: Colonial Territories in 1914 Map 8: Colonial Territories in 1945 Maps 7 & 8 Key 14 .
Activity Three—The Political Heritage of Colonialism. http://ex.For instance.html Colonial governments differed in the amount of autonomy they granted indigenous inhabitants. there are different types of governance and political practice in North Africa.edu/africa/curriculum/lm10/actthree. and notice how the colonial borders shifted and where the current political borders are. the involvement of locals in the governance of their country. etc. When the North African countries were granted independence (see map below). An excellent history of this is recounted by Gavin Maxwell in Lords of the Atlas (2000). the ability of elites to gain education in the ruling country. the throne moved around.matrix. or allied against. Independence Dates of North African Countries As with the rest of Africa. the amount of political opposition they allowed. they created the borders which are. etc. conquered or took over new areas. When European powers divided the continent between them. and these have adapted over time to their diverse populations and situations. 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). though Morocco has the longest existing monarchy in the world. they tried a variety of governance systems.msu. For a review of the political impact of colonialism please refer to Module Ten: African Politics and Government. For a review of politics and governance in the continent please link to 15 . the actual borders of the country were never entirely set—they were in flux as groups of people loyal to. Review the maps below. The colonists often capitalized on ethnic divisions in the region (especially between Arab and Berber peoples) to take over territories.
one fundamentalist Islamic party is outlawed as well. it is necessary to 16 . Egypt. in structure and substance they are not necessarily like the United States. meaning they are governed by elected legislative bodies. Freedom of the press is restricted to different degrees within each country. Legislators and executive officers (presidents) serve terms of 5 to 6 years. In Tunisia. political parties based on religion have been outlawed. They point out that social and political instability caused by poverty. and Egypt requires all citizens 18 and above to vote. but by percentages to each party based on what percentage of the vote they received). To be sure. and Tunisia are all republican democracies. In Algeria and Egypt. The major types of governance in North Africa are: Republican Democracy Algeria. Consequently. each country has illegalized certain forms of political participation. there is a variety of individual freedoms in each country. may challenge our understanding of democratic practice. In structure. The governments of these countries defend the restrictions on political rights arguing that political rights without restrictions would result in political chaos and violence. On the substantive side—that is the quality of democratic practice—protection of political and human rights in these countries. the lack of economic opportunity. Both Algeria and Egypt have bicameral legislatures while Tunisia is unicameral. However. Though these countries are democracies. these governments argue. 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. All three allow all citizens above the age of 18 (20 in Tunisia) to vote. Activity Four: Politics and Government in Post-Colonial Africa. and social displacement (urbanization and modernization) have created conditions that foster Islamic fundamentalism which is completely opposed to democratic principles of governance. 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.Module Ten: African Politics and Government.
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. even these nations (including the U. while the lower house is elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Indeed. the complete law of the state. This concept arises out of the enlightenment and the civil wars in parts of Europe where various Christian factions battled for political power. Islamic law—Sharia lawis included to varying extent in the national laws of the country. in theory. Interestingly. though these councils do exist and function. the military dictator. The legislative branch is a bicameral Parliament. First. Hassan II died in 1999. Second. who just took the throne when his father. runs the executive branch and appoints the prime minister and his cabinet. bases laws on the codes of behavior outlined in the Quran. Muammar Quadhafi. only in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan under the Taliban regime was Sharia law. Islam. though it differs from Great Britain and other constitutional monarchies you may know.S. However. 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.restrict some political and democratic rights in order to protect their countries from becoming much more un-democratic. King Mohammed VI. Alternative Government Libya is a unique government in the region for two reasons. a completely different adoption of Islamic rule and application of the Sharia is found in Libya. as extracted directly from the Quran. professional organizations. unlike Christianity. In Morocco. and labor syndicates for nine-year terms. it is a socialist democracy in which people govern themselves through local political councils. 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. the upper house is elected indirectly by local councils. Constitutional Monarchy Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. was developed as a state religion even at the 17 .) often maintain strong cultural ties to churches.
This area. Political Conflicts As in other regions of Africa. The Quran (Koran) includes instructions on running governments. If you are interested in more information. between southern Morocco and Mauritania. drawn by colonialists. they 18 . a paper by Dr. An excellent example of this is the disputed territory of the Western Sahara. North Africa is no exception. both within individual countries and between neighboring countries.htm.time of its birth. ask your librarian. Many scholars address the issue of the Islamic state. have been in dispute in many areas throughout post-colonial Africa.com/researches/contradictione. in the post-colonial era North Africa has experienced political conflicts. on the rights of people. and on the relations of Muslim citizens with each other (especially in civil laws).g3z. Algeria. Crisis Over the Western Sahara Because national borders and movements of people were fluid before colonialism. We will briefly look at examples of each type of conflict. was colonized by the Spanish rather than the French who colonized Morocco (with the exception of two Spanish cities on the Mediterranean coast). and Tunisia. Ahmed Subhy Mansour on the web at http://ahmed. the arbitrary borders. As the people of the region (called Saharawis) became sedentary. or start by reading The Contradiction Between the Islamic State and the Religious State.
000 soldiers and citizens of Morocco participated in the “the Green March” and walked south across the border. it is rich in phosphate and in iron ore and supports rich fishing waters along its coast. with virtually no arable land. A referendum on the future of the territory. 300. has been repeatedly postponed. granting the northern two-thirds to Morocco and the southern third to Mauritania. In 1973. claiming Western Sahara as a Moroccan province (the anniversary of the Green March remains a celebrated national holiday in Morocco). the Polisario was formed to wage guerilla warfare against the Spanish colonists. As we will learn in Activity 4 that follows. the Polisario demanded independence completely for the territory and Mauritania gave up her portion in a treaty signed with the group in 1979. Western Sahara is a sparsely populated. relations between Algeria and Morocco were cut off at times and remain very tense.began to reject colonial leaders and demand their independence. However. however maintains her sovereignty over the entire territory. Moroccan Soldier Patrols the Sahara © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. overseen by the UN. You may be wondering why all the fuss? There are both economic and social causes of this conflict. Before signing the treaty with Spain. Because of Algeria’s support for the Polisario. including the portion first ceded to Mauritania. very hostile desert. phosphate is a valuable 19 . However. The Spanish gave up rights to the territory in 1976. Morocco and the Polisario waged war until a UN-brokered peace agreement in 1991. Morocco.
James Baker. Saharawis in Algerian refugee camps. Crisis in Algeria 20 . how the elections should take place. Secretary of State in the first Bush administration. Moroccans see Saharawis as another of the diverse peoples that make up the Moroccan Nation. Both sides consider the wealth of that resource worth the fight. In addition to economic concerns. Polisario argues that Saharawis are a separate nation from the Moroccans and that the Saharawi people should be independent of Moroccan rule. Currently. like other Berber and Arab ethnic groups. Both organizations have unsuccessfully attempted to mediate between the Polisario and Morocco since the beginning of the dispute in 1976. 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. 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. mediating team for the Western Sahara. 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.N.S. former U. etc. the identity of the Saharawi people is also contested. In effect.mineral and is a main export of Morocco. Saharawi groups have. is leading the U. only the UN is actively engaged in a mediation effort. at various historical times. Morocco is the only African nation to withdraw its membership from the OAU/AU. 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. and what the referendum should say. current residents.).
In the eighth century CE the indigenous Berber peoples were conquered by the rapidly expanding Arab Islamic forces from the east. What were the causes of this political violence? To answer this question we must go back in history. Algeria has a long history of occupation by outside rulers. geographical proximity to France and agricultural potential. It is estimated that in the decade between 1992 and 2002 CE more than 100. though very narrow. And. and a few business people.000 Algerians were killed as a result of politically motivated acts of violence. Algeria was located less than 500 miles away. just across the Mediterranean Sea to the south. some missionaries.Without a doubt. These two factors. grains. In the 16th century Algeria became part of the powerful Ottoman Empire. and vegetables. finally in 1830 the Ottomans in Algeria (but not elsewhere) were defeated by the French who fully colonized Algeria in 1848. Moreover. 21 . providing wheat and other agricultural products that helped feed Rome. is very amenable to agricultural. The coastal region of contemporary Algeria was an important part of the Roman Empire. in the recent past Algeria has suffered more from internal conflict and violence than any other country in North Africa. particularly to the cultivation of fruits. In addition. Unlike France’s other African colonies which were thousands of miles from France. Algeria became the first of many French colonies in Africa. made Algeria attractive immigrants from France. In France’s other African colonies the only French people to live there were officials of the colonial government. The history of French colonization in Algeria was unique—very different from the history of France’s other African colonies. the coastal region of Algeria.
responded positively to new Islamic movements which claimed that a return to strict Islamic observance was the solution to Algeria’s economic. You will more about these colonies in Module 20 Southern Africa. separated from the rest of France by just a couple hundred miles of the Mediterranean Sea. On July 5. which governed Algeria from 1965. France refused to grant independence to Algeria. During the next three decades (1962-1991) Algeria was governed by civilian and military governments which were secular and socialist in their orientation. the military regime 22 . some families for multiple generations. social.most of the French officials who lived in an African colony spent only part of their adult lives in that colony. The situation in Algeria was different. based on part on the growing revenues from her new petroleum industry. as a settler dominated colony. Algeria. shared similarities with South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) which were also settler dominated colonies within the British colonial system. leading to increasing dissatisfaction with the government. This struggle resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Algerians and Frenchmen/women. The military regime. due to resistance from the settlers in Algeria. Convinced that the French government would continue to side with the interests of the French settlers in Algeria. many of the economic policies put in place during this time did not result in steady economic growth. unhappy with continuing economic decline and their inability to express their political displeasure. The French settlers came to view Algeria not so much as a French colony. Algerians undertook a war of liberation which lasted from 1954-1962. Unfortunately. under the leadership of the National Liberation Front. By the late 1980s many Algerians. During the nearly 120 years of French colonial rule thousands of French people moved to Algeria and settled there. did not tolerate public dissent. At the same time. and political problems. These settlers took control of the best agricultural lands in the country and also soon dominated the economies of urban areas. 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. and inspired in part by the American revolution. but as a province of France. 1962 Algeria became independent with great optimism.
Fortunately the Algerian story became somewhat more positive in the early 21st Century. 1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote. 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. 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. Why did the military. continuing at a much reduced level. However.S. The elections were clearly and overwhelming won by the Islamic Salvation Front which advocated the establishment of an Islamic government in Algeria. Political violence did not disappear in Algeria. 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 . After elections in 1999. In April 2004. agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December. which banned Islamic parties. with the tacit support of Western governments.2000 CE when the FSI agreed to disband. The Algerian army. decided to ignore the results of the elections and installed a civilian government which excluded the Islamists. it is also inappropriate to suggest or assume that North African (and other) Islamic governments support terrorism or violence. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. 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). Islamic parties continue to be banned from participating in Algerian elections. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . However. Terrorism It would be inappropriate to ignore the issue of terrorism in this region. the FSI agreed to disband.responding to domestic and international pressure. with the tacit support of France and the U..000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992.
and dramatically ended Libya’s nuclear weapons development program. However. Scotland (paying millions of dollars of compensation to families of each of the victims of this tragedy). the UN imposed sanctions against Libya for this reason from 1992-2002. the Middle East. 24 . and the world. 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. Libya under Muammar Quadhafi supported some of these groups.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). in 2004 Quadhafi publicly renounced the use of terrorism. Indeed. took responsibility for the bombing of the Pan American flight over Lockerbie.
and people trade homemade crafts and surplus foodstuffs all without the regulation of the government. Informal economic activities are those that are not regulated. the government doesn’t or can’t regulate the exchange so these are informal economic activities. How much of a country’s economy is based on informal or formal economic activities varies by country. 25 . paying taxes. men negotiate whose animals will plow the fields. when people barter. 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. like buying and selling goods.Economy North Africa and other countries. etc. For instance. produce goods and are paid for our labor. most of the economy is formal: we use money. In the United States. Formal economic behavior is what you’ve probably studied in Social Studies. the government can exact taxes. you’ve bartered! In many part of Africa. etc. we are really talking about two interrelated types of economic behavior: formal and informal. These activities are called formal because they can be regulated: workers and customers have safety protections. Women barter with each other over who will do which domestic chores. the informal economy is very important. etc. are taxed. making products in factories.
26 . 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.
Agriculture and Food Agriculture is still one of the most important sectors of the economies of North Africa. Egyptian Woman Prepares Bread To Sell © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin.S. dates and figs in abundance. 40% in Egypt. 25% in Algeria and probably even fewer in Libya which imports close to 75% of its food. The number of people employed in agriculture varies by country: about 50% in Morocco. both for feeding the population and for export. legumes like lentils and chickpeas. 27 . grapes (for eating and to produce wine). onions. olives. vegetables. wheat. The region depends on its fertile areas to grow crops. including sugarcane. grains like barley. In the Nile Valley. peppers and eggplants. Tunisian Olive Harvesting © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. oats and even corn. and other Mediterranean and arid produce. like nuts. including tomatoes that are shipped to the U. cotton and even rice. Egyptians also cultivate crops that need more water.. including oranges and other citrus fruits.
The seas provide fish both for consumption and for export. copper. barytine. lead. and mules. manganese. especially for sheep but also for cows. silver. donkeys. poultry. gold. As you remember from Learning Activity Three [link to this page] the Western Sahara is a major phosphate producer. camels. goats. limestone. and coal (in Morocco). horses. gypsum. Moroccan Herders Graze Sheep © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin.Moroccan Wheat Harvest in Atlas Mountains © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. Petroleum and natural 28 . of course. The region also has deposits of other minerals including iron ore. Marginal lands in North Africa provide scrub for a large livestock livelihood. salt. zinc. Egyptian Boy Guides Water Buffalo © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. and. Minerals and other Natural Resources Much of North Africa is mineral rich.
North Africa also produces forest products. 29 . but the rest of the region also contains sizeable deposits of these resources. Across the region these and other industries—including textile and leather goods manufacturing. their manufacturing and production capacities tend to start with their major resources exports and branch out into other industries. construction materials fabrication. Morocco produces leather goods from its livestock resources. Lastly. Egypt has grown a flourishing textile industry from its cotton resources.gas exports provide most of Libya’s revenues. including furniture and cabinet wood. raising livestock. food and beverage (especially wine) processing. metallurgy including iron and steel making as well as jewelry crafting. and Libya refines its oil and natural gas resources. chemical and fertilizer producing. and extracting oil and gas). commerce and production bases As the countries of North Africa industrialize. and even paper milling—are providing increasing employment for urban workers (as well as rural workers in areas like mining minerals. especially Algeria and Egypt. and is a leading producer of cork. Tunisian Olive Oil Refinery © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. For example. Tunisia manufactures wood products. Industry. Algeria refines and bottles its olive oil.
When North Africans emigrate to Europe (particularly to France. and Spain) or other regions of the world to find employment. Tunisia. 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. Along the coasts and the interior of the region are a variety of luxury resorts and hotels. Italy. 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. mid-priced business convention centers. Germany. and budget accommodations for backpackers and “adventure” tourists. in that they continually add income to the region’s people. However. including the United Nations and regional governments. 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. but many agencies.Tourism Like in East Africa. this is informal economic activity and cannot be regulated until inhabitants spend the money on their foodstuffs and other necessities. and Egypt are popular destinations while the recent instability of Algeria and Libya make these less appealing to European. These remittances are vital to the economies of North Africa. 30 . and Asian travelers. American. You already learned about Tuaregs in the Sahara inviting tourists to learn about and experience their traditional lifestyles in Learning Activity 2. Hence Morocco. but not all tourists necessarily want to “rough it” in that manner. note that remittances are vital to North African economies. Remittances North African economies also depend on the remittances of emigrated workers. It is almost impossible to accurately measure remittances.
See the African Cultural Center’s webpage on wealth to see how the nations of Africa compare to each other. are some of the factors that have lead to increasing anti-government movements. which is slightly higher due to oil revenues) all have GDP per capita of $1000-$2000. due both to its proximity to European markets and its natural resources. As you learned in Learning Activity Two. both in urban slums and in rural areas. This disparity of wealth and significant poverty.Economic challenges Disparity of wealth/resources North Africa is one of the wealthiest regions of Africa. 31 . including fundamentalism. Urban Market in Fez. though the region’s nations (with the exception of Libya. there is great diversity of wealth within North African countries. Morocco © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. Libya often has the highest GDP per capita of the continent since it produces large amounts of petroleum.
32 .Libyan Rural Market © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin.
33 . mythological characters and deities. paintings. Many pieces of such jewellery are made of cowry shells and similar materials. Masks are used in various ceremonies depicting ancestors and spirits. African arts and crafts find expression in a variety of woodcarvings. The mother with the child or children reveals intense desire of the African women to have children. and an outsider or a stranger. The man with the weapon or animal theme symbolizes honor and power. In most of traditional art and craft of Africa. masks are made with elaborate designs and are important part of African culture. African culture has always placed emphasis on personal appearance and jewelry has remained an important personal accessory. The theme is also representative of mother mars and the people as her children. The couple theme rarely exhibit intimacy of men and women. Couples may represent ancestors. community founder. pottery. ceremonial and religious headgear and dress. a male with a weapon or animal. African arts and crafts also include sculpture. Similarly. married couple or twins. and more distorted portrayal of the stranger indicates proportionately greater gap from the stranger. brass and leather art works. a woman with a child. including a couple. A stranger may be from some other tribe or someone from a different country. certain themes significant to African culture recur.African Art and Crafts Africa has a rich tradition of arts and crafts.
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. a mythological story from Côte d'Ivoire states that a charitable man gave away everything he had. Similarly. advised him to leave the area. according to a Pygmy myth. and sent six months of rains to destroy his selfish neighbors. Like almost all civilizations and cultures. The God Ouende rewarded him with riches. The first human couple emerged with the water. 34 . flood myths have been circulating in different parts of Africa. African folklore and folktales represent a variety of social facets of African culture. For example.Folklore and traditional religion Like all human cultures.
others are spoken by millions. All these languages and dialects do not have same importance: some are spoken by only few hundred persons. 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". Sotho. as is manifest in all the dimensions of Africa. and if dialects spoken by various ethnic groups are also included. The language of Africa presents a unity of character as well as diversity. the number is much higher. Very few countries of Africa use any single language and for this reason several official languages coexist. and many more. French. African and European. Spanish. Among the most prominent languages spoken are Arabic. Bambara. 35 . English. Some Africans may also speak different languages such as Malagasy.Languages The continent of Africa speaks hundreds of languages.
Africa contains well over a thousand languages. Niger-Congo is divided to show the size of the Bantu sub-family. Uganda. North Africa. A substantial number of them are the Bantu languages spoken in much of subSaharan Africa. Kenya.Map showing the distribution of African language families and some major African languages. • 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. By most estimates. 36 . Afro-Asiatic extends from the North Africa through the Horn of Africa to Southwest Asia. Ethiopia. • The Khoisan languages number about 50 and are spoken in Southern Africa by approximately 120 000 people. Nilo-Saharan languages are mainly spoken in Chad. Many of the Khoisan languages are endangered. Sudan. and parts of the Sahel. • The Nilo-Saharan language family consists of more than a hundred languages spoken by 30 million people. Southwest Asia. 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. and northern Tanzania.
in numerous countries English and French are used for communication in the public sphere such as government. Arabic. Portuguese. Afrikaans and Malagasy are other examples of originally non-African languages that are used by millions of Africans today. education and the media.The Khoi and San peoples are considered the original inhabitants of this part of Africa. With a few notable exceptions in East Africa. For example. nearly all African countries have adopted official languages that originated outside the continent and spread through colonialism or human migration. 37 . commerce. both in the public and private spheres.
including use of food products like peppers. several other spices. as also glimpses of colonial food traditions. cinnamons. banana and plantain are some of the more familiar fruits. and Europeans with "mixed grills" that now include African game meats. Traditionally. along the Mediterranean from Morocco to Egypt has different food habits than Saharan Africans who consume subsistence diet. having influences of several immigrants which include Indians who brought lentil soups (dals) and curries. sheep and goats were regarded as a form of currency. 38 . Cassava and yams are the main root vegetables. The African cuisine is a combination of traditional fruits and vegetables. The cuisine of South Africa and neighboring countries have largely become polyglot cuisines. and juice. Watermelon. North Africa. starchy cassava. Differences are also noticeable in eating and drinking habits across the continent of Africa. Arabic influences are also reflected in East African cuisine – rice cooked with spices in style. and are not generally consumed as food. Non-Muslim population of Africa also uses alcoholic beverages. Africans also use steamed greens with hot spices. Cooking techniques of West Africa often combine fish and meat. peas. The African village diet is often milk. beans and cereals. Thus. Traditional African cuisine is characterized by use of starch as a focus. yams and sweet potatoes are widely consumed. Dishes of steamed or boiled green vegetables. milk and meat products. including dried fish. The most familiar alcoholic drink in the interior Africa is the Ethiopian honey wine called Tej. there are numerous wild fruits and vegetables which are used as food. Nigeria and coastal parts of West Africa love chilies in food. use of cloves. East African cuisine is distinctive in the sense that meat products are generally absent. Exotic game and fish are gathered from Africa's vast area. peanuts and maize introduced by the colonizers.Cuisine Africa is a huge continent and the food and drink of Africa reflect local influences. Cattle. curds and whey. or both. accompanied by stew containing meat or vegetables. which goes well with most African cuisine. In each African locality. Malays who came with their curries with spices.
Not only do we need markets to sell our goods. 39 . 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 America. As globalization increases. the economic wellbeing of foreign nations becomes more and more important to our livlihoods. Throughout the course of this movement. and Asia. instigating economic recession in a variety of places. we need the raw materials. 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. Development is more relevant to our lives than you may think. One of the tenets of development today is that all people have the right to self-determination. North African countries are called developing nations because they have a significantly lower GDP than the industrialized nations of Europe. the goals of this development have changed. As you may remember from the late 1990s. economic problems in one region (at that time East Asia) can reverberate around the world. Since shortly after World War Two. not only conflict but also peace.Implications of development and globalization Like the rest of Africa. This is not just true of our economic lives—as we can see in Afghanistan and Iraq. from economic modernization to provision of social services to the poor to redesign of economic systems to political and social empowerment of populations. Egyptian Caretakers of Cairo Apartment Building © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. labor and other resources that African countries (and the rest of the developing nations) provide.
especially the United States. we also need to change our behavior. and that we should leave enough for future generations.Development is also expanding beyond purely economic concerns. Egyptian Shopkeeper Takes a Smoke Break © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. but has fallen out of fashion in African studies. 40 . which is in turn divided into a great number of ethnic and tribal cultures. Chad. Sustainable development is based on a concept that no one should take more from the environment than it can sustain. Nilo-Saharan in parts of the Sahara and the Sahel and parts of Eastern Africa. use far more resources than other people and that to be good neighbors. The wide distribution of Bantu peoples across Sub-Saharan Africa. and Khoisan (indigenous minorities of Southern Africa). These messages highlight how people in the developed world. and to develop new and better ways of conserving the world’s natural assets. The main ethno-linguistic divisions are Afro-Asiatic (North Africa. The main split is between North Africa. Also including parts of Oceania. and to survive. Development also relates to social-cultural change as well as environmental concerns. and Sub-Saharan Africa. and India. The notion of a "Pan-African" culture was discussed in seriousness in the 1960s and 1970s in the context of the Négritude movement. Niger-Congo (mostly Bantu) in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Horn of 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. Eastern Africa. 41 . Central Africa as well as Southern Africa is a result of the Bantu expansions of the 1st millennium AD.
while operators in other parts of the region have started testing the service. broadcast. and Tunisia. for example. It aims to increase employment in the sector and to boost the sector’s revenues from $2. Among the major examples are Jordan’s plans to establish a free IT zone in Amman. digital and publishing. Libya. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Kuwait.5 42 . and Thomson Foundation are among the partners of the zone. especially with the introduction of technologies that overcome poor ICT infrastructure that hinders Internet access in the region. broadband markets are growing fast in Algeria.2 billion in 2009 to $3 billion by end of 2011. Egypt. The new Abu Dhabi-based zone aims to employ Arab media professionals in film. was commercially available by end of March 2009 in Algeria. Thomson Reuters Foundation. Morocco. the United Arab Emirates launched a new content creation zone to support media content creators in the Middle East and North Africa. BBC. Jordan. In this regard.2 At the same time. Sudan. CNN. Morocco and Tunisia.3 The number of Internet users is likely to continue to rise. which will give sales and income tax breaks to the software companies and business development firms based in the zone. Bahrain. the Financial Times. 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. The zone is part of a strategy designed to increase the number of Internet users from 26 percent to 50 percent.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.4 Additionally. some countries have initiated efforts to develop Arabic Web content. Syria. and commercial 3G mobile services have been launched in Egypt.1 In addition to existing regional hubs Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. WiMAX.
7 However. The Arab Media Outlook 2008–2012 says that. the privatization of which has been postponed due to the global economic crisis.” The report also revealed that. “over 50% of the population in Yemen. technologically accomplished demographic group—its youth—who are comfortable with it and will customize it to their own requirements. Saudi Arabia. ‘net generation’ makes up around 35% to 47% of total population. Jordan. with exception of Algerie Telecom. Morocco and Egypt are estimated to be currently less than 25 years old.”6 Liberalization of telecommunications markets has already taken place in several Arab countries. experts say telecom liberalization in the Middle East and North Africa still lags behind the rest of the world in terms cost and efficiency. “Digital media will thrive in the Arab market because the market has a large. Most incumbent telecom companies in North Africa are already in private hands. while in the rest of the countries the under-25.8 43 . a matter which does not encourage direct foreign investment.Demographic factors are also expected to contribute to the growth of Internet population. Oman.
four such countries (Egypt. the president. the monarch or the religion. The International Federation of Journalists called for a radical overhaul of media laws . resulting in a number of arrests across the region.10 44 . Syria.9 This media environment created by authorities has been hostile to bloggers and online activism. In April 2009. stating that the laws in most of the region’s countries still permit the jailing of journalists for undermining the reputation of the state. Such laws have often been used to suppress reporting of corruption or scrutiny of government actions. and Saudi Arabia) were from the region.The Media Environment in North Africa The North Africa is one of the most heavily censored regions in the world. In a list created by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the ten worst countries to be a blogger. Human rights watchdogs and free speech advocacy groups continue to criticize the media restrictions and repressive legal regimes. Tunisia. a great number of bloggers and cyber-dissidents have been jailed. and over the past few years.
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.12 which is a sensitive topic in many North African societies. some governments claim they arrest bloggers and online activists because they abuse what the regimes call “media freedom. The head of the center was later criticized by Qatar officials as well as some journalists and was accused of endorsing pornography. while advocates in the region criticize the regimes for the repressive regulations. which limit freedom of speech online. Rifts between the censors and local and regional advocates of freedom of speech have intensified." The Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information deplored the charges and described them as a black comedy.13 45 . some Internet users in North African countries where there is no social filtering have organized online campaigns to demand filtering of sexually explicit content. an Arabic Web site called Ehjeb (Arabic for the verb "to block") is becoming increasingly popular.” In Egypt for example. other online campaigns which call for and support social censorship .11 Another example of such a rift is from the Gulf countries. Interestingly. 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. For instance.mostly online pornography .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. 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. Also. where the head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom criticized Dubai Police for allegedly asking Google to censor YouTube. particularly among users of Web forums. and more voices continue to express concern about media regulations in the region.
The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. 46 . 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. 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. In Tunisia however. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive. 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. These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms. In May 2009 however.Pro-censorship advocates and anti-censorship activists have also used the court system in their attempts to implement or remove censorship. and also indicate that different players will continue the debate and challenge each other. For example.