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 ██ Northern Africa (UN subregion) ██ geographic, including above

██ Northern Africa ( UN subregion)

██ geographic, including above

North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Northern Africa (which coincides with common reckonings of the region) includes the following seven territories:
The Spanishplazas de soberanía (exclaves) are on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by Morocco on land.The Spanish Canary Islands and Portuguese Madeira Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean are northwest of the African mainland and often included in this region.The Maghreb – also called Tamazgha by Berber people, is a part of northwest Africa comprised of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara ( whose political status is ambiguous), and (sometimes) Libya. In common usage, particularly in French, the term is often restricted to the first three countries as all are former French-ruled territories: Algeria as a settlement colony, the other two as protectorates. In Arabic, the term can also refer to Morocco alone.Geographically, the Azores, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti are sometimes included.Some countries in North Africa, particularly Egypt and Libya, often get included in common definitions of the Middle East, since they in some respects have closer ties to Western Asia than to the Maghreb. In addition, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt is part of Asia, making Egypt a transcontinental country.

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People - Contents

The inhabitants of North Africa are generally divided in a manner roughly corresponding to the principal geographic regions of North Africa: the Maghreb, the Nile Valley, and the Sahara. Northwest Africa on the whole is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers since the beginning of recorded history, while the eastern part of North Africa has been home to the Egyptians and Nubians. Following the Muslim-Arab conquest in the 7th century AD, the region underwent a process of Arabization and Islamization that has defined its cultural landscape ever since. Questions of ethnic identity usually rely on an affiliation with Arabism and/or Islam, or with indigenous cultures and religions. North Africans exhibit a wide range of phenotypical characteristics from fair to dark-complexioned.

Culture - Contents

The people of the Maghreb and the Sahara speak various dialects of Berber and Arabic, and follow Islam. The two languages are related, both being members of the Afro-Asiatic language family. However, the dialects of the Sahara (of both Arabic and Berber) are in general notably more conservative than those of the coast. Over the years, Berbers have been influenced by other cultures with which they came in contact: Nubians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, and lately Europeans. The culture of the Maghreb and the Sahara therefore combines indigenous Berber, Arab, and other elements. In the Sahara, the distinction between sedentary oasis inhabitants and nomadic Bedouin and Tuareg is particularly marked.While mostly sharing the same origins in Northwest Africa, Berbers and 'Arabs' in the Maghreb and the Sahara are usually divided along ethno-linguistic lines. There are some exceptions; outside Morocco and in parts of Algeria, some Berbers may for instance identify as Arabs and may not necessarily speak Tamazight, but rather Maghreb Arabic. However, most Berbers (also called Imazighen) have retained a distinct sense of ethnic and cultural identification. On the whole, Arabic-speaking Maghrebis tend to identify more with Arab history and culture, and may share a common vision with other Arabs. Berbers and especially Berberists may view all Northwest Africans as principally Berber whether they are Berber- or Arabic-speaking.The Nile Valley through northern Sudan traces its origins to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Kush. The Egyptians over the centuries have shifted their language from Egyptian to modern Egyptian Arabic (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. In Nubia, straddling Egypt and Sudan, a significant population retains the ancient Nubian language but has adopted Islam. The northern part of the Sudan is home to a Muslim black African population speaking principally Arabic, but further down the Nile Valley, the culturally distinct world of the largely non-Muslim Nilotic and Nuba peoples begins. Sudan is the largest and most diverse of all North African countries.North Africa formerly had a large Jewish population, almost all 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, 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 Mizrāḥîm. Today, less than fifteen thousand remain in the region, almost all in Morocco and Tunisia, and are mostly part of a French-speaking urban elite. (See Jewish exodus from Arab lands.)

History - Contents

After the Middle Ages the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire, except Morocco. After the 19th century, it was colonized by France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. In World War 2 from 1940 to 1943 the area was the setting for the North African Campaign. During the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s, all of the North African states gained independence.
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