North Africa

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"Northern Africa" redirects here. North Africa_sentence_0

For the region of the United Nations, see United Nations geoscheme for Africa § Northern Africa. North Africa_sentence_1

For the region of the African Union, see Regions of the African Union § North. North Africa_sentence_2

For the western part of the Arab world, see Maghreb. North Africa_sentence_3

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North AfricaNorth Africa_header_cell_0_0_0
CountriesNorth Africa_header_cell_0_1_0 Sovereign states (6)

Other territories (3)

Unrecognized states (1)North Africa_cell_0_1_1

Time zonesNorth Africa_header_cell_0_2_0 UTC+00:00

UTC+01:00 UTC+02:00North Africa_cell_0_2_1

North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. North Africa_sentence_4

There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. North Africa_sentence_5

Others have limited it to the countries of Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, a region that was known by the French during colonial times as "Afrique du Nord" and is known by Arabs as the Maghreb ("West", The western part of Arab World). North Africa_sentence_6

The most commonly accepted definition includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, the 6 countries that shape the top North of the African continent. North Africa_sentence_7

Meanwhile, "North Africa", particularly when used in the term Middle East and North Africa (MENA), often refers only to the countries of the Maghreb. North Africa_sentence_8

North Africa includes a number of Spanish and Portuguese possessions, Plazas de soberanía, Ceuta and Melilla and the Canary Islands and Madeira. North Africa_sentence_9

The countries of North Africa share a common ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity with the Middle East or West Asia, and is unique to this region as compared to Sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa_sentence_10

Northwest Africa has been inhabited by Berbers since the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians. North Africa_sentence_11

Between the A.D. 600s and 1000s, Arabs from the Middle East swept across the region in a wave of Muslim conquest. North Africa_sentence_12

These peoples, physically quite similar, formed a single population in many areas, as Berbers and Egyptians merged into Arabic and Muslim culture. North Africa_sentence_13

This process of Arabization and Islamization has defined the cultural landscape of North Africa ever since. North Africa_sentence_14

The distinction between North Africa, the Sahel and the rest of the continent is as follows: North Africa_sentence_15

The Sahel or "African Transition Zone" has been affected by many formative epochs in North African history ranging from Ottoman occupation to the Arab-Berber control of the Andalus. North Africa_sentence_16

As a result, many modern African nation-states that are included in the Sahel evidence cultural similarities and historical overlap with their North African neighbours. North Africa_sentence_17

In the present day, North Africa is associated with West Asia in the realm of geopolitics to form a Middle East-North Africa region. North Africa_sentence_18

The Islamic influence in the area is also significant and North Africa is a major part of the Muslim world. North Africa_sentence_19

Geography North Africa_section_0

North Africa has three main geographic features: the Sahara desert in the south, the Atlas Mountains in the west, and the Nile River and delta in the east. North Africa_sentence_20

The Atlas Mountains extend across much of northern Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. North Africa_sentence_21

These mountains are part of the fold mountain system that also runs through much of Southern Europe. North Africa_sentence_22

They recede to the south and east, becoming a steppe landscape before meeting the Sahara desert, which covers more than 75 percent of the region. North Africa_sentence_23

The tallest peaks are in the High Atlas range in south-central Morocco, which has many snow-capped peaks. North Africa_sentence_24

South of the Atlas Mountains is the dry and barren expanse of the Sahara desert, which is the largest sand desert in the world. North Africa_sentence_25

In places the desert is cut by irregular watercourses called wadis—streams that flow only after rainfalls but are usually dry. North Africa_sentence_26

The Sahara's major landforms include ergs, large seas of sand that sometimes form into huge dunes; the hammada, a level rocky plateau without soil or sand; and the reg, a level plain of gravel or small stones. North Africa_sentence_27

The Sahara covers the southern part of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and most of Libya. North Africa_sentence_28

Only two regions of Libya are outside the desert: Tripolitania in the northwest and Cyrenaica in the northeast. North Africa_sentence_29

Most of Egypt is also desert, with the exception of the Nile River and the irrigated land along its banks. North Africa_sentence_30

The Nile Valley forms a narrow fertile thread that runs along the length of the country. North Africa_sentence_31

Sheltered valleys in the Atlas Mountains, the Nile Valley and Delta, and the Mediterranean coast are the main sources of fertile farming land. North Africa_sentence_32

A wide variety of valuable crops including cereals, rice and cotton, and woods such as cedar and cork, are grown. North Africa_sentence_33

Typical Mediterranean crops, such as olives, figs, dates and citrus fruits, also thrive in these areas. North Africa_sentence_34

The Nile Valley is particularly fertile and most of the population in Egypt live close to the river. North Africa_sentence_35

Elsewhere, irrigation is essential to improve crop yields on the desert margins. North Africa_sentence_36

Definitions North Africa_section_1

Variously the Sudan and Western Sahara are considered to be part of the region by the United Nations, while Western Sahara and Mauritania (but not Sudan) are included by the African Union. North Africa_sentence_37

In general geopolitical and business usage, as for example with the World Bank, North Africa is often grouped with the Middle East under the acronym MENA ("Middle East and North Africa") and sometimes in American governmental usage the geopolitical term Greater Middle East. North Africa_sentence_38

Similarly, the traditional Arabic toponym Maghreb (meaning "the West") is commonly used to mean the African part of the Arab World, though usually with the exclusion of Egypt. North Africa_sentence_39

The inhabitants of the Spanish Canary Islands are of mixed Spanish and North African Berber ancestry, and the people of Malta are of North African ancestry and speak a derivative of Arabic. North Africa_sentence_40

However, these areas are not generally considered part of North Africa, but rather Southern Europe, due to their European-based cultures and religion. North Africa_sentence_41

People North Africa_section_2

Main articles: North African Arabs, Arabs, Egyptians, Maghrebis, and Berbers North Africa_sentence_42

Further information: Demographics of Africa, List of ethnic groups of Africa § North Africa, List of African countries by population, and Writing systems of Africa § Ancient orthographies North Africa_sentence_43

The inhabitants of North Africa are roughly divided in a manner corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb, the Nile valley, and the Sahel. North Africa_sentence_44

The Maghreb or western North Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers since at least 10,000 B.C., while the eastern part of North Africa or the Nile Valley has mainly been home to the Egyptians. North Africa_sentence_45

Ancient Egyptians record extensive contact in their Western desert with people that appear to have been Berber or proto-Berber. North Africa_sentence_46

As the Tassili n'Ajjer and other rock art findings in the Sahara have shown, the Sahara also hosted various populations before its rapid desertification in 3500 B.C and even today continues to host small populations of nomadic trans-Saharan peoples. North Africa_sentence_47

In the eleventh century, the Banu Hilal invaded the North African plains and plateaus, but not the mountainous areas such as the Tell Atlas range, the Rif or the Aurès Mountains and brought with them Hilalian dialects of Arabic, which over the centuries have been in significant contact with other languages, including the languages of Europe. North Africa_sentence_48

Historians mark their movement as a critical moment in the Arabization of North Africa. North Africa_sentence_49

The official languages in the countries making up the Maghreb are Tamazight which is also known as Berber, and Arabic and French as administrative languages. North Africa_sentence_50

The most spoken language is Darija, which is a form of ancient Arabic dating back from the 8th century AD that follows a Berber grammatical and syntactical structure. North Africa_sentence_51

For the remaining North African countries the official language is Arabic. North Africa_sentence_52

The largest ethnic groups in North Africa Berbers and West Africans in the west and the Arabs in the east approaching the Middle East. North Africa_sentence_53

The region is predominantly Muslim with a Jewish minority in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and significant Christian minority—the Copts—in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. North Africa_sentence_54

Culture North Africa_section_3

History North Africa_section_4

Main article: History of North Africa North Africa_sentence_55

Further information: African empires § North Africa, and List of kingdoms in pre-colonial Africa § North Africa North Africa_sentence_56

Prehistory North Africa_section_5

Main article: Prehistoric North Africa North Africa_sentence_57

Further information: History of North Africa § Prehistory North Africa_sentence_58

Due to the recent African origin of modern humans, the history of Prehistoric North Africa is important to the understanding of pre-hominid and early modern human history in Africa. North Africa_sentence_59

Some researchers have postulated that North Africa rather than East Africa served as the exit point for the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent in the Out of Africa migration.. North Africa_sentence_60

The earliest inhabitants of central North Africa have left behind significant remains: early remnants of hominid occupation in North Africa, for example, were found in Ain el Hanech, near Saïda (c. 200,000 BCE); in fact, more recent investigations have found signs of Oldowan technology there, and indicate a date of up to 1.8 million BCE. North Africa_sentence_61

Recent finds in Jebel Irhoud in Morocco have been found to contain some of the oldest Homo sapiens remains; This suggests that, rather than arising only in East Africa around 200,000 years ago, early Homo sapiens may already have been present across the length of Africa 100,000 years earlier. North Africa_sentence_62

According to study author Jean-Jacques Hublin, "The idea is that early Homo sapiens dispersed around the continent and elements of human modernity appeared in different places, and so different parts of Africa contributed to the emergence of what we call modern humans today." North Africa_sentence_63

Early humans may have comprised a large, interbreeding population dispersed across Africa whose spread was facilitated by a wetter climate that created a "green Sahara", around 330,000 to 300,000 years ago. North Africa_sentence_64

The rise of modern humans may thus have taken place on a continental scale rather than being confined to a particular corner of Africa. North Africa_sentence_65

In September 2019, scientists reported the computerized determination, based on 260 CT scans, of a virtual skull shape of the last common human ancestor to modern humans/H. North Africa_sentence_66

sapiens, representative of the earliest modern humans, and suggested that modern humans arose between 260,000 and 350,000 years ago through a merging of populations in East and Southern Africa. North Africa_sentence_67

The cave paintings found at Tassili n'Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset, Algeria, and at other locations depict vibrant and vivid scenes of everyday life in central North Africa during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (about 8000 to 4000 BCE). North Africa_sentence_68

Some parts of North Africa began to participate in the Neolithic revolution in the 6th millennium BCE, just before the rapid desertification of the Sahara around 3500 B.C. largely due to a tilt in the Earth's orbit. North Africa_sentence_69

It was during this period that domesticated plants and animals were introduced in the region, spreading from the north and east to the southwest. North Africa_sentence_70

There has been an inferred connection between areas of rapid drying and the introduction of livestock in which the natural (orbital) aridification was amplified by the spread of shrubs and open land due to grazing. North Africa_sentence_71

Nevertheless, changes in northern Africa's ecology after 3500 BCE provided the backdrop for the formation of dynastic civilizations and the construction of monumental architecture such as the Pyramids of Giza. North Africa_sentence_72

When Egypt entered the Bronze Age, the Maghreb remained focused on small-scale subsistence in small, highly mobile groups. North Africa_sentence_73

Some Phoenician and Greek colonies were established along the Mediterranean coast during the 7th century BCE. North Africa_sentence_74

Antiquity and ancient Rome North Africa_section_6

Main article: History of North Africa § Classical period North Africa_sentence_75

The most notable nations of antiquity in western North Africa are Carthage and Numidia. North Africa_sentence_76

The Phoenicians colonized much of North Africa including Carthage and parts of present-day Morocco (including Chellah, Essaouira and Volubilis). North Africa_sentence_77

The Carthaginians were of Phoenician origin, with the Roman myth of their origin being that Dido, a Phoenician princess, was granted land by a local ruler based on how much land she could cover with a piece of cowhide. North Africa_sentence_78

She ingeniously devised a method to extend the cowhide to a high proportion, thus gaining a large territory. North Africa_sentence_79

She was also rejected by the Trojan prince Aeneas according to Virgil, thus creating a historical enmity between Carthage and Rome, as Aeneas would eventually lay the foundations for Rome. North Africa_sentence_80

Ancient Carthage was a commercial power and had a strong navy, but relied on mercenaries for land soldiers. North Africa_sentence_81

The Carthaginians developed an empire in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, the latter being the cause of First Punic War with the Romans. North Africa_sentence_82

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. North Africa_sentence_83

This led to tension and eventually conflict between Numidia and Rome. North Africa_sentence_84

The Numidian wars are notable for launching the careers of both Gaius Marius, 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 leader Jugurtha. North Africa_sentence_85

North Africa remained a part of the Roman Empire, which produced many notable citizens such as Augustine of Hippo, until incompetent leadership from Roman commanders in the early fifth century allowed the Germanic peoples, the Vandals, to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, whereupon they overcame the fickle Roman defense. North Africa_sentence_86

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. North Africa_sentence_87

The issue of regaining North Africa became paramount to the Western Empire, but was frustrated by Vandal victories. North Africa_sentence_88

The focus of Roman energy had to be on the emerging threat of the Huns. North Africa_sentence_89

In 468 AD, the Romans made one last serious attempt to invade North Africa but were repelled. North Africa_sentence_90

This perhaps marks the point of terminal decline for the Western Roman Empire. North Africa_sentence_91

The last Roman emperor was deposed in 476 by the Heruli general Odoacer. North Africa_sentence_92

Trade routes between Europe and North Africa remained intact until the coming of Islam. North Africa_sentence_93

Some Berbers were members of the Early African Church (but evolved their own Donatist doctrine), some were Berber Jews, and some adhered to traditional Berber religion. North Africa_sentence_94

African pope Victor I served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimius Severus North Africa_sentence_95

Arab conquest to modern times North Africa_section_7

Main article: History of North Africa § Arrival of Islam North Africa_sentence_96

The early Muslim conquests included North Africa by 640. North Africa_sentence_97

By 700, most of North Africa had come under Muslim rule. North Africa_sentence_98

Indigenous Berbers subsequently started to form their own polities in response in places such as Fez and Sijilmasa. North Africa_sentence_99

In the eleventh century, a reformist movement made up of members that called themselves the Almoravid dynasty expanded south into Sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa_sentence_100

North Africa's populous and flourishing civilization collapsed after exhausting its resources in internal fighting and suffering devastation from the invasion of the Banu Sulaym and Banu Hilal. North Africa_sentence_101

Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert. North Africa_sentence_102

After the Middle Ages the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire, except Morocco. North Africa_sentence_103

The Spanish Empire conquered several coastal cities between the 16th and 18th centuries. North Africa_sentence_104

After the 19th century, the imperial and colonial presence of France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy left the entirety of the region under one form of European occupation. North Africa_sentence_105

In World War II from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign. North Africa_sentence_106

During the 1950s and 1960s all of the North African states gained independence. North Africa_sentence_107

There remains a dispute over Western Sahara between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. North Africa_sentence_108

In 2010–2011 massive protests swept the region leading to the overthrow of the governments in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as civil war in Libya. North Africa_sentence_109

Large protests also occurred in Algeria and Morocco to a lesser extent. North Africa_sentence_110

Many hundreds died in the uprisings. North Africa_sentence_111

This uprising is commonly referred to as the "Arab spring". North Africa_sentence_112

Science and technology North Africa_section_8

Further information: History of science and technology in Africa § Northern Africa and the Nile Valley North Africa_sentence_113

Transport and industry North Africa_section_9

See also North Africa_section_10

Geography portal  Africa portal North Africa_sentence_114

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Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Africa.