Comparative Politics of North Africa: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia

Comparative Politics of North Africa: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia

Comparative Politics of North Africa: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia

Comparative Politics of North Africa: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia

Excerpt

North Africa constitutes a distinctive and unique world of its own, however much it may share in culture, religion, language, and history with the Arab Middle East. Unlike the Middle East, the history of North Africa has been marked by great cultural unity and a high degree of ethnic and religious homogeneity. Even today, despite the existence of three separate, independent political entities, the similarities of the whole eclipse the divergence of its parts.

THE LAND

The distinctiveness of the region is in great part a function of its geographical features. It was the nomadic Arab invaders in the seventh century A.D. who gave the area the name jazirat al-maghrib ("island of the west"), a virtually selfcontained region bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the great Sahara in the south, and by three hundred miles of desert running to the Mediterranean between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in the east. The term North Africa or Afrique du Nord came into being during the 130 years of European colonial rule and today is used by the peoples of the Maghrib themselves in referring to the three countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisianisia . . .

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