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.


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

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

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

) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.)[2] $477. northern Algeria and Tunisia. Territories and regions Countries and territories Density Population (per km²) Capital Area (km²) GDP (Total) $239. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe. and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land.300 Libyan 6 .234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1. and woods such as cedar and cork. the Nile valley and delta.449 77.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est.381. which extend across much of Morocco.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2.001. The Nile valley is particularly fertile. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock. are grown. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains.759.2 $7. They recede to the south and east.740 33.000 (2009 est.914 3 Tripoli $88. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region. irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.036.Geography The Atlas Mountains. rice and cotton.3 $12. some of which is more than four billion years old.333.540 6. Elsewhere. figs. Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6.498. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals.

379.71 Tunisia 163.100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2.000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4.813 39.505.billion (2008)[3] $136. 15 July 2008.757.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.610 10.000 382.[9] 7 .08 Sudan 2.6 Morocco 446.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.617 1.550 33. United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88.102.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And. Moreover. just across the Mediterranean Sea to the south. though very narrow. 21 . providing wheat and other agricultural products that helped feed Rome. In France’s other African colonies the only French people to live there were officials of the colonial government. the coastal region of Algeria. finally in 1830 the Ottomans in Algeria (but not elsewhere) were defeated by the French who fully colonized Algeria in 1848. is very amenable to agricultural. some missionaries. What were the causes of this political violence? To answer this question we must go back in history. These two factors. Algeria was located less than 500 miles away. In the eighth century CE the indigenous Berber peoples were conquered by the rapidly expanding Arab Islamic forces from the east. made Algeria attractive immigrants from France. in the recent past Algeria has suffered more from internal conflict and violence than any other country in North Africa. In addition.Without a doubt. It is estimated that in the decade between 1992 and 2002 CE more than 100.000 Algerians were killed as a result of politically motivated acts of violence. particularly to the cultivation of fruits. and a few business people. The coastal region of contemporary Algeria was an important part of the Roman Empire. In the 16th century Algeria became part of the powerful Ottoman Empire. 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. grains. Algeria has a long history of occupation by outside rulers. and vegetables. Unlike France’s other African colonies which were thousands of miles from France. geographical proximity to France and agricultural potential.

On July 5. This struggle resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Algerians and Frenchmen/women. The French settlers came to view Algeria not so much as a French colony. based on part on the growing revenues from her new petroleum industry. leading to increasing dissatisfaction with the government. During the nearly 120 years of French colonial rule thousands of French people moved to Algeria and settled there. separated from the rest of France by just a couple hundred miles of the Mediterranean Sea. The situation in Algeria was different.most of the French officials who lived in an African colony spent only part of their adult lives in that colony. due to resistance from the settlers in Algeria. At the same time. Convinced that the French government would continue to side with the interests of the French settlers in Algeria. Unfortunately. France refused to grant independence to Algeria. The military regime. shared similarities with South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) which were also settler dominated colonies within the British colonial system. as a settler dominated colony. many of the economic policies put in place during this time did not result in steady economic growth. responded positively to new Islamic movements which claimed that a return to strict Islamic observance was the solution to Algeria’s economic. did not tolerate public dissent. By the late 1980s many Algerians. but as a province of France. During the next three decades (1962-1991) Algeria was governed by civilian and military governments which were secular and socialist in their orientation. In the 1950s and 1960s when France (and other European colonial powers) submitted to the demands for political freedom by the African populations in their other colonies. unhappy with continuing economic decline and their inability to express their political displeasure. These settlers took control of the best agricultural lands in the country and also soon dominated the economies of urban areas. which governed Algeria from 1965. 1962 Algeria became independent with great optimism. under the leadership of the National Liberation Front. Algerians undertook a war of liberation which lasted from 1954-1962. and political problems. and inspired in part by the American revolution. social. You will more about these colonies in Module 20 Southern Africa. some families for multiple generations. the military regime 22 . Algeria.

responding to domestic and international pressure. 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.000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992. After elections in 1999.. The Algerian army. However. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. with the tacit support of France and the U. the FSI agreed to disband. with the tacit support of Western governments. Political violence did not disappear in Algeria. 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. 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). continuing at a much reduced level. 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. 1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. it is also inappropriate to suggest or assume that North African (and other) Islamic governments support terrorism or violence. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . which banned Islamic parties. Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote. However.S. refuse to recognize the democratic choice of the Algerian people? These groups did not want to see the establishment of another Islamic Republic in region . Fortunately the Algerian story became somewhat more positive in the early 21st Century. In April 2004. Terrorism It would be inappropriate to ignore the issue of terrorism in this region. Why did the military. agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December. 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 UN imposed sanctions against Libya for this reason from 1992-2002. 24 . and dramatically ended Libya’s nuclear weapons development program. However. and the world. Indeed. took responsibility for the bombing of the Pan American flight over Lockerbie.ruling political parties (like the Polisario in Western Sahara) and still others have been in response to former colonial regimes (terrorist bombings in France in the mid-1990s). Scotland (paying millions of dollars of compensation to families of each of the victims of this tragedy). Libya under Muammar Quadhafi supported some of these groups. 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. in 2004 Quadhafi publicly renounced the use of terrorism. the Middle East.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 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. For example. In May 2009 however. and also indicate that different players will continue the debate and challenge each other. These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms. In Tunisia however.Pro-censorship advocates and anti-censorship activists have also used the court system in their attempts to implement or remove censorship. The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. a judge in Egypt filed a lawsuit requesting the banning of 51 Web sites considered offensive. 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.