An Atlas of African Affairs

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

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.

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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