Urban and Rural Ways of Life

Algeria's Ethnic Groups

The Sahara covers all of Algeria south of the Atlas Mountains and water is in short supply in this area. For this reason, fewer than three percent of Algeria's people live here. But because of their resourcefulness, Berber and Arab nomads have survived in the Sahara for hundreds of years.

The Berbers and Arabs

The berbers and Arabs are Algeria's two main ethnic groups. The Berbers have lived in North Africa since at least 3000 B.C. Most Berbers live in villages in rural areas and continue to follow traditional ways of life.

Family is so important to the Berbers that their village governments are based on it. Most rural Berbers make a living by farming and herding.

The Berber way of life changed in the A.D. 600s, when Arabs spread across North Africa.

Arab traditions are like Berber traditions in many ways. Arabs created a central government in Algeria that is based on Islam. The Berber tradition is for each village to govern itself.

About half of Algeria's people live in cities where mosques and open-air marketplaces called souqs are common. Older parts of the cities are called casbahs.

Berbers and Arabs Today

Berbers and Arabs have mixed over the centuries . Both groups are Muslim, and most Berbers speak Berber and Arabic. The Berbers and Arabs of Algeria have had many conflicts in the past. Algeria's future will continue to mix Berber and Arab ,old and new.