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People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Also known as: Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazāʾiriyyah al-Dīmuqrāṭiyyah al-Shaʿbiyyah
Ethnic groups in Algeria
The ethnic groups that populate Algeria include Arabs and Berbers, who represent 99% of the population, of which 85% are Arab and 15% are Berber. They also have a minority population of Europeans that represents less than 1% of the population. They are predominantly of French, Spanish, and Italian descent.
Most Algerians are of Berber and Arab ancestry, but a significant portion are also of Black ancestry. (10%, according to unofficial statistics). In colonial times, the French made up roughly 10% of the population, but today they make up only about 1%. Following independence, a large number of other Europeans and almost all of their Jews left the nation. Nowadays, more than three million Algerians reside overseas, particularly in France and the United States.
Approximately 85% of the Algerian population identify as Arabs. These people are descendants from the Arab conquerors that moved into the region in the 7th and 8th centuries, during the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb. They have had a significant impact on the culture, language, and society of Algeria. As a result, many of the indigenous Berber tribes that were native to the region adopted Islam as a religion and Arabic as a language.
The Arab population of Algeria is mostly in the northern and coastal regions of the country, where they make the majority of the population. They are predominantly Sunni Muslim. There is also a minority of Shia Muslims along with others. They speak Arabic, with many regional variations of the language.
In recent years there has been a growing movement among Algerian Arabs to reclaim their cultural and linguistic identity, which had been suppressed under the French colonization of Algeria.
A minority of the Algerian population, about 15%, identify as Berbers or Amazigh and are divided into groups called Kabyles, Chaouis, Chenouas, Mozabites, and Tuareg. The largest group is the Kabyle people, who are concentrated in the Kabylie region of the country.
The Berbers of Algeria have had a long and complex history, dating back to ancient times. They were originally tribal people, organized into clans and confederations, and known for their fierce resistance to foreign invaders. They interacted with Phoenicians and Romans for centuries. Christianized in Late Antiquity along with the Roman Empire, the Berbers became Arabized and Islamized after the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb under the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphate.
From western Egypt to the Canary Islands (a region called Tamazgha by Amazigh), Amazigh languages were first spoken. Estimates of Tamazight speakers in Algeria range widely, from 17% to 45–55% of the population when bi/trilingual speakers are taken into account.
Due to the growth of Arabic as the official language of culture and religion, the rise of French as a prestige language during colonization, and assimilationist laws that forbade the use of this language, Tamazight in Algeria experienced a decline.
Previous Roman-Berber cities gradually began to become Arabo-Berber cities where an Arabo-Islamic culture was involved. Arabization was considered as a low phenomenon, mostly due to cultural and economical exchanges between the new Maghreb and the old Mashreq of the Arab world, until the 12th century when the immigration of the Bedouin tribe Banu Hilal expanded their cultural influence towards the inland areas. Centuries later, the linguistical Arabization of the Maghreb has become much more dominant.
Berbers have played an important role in the struggle for Algerian independence, and they continue to be an important political and cultural force in the country while keeping their identity and distinct language, customs, and traditions.
A small percentage of Algerians are of French, Spanish, or Italian heritage. They represent the faction that persisted following Algeria's 1962 declaration of independence from France. While Algeria was ruled by France, these European immigrants had sizable farms and companies. They had greater economic benefits than Algeria's native population, despite being a minority.
The majority of Europeans are Christians or Jews, as opposed to most Algerians, who are Muslims.
Algeria was the home of a significant Jewish community, most of which fled after Algeria's independence. The number of Jewish people in Algeria was estimated to be only around 200 people in 2020. Jewish people have lived in Algeria from the early centuries of the Common Era, they arrive after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in the fourteenth century, when a large number of them relocated to Algeria, greatly expanding the Jewish population there. Under the French rule, Jewish people were given French nationalities. After the Algerian independence around 130,000 of the, fled to France. It is also estimated that around 25,681 Jews left for Israel since 1948.
The Turkish community in Algeria is a minority group estimated to number close to two million people. These Turks came with the establishment of the Ottoman Algeria, in the 16th Century. The Turk’s language, lifestyle, and religion were viewed as elite and different from the indigenous culture back then. Intermarriage between them and the locals was highly restricted to preserve their culture. However, some Turkish men married local women and the children born out those marriages are referred to as Kouloughli. Due to over three centuries of occupying Algeria, the Turks have influenced Algeria’s architecture, cuisine, music, and literature. Equally, they have adopted Algerian customs and language. Turks in Algeria are concentrated in the major cities.
Small groups of Sub-Saharan African and Asiatic communities form significant minorities in Algeria. The Saho people are an example of the Afro-Asiatic community.
Languages Spoken in Algeria
Native Languages in Algeria
The official languages of Algeria are Arabic and Tamazight (Berber), as specified in its constitution since 1963 for the former, and since 2016 for the latter.
Berber has been recognized as a national language by constitutional amendment since May 2002. In February, 2016, a constitutional resolution was passed making Berber an official language alongside Arabic. Algerian Arabic and Berber are the native languages of over 99% of Algerians, with Algerian Arabic spoken by about 90% and Berber by 10%. French, though it has no official status, is still used in media (some newspapers) and education (from primary school), due to Algeria's colonial history.
Kabyle, the most spoken Berber language in the country, is taught and partially co-official (with a few restrictions) in parts of Kabylie.
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