Meaning of NORTH AFRICA, HISTORY OF in English

history of the area from prehistoric and ancient times to the 20th century. Additional reading General works Overviews of North African history are presented by J.D. Fage and Roland Oliver (eds.), The Cambridge History of Africa, 8 vol. (197586); Unesco International Scientific Committee For The Drafting Of A General History Of Africa, General History of Africa (1981 ); Elbaki Hermassi, Leadership and National Development in North Africa: A Comparative Study (1972); and Abdallah Laroui ('abd Allah 'Arawi), The History of the Maghrib: An Interpretive Essay (1977; originally published in French, 1970). Michael Brett Ancient North Africa The monumental work by Stphane Gsell, Histoire ancienne de l'Afrique du Nord, 8 vol. (191328), remains indispensable as an exhaustive account of the history of the Maghrib to 44 BC. Franois Decret and Mhamed Fantar, L'Afrique du Nord dans l'antiquit: histoire et civilisation, des origines au Ve sicle (1981), provides a scholarly general history. Gabriel Camps, Berbres: aux marges de l'histoire (1980), is a controversial, well-illustrated account of Libyan culture (usually described as Berber in the book) throughout antiquity. B.H. Warmington, Carthage, 2nd ed. rev. (1969), is a standard history of Phoenician Carthage for both specialist and general readers. Gilbert Charles Picard and Colette Picard, The Life and Death of Carthage, trans. from French (1968), is accessible and thorough, especially on cultural and religious history.A. Dorey and D.R. Dudley, Rome Against Carthage (1971), is an unpretentious but reliable work on the Punic Wars for the general reader. Ren Cagnat, L'Arme romaine d'Afrique et l'occupation militaire de l'Afrique sous les empereurs (1892, reissued 1975), in spite of its date, remains the most comprehensive study of the subject. T.R.S. Broughton, The Romanization of Africa Proconsularis (1929, reissued 1968), provides a fundamental, specialized study of Roman settlement in the area of modern Tunisia. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (1967, reissued 1986), the outstanding biography of St. Augustine, includes a great many impressive details on different aspects of intellectual and social life in late Roman North Africa. W.H.C. Frend, The Donatist Church: A Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa (1952, reissued 1985), is the classic interpretation of Donatism as a movement of social and ethnic protest.Christian Courtois, Les Vandals et l'Afrique (1955, reprinted 1964), is the only comprehensive study of the subject. E.-F. Gautier, Le Pass de l'Afrique du Nord: les sicles obscurs, new ed. (1964), is a controversial but important interpretation of the period leading up to and following the Arab conquest, with particular emphasis on the Berbers.Richard George Goodchild, Kyrene und Apollonia (1971), contains archaeologically based accounts of the best-preserved cities of ancient Cyrenaica. R.G. Goodchild, Libyan Studies, ed. by Joyce Reynolds (1976), is a selection of specialized studies by the leading authority on the archaeology of modern Libya, with an essay on Cyrenaica. Brian H. Warmington From the Islamic conquest to 1830 The entire period is discussed in Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period (1987). Information on selected topics may be found in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 4 vol. and supplement (191338), and a new edition (1960 ) appearing in parts. Works on specific periods include J.F.P. Hopkins, Medieval Muslim Government in Barbary until the Sixth Century of the Hijra (1958); Tadeusz Lewicki, The Ibadites in Arabia and Africa, Cahiers d'histoire mondiale, 13(1):51130 (1971); Roger Le Tourneau, The Almohad Movement in North Africa in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (1969), and Fez in the Age of the Marinides (1961); Godfrey Fisher, Barbary Legend: War, Trade, and Piracy in North Africa, 14151830 (1957, reprinted 1974); Andrew C. Hess, The Forgotten Frontier: A History of the Sixteenth-century Ibero-African Frontier (1978); and Mohamed-Hdi Cherif, Pouvoir et socit dans la Tunisie de H'usayn bin 'Ali: 17051740, 2 vol. (198486). Jamil M. Abun-Nasr North Africa after 1830 Lucette Valensi, On the Eve of Colonialism: North Africa Before the French Conquest (1977; originally published in French, 1969), offers solid interpretation that dispels old myths. Magali Morsy, North Africa, 18001900: A Survey from the Nile Valley to the Atlantic (1984), is innovative in treating all of northern Africa as a single region. Jacques Berque, French North Africa: The Maghrib Between Two World Wars (1967; originally published in French, 1962), is a stimulating but impressionistic account by a leading French scholar. David C. Gordon, North Africa's French Legacy, 19541962 (1962), provides an excellent monograph on the cultural effects of French influence in the region. L. Carl Brown (ed.), State and Society in Independent North Africa (1966), provides general interpretive articles on political, economic, and social issues. More recent political developments are covered by David E. Long and Bernard Reich (eds.), The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa, 2nd ed. rev. and updated (1986); and Richard B. Parker, North Africa: Regional Tensions and Strategic Concerns, rev. and updated ed. (1987). Works on the independence and subsequent history of individual northern African countries may be found in the history bibliographies for those countries. Michael Brett From the Islamic conquest to 1830 After completing the conquest of Egypt in 642 the Arabs started to raid the territory to its west inhabited by the Berbers, which they called Bilad al-Maghrib (Lands of Sunset), or simply the Maghrib. In 705 this region became a province of the Muslim empire then ruled from Damascus by the Umayyad caliphs (661750). The Arab Muslim conquerors left a much more durable impact on the culture of the Maghrib than did the region's conquerors before and after them. By the 11th century the Berbers had become Islamized and in part also Arabized. Indigenous Christian communities ceased to exist in the region, which before the Arab conquest had constituted an important part of the Christian world. The Islamization of the Berbers was a consequence of the Arab conquest, although they were neither forcibly converted to Islam nor systematically missionized by their conquerors. Largely because its teachings became an ideology through which the Berbers justified both their rebellion against the caliphs and their support of rulers who rejected caliphal authority, Islam gained wide appeal and spread rapidly among these fiercely independent peoples. Arab raids to the west of Egypt concentrated at first on the area of Cyrenaica in present-day Libya. Tunisia was raided several times after 647, but no attempt was made to establish Arab rule there before 670. Conflicts among the Muslim leaders, especially after the assassination of the third caliph 'Uthman in 656, hindered Muslim territorial expansion. Only after the Umayyads had consolidated their authority as a caliphal dynasty in the 660s and had come to view the conquest of the Maghrib in the context of their confrontation with the Byzantine Empire was the systematic conquest of the Maghrib undertaken. 'Uqbah ibn Nafi' (Sidi Okba) commanded the Arab army that occupied Tunisia in 670. Before his recall in 674 'Uqbah founded the town of Al-Qayrawan (Kairouan), which became the first centre of Arab administration in the Maghrib. When the conquest of the Maghrib west of Tunisia was initiated by 'Uqbah's successor, Abu al-Muhajir Dinar al-Ansari, the Arabs had to fight semisettled Berber communities that had developed some tradition of centralized political authority. In the course of his campaign, Abu al-Muhajir Dinar prevailed upon the Berber king Kusaylah to become Muslim. From his base in Tlemcen, Kusaylah dominated a confederation of the Awraba tribes living between the western Aurs Mountains and the area of present-day Fs. Since Kusaylah's profession of Islam implied his recognition of caliphal authority, it served as a basis for coexistence between him and the Arabs. However, when 'Uqbah was reinstated as commander of the Arab army in the Maghrib in 681, he insisted on imposing direct Arab rule over the whole region. In 682 he led his troops across Algeria and northern Morocco, reaching the Atlantic Ocean and penetrating south to the areas of Sus (Sous) and Dra in southern Morocco. On his way back to Al-Qayrawan, 'Uqbah was attacked near Biskra in present-day Algeria on orders from Kusaylah by Berbers supported by Byzantine contingents. Through his death in this battle and his extended campaign, 'Uqbah became the legendary hero of the Muslim conquest of the Maghrib. By the 680s the Arabs had gone too far in the conquest of the Maghrib to be willing to accept defeat at the hands of a Berber leader, albeit one professing Islam. Two large armies had to be sent from Egypt, however, before organized Berber resistance could be suppressed. The first, commanded by Zuhayr ibn Qays al-Balawi, reoccupied Al-Qayrawan, then pursued Kusaylah westward to Mams, where he was defeated and killed. The dates of these operations are uncertain, but they must have occurred before 688 when Zuhayr ibn Qays himself was killed in an attack on Byzantine positions in Cyrenaica. The second Arab army, commanded by Hassan ibn an-Nu'man, was dispatched from Egypt in 693. It faced stiff resistance in the eastern Aurs Mountains from the Jawara Berbers, who were commanded by a woman whom the Arabs referred to as Kahinah (al-Kahina; the Priestess). After Kahinah was defeated in 698, Ibn an-Nu'man occupied Carthage, the centre of Byzantine administration in Tunisia, and began the construction of the town of Tunis nearby. These successes and Arab naval supremacy in the Mediterranean forced the Byzantines to evacuate their remaining positions on the Maghribi coast. Consequently, under Ibn an-Nu'man's successor, Musa ibn Nusayr, the Maghrib was made into a province of the Umayyad Caliphate in 705 known as the wilayah of Ifriqiyah, thus separating it from the wilayah of Egypt, to which it had been administratively attached until that time. Khariji Berber resistance to Arab rule Political life of the Maghrib in the 8th century was dominated by the contradiction in the position of the Arab rulers who, while posing as the champions of a religion recognizing the equality of all believers, emphasized their ethnic distinctiveness and exercised authority without much regard for Islamic religious norms. This contradiction surfaced in their relations with the Berbers after the latter became Muslim in large numbers, especially through serving in the Arab army, which is known to have included Berber contingents when it was commanded by Hassan ibn an-Nu'man and his successor Musa ibn Nusayr. Many Berber warriors participated in the conquest of Spain in 711. Though professing Islam, they were treated as mawali (clients) of the Arab tribes and consequently had a status inferior to, and received less pay than, the Arab warriors. Furthermore, the Arab ruling class alone reaped the fruits of conquest, as was clearly the case in Spain. The grievances of the warriors highlighted the resentment of Berbers in general, caused by such practices as the levying of human tribute on the Berber tribes, through which the Arab ruling class was provided with slaves, especially female slaves. 'Umar II (717720) was the only Umayyad caliph who is known to have condemned the levying of human tribute and ordered its discontinuation. He also sent 10 tabi'un (disciples of the Prophet Muhammad's companions) to teach Islam to the Berbers. The enlightened policy of this pious caliph did not survive his short reign, however. Rather it contributed toward confirming the conviction of Muslims in the Maghrib that Islam could not be equated with Umayyad caliphal rule. The Muslim Khariji sect exploited this revolutionary potential in their struggle against Umayyad rule. Khariji doctrine apparently appealed to the Berbers because it rejected the Arab monopoly on political leadership of the Muslim community, stressed piety and learning as the main qualifications of the head of the community, and sanctioned rebellion against the head when he acted unjustly. In 740 a major Berber rebellion broke out against Arab rule in the region of Tangier. Its first leader was a Berber called Maysara who had come to Al-Qayrawan under the influence of the Sufrites (Sufriyah), the extremist branch of the Khariji sect. The Berber rebels achieved an astounding military success against the Arab army. By 742 they had taken control of the whole of Algeria and were threatening Al-Qayraw an. In the meantime, the Ibadites (Ibadiyah), who constituted the moderate branch of the Khariji sect, had taken control of Tripolitania by converting the Berber tribes living there, especially the Hawwara and Nafusa, to their doctrine. Ibadite domination in Tripolitania resulted from the activities of da'is sent there from the main centre of the group in Iraq after the Khariji rebellion there had been suppressed by the Umayyad army in 697. Umayyad caliphal rule in the Maghrib came to an end in 747 when the Fihrids, the descendants of 'Uqbah ibn Nafi', taking advantage of the preoccupation of the Umayyads with the 'Abbasid rebellion that led to their downfall, seized power in Ifriqiyah. The Fihrid dynasty controlled all Tunisia except for the south, which was dominated at the time by the Warfajuma Berber tribe associated with the Sufrite Khariji. Fihrid rule came to an end in 756 when the Warfajuma conquered the north and captured Al-Qayrawan. Immediately thereafter, however, the Ibadites in Tripolitania proclaimed one of their religious leaders as imam (the Khariji equivalent to the Sunnite caliph) and in 758 conquered Tunisia from the Sufrites. An Ibadite state comprising Tunisia and Tripolitania thus came into being, which lasted until the 'Abbasids, having consolidated their authority as caliphs in the Middle East, sent an army to the region in 761 to restore caliphal rule in the Maghrib. The 'Abbasids could impose their authority only on Tunisia, eastern Algeria, and Tripolitania. Their governors of the reconstituted wilayah of Ifriqiyah were hampered in the exercise of their authority by their dependence on an army that was recruited predominantly from among the unruly Arabs of the province. A mutiny of the Arab troops against the 'Abbasid governor in 800 led to the transformation of Ifriqiyah into an Arab kingdom ruled by the Aghlabid dynasty in the name of the 'Abbasid caliphs. The founder of the dynasty, Ibrahim I ibn al-Aghlab, commanded until then the Arab army in eastern Algeria. After using his troops to restore order in Tunisia, he established himself as ruler of the province. The acquiescence of the caliph, Harun ar-Rashid, to Ibn al-Aghlab's usurpation of authority was linked to the latter's continued recognition of 'Abbasid suzerainty and payment of tributes to Baghdad. The economy Overview The economy of North Africa has changed qualitatively between each of its three main historical phases: precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial. The precolonial period was marked by the prevalence of a largely subsistence agriculture dominated by pastoral nomadism on the steppes and sedentary cultivation in the mountains and more favoured Mediterranean zone. Pastoralists migrated northward and to better pastures in higher country in the summer, often participating in the harvests of cereals and tree crops, especially olives. Economic well-being was heavily dependent on the vicissitudes of climate, and urban life was restricted to a few important cities where handicrafts were the main industries. Transport was greatly influenced by the ubiquity of nomadism, and thus pack animals, able to go almost anywhere, prevailed over wheeled vehicles, which were rare. The colonial phase saw the steady growth of public and private colonization superimposed on the traditional economy. The more favoured agricultural areas were especially affected, and the development of modern, commercialized colonial agriculture geared to the growth of cash crops for exportespecially wheat, barley, wine, citrus fruits, olive oil, dates, and early vegetablesproceeded on a large scale. The impact of colonialism was particularly great in Algeria and Libya, which were administered as parts of France and Italy respectively, and was somewhat less in the two French protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco. Generally, pastoralism was pushed south and experienced little modernization. At the same time, mineral resources were exploited, mainly phosphates and iron ore, though in the final years of French rule in Algeria the export of petroleum began. Industrialization evolved only gradually, being impeded by limited investment, lack of coal resources, and little potential for hydroelectric power. Industries were concentrated in the larger, rapidly growing cities, which were connected by a sound, modern transport network of railways, roads, and, later, airways. Such a network facilitated control over the countries and enhanced the evolution of a matured colonial economy involving the export of mostly raw materials and the import of manufactured goods. During the relatively brief postcolonial period there has inevitably been persistence of some aspects of both the previous periods, but there have been important transformations as well. Because of the massive exploitation of oil that has gone on in Libya, its economic situation has been transformed the most. Algeria and to a lesser extent Tunisia have also benefited greatly from oil extraction. The per capita gross national product (GNP) of the region's countries during the 1980s reflects this situation: Libya sustained the highest figure in all Africa and Algeria the third highest (though only half that of Libya), while Tunisia and Moroccoboth of which also ranked high among African countrieshad significantly lower figures. Despite the growth of oil exports, all four countries have tried to reduce their dependence on the export of raw materials, often by processing them prior to export to give them added value. All faced shortages of skilled labour for industrialization and initially had to rely upon foreign expertise, especially Libya, which also suffered, unlike the other countries, from a shortage of unskilled and semiskilled labour, making it dependent on a large foreign labour force like the other oil-rich countries of the Middle East. Despite much progress in industrialization in the postcolonial period, including heavy industries, industrialization by itself has not proved to be the answer to all North Africa's economic problems; it has, moreover, accelerated the process of urbanization by attracting labour from the countryside. The redistribution of colonial lands in rural North Africa in the 1950s and '60s and the collectivist solution to agricultural development in Algeria also did not solve the related problems of trying to increase agricultural production and reduce its annual fluctuations. All the countries faced severe difficulties in supplying sufficient food to their rapidly growing populations. The considerable expansion of tourism in Morocco and Tunisia transformed parts of their coastal zones and provided some promise for development, but the long-term benefits of tourism have been questioned, especially as it is vulnerable to changes in the international economic and political climate. The four countries have all adopted very different economic policies. Algeria's initial stance as a centrally planned economy has been relaxed to permit some development of the private sector. Under Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya has been economically radical and individualistic. Tunisia abandoned its early socialist experiment in agricultural collectivization and, with increasing privatization, has become economically liberal, while Morocco under monarchic rule has retained conservative economic policies. All four countries, however, have been unable to avoid the influence of external forces on their economies, in particular the fluctuations in the economies of the European Community (EC), which have affected trade, investment, tourism, and the movements of migrant workers. Such fluctuations have not been offset by intraregional trade or cooperation, which has been limited despite various agreements. Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia all faced severe debt in the late 20th century owing to extravagant developments in the early decades of independence and to heavy borrowing. Morocco was forced to reschedule its debts under International Monetary FundParis Club arrangements, a fate that would have befallen Algeria and Tunisia had they not introduced reforms to reduce budget deficits. Resources Although Africa is rich in numerous mineral resources, North Africa's mineral wealth is limited primarily to its petroleum and natural gas reserves. The Libyan and Algerian deserts have about 2 percent and 1 percent respectively of the proven world reserves of petroleum, and Algeria about 3 percent of the reserves of natural gas. In contrast, North Africa's other energy resources are minor. Coal deposits are small and remotely located, mainly in eastern Morocco, and hydroelectric power potential is limitedexcept in Moroccolargely by the aridity of the region. The two other major mineral resources of North Africa are phosphates, found especially in Morocco and Tunisia, and iron ore, found in Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Many other minerals have been mined in smaller quantities when world prices have been favourable, including lead, zinc, manganese, cobalt, antimony, copper, and molybdenum. In addition, the region's abundant limestone deposits are used for cement production in all countries. The land Relief, drainage, and soils Relief and drainage The relief of North Africa falls into two broad categories: the Atlas Lands and the Sahara. The Atlas Mountains, a group of related ranges stretching some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometres) in length from southwestern Morocco to northeastern Tunisia, are the result of complex mountain-building processes that occurred during the Tertiary Period. Limestone and sandstone deposited upon an older surface of Hercynian age (roughly 374 to 286 million years old) were pressured upward and folded and faulted by northward movements of the African Plate, in the process incorporating blocks of older rocks that resisted the pressures and that today form intervening plateaus between the ranges. Evidence of persistent structural instability in the ranges is seen in the periodic occurrence of earthquakes, such as the one that devastated Agadir, Mor., in 1960. The Atlas system runs from southwest to northeast roughly adjacent and parallel to the Mediterranean coastline, one of the reasons why there are so few natural harbours along the coast (Bizerte in northern Tunisia being a notable exception). In the far northwest along the northern coast of Morocco, the Rif Mountains stretch in an arc from Tangier to the Moulouya basin, whose river flows irregularly into the Mediterranean. To the south of the Rif Mountains lies the plain of the Sebou River, which brings water down from the highly dissected Middle Atlas range, a source of water also for the tilted Moroccan Plateau to the west as well as for the Moulouya River. The Middle Atlas stretches southwest to the High Atlas, both ranges together creating a formidable barrier around Atlantic Morocco. The High Atlas are the highest and most spectacular mountains in North Africa, with many snowcapped peaks south of Marrakech exceeding 12,800 feet (3,900 metres) and culminating in Mount Toubkal at 13,665 feet (4,165 metres). Some 500 miles long, they dominate south-central Morocco, their well-watered northern slopes contrasting sharply with their arid southern ones. To the southwest the triangular plain of the Wadi Sous is a synclinal depression separating the High Atlas from the parallel-trending Anti-Atlas range, an uplifted edge of the Saharan shield. Eastward in Algeria and Tunisia the Atlas system is not as lofty, and the ranges gradually converge. In the north lie the coastal Tell Atlas mountains, sometimes known as the Maritime Atlas, which comprise younger limestones and sandstones in a varied assemblage of massifs, hills, valleys, and plains. East of Algiers the Tell Atlas culminate in the heavily dissected Great Kabylie (Kabylia) Massif, a centre of Berber culture. In Tunisia, the coastal Kroumirie and Mogod mountains are known as the Northern Tell. South of the Tell Atlas lies the monotonous High Plateau of Algeria, which stretches some 500 miles from the Moulouya valley in the west to the Aurs Mountains in the east. Lying between 2,500 and 3,300 feet in elevation and being higher in the west than in the east, the High Plateau has a surface comprising a series of closed basins of interior drainage that are occupied by numerous salt flats known as chotts (shatt); hence the fact that the region is often called the Plateau of the Chotts. Bordering the High Plateau to the south is a series of low mountainsthe Ksour, Amour, and Oulad Nalcollectively termed the Saharan Atlas. Heavily eroded and largely buried in their own debris, the Saharan Atlas mountains are more impressive from the south than from the north. They gradually die out in the east where they merge with the High Plateau to form a natural routeway between the desert south and cultivated north. Farther east are the weathered ridges of the Aurs Mountains, which extend northeast toward the High Tell Mountains of Tunisia, a series of ridges, domes, and basins often referred to as the Tunisian Dorsale, or backbone of that country. Between the High Tell and the Northern Tell lies the fertile Majardah valley, since ancient times a rich agricultural area, much altered now by irrigation developments. South of the High Tell lie the High and Low Steppes of Tunisia, extensive plains broken in places by a few ridges representing the last remnants of the Atlas ranges. South of the Low Steppes is the Shatt al-Jarid, a dry salt lake that effectively defines the edge of the desert. In Libya, only the northwestern and northeastern corners of the country (known as Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, respectively), separated by the southward projection of the Gulf of Sidra, lie outside of the Sahara. The Al-Jifarah (Gefara) Plain, running along the Mediterranean coast of Tripolitania, is an eastward extension of the Tunisian plain south of Qabis (Gabs) and is backed by the Nafusah Plateau, a crescentic limestone escarpment that rises to more than 2,600 feet in elevation and, as in the mountains of Tunisia, is remarkable for the profusion of fortified granaries, or ksours, it contains. The Mediterranean coast of northeastern Libya is dominated by the limestone Akhdar (El-Achdar) Mountains, which stretch some 20 miles inland and are deeply dissected by narrow gorges. To the south lie the vast expanses of the Sahara. Underlain by crystalline rocks of the African Shield, the Sahara is essentially a vast platform that was folded and denuded to a peneplain and afterward covered by younger deposits, especially limestone of Cretaceous age (144 to 66.4 million years old), which now forms prominent escarpments and whose basins are associated with accumulations of petroleum. The great aridity of the desert means that watercourses are rare and their flow irregular. Termed wadis or oueds, meaning ephemeral streams, they often have dimensions reflecting earlier, more pluvial phases of climate. The longest wadi is the Saoura, which runs nearly 600 miles south from the High Atlas to the Saharan interior, where it eventually dies out. Wadis also radiate from the rugged volcanic peaks of the Ahaggar Mountains in southern Algeria, which rise to 9,573 feet (2,918 metres) at Tahat Peak. The vast sand seas, known as ergs, which are characteristic of the Sahara, result from the prolonged weathering and erosion of deposits of Tertiary and Quaternary age (at least 1.6 million years old) that make up much of the surface. The Great Western and Great Eastern ergs of Algeria are the most impressive, though expanses of sand almost as huge occur in the Libyan desert. Two prominent erosional desert landforms found extensively in the Sahara are the hammada, a bare plateau covered with boulders and exposed bedrock, and the reg, a gravel- and pebble-strewn plain. Both are products of the desert's unusually strong and nearly continual wind erosion. The people Ethnic composition North Africa is vastly more uniform ethnically than anywhere in Africa south of the Sahara. It is principally inhabited by Arabs and Berbers, who are scarcely distinguishable physically. The Berbers are the indigenous people, but their origin is obscure. An ancient people speaking an Afro-Asiatic language, they were in North Africa when the Phoenicians came as traders. Their name, however, derives from the Latin Barbari, which meant all people foreign to the Romans. Of the numerous peoples with whom they came into contact, they were most affected by the Arabs, who invaded between the 7th and 11th centuries. From them they eventually accepted Islam and many other aspects of Arab culture. Calling themselves Imazighen, or free men, Berbers comprised both nomadic and settled tribes that congregated periodically, especially in mountain refuge areas. A rural society with elaborate forms of social stratification, Berber groups have been mainly concerned with preserving their local autonomy rather than with establishing a national political identity. Open to Arab invasions from the east, Libya and Tunisia now contain only small pockets of Berbers and Arabized Berbers in hilly areas; in Algeria Berbers are more common, as in the Aurs Mountains and Kabylie region. They are most numerous, however, in the mountainous areas of Morocco; among them the Shluh (Chleuh) tribe are well-known traders. In the Sahara the most famous of all Berbers are the wide-ranging, nomadic Tuareg. The Berbers are a minority people overall, greatly outnumbered by the Arabs; nonetheless, they have left a strong and pervasive influence on the culture of North Africa. The Arabs came initially as invaders and later as pastoralists, bringing with them Islam, Islamic civilization, the Arabic language, and new customs. Gradually they assimilated more and more Berbers into their culture, as their nomadic members spread the Arabic language and Arab culture and as their cities acted as centres of Islamic religion and civilization. Because Arabs are so widely dispersed throughout northern Africa, including parts of the Sahel zone, as well as along the coastal zone of eastern Africa, North Africa is considered to be the western end of the Arab world, though also a distinctive part at the southern door of Europe. During the early 1950s the European population of North Africa reached a peak of nearly two million, about 9 percent of the region's total population. More than half were living in Algeria, though a third of a million were in French Morocco and a quarter of a million in Tunisia. They were mostly French, but there were also substantial numbers of Spaniards, especially in Spanish Morocco; Italians in Tunisia and Libya, although the Italians in Libya had declined after 1939; as well as many Greeks and Maltese. Most of the Europeans lived in towns, particularly the large cities, but they also occupied extensive cultivated areasas much as two-fifths of the total cultivated land in Algeria, for example. The dramatic departures of Europeans in the late 1950s and early '60s meant that decolonization was more massive than anywhere else in Africa. One significant aspect of this mass migration was the departure of half a million Jews to Europe or to the recently established state of Israel. Linguistic composition Although North Africa has much greater linguistic uniformity than any other African regionthe Arabic language prevailing throughoutthere is more variability than might be expected. The colloquial Arabic of Morocco, for example, would not be understood in the Middle East, and there are sharp contrasts between city and rural dialects. Moreover, the Arabic of newspapers differs considerably from classical Arabic, the language of the Qur'an (Koran). Efforts have been made in Libya to promote Arabic against the persistent penetration of English, but in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia a distinctive Arab-French culture has evolved that has been sustained by scholarship and by the continuous back-and-forth flow of migrant workers to France. The Berber language is spoken by less than a fifth of the population, and it is not generally written, except by the Tuareg.

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