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The Riffians are a Berber ethnic group who inhabit the Rif in northern Morocco. The mother tongue of the Riffians is called Riffian. Many speak Moroccan Arabic, Spanish or French as second or third languages.
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About two thirds of Riffians are pinkish-white skinned with mixed or light eyes (reaching 80% in central Rif). The rest are of Mediterranean (mainly of classic Mediterranean or Iberid subtype) and Alpine races.
Many Riffian Berbers show some other admixture.
In the Rif, dark eyes are found among 30% of the men, mixed eyes 45%, and light eyes in 25%; and the mixed eyes have green or blue elements rather than gray.
Riffian is a Northern Berber language of the Zenati subgroup, spoken mainly in the Rif region located in North Morocco and in various other cities by about 4 million people. There are also Riffian-speaking immigrants in Europe. The language itself is divided in several dialects, all intelligible to each clans composing the Rifian region. In neighbouring Algeria, it was spoken by Rif clans who have settled in some areas such as Bethioua. The Berber dialect spoken in Tlemcen (Beni Snouss) is often seen as an eastern variety of the language.
Riffian is spoken mainly in the Moroccan Rif by about 4 million people, with a few speakers across the border in Algeria and a large minority in the Spanish Autonomous city of Melilla. There are also speakers of Riffian in Morocco outside the Rif, among significant communities in Tangiers, Tetouan, Oujda, Larache and Fes. A substantial Riffian-speaking community exists in the Netherlands as well as to a lesser extent in other European countries. Its own speakers simply call it Thamazight, or Tamazight, a term also often applied in a broader sense to Berber languages in general.
Traditionally, the principal Riffian tribes of the region are:
- Aith Ouriaghel near Ajdir, around Wed Ghis
- Gzennaya, around Aknoul, west of the Metalsa.
- Iqeriyen, in the region of Nador and Melilla.
- Kebdana, along the coast next to Wed Moulouya near the Algerian border.
- Metalsa, east of the Bni Bu Yahi.
- Beni Said, west of Wed Kert .
- Beni Oulichek, southwest of Temsaman.
- Tafersit, nort of Aith Touzin
- Bni Tuzin, south of Temsaman.
- Temsaman, around the town of that name.
- Aith Ouriaghel east Ibaqoyen
- Bni Ammart, south of Aith Ouriaghel.
- Targuist, southeast of Aith Ouriaghel.
- Bni Gmil, west of Bni Boufrah.
- Ketama southwest, near the Ghomara border.
- Bni Boufrah, east of Aith Itteft.
- Ibaqoyen, in the west of Aith Ouriaghel.
- Bni Itteft, east of Bades.
- Mestassa, east of Bni Boufrah.
- Mtiwa, between Mestassa and Oued Ouringa.
- Coon, Carleton Stevens (1939). "The Mediterranean World". The Races of Europe. New York: The Macmillan Company. p. Plate 30. OCLC 575541610. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
A Riffian from the coastal village of Ajdir, in the tribe of Beni Uriaghel. In pigment, in measurements, and morphologically this Riffian is as perfect a Nordic as one could find in northern Europe. Nordics are ancient in Northern Africa as the Egyptian monuments of the Middle Kingdom, and perhaps older. They survive today mostly in the mountains of the Rif, Atlas mountains, Soussi of Souss valley, the Canary Islands and the Chleuhs.
- Coon, Carleton Stevens (1939). "The Mediterranean World". The Races of Europe. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 480–482. OCLC 575541610. Retrieved 16 June 2013.