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Algeria: Algeria People Profile 2012






Algeria People Profile 2012

The Algerians are chiefly Berbers, together with some Arab ancestry and, in the far south, Negroid ancestry. Since Arabs were the conquering invaders whose religion and language the natives adopted, it became customary for the Algerians to consider themselves Arabs. A sense of Berber identity has been preserved by some groups, however, such as the Kabyles in the mountainous section of the north.

Part the desert Berbers are the Tuareg, known as “blue men” because they wear blue garments. The men usually wear veils; the women, unlike the women of a lot of other Muslim groups, go unveiled. The Tuareg have the only written Berber dialect.

In addition to the capital, major cities include Annaba , Blida , Constantine , Mostaganem , Oran , Sétif , Sidi-bel-Abbès , Skikda , and Tlemcen . Berbers once constituted the chief ethnic group in Algeria, but have been largely assimilated into Arab culture. The Berbers, beginning in the late 7th cent. A.D. , adopted the Arabic language and Islam from the small number of Arabs who settled in the country. Today those of Arab-Berber descent make up some 99% of the people. Arabic is the major language, although about 15% of the people still speaks a Berber language. These inhabitants live mostly in the mountainous regions of the north, but as well include the nomadic Tuareg of the Sahara. Relations between Arabic-speaking and Berber-speaking Algerians have long been marked by tension. Arabic was made the sole national language in 1980, but that policy was reversed in 2002, when Tamazight, a Berber tongue, was as well recognized as a national language. French is widely spoken, and about 1% of the Algerian people is of European descent (before independence Europeans accounted for some 10%). Almost amount Algerians are adherents of the Sunni Muslim faith, the national religion.