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.


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

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

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

540 6. which extend across much of Morocco.)[2] $477. Territories and regions Countries and territories Density Population (per km²) Capital Area (km²) GDP (Total) $239. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains. rice and cotton.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est.759.036. and woods such as cedar and cork. some of which is more than four billion years old. They recede to the south and east.) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.3 $12. The Nile valley is particularly fertile. northern Algeria and Tunisia.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1.300 Libyan 6 . Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2. are grown. Elsewhere. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals. figs. irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.2 $7.498. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe.333.381. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region. and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. the Nile valley and delta.Geography The Atlas Mountains. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6.000 (2009 est.740 33.001.914 3 Tripoli $88. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land.449 77. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas.

08 Sudan 2.6 Morocco 446.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.617 1.71 Tunisia 163.552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7. 15 July 2008.billion (2008)[3] $136.550 33.000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4.000 382.813 39.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88.379.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2.102. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[9] 7 .505.757.610 10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the substantive side—that is the quality of democratic practice—protection of political and human rights in these countries. 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. 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. Consequently. In structure. To be sure. it is necessary to 16 . The major types of governance in North Africa are: Republican Democracy Algeria. 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 Egypt requires all citizens 18 and above to vote. there is a variety of individual freedoms in each country. Freedom of the press is restricted to different degrees within each country. All three allow all citizens above the age of 18 (20 in Tunisia) to vote. may challenge our understanding of democratic practice. and social displacement (urbanization and modernization) have created conditions that foster Islamic fundamentalism which is completely opposed to democratic principles of governance. Both Algeria and Egypt have bicameral legislatures while Tunisia is unicameral. In Tunisia. However. but by percentages to each party based on what percentage of the vote they received). They point out that social and political instability caused by poverty. each country has illegalized certain forms of political participation. Activity Four: Politics and Government in Post-Colonial Africa. Egypt. Though these countries are democracies. one fundamentalist Islamic party is outlawed as well. In Algeria and Egypt. the lack of economic opportunity. meaning they are governed by elected legislative bodies. these governments argue. political parties based on religion have been outlawed. Legislators and executive officers (presidents) serve terms of 5 to 6 years. and Tunisia are all republican democracies.Module Ten: African Politics and Government. in structure and substance they are not necessarily like the United States.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and also indicate that different players will continue the debate and challenge each other. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive. The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. 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.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 . For example. In May 2009 however. These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms. 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.

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