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.


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

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

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

and most of Egypt's population lives close to the river.001. and woods such as cedar and cork. Elsewhere. and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land. The Nile valley is particularly fertile.333. figs. Typical Mediterranean crops such as olives. are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe.234 (2009) Egyptian pound Semipresidential republic Jamahiriya Arabic Arabic Libya 1.000 (2009 est.449 77.) Algerian dinar Presidential republic Arabic Egypt 1.6 Per capita Currency Government Official languages Algeria 2. Territories and regions Countries and territories Density Population (per km²) Capital Area (km²) GDP (Total) $239. are grown. becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 90% of the region. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals.Geography The Atlas Mountains. northern Algeria and Tunisia.381.498. rice and cotton. irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins. They recede to the south and east. dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas.540 6.036. Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains. which extend across much of Morocco.)[2] $477.759.3 $12.2 $7. some of which is more than four billion years old.216 14 Algiers billion (2009 est.000 74 Cairo billion (2009) $6.914 3 Tripoli $88. the Nile valley and delta.300 Libyan 6 .740 33. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock.

United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).379.552 (2007) Sudanese pound Arabic Authoritarianism and English $7.757.000 382.102.505.08 Sudan 2.175 70 Rabat billion (2008)[4] $88.[9] 7 .100 (2007) Moroccan Constitutional dirham monarchy Arabic $2.550 33.71 Tunisia 163.813 39.610 10.6 Morocco 446.000 62 Tunis billion (2008)[6] El Aaiún (Laâyoune) $900 million (2007)[8] (2007) dinar $4.billion (2008)[3] $136.500 (2007) Tunisian dinar Republic Arabic Western Sahara[7] Source: • 266. 15 July 2008.617 1.3 Moroccan Moroccan dirham administration Arabic The World Factbook.358 14 Khartoum billion (2008)[5] $81.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1991 held the first elections in nearly 30 years. continuing at a much reduced level. which banned Islamic parties. This clearly thwarted the will of the majority of the people who rallied around the Islamic Salvation Front (FSI) to resist continued rule by a military controlled regime. decided to ignore the results of the elections and installed a civilian government which excluded the Islamists. with the tacit support of France and the U. However. Fortunately the Algerian story became somewhat more positive in the early 21st Century. However.S. Some of these movements have been nationalist movements against governments or 23 . In April 2004. agreed to return Algeria to civilian rule and in December. The Algerian army.2000 CE when the FSI agreed to disband. After elections in 1999. Islamic parties continue to be banned from participating in Algerian elections. Terrorism It would be inappropriate to ignore the issue of terrorism in this region. Why did the military. the FSI agreed to disband. The struggle for power between these two groups led to a civil conflict which resulted in the death of around 100. 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 . Abdelaziz Boutefilka (who was first elected in 1999) won a hotly contested presidential election with 85% of the vote.000 Algerians (almost all civilians) from 1992. it is also inappropriate to suggest or assume that North African (and other) Islamic governments support terrorism or violence.. 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. 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).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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nearly all African countries have adopted official languages that originated outside the continent and spread through colonialism or human migration. education and the media.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. For example. commerce. both in the public and private spheres. With a few notable exceptions in East Africa. 37 . Portuguese. Arabic. Afrikaans and Malagasy are other examples of originally non-African languages that are used by millions of Africans today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In April 2009. Such laws have often been used to suppress reporting of corruption or scrutiny of government actions. Syria. the president. four such countries (Egypt. Tunisia. resulting in a number of arrests across the region. 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. 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 a list created by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the ten worst countries to be a blogger. the monarch or the religion. a great number of bloggers and cyber-dissidents have been jailed.10 44 . and Saudi Arabia) were from the region. The International Federation of Journalists called for a radical overhaul of media laws .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 Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information deplored the charges and described them as a black comedy.13 45 . 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. which limit freedom of speech online.12 which is a sensitive topic in many North African societies. other online campaigns which call for and support social censorship . For instance. Rifts between the censors and local and regional advocates of freedom of speech have intensified. particularly among users of Web forums.mostly online pornography . 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.have emerged in the past few years. and more voices continue to express concern about media regulations in the region. The head of the center was later criticized by Qatar officials as well as some journalists and was accused of endorsing pornography. 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. Also. where the head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom criticized Dubai Police for allegedly asking Google to censor YouTube. an Arabic Web site called Ehjeb (Arabic for the verb "to block") is becoming increasingly popular.” In Egypt for example.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. some Internet users in North African countries where there is no social filtering have organized online campaigns to demand filtering of sexually explicit content. some governments claim they arrest bloggers and online activists because they abuse what the regimes call “media freedom. while advocates in the region criticize the regimes for the repressive regulations.

In May 2009 however. For example. 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. The court dismissed the case in November 2008 without providing any explanation. In Tunisia however. 46 . The court rejected the lawsuit in December 2007 and emphasized support for freedom of expression as long as the Web sites do not harm local beliefs or public order. a Cairo court ruled in favor of an Egyptian lawyer and ordered the Egyptian government to ban access to pornographic Web sites because they are deemed offensive to the values of religion and society. 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.Pro-censorship advocates and anti-censorship activists have also used the court system in their attempts to implement or remove censorship. These examples and cases illustrate how the fight over access control is taking different shapes and forms.

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