Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

8.3: North Africa and the African Transition Zone

  • Page ID
  • Learning Objectives

    1. Summarize the historical geography of North Africa, identify the major physical features and the main cities, and understand who the people are and where most of the population lives in the region.
    2. Understand the unique geographic qualities of the Maghreb and explain how this region is connected to Europe.
    3. Outline the political issues in North Africa and understand the transitions and conflicts occurring in the governments of the region.
    4. Describe the main qualities of the African Transition Zone and explain how the dynamics of this zone are affecting the country of Sudan.

    North Africa’s primary connection with the Middle East and Central Asia is that Islam diffused to North Africa from the Middle East and Central Asia. Today, it is a Muslim-dominated realm with Arabic as its primary language. Historically, the ethnicity of North Africa was predominantly Berber with the nomadic Tuareg and other local groups interspersed. When Islam diffused into North Africa, the Arab influence and culture were infused with it. Modern Egypt has become the cornerstone of the Arab world; more Arabs live in Cairo than in any other city on Earth. The three main areas of interest are the Maghreb of the northwest; the Nile River valley in the east; and the African Transition Zone, where the Sahara Desert transitions into the tropical type A climates of Central Africa’s equatorial region.

    Figure 8.13 North Africa and the Maghreb


    The Maghreb traditionally includes Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, but Libya is also considered part of the Maghreb by many inhabitants of the region.

    Map courtesy of University of Texas Libraries.