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Article

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazā‛iriyyah al-Dimuqrāṭiyyah al-Sha‛biyya; Al-Jazā’ir]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Algiers.

Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, with an area of c. 2,400,000 sq. km. Extending south from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara, it is bordered to the west by Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania, to the south by Mali and Niger and to the east by Libya and Tunisia. Geographically Algeria can be divided into three regions: the most populated region of the coastal Atlas range (including the Kabylie Mountains) and small plains in the north; the salt flats and high plateau of the Saharan Atlas range; and the desert (including the Hoggar Mountains), which comprises four-fifths of the country. Most of the population (33 million, 2006 estimate) is Arab or Arabized, although about 20% have retained their Berber identity and language. Nearly all are Sunni Muslim. Many people from the old-established Jewish and more recent European communities left when independence from France was won in ...

Article

[Arab. Jumhūriyya Miṣr al-‛Arabiyya.]

Country in North Africa extending into Asia at the south-eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, with its capital at Cairo. It is bounded in the west by Libya, in the south by Sudan and in the east by the Gaza Strip, Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Although its total area is over one million sq. km, this is largely desert; the cultivated and settled part, the Nile Valley and Delta and the oases, is only a quarter of the country’s area. (For a description of its geography see Egypt, ancient, §I, 1.) It is the most populous state in the Arab world, with more than 80 million people (2007 estimate). Traditionally the majority have been fellahin, peasant farmers; despite massive rural migration to the towns, about half the working population is still engaged on the land. The majority are Sunni Muslim and perhaps 10–15% are Copts, the largest Christian minority. Many Jews emigrated in the 1940s and 1950s. At the beginning of the 20th century there were over 100,000 Europeans, but many left in the 1960s....

Article

Elsbeth Court and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

Country in eastern Africa, bordered by Sudan and Ethiopia to the north, by Somalia to the east, by Uganda to the west, by Tanzania to the south-west and by the Indian Ocean to the south-east. The capital is Nairobi. It has a population of nearly 37 million (2007 estimate), of which about 10% are Muslims who live largely along the coast, especially at Mombasa. The national languages are Swahili and English. Kenya owes its diversity of climate and geography to the Rift Valley, which has influenced the population’s distribution and livelihood. Most of the population are engaged in agriculture or pastoralism, and only 20% work in urban areas.

People of four distinct language groups have settled the area, resulting in a strongly localized system of social organization. Among the c. 50 different ethnic groups, the typical political units are clans and age-sets, with only Swahili towns having centralized hierarchies. Despite a long history of foreign influence via Indian Ocean trade, extensive up-country contact with Europeans began only in the late 19th century. A widespread sense of being East African is manifest in the ubiquitous ...

Article

Libya  

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya; Arab. Al-Jamāhīriyyah al-‛Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah al-Sha‛biyyah al-Ishtirākiyyah al-‛Uẓmā]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Tripoli. Libya has an area of c. 1,760,000 sq. km, extending from the south shore of the Mediterranean Sea into the Sahara; it is bordered by Tunisia and Algeria to the west, Niger and Chad to the south, and Sudan and Egypt to the east. Apart from two narrow coastal strips and the oases of Fezzan in the south-west, most of Libya is desert. The six million people (2007 estimate) are mainly Arabs, with Berber tribes in the west and aboriginal tribes in the Fezzan. The majority are Sunni Muslim; most of the old-established Jewish population and 20th-century Italian settlers left in the decades after World War II. Oil was discovered in the south in 1959, which, together with gas, is Libya’s main export. Oil wealth and the military coup of 1969 created radical change; in the 1980s the economy began to decline and large numbers of foreign workers left or were expelled....

Article

[République Islamique de Mauritanie]

Country on the north-west coast of Africa. It is bordered to the north by Western Sahara, to the north-east by Algeria, to the east and south by Mali, and to the south-west by Senegal. The capital is Nouakchott. Most of Mauritania’s 1,030,700 sq. km is low-lying desert that supports a livestock-based nomadic existence, although there is some arable farming along the fertile banks of the Senegal River. There was much urban migration in the 1980s and 1990s, but still only a small amount of industrial development, the economy continuing to be based on agriculture with some mineral exports.

Mauritania’s early history is marked by the incursion of Berber tribes from the north, which forced the indigenous population of Fulani, Soninke and Berber peoples southwards. In the 15th century nomadic Arab tribes moving south began to eclipse Berber power while the Portuguese, and later the Dutch and the French, also showed interest in the area. The Senegal Treaty of ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiyya]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Rabat. Morocco has an area c. 458,700 sq. km with coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Atlantic Ocean to the west, bounded in the east by Algeria and in the south by Western Sahara. Geographically Morocco is divided into distinct regions: the populous plains and plateaux of the west; the Rif Mountains along the Mediterranean coast; the Atlas Mountains, which cross the country from south-west to north-east; the pre-Sahara region in the south; and the high plateau in the east. The population of 23,000,000 (1987 estimate) consists of a mixture of Arabs and Berbers, the majority of which is Sunni Muslim; there is also a small Jewish community and some Christians. Arabic is the official language; about half the population speak Berber dialects, and French and Spanish are also spoken. The economy is based on agriculture, fishing and minerals, particularly phosphates. Since the 1970s the tourist industry has been a major source of revenue. Morocco’s Berber–Arab heritage (being the only Arab country that did not come under Ottoman rule), its historical ties with France and Spain (which possesses the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla) and its situation in Africa have produced a distinct cultural character. This article covers the art produced in the country in the 20th century. For its earlier history ...

Article

Jutta Ströter-Bender

[République du Sénégal]

Country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. The Gambia protrudes from the Atlantic coast into the interior of Senegal. The capital is Dakar. Under French influence from the mid-17th century, Senegal gained full independence in 1960.

Senegal occupies a geographically intermediate position, ranging climatically from the desert of the Sahel belt, through savannah, to rain-forest in the south. The population (11,658,000; 2005 estimate) comprises a number of peoples, including Wolof, Serer, Tukolor and Fulani. Senegal is noted for its religious and racial tolerance. The majority of the population (80%) is Muslim, while 10% are Christian and 10% follow traditional religions. The national language is French. Except for a small group of nomadic Fulani, most of the population are settled agriculturalists, although Senegal also has a relatively developed manufacturing sector, some mining and, in the early 1990s, an expanding tourist industry....

Article

[Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Tūnusiyyah; Tūnis]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Tunis. It has an area of c. 163,600 sq. km, extending from the south shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara, and it is bordered to the west by Algeria and to the south-east by Libya. The coastal region and fertile plain of the Mejerda River are the most populous; the high plateau of the Tell and the eastern end of the Atlas range descend in the south to an area of salt flats and the sub-Saharan region. Tunisia’s geographical position has kept it constantly at the centre of Mediterranean history, with a cultural legacy that is a mixture of Berber, Punic, Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Spanish, Ottoman and French influences. Most of the population (10,102,000, 2005 estimate) is Arab, with a small percentage of Berber origin; the rest are French and Italian. The majority are Sunni Muslim, and there are Jewish and Christian minorities. Its main exports are phosphates, chemicals, textiles, crude oil, fish, olive oil and fruit, and there is a growing manufacturing sector; in the early 1990s tourism and remittances sent by migrant workers could not restrain Tunisia’s mounting debts. This article covers the art produced in the country from the late 19th century. For its earlier history ...