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The population of the north of the continent becomes markedly different from the ethnic groups found further south as many Arab communities inhabit large areas of land. The Berbers have been on the continent for 10,000 years and are present across the northern part from Morocco in the west to Egypt in the east. This area used to be known as the Maghreb before being split into separate countries and the Berber presence even spreads into the Saharan Countries. The large majority of Berber people are Sunni Muslims but there are many different indigenous people associated with the culture and are generally linked by the language that is spoken or shared historical influences.

Moroccans visiting the mosque

The effect of European colonization is seen in the region with many Berbers speaking either French or Spanish. This however, has not stopped them from seeing themselves as Berbers. The Berber people however do not completely dominate the population profile of all North African Countries. In Egypt the Berbers only account for a small per cent of the population as the ethnic Egyptians account for 91% of the population. Speaking the Egyptian Arabic language the population is densely situated in the lower Nile Valley.

Egypt’s history is well documented and it has been estimated that the Nile Valley was occupied by hunter gatherers up to 10,000BC. This density of population increased further as the Sahara dried out and the Nile Valley became even more inviting. During the Roman times Egypt was competing to see which had a greater empire. There were a succession of Kings and Queens who shaped the culture, arts and customs of the country and it was one of the world’s most advanced societies. Egypt then became ruled by the Greeks and the Romans, and then in the 7th century AD the Arab Muslims controlled the country.

The presence of the Muslims has resulted in the most popular faith in the country today being Sunni Muslim. About 10% of the country are Catholics. Eventually in the 16th to the 18th century the country came under the control of the Ottoman Empire. The new fusion of Turkish blood mixed with the Greek, the Roman and the natural Egyptian to create the indigenous population that is found today.

The Bambara people in Mali

The ethnic make-up of Egypt is totally different from the sub-Saharan countries found in the region. Mali is one of the most desert affected countries and over 50% of its population have descended from the Mande group. The different groups that make up the Mande include the Bambara, the Soninke and the Malinke. In the north of the country the Tamasheq people exist. They have darker skins than the other groups and have been affected by slavery in the past that has been regularly carried out in Mali’s history. Once again Sunni Muslim is the most popular faith but it is not quite as closely practiced as it is in other Northern African areas.

The conflict of different religions being practiced by different indigenous groups has been seen to the greatest extent in Nigeria. The Boko Haram are an Islamist terror organization that are based in north eastern Nigeria and in April 2014 they kidnapped 276 female students from a government school in Chibok, Borno State.

Over a hundred of the girls are still missing in 2018. Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countrys’ in the whole of Africa with over 500 different ethnic groups. One of the largest are the Hausas who are also found in neighboring West African countries such as Ghana and Chad and have been present in  the region for the last 5000 years.

The different indigenous populations generally get on well with each other with religions followed being shared almost between Islam and Christianity. The kidnapping by Boko Haram group only occurred after the gang had been chased out of several other countries. Africa has a rich diversity of indigenous peoples, and generally they get on well with each other in the vast and varied landscapes that the continent offers.