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Get to Know the Amazigh People!

The Amazigh people are distributed across North Africa. They are most populous in Morocco but they also have a presence in Burkina Faso, Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Niger. Reliable information on the demography of the Amazigh people is difficult to obtain but it is estimated that the Amazigh make up at least more than 50% of the Moroccan population and 30% of the population of Algeria.

The Amazigh language, Tamazight, exists in several dialects. It has the status of being a national language in Niger and Mali. Although this recognition has been extended technically in Morocco and Algeria, it has not been given the same status as Arabic. Amazigh people in both Morocco and Algeria are fighting for the preservation of Tamazight.

Although the Amazigh and their presence in Morocco predates the arrival of Islam and the Arabic language, many of the Amazigh have been assimilated into a largely Islamic, and Arabic Moroccan society. Many Amazigh fear that this phenomenon will result in a total loss of their language and distinct identity.

There are three distinct Amazigh groups in Morocco. These are, the Brabers of the Atlas mountains, the Chlouhs of Southern Morocco and the Riffians of Northern Morocco.

  • In Algeria, there are the Bilda Amazigh in the central region, the Chaoui Amazighe of Eastern Algeria, the Chenoui Amazigh of Western Algeria, the Kabyles of Northern Algeria, the Mozabites of the M’zab Valley, the Tlecen Amazigh of the Aith South villages of Western Algeria, and the Zenatas in Western Central Algeria.
  • In Tunisia, there are the Chenini and Duaret Amazighe, the Djerba Amazigh,and the Malmata Amazigh of the South.
  • In Egypt there are the Siwi Amazigh of the Siwi valley.
  • In Libya, there are the Nafusis of Western Libya and the Zuwaras of Northwest Libya.
  • There are the Zenaga people of Northwestern Mauritania.
  • The Tuaregs inhabit the Sahara. They are present in Algeria, Libya, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.