An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview
Save to active project

1. The Maghreb

The Arabic word for 'west', Maghreb, is applied to the whole of Africa north of the Sahara, except Egypt - that is, to the western part of the Arab world. An old name used for the region was Barbary, derived from the Berber peoples who were predominant there until the 7th century Moslem Arab conquest. Most of the Berber stock has now been absorbed into the Arabic-speaking majority, but a quarter of the 28 million people of the Maghreb, although now Moslem, still speak Berber languages, mostly in mountain and desert areas; the Kabyles and Zouaves (Suafa) of Algeria are among these. Nearly all the Maghreb's inhabitants live in the relatively fertile coastal belt, 2,600 miles long and, except in Morocco, seldom more than 100 miles wide. This coastal belt is more Mediterranean than 'African' in the usual sense of the word. It is linked by history with Spain, Italy, Turkey and the Levant (whence came the Phoenicians who founded Carthage in 822 B.C.), and cut off from the rest of Africa by the Sahara desert (E, F).

The Tuareg and other nomadic Berber and Arab tribes of the Sahara are few in numbers, depending on scattered oases. Ancient camel trade routes cross the desert, and a few routes now carry motor traffic, but since the 16th century there has not been the major intercourse that formerly carried Islam into West Africa south of the Sahara and created empires stretching from Spain to Senegal (E, 2). The frontier lines that now divide the Sahara are artificial relics of colonial rule.

Ottoman Turkish rule extended westward to Algeria in the 16th century, but never to Morocco. European 19th century expansion brought the French into Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, the Spaniards into Morocco and the Italians into Libya (2-4). The fellow feeling of the Maghreb peoples, which marks them off from the eastern Arabs and makes them disinclined to accept Egyptian leadership, is particularly strong between Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, which have shared both French cultural influences and the struggle for independence from France. Morocco and Tunisia, after gaining their own independence in 1956, supported the Algerian rebels, whose government-in-exile was set up in Tunis (3). The interdependence of the three was proclaimed at a conference for Maghreb unity held in Tangier in 1958, and various plans for a future federation have been put forward.

-48-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
An Atlas of African Affairs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 134

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?