North Africa consists of five countries that border the Mediterranean Sea—EGYPT, LIBYA, TUNISIA, ALGERIA, and also MOROCCO. The SAHARA DESERT, the leading feature the the phibìc African landscape, sweeps across the southern component of the region. The Sahara serves as a geographical boundary between North Africa and also sub-Saharan Africa, except in Egypt. It also marks a shift zone from the largely Arab population of north Africa to black color Africa the the south.

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The Land

North Africa has three main geographic features: the Sahara, the ATLAS mountains in the west, and also the NILE RIVER and DELTA in the east. The Atlas Mountains—a facility cluster the ranges, ridges, plateaus, and basins—stretch for 1,200 miles follow me the phibìc African coast indigenous southwestern Morocco across Algeria to northeastern Tunisia. The tallest peaks space in the High Atlas selection in south-central Morocco, which has plenty of snowcapped peaks.

South the the Atlas mountains is the dry and also largely barren expanse of the Sahara. In areas the desert is reduced by rarely often rare watercourses called wadis—streams that flow only after rainfalls but are usually dry. The Sahara's major landforms incorporate ergs, huge seas of sand that sometimes form into substantial dunes; the hammada, a level rocky plateau there is no soil or sand; and also the reg, a level plain of gravel or tiny stones. The Sahara covers the southern component of Morocco, Algeria, and also Tunisia, and also most of Libya. Just two areas of Libya are outside the desert: Tripolitania in the northwest and Cyrenaica in the northeast.

Most of Egypt is additionally desert, except for the Nile River and also the irrigated land follow me its banks. The Nile valley is a small green and fertile thread the runs the length of the country. The Egyptian desert likewise contains oases, fertile areas roughly natural water sources. Sanctuaries are scattered through various other parts that the desert as well.

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Climate, Water, and also Resources

Coastal phibìc Africa has a Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and mild, wet winters. Along the Atlas chain, the hills trap moisture-laden clouds blowing south native the Mediterranean Sea. The moisture falls as rain ~ above the mountains' north slopes. As a result, these slopes and also the seaside area between them and the sea are well-watered and fertile, compared with the much more arid conditions on the southern side of the mountains. Similar conditions exist in Libya, wherein cliffs and low mountains separate Tripolitania and also Cyrenaica from the desert interior.

Throughout phibìc Africa, the accessibility of water has constantly been the chief factor in determining where and how human being live. In Egypt, 95 percent that the world live within a short distance that the Nile flow or in the delta at its mouth ~ above the Mediterranean Sea. Water native the flow is used come irrigate areas of cereal grains, vegetables, cotton, and also other crops.

In the various other North african countries, around 90 percent that the people live within 200 mile of the coast, typically in valleys that have actually streams and rivers. These areas are perfect for agriculture, particularly with the aid of irrigation. Citrus fruits, olives, and also grapes are major crops. Farther south, drier hills and also grasslands bordering the desert have long been the home that pastoralists who raise herds that sheep, goats, cattle, and camels. The only farming in the desert takes location in oases, where the main crops elevated are day palms, fruit, and cereal grains.

North Africa possesses an useful mineral resources. Libya and also Algeria have comprehensive deposits the petroleum and also natural gas. Commercial development of this resources has actually been underway because the 1950s, and fuel exports room a major source of revenue for these countries. Egypt and Tunisia have actually oil markets as well, despite on a smaller sized scale. The region also contains tiny quantities of other minerals, such together copper, zinc, and manganese. Morocco and also Tunisia have actually fairly significant deposits of phosphates, while stole ore is uncovered in Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia.


The People

North Africa's geographical setup has figured out its population and its ar in people affairs. In some ways, phibìc Africa is closer come Europe and the Middle east than to the remainder of Africa. The northernmost suggest in Morocco lies just eight miles from Europe across the Strait that Gibraltar. The Tunisian coast is just 85 mile from the Italian island that Sicily. Phibìc Africa has had actually extensive contact with Europe end the centuries, and in ancient times the was component of the Roman Empire. Moreover, the Sinai Peninsula, the northeastern component of Egypt, borders the middle East. Contacts in between the middle East and North Africa likewise go back many centuries.

The population of north Africa is largely white, prefer the peoples of Europe and the center East. But racial mixing has developed over the years in between the civilization of north Africa and the black population of sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa shares the center East's dominant ethnic group (Arab), language (Arabic), and religion (Islam). Because that this reason North Africa is sometimes considered component of the middle East, at least culturally. Arabs have actually long offered the hatchet MAGHREB (or Maghrib), meaning “west,” to describe Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, which they think about the westernmost part of the Arab world.

The most far-reaching feature of phibìc Africa's populace is that it is more uniform 보다 the population of any other afri region. Although minority populations exist in all 5 nations, many North Africans space either Arabs, BERBERS, or a mixture that the 2 groups. The Berbers were the original occupants of north Africa. In between the A.D. 600s and also 1000s, Muslim Arabs from Arabia swept across the an ar in a wave the conquest. The 2 peoples, physically fairly similar, developed a single population in many areas as Berbers an unified into Arab society.

The Arabs lugged with lock to phibìc Africa the Arabic language and the Islamic religion. Both the language and also the faith, along with many other attributes of Arab culture, ended up being dominant throughout North Africa. Some Berber groups, however, have actually maintained their different identity. These groups usually live in the an ext isolated or far mountain and desert areas of Tunisia, Algeria, and also Morocco.

Although Muslims, the Berbers often proceed to speak their very own languages and monitor their timeless pastoralist, and sometimes nomadic or seminomadic, method of life. One Berber-speaking group—the TUAREG—live mainly in the desert areas of north Africa and cling strong to their classic lifestyle. Despite such differences, however, centuries of interaction in between the Berbers and Arabs has created a strong sense of cultural unity.


The people of north Africa room overwhelmingly Muslim. Egypt has actually a small but far-reaching group the Coptic Christians, pendant of an early form the Christianity. Jewish neighborhoods have existed in phibìc Africa since old times. In current years, however, they have virtually disappeared as phibìc Africa's Jews have actually emigrated come Israel or Europe.

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North Africa's population numbered around 144 million in 2000. The nation with the largest populace was Egypt, v more than 68 million inhabitants. Algeria had actually 31 million people, Morocco 30 million, and also Tunisia nearly 10 million. Libya's population numbered only 5 million. Arabic is the official language that all five countries, but many north Africans likewise speak various other languages. French is regularly used in business in the previous French colonies of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Many Libyans, especially in the cities, know English and Italian, and countless urban Egyptians speak English. Berber is most frequently heard in Morocco and Algeria, which have big Berber populations.

North Africa has had actually cities since ancient times, as soon as ALEXANDRIA in Egypt and also CARTHAGE in Tunisia were major Mediterranean ports. CAIRO in Egypt and also Fez in Morocco prospered as centers that the caravan trade during the middle Ages. Much more recently, trade and industrial development have engendered the growth of numerous port urban in north Africa. Major urban centers now include Alexandria, Cairo, Tripoli in Libya, Tunis, ALGIERS in Algeria, and Casablanca in Morocco. (See likewise Arabs in Africa, Climate, phibìc Africa: background and Cultures, roman inn Africa.)