The Berber reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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The Berbers (also called Amazigh, "free men", pl. Imazighen) are a predominantly Caucasoid (but partly Negroid), predominantly Muslim (but also Jewish , Christian, and atheist) ethnic group living in northern Africa. They speak the Berber languages of the Afroasiatic family. There are between 14 million and 25 million speakers of Berber languages in North Africa (see Berber languages#Population.)

They are generally agreed to descend from the Neolithic Capsian culture, which appeared in North Africa around 10,000-8000 BC, and probably came, according to the historian Christopher Ehret, from the African coast of the Red Sea. Some have regarded this culture's population as simply a continuation of the earlier Mesolithic Ibero-Maurusian culture, which appeared about 15,000 BC, while others argue for a population change; the former view has some support from dental evidence[1]. Genetic evidence seems to indicate that the Berbers are descended from several waves of immigration into the area[1], some as much as 50,000 years old. However, the Berber language is Afro-Asiatic, and since most linguists regard Afro-Asiatic as originating somewhere near the coast of the Red Sea, this is usually taken to imply that the language was brought in, with some degree of population change, no earlier than 15,000 BC[1], probably as part of the original spread of agriculture during the Neolithic. In historical times, they have expanded south into the Sahara (displacing earlier black African populations such as the Azer and Bafour), and have in turn been assimilated or displaced in much of North Africa by Arabs, particularly following the incursion of the Banu Hilal in the 11th century.

Berber groups are first mentioned in writing by the ancient Egyptians, who fought against the "Lebu" (Libyans) on their western borders, and in 945 BC were conquered by Lebu who founded the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. They long remained the main population of the Western Desert; the Byzantine chroniclers often complain of the "Mazices" (Amazigh) raiding outlying monasteries.

The Berbers live mainly in Morocco (between 35%- 80% of the population) and in Algeria (about 15%-33% of the population), as well as Libya and Tunisia, though exact statistics are unavailable[1]; see Berber languages#Population. Most North Africans who consider themselves Arab also have significant Berber ancestry[1]. One particularly prominent Berber group are the Kabyles of northern Algeria, who number approximately 4 million and have kept, to a large degree, their original language and culture. Other noteworthy groups include the Shilha of south Morocco, the Riffians of north Morocco, the Chaouia of Algeria, and the Tuareg of the Sahara. There are approximately 3 million Berber immigrants in Europe, especially the Riffians and the Kabyles in the Netherlands and France. Some proportion of the inhabitants of the Canary Islands are descended from the aboriginal Guanches - usually considered to have been Berber - among whom a few Canary Islander customs, such as the eating of gofio, originated.

Although stereotyped in the West as nomads, most Berbers were in fact traditionally farmers, living in the mountains relatively close to near the Mediterranean coast, or oasis dwellers; the Tuareg and Zenaga of the southern Sahara, however, were nomadic. Some groups, such as the Chaouis, practiced transhumance.

Political tensions have arisen between some Berber groups (especially the Kabyle) and North African governments over the past few decades, partly over linguistic and cultural issues; for instance, in Morocco, giving children Berber names is banned.

The Berber is a horse breed bred by the Berber people.

Table of contents
1 Berbers in Al-Andalus
2 Famous Berbers
3 See also
4 External links

Berbers in Al-Andalus

The Moslems who entered Spain in 711 were mainly Berbers, and were led by a Berber, Tariq ibn Ziyad. A second mixed army of Arabs and Berber came in 712 with the Arab leader Musa ibn Nusayr, and are claimed to have formed approximately 66% of the Islamic population in Spain, and supposedly that is the reason why they helped the Umayyad caliph Abd ar-Rahman I in Spain, because his mother was a Berber woman. During the Taifa era, the petty kings came from a variety of ethnic groups; some - for instance the Zirid kings of Granada - were of Berber origin. The Taifa period ended when a Berber dynasty - the Almoravids from Mauritania - took over Spain; they were succeeded by the Almohad dynasty from Morocco, during which time al-Andalus flourished. In the power hierarchy, Berbers were situated between the Arabic aristocracy and the Muladi populace. Ethnic rivalries were one of the factors of Andalusi politics.

Initially they settled the Cantabric Mounts, the Central System and the Andalusian mountains.

After the fall of the Caliphate, the taifa kingdoms of Toledo, Badajoz, Málaga and Granada had Berber rulers.

Famous Berbers

In Ancient Times

In Medieval Times

In Modern Times

Famous People who were either Berber or Punic

Famous People who may have had some Berber ancestors

Nearly all North Africans - and many Andalusi Moors - fall and fell into this category, but do not in general identify themselves as Berber. For lists of them, look under the respective countries.

See also

External links