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Total population
c. 96 million
Regions with significant populations
 Algeria 40 million
(99% of the population)[1][a]
 Morocco 32 million
(99% of the population)[2]
 Tunisia 11 million
(99% of the population)[3][4]
 France c. 6 million
(at least some Maghrebi ancestry)[5][6]
 Libya 5.8 million
(90–97% of the population)[7][8]
 Mauritania Unknown (no official statistics)
 Canada 141,660[9]
Maghrebi Arabic
(Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Tunisian Arabic, Libyan Arabic)
Predominantly Islam (Sunni; also Shi'a, Ibadi); minority Judaism, Christianity[10]
Related ethnic groups
Maghrebis, Arab, Arabized Berber, Roman Africans, Sahrawi, Tuareg, Berbers, other Afroasiatic-speaking peoples
Maghrebis man of Berber type.

Arab-Berbers (Arabic: العرب والبربر‎; French: Arabo-berbères) are an ethnic group native to Maghreb, a North African region along the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Arab-Berbers are people of mixed Berber and Arab origin and whose native language is a variant of Maghrebi Arabic. Many Arab-Berbers identify primarily as Arab and secondarily as Berber.[11][12][13][14][15][16] While some Arab-Berbers claim West Asian descent, genetic studies there have determined that Arab and non-Arab Berbers are genetically nearly identical. This suggest that the processes of "Arabization" in the Maghreb was probably mainly cultural rather than genetic.[17] The Arab-Berber identity came into being as a direct result of the Arab conquest of North Africa, and the intermarriage between the Arabian and Persian people who immigrated to those regions and local mainly Roman Africans and other Berber people; in addition, Banu Hilal and Sulaym Arab tribes originating in the Arabian Peninsula invaded the region and intermarried with the local rural mainly Berber populations, and were a major factor in the linguistic, cultural and ethnic Arabization of the Maghreb.[18][19]

Alongside Berber speakers, arabized Berbers form the core of the native populations of the Maghreb, namely Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. [20][21]

Arab-Berbers primarily speak variants of Maghrebi Arabic, also known as (Darija or Derja (Arabic: دارجة‎), which means "everyday/colloquial language".[22] The variants of Maghrebi derja have a significant Berber, Latin[23][24][25] and possibly Neo-Punic[26][27] substratum. However, they also have many loanwords from French,[28] Turkish,[28] Italian[28] and the languages of Spain.[28]

Historical perspective[edit]

Medieval Arabic sources refers to Northwest Africa as Ifriqiya, Mauretania or as Bilad Al Barbar ('Land of the Berbers') (Arabic: بلادالبربر). This designation may have given rise to the term Barbary Coast which was used by Europeans until the 19th century to refer to coastal Northwest Africa.

Since the populations were partially affiliated with the Arab Muslim culture, Northwest Africa also started to be referred to by the Arabic speakers as Al-Maġrib, the Maghreb (meaning "The West") as it was considered as the western part of the known world. For historical references, medieval Arab and Muslim historians and geographers used to refer to Morocco as Al-Maghrib al Aqşá ("The Farthest West"), disambiguating it from neighboring historical regions called Al-Maghrib al Awsat ("The Middle West", Algeria) and Al-Maghrib al Adna ("The Nearest West", Ifriqiya (Tunisia)).[29]

The Maghreb was gradually arabized with the spread of Islam in the 7th century AD, when the liturgical language Arabic was first brought to the Maghreb. However, the bulk of the population of northwestern Africa remained Berber or Roman Africans at least until the 14th century. Arabization was at least partly strengthened in the rural areas in the 11th century with the emigration of the Banu Hilal tribes from Egypt. However, many parts of the Maghreb were only arabized relatively recently in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as the area of the Aurès (Awras) mountains. Lastly, the mass education and promotion of Arabic language and culture through schools and mass media, during the 20th century, by the maghrebis governments, is regarded as the strongest contributor to the Arabization process in the Maghreb.

Population genetics[edit]

Various population genetics studies along with historians such as Gabriel Camps and Charles-André Julien lend support to the idea that the bulk of the gene pool of modern maghrebis, irrespective of linguistic group, is derived from the Berber populations of the pre-Islamic period.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The CIA World Factbook states that about 15% of Algerians, a minority, identify as Berber even though many Algerians have Berber origins. The Factbook explains that of the approximately 15% who identify as Berber, most live in the Kabylie region, more closely identify with Berber heritage instead of Arab heritage, and are Muslim.
  1. ^ "The World Factbook – Algeria". Central Intelligence Agency. 4 December 2013. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Morocco in CIA World Factbook". 
  3. ^ "Tunisia". CIA World Factbook. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Q&A: The Berbers". BBC News. 12 March 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Estimé à six millions d'individus, l'histoire de leur enracinement, processus toujours en devenir, suscite la mise en avant de nombreuses problématiques..."; « Être Maghrébins en France » in Les Cahiers de l’Orient, n° 71, troisième trimestre 2003
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Tunisia". CIA World Factbook – Libya. Retrieved 26 June 2018. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census
  11. ^ Skutsch, C. (2013). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Taylor & Francis. p. 119. ISBN 9781135193881. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  12. ^ Juergensmeyer, M.; Roof, W.C. (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. p. 935. ISBN 9781452266565. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  13. ^ Suwaed, M. (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Bedouins. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 145. ISBN 9781442254510. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  14. ^ Brown, R.V.; Spilling, M. (2008). Tunisia. Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. p. 74. ISBN 9780761430377. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  15. ^ Bassiouni, M.C. (2013). Libya: From Repression to Revolution: A Record of Armed Conflict and International Law Violations, 2011-2013. Brill. p. 18. ISBN 9789004257351. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  16. ^ Simon, R.S.; Laskier, M.M.; Reguer, S. (2003). The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times. Columbia University Press. p. 444. ISBN 9780231507592. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  17. ^ Bosch, Elena et al. "Genetic structure of north-west Africa revealed by STR analysis." European Journal of Human Genetics (2000) 8, 360–366. Pg. 365
  18. ^ Weiss, Bernard G. and Green, Arnold H.(1987) A Survey of Arab History American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, p. 129, ISBN 977-424-180-0
  19. ^ Ballais, Jean-Louis (2000) "Chapter 7: Conquests and land degradation in the eastern Maghreb" p. 133
  20. ^ Bekada A, Fregel R, Cabrera VM, Larruga JM, Pestano J, et al. (2013) Introducing the Algerian Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Profiles into the North African Landscape. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56775. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056775
  21. ^ Hajjej, A.; et al. (2006). "The contribution of HLA class I and II alleles and haplotypes to the investigation of the evolutionary history of Tunisians". HLA. 68 (2): 153–162. doi:10.1111/j.1399-0039.2006.00622.x. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  22. ^ Wehr, Hans: Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (2011); Harrell, Richard S.: Dictionary of Moroccan Arabic (1966)
  23. ^ (in French) Tilmatine Mohand, Substrat et convergences: Le berbére et l'arabe nord-africain (1999), in Estudios de dialectologia norteafricana y andalusi 4, pp 99–119
  24. ^ (in Spanish) Corriente, F. (1992). Árabe andalusí y lenguas romances. Fundación MAPFRE.
  25. ^ (in French) Baccouche, T. (1994). L'emprunt en arabe moderne. Académie tunisienne des sciences, des lettres, et des arts, Beït al-Hikma.
  26. ^ Elimam, Abdou (1998). ' 'Le maghribi, langue trois fois millénaire. ELIMAM, Abdou (Éd. ANEP, Algiers 1997), Insaniyat. pp. 129–130. 
  27. ^ A. Leddy-Cecere, Thomas (2010). Contact, Restructuring, and Decreolization:The Case of Tunisian Arabic (PDF). Linguistic Data Consortium, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures. pp. 10–12–50–77. 
  28. ^ a b c d Zribi, I., Boujelbane, R., Masmoudi, A., Ellouze, M., Belguith, L., & Habash, N. (2014). A Conventional Orthography for Tunisian Arabic. In Proceedings of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC), Reykjavik, Iceland.
  29. ^ Yahya, Dahiru (1981). Morocco in the Sixteenth Century. Longman. p. 18. 
  30. ^ Arredi et al. A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in North Africa