North Africa

North Africa

Overview
North Africa or Northern Africa is the north
North
North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the top side of a map is north....

ernmost region
Region
Region is most commonly found as a term used in terrestrial and astrophysics sciences also an area, notably among the different sub-disciplines of geography, studied by regional geographers. Regions consist of subregions that contain clusters of like areas that are distinctive by their uniformity...

 of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

, linked by the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 to Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

. Geopolitically, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 definition
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, and Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

, and Libya together are also referred to as the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 or Maghrib, while Egypt is a transcontinental country
Transcontinental country
This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning an overland continental...

 by virtue of the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

, which is in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. North Africa also includes a number of Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 possessions
Plazas de soberanía
The plazas de soberanía or sovereign territories, referred to in English as Spanish North Africa or simply Spanish Africa, are the current Spanish territories in continental North Africa bordering Morocco, except the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.After the Reconquista, forces of the...

, Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 and Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 (tiny Spanish exclaves or islets off the coast of Morocco).
Discussion
Ask a question about 'North Africa'
Start a new discussion about 'North Africa'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Timeline

180   Twelve inhabitants of Scillium in North Africa are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world.

439   The Vandals, led by King Gaiseric, take Carthage in North Africa.

533   General Belisarius of the Byzantine Empire defeats Gelimer and the Vandals at the Battle of Ad Decimium, near Carthage, North Africa.

1881   In North Africa, Tunisia becomes a French protectorate.

1942   World War II: Germany invades Vichy France following French Admiral François Darlan's agreement to an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.

1943   World War II: German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allied forces.

 
Encyclopedia
North Africa or Northern Africa is the north
North
North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the top side of a map is north....

ernmost region
Region
Region is most commonly found as a term used in terrestrial and astrophysics sciences also an area, notably among the different sub-disciplines of geography, studied by regional geographers. Regions consist of subregions that contain clusters of like areas that are distinctive by their uniformity...

 of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

, linked by the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 to Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

. Geopolitically, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 definition
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, and Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

, and Libya together are also referred to as the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 or Maghrib, while Egypt is a transcontinental country
Transcontinental country
This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning an overland continental...

 by virtue of the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

, which is in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. North Africa also includes a number of Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 possessions
Plazas de soberanía
The plazas de soberanía or sovereign territories, referred to in English as Spanish North Africa or simply Spanish Africa, are the current Spanish territories in continental North Africa bordering Morocco, except the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.After the Reconquista, forces of the...

, Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 and Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 (tiny Spanish exclaves or islets off the coast of Morocco). The Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 and the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 Madeira Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 northwest of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n 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 Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns, Greeks, Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and others facilitated communication and migration across the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, the cultures of North Africa became much more closely tied to Southwestern Asia and Europe than Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic influence in the area is significant, and North Africa, along with the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, is a major part of the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

.

Some researchers have postulated that North Africa
North Africa
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 eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and not East or South Africa, was the original home of the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent.

Geography



The Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

, which extend across much of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, northern Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

. They recede to the south and east, becoming a steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 75% of the region. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock, some of which is more than four billion years old.

Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

, the Nile valley and delta, and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals, rice and cotton, and woods such as cedar and cork, are grown. Typical mediterranean crops such as olives, figs, dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. The Nile valley is particularly fertile, and most of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

's population lives close to the river. Elsewhere, irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.

Territories and regions

Countries and territories
United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories
The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of countries that, according to the United Nations, are non-decolonized. The list was initially prepared in 1946 pursuant to Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter, and has been updated by the General Assembly on recommendation...

Area
(km²)
Population Density
(per km²)
Capital GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (Total)
Per capita Currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

Government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

Official languages
 Algeria 2,381,741 34,994,937 14.5 Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

$254.7 billion (2010 est.) $7,400 (2010 est.) Algerian dinar
Algerian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Algeria and it is subdivided into 100 santeem .-History:The dinar was introduced on 1 April 1964, replacing the Algerian new franc at par.-Coins:...

Presidential republic tamazigh- french-arabic
 Egypt 1,001,450 80,471,869 80.4 Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

$500.9 billion (2010) $6,200 (2010) Egyptian pound
Egyptian pound
The Egyptian Pound is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 Qirsh , or 1,000 Milliemes ....

Semi-presidential republic Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 Libya 1,759,540 6,461,454 3.7 Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

$89.03 billion (2010) $13,800 (2010) Libyan dinar
Libyan dinar
The dinar is the currency of Libya. Its ISO 4217 code is "LYD". The dinar is subdivided into 1000 dirham . It was introduced in 1971 and replaced the pound at par. It is issued by the Central Bank of Libya, which also supervises the banking system and regulates credit...

Provisional authority
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 Morocco 446,550 32,226,056 70.8 Rabat
Rabat
Rabat , is the capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco with a population of approximately 650,000...

$153.8 billion (2010) $4,900 (2010) Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
The dirham is the currency of Morocco. The plural form is pronounced darahim, although in French and English "dirhams" is commonly used. Its ISO 4217 code is "MAD". It is subdivided into 100 santimat . The dirham is issued by the Bank Al-Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco...

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

Arabic and Tamazight
619,745 8,260,490 13.3 Juba
Juba
- Locations :* Juba, the capital of South Sudan* Juba, Estonia, a village in Võru Parish, Võru County, Estonia- People :* Juba I of Numidia * Juba II of Numidia * Juba of Mauretania...

$13.227 billion (2011 estimate) $1,546 (2011 estimage) South Sudanese pound
South Sudanese pound
The South Sudanese pound is the official currency of the Republic of South Sudan. It is subdivided into 100 piastres. It was approved by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly prior to secession on 9 July 2011 from Sudan...

Federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 Sudan 1,886,068 30,894,000 16.4 Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

$98.79 billion (2010) prior to break up $2,200 (2010)-prior to break up Sudanese pound
Sudanese pound
The Sudanese pound is the currency of Sudan and also used in South Sudan until finalization of the introduction of the South Sudanese pound. Both Arabic and English names for the denominations appear on the country's banknotes and coins. On 24 July 2011, Sudan launched a new currency...

Federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

 (Authoritarian)
Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 Tunisia 163,610 10,589,025 64.7 Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

$100.3 billion (2010) $9,500 (2010) Tunisian dinar
Tunisian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Tunisia. It is subdivided into 1000 milim or millimes . The abbreviation DT is often used in Tunisia, although writing "dinar" after the amount is also acceptable ; the abbreviation TD is also mentioned in a few places, but is less frequently used, given the common use...

Republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 (Authoritarian)
Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

266,000 320,000 1.2 El Aaiún (Laâyoune)
El Aaiún
El-Aaiún , is a city in Western Sahara founded by the Spanish in 1928. Administered by Morocco since 1976, El-Aaiún is the capital of what the Moroccan government call the region of Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, and POLISARIO call Occupied Territories...

$900 million (2007) $2,500 (2007) Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
The dirham is the currency of Morocco. The plural form is pronounced darahim, although in French and English "dirhams" is commonly used. Its ISO 4217 code is "MAD". It is subdivided into 100 santimat . The dirham is issued by the Bank Al-Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco...

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

Arabic and Tamazight
Total, North Africa 7,904,959 195,637,341 24.7 $1.2 trillion $5,700

Source:
  • The World Factbook
    The World Factbook
    The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

    , United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     Central Intelligence Agency
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

     (CIA), 11 February 2011.


People


The inhabitants of North Africa are generally divided in a manner roughly corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

, the Nile Valley, and the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

. Northwest Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 since before the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with peoples that appear to have been Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 or proto-Berber.

The official language or one of the official languages in all of the countries in North Africa is Arabic. The largest ethnic groups in North Africa are the Arabs and Berbers. All countries in North Africa are predominantly Muslim, with Christian and Jewish minorities.

Culture


The people of the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 and the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 speak various dialects of Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

 and Arabic, and almost exclusively follow Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. The Arabic and Berber groups of languages are distantly related, both being members of the Afro-Asiatic family
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

. The Sahara dialects are notably more isolated than those of coastal cities (see Tuareg languages
Tuareg languages
Tuareg is a Berber language or family of very closely related languages and dialects spoken by the Tuareg Berbers, in large parts of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso, with a few speakers, the Kinnin, in Chad.- Description :Other Berber languages and Tamashaq are quite mutually...

). Over the years, Berber people
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

s have been influenced by other cultures with which they became in contact: Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Phoenicians, Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, Arabs, Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 and lately European
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

s.

The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combine indigenous Berber, Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. In the Sahara, the distinction between sedentary oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 inhabitants and nomadic Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 and Tuareg is particularly marked. The diverse peoples of the Sahara can be categorized along ethno-linguistic lines. In the Maghreb, where Arab and Berber identities are often integrated, these lines can be blurred.

Some Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

-speaking North Africans may identify as "Arab" depending on the social and political circumstances, although substantial numbers of Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 (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. Arabic-speaking Northwest Africans, regardless of ethnic background, often identify with Arab history and culture and may share a common vision with other Arabs. This, however, may or may not exclude pride in and identification with Berber and/or other parts of their heritage. Berber political and cultural activists for their part, often referred to as Berberists, may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber, whether they are primarily Berber- or Arabic-speaking (see also Arabized Berber).

The Nile Valley traces its origins to the ancient civilizations of Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 and Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

. The Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

 to modern Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic is the language spoken by contemporary Egyptians.It is more commonly known locally as the Egyptian colloquial language or Egyptian dialect ....

 (both Afro-Asiatic), while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslim and a significant minority adheres to Coptic Christianity
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 which has strong historical ties to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church.

North Africa formerly had a large Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 population, many of whom emigrated to France or Israel when the North African nations gained independence. A smaller number went to Canada. Prior to the modern establishment of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, there were about 600,000–700,000 Jews in North Africa, including both Sfardīm (refugees from France, Spain and Portugal from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous

North Africa or Northern Africa is the north
North
North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the top side of a map is north....

ernmost region
Region
Region is most commonly found as a term used in terrestrial and astrophysics sciences also an area, notably among the different sub-disciplines of geography, studied by regional geographers. Regions consist of subregions that contain clusters of like areas that are distinctive by their uniformity...

 of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

, linked by the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 to Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

. Geopolitically, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 definition
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, and Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

, and Libya together are also referred to as the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 or Maghrib, while Egypt is a transcontinental country
Transcontinental country
This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning an overland continental...

 by virtue of the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

, which is in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. North Africa also includes a number of Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 possessions
Plazas de soberanía
The plazas de soberanía or sovereign territories, referred to in English as Spanish North Africa or simply Spanish Africa, are the current Spanish territories in continental North Africa bordering Morocco, except the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.After the Reconquista, forces of the...

, Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 and Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 (tiny Spanish exclaves or islets off the coast of Morocco). The Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 and the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 Madeira Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 northwest of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n mainland, are sometimes included in considerations of the region.{{Citation needed|date=February 2007}}

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 Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns, Greeks, Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and others facilitated communication and migration across the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, the cultures of North Africa became much more closely tied to Southwestern Asia and Europe than Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic influence in the area is significant, and North Africa, along with the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, is a major part of the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

.

Some researchers have postulated that North Africa
North Africa
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 eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and not East or South Africa, was the original home of the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent.

Geography



The Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

, which extend across much of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, northern Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

. They recede to the south and east, becoming a steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 75% of the region. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock, some of which is more than four billion years old.

Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

, the Nile valley and delta, and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals, rice and cotton, and woods such as cedar and cork, are grown. Typical mediterranean crops such as olives, figs, dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. The Nile valley is particularly fertile, and most of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

's population lives close to the river. Elsewhere, irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.
{{-}}

Territories and regions

Countries and territories
United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories
The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of countries that, according to the United Nations, are non-decolonized. The list was initially prepared in 1946 pursuant to Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter, and has been updated by the General Assembly on recommendation...

Area
(km²)
Population Density
(per km²)
Capital GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (Total)
Per capita Currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

Government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

Official languages
 Algeria 2,381,741 34,994,937 14.5 Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

$254.7 billion (2010 est.) $7,400 (2010 est.) Algerian dinar
Algerian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Algeria and it is subdivided into 100 santeem .-History:The dinar was introduced on 1 April 1964, replacing the Algerian new franc at par.-Coins:...

Presidential republic tamazigh- french-arabic
 Egypt 1,001,450 80,471,869 80.4 Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

$500.9 billion (2010) $6,200 (2010) Egyptian pound
Egyptian pound
The Egyptian Pound is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 Qirsh , or 1,000 Milliemes ....

Semi-presidential republic Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 Libya 1,759,540 6,461,454 3.7 Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

$89.03 billion (2010) $13,800 (2010) Libyan dinar
Libyan dinar
The dinar is the currency of Libya. Its ISO 4217 code is "LYD". The dinar is subdivided into 1000 dirham . It was introduced in 1971 and replaced the pound at par. It is issued by the Central Bank of Libya, which also supervises the banking system and regulates credit...

Provisional authority
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 Morocco 446,550 32,226,056 70.8 Rabat
Rabat
Rabat , is the capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco with a population of approximately 650,000...

$153.8 billion (2010) $4,900 (2010) Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
The dirham is the currency of Morocco. The plural form is pronounced darahim, although in French and English "dirhams" is commonly used. Its ISO 4217 code is "MAD". It is subdivided into 100 santimat . The dirham is issued by the Bank Al-Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco...

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

Arabic and Tamazight
619,745 8,260,490 13.3 Juba
Juba
- Locations :* Juba, the capital of South Sudan* Juba, Estonia, a village in Võru Parish, Võru County, Estonia- People :* Juba I of Numidia * Juba II of Numidia * Juba of Mauretania...

$13.227 billion (2011 estimate) $1,546 (2011 estimage) South Sudanese pound
South Sudanese pound
The South Sudanese pound is the official currency of the Republic of South Sudan. It is subdivided into 100 piastres. It was approved by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly prior to secession on 9 July 2011 from Sudan...

Federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 Sudan 1,886,068 30,894,000 16.4 Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

$98.79 billion (2010) prior to break up $2,200 (2010)-prior to break up Sudanese pound
Sudanese pound
The Sudanese pound is the currency of Sudan and also used in South Sudan until finalization of the introduction of the South Sudanese pound. Both Arabic and English names for the denominations appear on the country's banknotes and coins. On 24 July 2011, Sudan launched a new currency...

Federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

 (Authoritarian)
Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 Tunisia 163,610 10,589,025 64.7 Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

$100.3 billion (2010) $9,500 (2010) Tunisian dinar
Tunisian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Tunisia. It is subdivided into 1000 milim or millimes . The abbreviation DT is often used in Tunisia, although writing "dinar" after the amount is also acceptable ; the abbreviation TD is also mentioned in a few places, but is less frequently used, given the common use...

Republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 (Authoritarian)
Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

266,000 320,000 1.2 El Aaiún (Laâyoune)
El Aaiún
El-Aaiún , is a city in Western Sahara founded by the Spanish in 1928. Administered by Morocco since 1976, El-Aaiún is the capital of what the Moroccan government call the region of Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, and POLISARIO call Occupied Territories...

$900 million (2007) $2,500 (2007) Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
The dirham is the currency of Morocco. The plural form is pronounced darahim, although in French and English "dirhams" is commonly used. Its ISO 4217 code is "MAD". It is subdivided into 100 santimat . The dirham is issued by the Bank Al-Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco...

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

Arabic and Tamazight
Total, North Africa 7,904,959 195,637,341 24.7 $1.2 trillion $5,700

Source:
  • The World Factbook
    The World Factbook
    The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

    , United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     Central Intelligence Agency
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

     (CIA), 11 February 2011.

{{-}}

People


{{Main|Maghreb people|Egyptians}}

The inhabitants of North Africa are generally divided in a manner roughly corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

, the Nile Valley, and the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

. Northwest Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 since before the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with peoples that appear to have been Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 or proto-Berber.

The official language or one of the official languages in all of the countries in North Africa is Arabic. The largest ethnic groups in North Africa are the Arabs and Berbers. All countries in North Africa are predominantly Muslim, with Christian and Jewish minorities.

Culture


{{Main|Culture of North Africa}}

The people of the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 and the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 speak various dialects of Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

 and Arabic, and almost exclusively follow Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. The Arabic and Berber groups of languages are distantly related, both being members of the Afro-Asiatic family
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

. The Sahara dialects are notably more isolated than those of coastal cities (see Tuareg languages
Tuareg languages
Tuareg is a Berber language or family of very closely related languages and dialects spoken by the Tuareg Berbers, in large parts of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso, with a few speakers, the Kinnin, in Chad.- Description :Other Berber languages and Tamashaq are quite mutually...

). Over the years, Berber people
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

s have been influenced by other cultures with which they became in contact: Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Phoenicians, Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, Arabs, Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 and lately European
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

s.

The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combine indigenous Berber, Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. In the Sahara, the distinction between sedentary oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 inhabitants and nomadic Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 and Tuareg is particularly marked. The diverse peoples of the Sahara can be categorized along ethno-linguistic lines. In the Maghreb, where Arab and Berber identities are often integrated, these lines can be blurred.

Some Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

-speaking North Africans may identify as "Arab" depending on the social and political circumstances, although substantial numbers of Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 (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. Arabic-speaking Northwest Africans, regardless of ethnic background, often identify with Arab history and culture and may share a common vision with other Arabs. This, however, may or may not exclude pride in and identification with Berber and/or other parts of their heritage. Berber political and cultural activists for their part, often referred to as Berberists, may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber, whether they are primarily Berber- or Arabic-speaking (see also Arabized Berber).

The Nile Valley traces its origins to the ancient civilizations of Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 and Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

. The Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

 to modern Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic is the language spoken by contemporary Egyptians.It is more commonly known locally as the Egyptian colloquial language or Egyptian dialect ....

 (both Afro-Asiatic), while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslim and a significant minority adheres to Coptic Christianity
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 which has strong historical ties to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church.

North Africa formerly had a large Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 population, many of whom emigrated to France or Israel when the North African nations gained independence. A smaller number went to Canada. Prior to the modern establishment of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, there were about 600,000–700,000 Jews in North Africa, including both Sfardīm (refugees from France, Spain and Portugal from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous

North Africa or Northern Africa is the north
North
North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the top side of a map is north....

ernmost region
Region
Region is most commonly found as a term used in terrestrial and astrophysics sciences also an area, notably among the different sub-disciplines of geography, studied by regional geographers. Regions consist of subregions that contain clusters of like areas that are distinctive by their uniformity...

 of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

, linked by the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 to Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

. Geopolitically, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 definition
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, and Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

, and Libya together are also referred to as the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 or Maghrib, while Egypt is a transcontinental country
Transcontinental country
This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning an overland continental...

 by virtue of the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

, which is in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. North Africa also includes a number of Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 possessions
Plazas de soberanía
The plazas de soberanía or sovereign territories, referred to in English as Spanish North Africa or simply Spanish Africa, are the current Spanish territories in continental North Africa bordering Morocco, except the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.After the Reconquista, forces of the...

, Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 and Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 (tiny Spanish exclaves or islets off the coast of Morocco). The Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 and the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 Madeira Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 northwest of the Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n mainland, are sometimes included in considerations of the region.{{Citation needed|date=February 2007}}

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 Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns, Greeks, Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and others facilitated communication and migration across the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, the cultures of North Africa became much more closely tied to Southwestern Asia and Europe than Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic influence in the area is significant, and North Africa, along with the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, is a major part of the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

.

Some researchers have postulated that North Africa
North Africa
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 eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and not East or South Africa, was the original home of the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent.

Geography



The Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

, which extend across much of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, northern Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, are part of the fold mountain system which also runs through much of Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

. They recede to the south and east, becoming a steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 landscape before meeting the Sahara desert which covers more than 75% of the region. The sediments of the Sahara overlie an ancient plateau of crystalline rock, some of which is more than four billion years old.

Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

, the Nile valley and delta, and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of good farming land. A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals, rice and cotton, and woods such as cedar and cork, are grown. Typical mediterranean crops such as olives, figs, dates and citrus fruits also thrive in these areas. The Nile valley is particularly fertile, and most of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

's population lives close to the river. Elsewhere, irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins.
{{-}}

Territories and regions

Countries and territories
United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories
The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories is a list of countries that, according to the United Nations, are non-decolonized. The list was initially prepared in 1946 pursuant to Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter, and has been updated by the General Assembly on recommendation...

Area
(km²)
Population Density
(per km²)
Capital GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (Total)
Per capita Currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

Government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

Official languages
 Algeria 2,381,741 34,994,937 14.5 Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

$254.7 billion (2010 est.) $7,400 (2010 est.) Algerian dinar
Algerian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Algeria and it is subdivided into 100 santeem .-History:The dinar was introduced on 1 April 1964, replacing the Algerian new franc at par.-Coins:...

Presidential republic tamazigh- french-arabic
 Egypt 1,001,450 80,471,869 80.4 Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

$500.9 billion (2010) $6,200 (2010) Egyptian pound
Egyptian pound
The Egyptian Pound is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 Qirsh , or 1,000 Milliemes ....

Semi-presidential republic Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 Libya 1,759,540 6,461,454 3.7 Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

$89.03 billion (2010) $13,800 (2010) Libyan dinar
Libyan dinar
The dinar is the currency of Libya. Its ISO 4217 code is "LYD". The dinar is subdivided into 1000 dirham . It was introduced in 1971 and replaced the pound at par. It is issued by the Central Bank of Libya, which also supervises the banking system and regulates credit...

Provisional authority
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 Morocco 446,550 32,226,056 70.8 Rabat
Rabat
Rabat , is the capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco with a population of approximately 650,000...

$153.8 billion (2010) $4,900 (2010) Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
The dirham is the currency of Morocco. The plural form is pronounced darahim, although in French and English "dirhams" is commonly used. Its ISO 4217 code is "MAD". It is subdivided into 100 santimat . The dirham is issued by the Bank Al-Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco...

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

Arabic and Tamazight
619,745 8,260,490 13.3 Juba
Juba
- Locations :* Juba, the capital of South Sudan* Juba, Estonia, a village in Võru Parish, Võru County, Estonia- People :* Juba I of Numidia * Juba II of Numidia * Juba of Mauretania...

$13.227 billion (2011 estimate) $1,546 (2011 estimage) South Sudanese pound
South Sudanese pound
The South Sudanese pound is the official currency of the Republic of South Sudan. It is subdivided into 100 piastres. It was approved by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly prior to secession on 9 July 2011 from Sudan...

Federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 Sudan 1,886,068 30,894,000 16.4 Khartoum
Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

$98.79 billion (2010) prior to break up $2,200 (2010)-prior to break up Sudanese pound
Sudanese pound
The Sudanese pound is the currency of Sudan and also used in South Sudan until finalization of the introduction of the South Sudanese pound. Both Arabic and English names for the denominations appear on the country's banknotes and coins. On 24 July 2011, Sudan launched a new currency...

Federal republic
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

 (Authoritarian)
Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 Tunisia 163,610 10,589,025 64.7 Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

$100.3 billion (2010) $9,500 (2010) Tunisian dinar
Tunisian dinar
The dinar is the currency of Tunisia. It is subdivided into 1000 milim or millimes . The abbreviation DT is often used in Tunisia, although writing "dinar" after the amount is also acceptable ; the abbreviation TD is also mentioned in a few places, but is less frequently used, given the common use...

Republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 (Authoritarian)
Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

266,000 320,000 1.2 El Aaiún (Laâyoune)
El Aaiún
El-Aaiún , is a city in Western Sahara founded by the Spanish in 1928. Administered by Morocco since 1976, El-Aaiún is the capital of what the Moroccan government call the region of Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, and POLISARIO call Occupied Territories...

$900 million (2007) $2,500 (2007) Moroccan dirham
Moroccan dirham
The dirham is the currency of Morocco. The plural form is pronounced darahim, although in French and English "dirhams" is commonly used. Its ISO 4217 code is "MAD". It is subdivided into 100 santimat . The dirham is issued by the Bank Al-Maghrib, the central bank of Morocco...

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

Arabic and Tamazight
Total, North Africa 7,904,959 195,637,341 24.7 $1.2 trillion $5,700

Source:
  • The World Factbook
    The World Factbook
    The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

    , United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     Central Intelligence Agency
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

     (CIA), 11 February 2011.

{{-}}

People


{{Main|Maghreb people|Egyptians}}

The inhabitants of North Africa are generally divided in a manner roughly corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

, the Nile Valley, and the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

. Northwest Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 since before the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

. Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with peoples that appear to have been Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 or proto-Berber.

The official language or one of the official languages in all of the countries in North Africa is Arabic. The largest ethnic groups in North Africa are the Arabs and Berbers. All countries in North Africa are predominantly Muslim, with Christian and Jewish minorities.

Culture


{{Main|Culture of North Africa}}

The people of the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 and the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 speak various dialects of Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

 and Arabic, and almost exclusively follow Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. The Arabic and Berber groups of languages are distantly related, both being members of the Afro-Asiatic family
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

. The Sahara dialects are notably more isolated than those of coastal cities (see Tuareg languages
Tuareg languages
Tuareg is a Berber language or family of very closely related languages and dialects spoken by the Tuareg Berbers, in large parts of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso, with a few speakers, the Kinnin, in Chad.- Description :Other Berber languages and Tamashaq are quite mutually...

). Over the years, Berber people
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

s have been influenced by other cultures with which they became in contact: Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Phoenicians, Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, Arabs, Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 and lately European
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

s.

The cultures of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combine indigenous Berber, Arab and elements from neighboring parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. In the Sahara, the distinction between sedentary oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 inhabitants and nomadic Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 and Tuareg is particularly marked. The diverse peoples of the Sahara can be categorized along ethno-linguistic lines. In the Maghreb, where Arab and Berber identities are often integrated, these lines can be blurred.

Some Berber
Berber languages
The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

-speaking North Africans may identify as "Arab" depending on the social and political circumstances, although substantial numbers of Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 (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. Arabic-speaking Northwest Africans, regardless of ethnic background, often identify with Arab history and culture and may share a common vision with other Arabs. This, however, may or may not exclude pride in and identification with Berber and/or other parts of their heritage. Berber political and cultural activists for their part, often referred to as Berberists, may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber, whether they are primarily Berber- or Arabic-speaking (see also Arabized Berber).

The Nile Valley traces its origins to the ancient civilizations of Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 and Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

. The Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

 to modern Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic is the language spoken by contemporary Egyptians.It is more commonly known locally as the Egyptian colloquial language or Egyptian dialect ....

 (both Afro-Asiatic), while retaining a sense of national identity that has historically set them apart from other people in the region. Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslim and a significant minority adheres to Coptic Christianity
Coptic Christianity
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different...

 which has strong historical ties to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church.

North Africa formerly had a large Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 population, many of whom emigrated to France or Israel when the North African nations gained independence. A smaller number went to Canada. Prior to the modern establishment of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, there were about 600,000–700,000 Jews in North Africa, including both Sfardīm (refugees from France, Spain and Portugal from the Renaissance era) as well as indigenous {{Unicode. Today, less than fifteen thousand remain in the region, almost all in Morocco and Tunisia. (See Jewish exodus from Arab lands
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

.)

Antiquity and Ancient Rome


The most notable nations of antiquity in western North Africa are Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

 and Numidia
Numidia
Numidia was an ancient Berber kingdom in part of present-day Eastern Algeria and Western Tunisia in North Africa. It is known today as the Chawi-land, the land of the Chawi people , the direct descendants of the historical Numidians or the Massyles The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later...

. The Phoenicians colonized much of North Africa including Carthage and parts of present day Morocco (including Chellah
Chellah
Chellah, or Sala Colonia is a necropolis and complex of ancient Roman Mauretania Tingitana and medieval ruins at Rabat, Morocco. It is the most ancient human settlement on the mouth of the Bou Regreg River.-History:...

, Mogador and Volubilis
Volubilis
Volubilis is an archaeological site in Morocco situated near Meknes between Fez and Rabat along the N13 road. The nearest town is Moulay Idriss. Volubilis features the best preserved Roman ruins in this part of northern Africa...

). The Carthaginians were of Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n origin, with the Roman myth of their origin being that Queen Dido, a Phoenician princess was granted land by a local ruler based on how much land she could cover with a piece of cowhide. She ingeniously devised a method to extend the cowhide to a high proportion, thus gaining a large territory. She was also rejected by the Trojan
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 prince Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 according to Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, thus creating a historical enmity between Carthage and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, as Aeneas would eventually lay the foundations for Rome. The Carthaginians were a commercial power and had a strong navy, but relied on mercenaries for land soldiers. The Carthaginians developed an empire in the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, the latter being the cause of First Punic War
First Punic War
The First Punic War was the first of three wars fought between Ancient Carthage and the Roman Republic. For 23 years, the two powers struggled for supremacy in the western Mediterranean Sea, primarily on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and its surrounding waters but also to a lesser extent in...

 with the Romans
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

.

Over a hundred years and more, all Carthaginian territory was eventually conquered by the Romans, resulting in the Carthaginian North African territories becoming the Roman province of Africa in 146 B.C. This led to tension and eventually conflict
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 between Numidia
Numidia
Numidia was an ancient Berber kingdom in part of present-day Eastern Algeria and Western Tunisia in North Africa. It is known today as the Chawi-land, the land of the Chawi people , the direct descendants of the historical Numidians or the Massyles The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later...

 and Rome. The Numidian wars are notable for launching the careers of both Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

, and Sulla, and stretching the constitutional burden of the Roman republic, as Marius required a professional army, something previously contrary to Roman values to overcome the talented military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 leader Jugurtha
Jugurtha
Jugurtha or Jugurthen was a King of Numidia, , born in Cirta .-Background:Until the reign of Jugurtha's grandfather Masinissa, the people of Numidia were semi-nomadic and indistinguishable from the other Libyans in North Africa...

.

North Africa remained a part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, which produced many notable citizens such as Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, until incompetent leadership from Roman commanders in the early fifth century allowed the Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 tribe, the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, to cross the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

, whereupon they overcame the fickle Roman defense. 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, and the wealth required to create new armies. The issue of regaining North Africa became paramount to the Western Empire, but was frustrated by Vandal victories. The focus of Roman energy had to be on the emerging threat of the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

. In 468 AD the Romans made one last serious attempt to invade North Africa but were repelled. This perhaps marks the point of terminal decline for the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

. The last Roman emperor was deposed in 476 by the Heruli
Heruli
The Heruli were an East Germanic tribe who are famous for their naval exploits. Migrating from Northern Europe to the Black Sea in the third century They were part of the...

 general Odoacer
Odoacer
Flavius Odoacer , also known as Flavius Odovacer, was the first King of Italy. His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos' death in 480, of the...

. Trade routes between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and North Africa remained intact until the coming of Islam. Some Berbers were Christians
Early African Church
The name Early African Church is given to the Christian communities inhabiting the region known politically as Roman Africa, and comprised geographically within the following limits, namely: the Mediterranean littoral between Cyrenaica on the east and the river Ampsaga on the west; that part of it...

 (but evolved their own Donatist
Donatist
Donatism was a Christian sect within the Roman province of Africa that flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries. It had its roots in the social pressures among the long-established Christian community of Roman North Africa , during the persecutions of Christians under Diocletian...

 doctrine), some were Jewish
Berber Jews
Berber Jews are the Berber-speaking Jewish communities which used to live in certain parts of Atlas mountains in Morocco. Their origins are not clear as one theory builds the case for "Judeo-cized Berbers" while another defends the "Berber-ized Jews" thesis....

, and some adhered to their traditional polytheist religion
Berber mythology
The traditional Berber mythology is the ancient and native set of beliefs and deities developed by the Berber people in their historical land of North Africa...

. African pope Victor I
Pope Victor I
Pope Saint Victor I was Pope from 189 to 199 .Pope Victor I was the first bishop of Rome born in the Roman Province of Africa: probably he was born in Leptis Magna . He was later canonized...

 served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus, of Roman/Berber ancestry. The Byzantine reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals began in 533 AD, as Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 sent his general Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 to reclaim the former Roman province of Africa.

Arab Conquest to modern times



The Arab Islamic conquest
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

 reached North Africa in 640 AD. By 670, most of North Africa had fallen to Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 rule. Indigenous Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as Fez
Fes, Morocco
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, and Sijilimasa. In the eleventh century, a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves Almoravids
Almoravids
The Almoravids were a Berber dynasty of Morocco, who formed an empire in the 11th-century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Their capital was Marrakesh, a city which they founded in 1062 C.E...

, expanded south into Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

.

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
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 tribes of Banu Sulaym and Banu Hilal
Banu Hilal
The Banu Hilal were a confederation of Arabian Bedouin tribes that migrated from Upper Egypt into North Africa in the 11th century, having been sent by the Fatimids to punish the Zirids for abandoning Shiism. Other authors suggest that the tribes left the grasslands on the upper Nile because of...

. Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert.

After the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, except Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. After the 19th century, the imperial and colonial presence of France
French colonial empire
The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...

, the United Kingdom
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, Spain
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation.

In World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

. During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained independence. There remains a dispute over Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 between Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 and the Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

n-backed Polisario Front
Polisario Front
The POLISARIO, Polisario Front, or Frente Polisario, from the Spanish abbreviation of Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro is a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco...

.

In 2010 - 2011 massive protests swept the region(as well as the middle east) leading to the overthrow of the governments in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as civil war in Libya. Large protests also occurred in Algeria and Morocco to a lesser extent. Many hundreds died in the uprisings.

Transport and industry


{{Ref improve section|date=February 2011}}
The economies of Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 were transformed by the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the deserts. Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

's major exports are phosphate
Phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

s and agricultural produce, and as in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, the tourist industry is essential to the economy. Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 has the most varied industrial base, importing technology to develop electronics and engineering industries, and maintaining the reputation of its high-quality cotton textiles.

Oil rigs are scattered throughout the deserts of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

. Libyan oil is especially prized because of its low sulphur content, which means it produces much less pollution than other fuel oils.

Climate change


In 2010, Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Niger
Niger
Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

 and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 all recorded their hottest all-time temperatures on record. In Chad, the temperature reached 47.6°C (117.7°F) on June 22 in Faya-Largeau
Faya-Largeau
Located in the Sahara, Faya's climate is classed as hot desert on the Köppen climate classification. It experiences hot winters and very hot summers with the peak average maximum temperature reaching in May and the average minimum reaching its lowest in January at . Rainfall averages out at about...

, breaking a record set in 1961 at the same location. Niger tied its highest temperature record set in 1998, on also June 22, at 47.1°C (116.78°F) in Bilma
Bilma
Bilma is an oasis town in north east Niger with a population of around 2,500 people. It lies protected from the desert dunes under the Kaouar Cliffs and is the largest town along the Kaouar escarpment...

. That record was broken the next day, on June 23 when Bilma hit 48.2°C (118.8°F). The hottest temperature recorded in Sudan was reached on June 25, at 49.6°C (121.3°F) in Dongola
Dongola
Dongola , also spelled Dunqulah, and formerly known as Al 'Urdi, is the capital of the state of Northern in Sudan, on the banks of the Nile. It should not be confused with Old Dongola, an ancient city located 80 km upstream on the opposite bank....

, breaking a record set in 1987.

See also


{{portal box|Geography|Africa}}

{{clearright}}
{{commons category multi|Northern Africa|North Africa}}

  • 2004 locust outbreak
    2004 locust outbreak
    The 2004 locust outbreak was the largest infestation of Desert Locust in West and North Africa in more than 15 years and affected a number of countries in the fertile northern regions of Africa.-Development:...

  • European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World
    European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World
    European Digital Archive on Soil Maps is a digital inventory of the maps holding valuable information pertaining to soil that are highly demanded in various environmental assessment studies focusing on policy issues...

  • Northern Africa Railroad Development
    Northern Africa Railroad Development
    Northern Africa Railroad Development started in the 1850s. In Egypt, a rail line between Alexandria and Cairo had been completed in 1856, three years before work began on the Suez Canal. On May 14, 1858, a rail carriage ferry on this line played a decisive role in Egyptian history...

  • List of modern conflicts in North Africa

{{clear}}

External links



{{Regions of the world}}