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


Northern Africa (UN sub-region)

geographic, including above

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

7. Western Sahara


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


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

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

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

and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe.036. and woods such as cedar and cork. rice and cotton.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est.498.Geography The Atlas Mountains.740 33.) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2.333.540 6. irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins. the Nile valley and delta. northern Algeria and Tunisia. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land. They recede to the south and east. figs. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock. Elsewhere.000 (2009 est. which extend across much of Morocco.)[2] $477.300 Libyan 6 .914 3 Tripoli $88.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6. The Nile valley is particularly fertile.3 $12.449 77. some of which is more than four billion years old. are grown. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains.001.381.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1.2 $7. Territories and regions Countries and territories Density Population (per km²) Capital Area (km²) GDP (Total) $239.759. Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region.

379.billion (2008)[3] $136.000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4.[9] 7 . 15 July 2008.6 Morocco 446.757.813 39.617 1.000 382.102.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266.08 Sudan 2.610 10.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88.71 Tunisia 163.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.550 33.505.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map 7: Colonial Territories in 1914 Map 8: Colonial Territories in 1945 Maps 7 & 8 Key 14 . as new mobile groups overran established rulers. didn’t exist in world history until the 19th century. and in North Africa they were for the most part created by colonial rulers. 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. Nation-states.Politics and Government The People of North Africa. as we know them.

and these have adapted over time to their diverse populations and situations. etc. Activity Three—The Political Heritage of Colonialism. they created the borders which are. 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). and notice how the colonial borders shifted and where the current political borders are. 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. http://ex.html Colonial governments differed in the amount of autonomy they granted indigenous inhabitants. the throne moved around. Review the maps below. the involvement of locals in the governance of their country.For instance. conquered or took over new areas. the ability of elites to gain education in the ruling country. When the North African countries were granted independence (see map below). they tried a variety of governance systems. The colonists often capitalized on ethnic divisions in the region (especially between Arab and Berber peoples) to take over 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. etc. Independence Dates of North African Countries As with the rest of Africa.matrix. When European powers divided the continent between them. though Morocco has the longest existing monarchy in the world.msu. An excellent history of this is recounted by Gavin Maxwell in Lords of the Atlas (2000). or allied against.

The major types of governance in North Africa are: Republican Democracy Algeria. there is a variety of individual freedoms in each country. To be sure. Activity Four: Politics and Government in Post-Colonial Africa. All three allow all citizens above the age of 18 (20 in Tunisia) to vote. and Tunisia are all republican democracies. it is necessary to 16 . political parties based on religion have been outlawed. On the substantive side—that is the quality of democratic practice—protection of political and human rights in these countries. They point out that social and political instability caused by poverty. In Algeria and Egypt. and Egypt requires all citizens 18 and above to vote. these governments argue. However. but by percentages to each party based on what percentage of the vote they received). They all support many political parties and representation is proportional (seats in the legislature are awarded not to which party wins a certain region of the country. In structure. Both Algeria and Egypt have bicameral legislatures while Tunisia is unicameral. In Tunisia. Though these countries are democracies. each country has illegalized certain forms of political participation. one fundamentalist Islamic party is outlawed as well. 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. the lack of economic opportunity. and social displacement (urbanization and modernization) have created conditions that foster Islamic fundamentalism which is completely opposed to democratic principles of governance. Freedom of the press is restricted to different degrees within each country. Egypt. meaning they are governed by elected legislative bodies. may challenge our understanding of democratic practice.Module Ten: African Politics and Government. in structure and substance they are not necessarily like the United States. Consequently. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

with the tacit support of France and the U. 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. The elections were clearly and overwhelming won by the Islamic Salvation Front which advocated the establishment of an Islamic government in Algeria. decided to ignore the results of the elections and installed a civilian government which excluded the Islamists.2000 CE when the FSI agreed to disband. 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). Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote. Why did the military. The Algerian army. continuing at a much reduced level. agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December.000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992. 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 .. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. After elections in 1999. Terrorism It would be inappropriate to ignore the issue of terrorism in this region. Fortunately the Algerian story became somewhat more positive in the early 21st Century.responding to domestic and international pressure.S. However. with the tacit support of Western governments. the FSI agreed to disband. it is also inappropriate to suggest or assume that North African (and other) Islamic governments support terrorism or violence. Political violence did not disappear in Algeria. Islamic parties continue to be banned from participating in Algerian elections. 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. which banned Islamic parties. However. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . 1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. In April 2004.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

broadcast. Libya. some countries have initiated efforts to develop Arabic Web content. Sudan. Thomson Reuters Foundation.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. Morocco. In this regard.3 The number of Internet users is likely to continue to rise. the United Arab Emirates launched a new content creation zone to support media content creators in the Middle East and North Africa. which will give sales and income tax breaks to the software companies and business development firms based in the zone. WiMAX. Syria.4 Additionally. Kuwait. It aims to increase employment in the sector and to boost the sector’s revenues from $2. was commercially available by end of March 2009 in Algeria. The new Abu Dhabi-based zone aims to employ Arab media professionals in film. for example. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. and Tunisia.2 At the same time. Among the major examples are Jordan’s plans to establish a free IT zone in Amman. Bahrain. Egypt. the Financial Times. and Thomson Foundation are among the partners of the zone. broadband markets are growing fast in Algeria. especially with the introduction of technologies that overcome poor ICT infrastructure that hinders Internet access in the region. BBC. and commercial 3G mobile services have been launched in Egypt. Morocco and Tunisia. while operators in other parts of the region have started testing the service.1 In addition to existing regional hubs Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. digital and publishing. CNN. 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.2 billion in 2009 to $3 billion by end of 2011.5 42 . Jordan.

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

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

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

The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. and also indicate that different players will continue the debate and challenge each other. 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. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive. In Tunisia however. 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. 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. 46 . a blogger challenged the Web filtering regime in the country by filing a legal suit against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) for censoring the social networking site Facebook after it was briefly blocked in August 2008. For example. These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms.

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