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


Northern Africa (UN sub-region)

geographic, including above

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

7. Western Sahara


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


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

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

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

) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.914 3 Tripoli $88. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock.449 77. They recede to the south and east.333. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains. Elsewhere.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2. northern Algeria and Tunisia.540 6.759. which extend across much of Morocco. 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.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est. rice and cotton.300 Libyan 6 . dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. and woods such as cedar and cork.381.000 (2009 est. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals.3 $12. the Nile valley and delta.036.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region.)[2] $477. and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. some of which is more than four billion years old. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe. The Nile valley is particularly fertile.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land. figs.740 33.001. Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives.Geography The Atlas Mountains. are grown.2 $7.498.

617 1.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.550 33.[9] 7 .000 382.6 Morocco 446.billion (2008)[3] $136.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.71 Tunisia 163.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266.379.000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4.505.610 10.813 39.102. 15 July 2008.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.08 Sudan 2.757.

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

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

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

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

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

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

didn’t exist in world history until 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.Politics and Government The People of North Africa. the societies of North Africa are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. The rule of the region was often changing. and new movements of people destabilized older regimes of power. and in North Africa they were for the most part created by colonial rulers. as we know them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However. it is also inappropriate to suggest or assume that North African (and other) Islamic governments support terrorism or violence.2000 CE when the FSI agreed to disband. Political violence did not disappear in Algeria. continuing at a much reduced level. 1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. However. Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. Why did the military. which banned Islamic parties. 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. In April 2004.S. 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). agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December. with the tacit support of Western governments. Islamic parties continue to be banned from participating in Algerian elections. decided to ignore the results of the elections and installed a civilian government which excluded the Islamists. The Algerian army. 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. the FSI agreed to disband. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . The elections were clearly and overwhelming won by the Islamic Salvation Front which advocated the establishment of an Islamic government in Algeria. Terrorism It would be inappropriate to ignore the issue of terrorism in this region.000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992.. 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.responding to domestic and international pressure. with the tacit support of France and the U. After elections in 1999.

in 2004 Quadhafi publicly renounced the use of terrorism. Indeed. the Middle East. 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. and the world. However. Scotland (paying millions of dollars of compensation to families of each of the victims of this tragedy). and dramatically ended Libya’s nuclear weapons development program. 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 . the UN imposed sanctions against Libya for this reason from 1992-2002.

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

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

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

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

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

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

there is great diversity of wealth within North African countries. including fundamentalism. 31 . which is slightly higher due to oil revenues) all have GDP per capita of $1000-$2000. As you learned in Learning Activity Two. Morocco © Africa Focus: University of Wisconsin. This disparity of wealth and significant poverty. Urban Market in Fez. are some of the factors that have lead to increasing anti-government movements. due both to its proximity to European markets and its natural resources. 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. Libya often has the highest GDP per capita of the continent since it produces large amounts of petroleum.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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms.Pro-censorship advocates and anti-censorship activists have also used the court system in their attempts to implement or remove censorship. 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. 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. In Tunisia however. 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. and also indicate that different players will continue the debate and challenge each other. The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. For example. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive.