Open Access Articles- Top Results for Maghrebis


مغاربة Maghāribah
ⵎⴰⴳⵕⵉⴱⵉ Maɣṛibi
Total population
c. 98 million</td></tr>
Regions with significant populations
Maghreb 87,979,238</td></tr>
23x15px Algeria 37,100,000[1]</td></tr>
23x15px Morocco 35,968,361[2]</td></tr>
23x15px Tunisia 10,629,186</td></tr>
23x15px Europe (mostly 23x15px France) ~10 million[3][4][5]</td></tr>
23x15px Libya 6,597,960</td></tr>
23x15px Mauritania 3,281,634</td></tr>
 Western Sahara 507,160</td></tr>

Predominantly Sunni Islam

Christian and Jewish minorities</td></tr>
Related ethnic groups

Population statistics from the world factbook (July 2011 pop est.)</td></tr></table>

Maghrebis or Maghrebian people or Maghrebians (or North Africans) are the inhabitants of the Maghreb countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania). The bulk of the Maghrebis population is made primarily from the Libyan people (also known since the medieval times as Berbers) - who are white to olive skinned caucasiod people and the first modern humans to settle in North Africa, but also is made from people of Phoenician origin (Carthagians), of Roman origin (Roman Africa), of Hellenic origin (Byzantine Africa), of Yemeni and Levantin origin (Muslim conquest of North Africa), of Iberian origin (native Andalusians fleeing the Reconquista, or Portugese); and not to forget Sub-saharan origin (Trans-Saharan trade). Maghrebis were known in the medieval times as Moors.[6] It is believed that the term Moor is derived of Mauri, the name given by teh Romans to the inhabitant of North Morocco and Algeria, which itself is thought to be derived from the name of a local tribe who first got in contact with the Romans. It is important to note that "Moor" do not mean dark or black at any extend, given that black skinned people have never been attested to live in the area of the Roman Mauritaneas, and that the natives of this land; known today as Riffians and Jebala represent the are highest rate of blondism and light eye-color in all the west mediteranean.


The inhabitants of the region are predominantly Arab-Berber (mostly ethnic Arab of Berber origin, or Lybuarabs). The Arabs and Berbers, united through Islam are the main ethnic and cultural elements, but it is important to bear in mind that over the centuries the Maghreb has been a melting-pot of many other ethnic groups and cultures. Before the Arab conquest Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines colonized the Maghreb and contributed to the development of its culture. Later, moriscos and muladies, that is, Iberian who had earlier converted to the Muslim faith and were fleeing, together with ethnic Arab and Berber Muslims, from the Christian Reconquista settled to the Maghreb. Among are Turks who came over with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. A small Turkish descended population exists, particularly in Tunisia and Algeria. Other European contributions included French, Italians, and others captured by the corsairs and then turned into slaves.[7]

Nowadays, a majority of the current population in the Maghreb consider themselves generally Arab in identity and culture, but are mostly of Lebu (Berber) origin. There is a significant population who identify as non-Arab in the region, this population is the Lebu (Berbers) who did not adopt Arabic language over the times and who kept their distinct Berber dialect. These populations live mostly in the moantainous areas, mostly in the Rif mountains, the Atlas and the Souss valley, the Kabilya region in Algeria, and Jebel Nefousa in tunisia..

Historically the Maghreb was also home to significant Jewish communities, including the Maghrebim Jews, who predated the 7th century introduction and conversion of the majority of Berbers to Islam. Later largely augmented by Iberian Sephardi Jews, fleeing the Iberian Catholic Reconquista, established a presence in North Africa, chiefly in the urban trading centers. Many Sephardic Jews emigrated to North America in the early 19th century or to France and Israel later in the 20th century.

On the Saharan southern edge of the Maghreb are large communities of black populations, sometimes called Haratin, who orally identify themselves as the original inhabitants of southern oasis.


Historic records of religion in the Maghreb region show its gradual inclusion in the Classical World, with coastal colonies established first by Phoenicians, some Greeks, and later extensive conquest and colonization by the Romans. By the 2nd century common era, the area had become a center of Latin-speaking Christianity. Both Roman settlers and Romanized populations converted to Christianity. The region produced figures such as Christian Church writer Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 202); and Christian Church martyrs or leading figures such as St Cyprian of Carthage (+ 258); Saint Monica; her son the philosopher St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo I (+ 430) (1); and St Julia of Carthage (5th century). The region was a birthplace of many Christians movements like arianism and donatism, now casted-off.

The domination of Christianity ended when Arab invasions brought Islam in 647. Carthage fell in 698 and the remainder of the region followed in subsequent decades. Gradual Islamization proceeded, although surviving letters showed correspondence from regional Christians to Rome up until the 9th century. Christianity was still a living faith. Christian bishoprics and dioceses continued to be active, with relations continuing with Rome. As late as Pope Benedict VII (974-983) reign, a new Archbishop of Carthage was consecrated. Evidence of Christianity in the region then faded through the 10th century.

During the 7th century, the region's peoples began their nearly total conversion to Islam. There is a small but thriving Jewish community, as well as a small Christian community. Most Muslims follow the Sunni Maliki school. Small Ibadi communities remain in some areas. A strong tradition of venerating marabouts and saints' tombs is found throughout regions inhabited by Berbers. Any map of the region demonstrates the tradition by the proliferation of "Sidi"s, showing places named after the marabouts. Like some other religious traditions, this has substantially decreased over the 20th century. A network of zaouias traditionally helped proliferate basic literacy and knowledge of Islam in rural regions.




According to Michel Tribalat, a researcher at INED, there were 3.5 million people of Maghrebi origin (with at least one grandparent from Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia) living in France in 2005 corresponding to 5.8% of the total French metropolitan population (60.7 millions in 2005).[8] Maghrebis have settled mainly in the industrial regions in France, especially in the Paris region. Many famous French people like Edith Piaf,[9] Isabelle Adjani, Arnaud Montebourg, Alain Bashung, Dany Boon and many others have Maghrebi ancestry.

According to INSEE (French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies), 16% of newborns in France between 2006 and 2008 have at least one grandparent born in Maghreb.[10]

Below is a table of population of Maghrebi origin in France, numbers are in thousands:

Country 1999 2005 % 1999/2005 % French population
(60.7 millions in 2005)
Algeria 1,577 1,865 +18.3% 3.1%
Immigrants 574 679
Born in France 1,003 1,186
Morocco 1,005 1,201 +19.5% 2.0%
Immigrants 523 625
Born in France 482 576
Tunisia 417 458 +9.8% 0.8%
Immigrants 202 222
Born in France 215 236
Total Maghreb 2,999 3,524 +17.5% 5.8%
Immigrants 1 299 1 526 2.5%
Born in France 1 700 1 998 3.3%

In 2005, the percentage of young people under 18 of maghrebi origin (at least one immigrant parent) were about 7% in Metropolitan France, 12% in Greater Paris, 13% in Lyon, 21% in Perpignan, 22% in French département of Seine-Saint-Denis, 37% in 18th arrondissement of Paris and 40% in several arrondissements of Marseilles.[11][12]

2005% Seine-Saint-Denis Val-de-Marne Val-d'Oise Lyon Paris France
Total Maghreb 22.0% 13.2% 13.0% 13.0% 12.1% 6.9%

According to other sources between 5 and 8 million people of Maghrebin origin live in France.[13][14]

Anthropology, genetics and linguistics

Various disciplines shed light on the origin of the Northwest-Africans (Berbers and Arabs).

Physical anthropology

Northwest-Africans are defined as Mediterraneans with moderate Alpinid and Nordic elements.[15] A significant proportion of the Rif Berbers, Kabyles and Chouias have blue or green eyes.[16]

Genetic evidence

The genetic proximity observed between the Northwest-Africans and Southern Europeans is due to the fact that both these groups shared a common ancestor either in the Upper Paleolithic, in the Neolithic or alternatively during history with the invasion and the occupation during nearly seven centuries of the Iberian Peninsula by Moorish troops.[17] A genetic study published in January 2012 stated that the indigenous North African ancestry appears most closely related to populations outside of Africa but "divergence between Maghrebi peoples and Near Eastern/Europeans likely precedes the Holocene (>12,000 ya)."[18]

Y-chromosome DNA

The Y-chromosome genetic structure of the Maghreb population seems to be mainly Modulated by geography, The Y-DNA Haplogroups E3b and J, which are so common among the population of North African and the Middle East, Haplogroups E3b and J, are the most widespread among North African groups especially E1b1b1b (E-M81, formerly E3b1b) which is typical of the indigenous Berbers of North-West Africa. In some parts of Tunisia E1b1b1b can peak at 100% of the population. Followed by Haplogroup J especially J1[19] [1], which is typically Middle Eastern which can reach frequencies of 40% in the region,[20][21] and has its highest density founded in the Southwestern Arabian Peninsula,[21] Followed by Haplogroup R1[22] which has been observed in North African though with lower frequency. The Y-DNA Haplogroups shown above are observed in both Arab and Berber-speakers.

The Northwest-African Y chromosome pool (including both Berber and Arab populations) may be summarized as follows where only two haplogroups E1b1b and J comprise generally more than 80% of the total chromosomes:[23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

  • E1b1b (mainly E-M81) (50-100%)
  • J (mainly J1-M267) (0-45%)
  • R1b (0-15%)
  • Sub-Saharan and other haplogroups (0-8%)

E1b1b1b (E-M81) is the most common Y haplogroup among North African Arabs and Berbers dominated by its sub-clade E-M183. It is thought to have originated in North Africa 5,600 years ago.[26][27] Colloquially referred to as the "Berber marker" for its prevalence among Mozabite, Middle Atlas, Kabyle and other Berber groups, E-M81 is also quite common among North African Arab groups (45% in Oran).[28] It can reach frequencies of up to 100% in the Maghreb.

Regarding J1-M267, according to a recent study in 2011 about Tunisia, it is significantly more abundant in the urban (31.3%) than in the rural total population (2.5%). According to the authors, these results could be explained supposing that Arabization in Tunisia was a military enterprise, therefore, mainly driven by men that displaced native Berbers to geographically marginal areas but that frequently married Berber women.[30]

Population Nb A/B E(xE1b1b) E1b1b1 (M35) E1b1b1a (M78) E1b1b1b (M81) E1b1b1c (M123) F K G I J1 J2 R1a R1b Other Study
1 Algeria/Oran 102 0 7.9% 0 5.9% 45.1% 0 0 0 0 0 22.5% 4.9% 1% 11.8% 1% Robino et al. (2008)[31]
2 Algeria/Algiers 35 0 2.9% 0 11.4% 42.9% 0 11.8% 2.9% 0 0 22.9% 5.7% 0 0 0 Arredi et al. (2004)[32]
3 Algeria/Kabyles/Tizi Ouzou 19 0 0 0 0 47.4% 10.5% 10.5% 0 0 0 15.8% 0 0 15.8% 0 Arredi et al. (2004)
4 Algeria/Mozabites 67 0 4.5% 0 1.5% 86.6% 1.5% 0 0 1.5% 0 1.5% 0 0 3% 0 Dugoujon et al. (2009)[33]
5 Tunisia/Tunis 148 0 2% 3.4% 5.4% 37.8% 2.7% 4.7% 0.7% 0 0 32.4% 3.4% 0.7% 6.1% 0.7% Arredi et al. (2004)
6 Tunisia 52 0 0 9.6% 15.4% 32.7% 0 1.9% 1.9% 0 0 34.6% 3.8% 0 0 0 Onofri et al. (2008)
7 Tunisia/Bou Omrane 40 0 5% 0 5% 87.5% 0 2.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Ennafaa et al. (2011)[34]
8 Tunisia/Bou Saad 40 0 0 0 0 92.5% 0 0 0 0 0 5% 0 0 0 2.5% Ennafaa et al. (2011)
9 Tunisia/Jerbian Arabs 46 2.2% 0 0 15.2% 60.9% 4.3% 0 0 0 0 8.7% 2.2% 4.3% 2.2% 0 Ennafaa et al. (2011)
10 Tunisia/Jerbian Berbers 47 0 0 0 17% 76.6% 0 4.25% 2.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Ennafaa et al. (2011)
11 Tunisia/Chenini–Douiret Berbers 27 0 0 0 0 100% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid et al. (2011)[35]
12 Tunisia/Sened Berbers 35 0 0 0 0 65.7% 0 2.9% 0 0 0 31.4% 0 0 0 0 Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid et al. (2011)
13 Tunisia/Jradou Berbers 32 0 0 0 0 100% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid et al. (2011)
14 Tunisia/Andalusian Zaghouan 32 0 0 0 3.1% 40.6% 0 9.4% 0 0 0 43.8% 3.1% 0 0 0 Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid et al. (2011)
15 Tunisia/Cosmopolitan Tunis 33 0 0 3.0% 6.0% 54.5% 3.0% 6.0% 0 3.0% 0 24.2% 0 0 0 0 Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid et al. (2011)
16 Morocco 221 0 6.4% 4.1% 6.8% 65% 0 0.9% 1.8% 0.9% 0.5% 5% 4.1% 0 4.1% 0 Fregel et al. (2009)
17 Morocco 51 3.9% 5.9% 5.9% 5.9% 54.9% 0 0 0 0 0 19.6% 0 0 3.9% 0 Onofri et al. (2008)
18 Morocco/Amizmiz Valley 33 3% 6.1% 0 3% 84.8% 3% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Alvarez et al. (2009)
19 Sahrawi 89 0 20.2% 0 0 59.6% 0 0 0 0 0 20.2% 0 0 0 0 Fregel et al. (2009)
20 Libya/Tuaregs from Fezzan 47 0 42.5% 0 0 48.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.4% 2.1% Ottoni et al. (2011)[36]

Mitochondrial DNA

Many studies[37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49] have attempted to describe the genetic diversity of Northwest-African populations, evaluating mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation and the results may be summarized as follows (data for 536 individuals from 9 populations : Morocco (Asni, Bouhria, Figuig, Souss), Algeria (Mozabites), Tunisia (Chenini-Douiret, Sened, Matmata, Jerba)[17]):

  • Total Eurasian lineages (H, HV0, HV, R0, J, T, U (without U6), K, N1, N2, X) : 50-90% with an average of about 5/8
  • Total sub-Saharan lineages (L0, L1, L2, L3, L4-L5) : 3-50% with an average of about 2/8
  • Total North African lineages (U6, M1) : 0-35% with an average of about 1/8

The Northwest-African mtDna pool is characterized by an "overall high frequency of Western Eurasian haplogroups, a somehow lower frequency of sub-Saharan L lineages, and a significant (but differential) presence of North African haplogroups U6 and M1."[17] According to Cherni et al. 2009 "the post-Last glacial maximum expansion originating in Iberia not only led to the resettlement of Europe but also of North Africa".[49]

According to an Ottoni et al. 2010, besides the "autochthonous" South-Saharan component, the maternal pool of Northern Africa appears to be characterized by at least two other major components: (i) a Levantine contribution (i.e. haplogroups U6 and M1), associated with the return to Africa around 45 kya, and (ii) a more recent West European input associated with the postglacial expansion.[50]

Until recently, some papers suggested that the distribution of the main L haplogroups in North Africa was mainly due to trans-Saharan slave trade.[51] However in September 2010, a thorough study about Berber mtDNA by Frigi et al. concluded that most of L haplogroups were much older and introduced by an ancient African gene flow around 20,000 years ago.[52]

Autosomal DNA

In an autosomal study in 2012 by Henn et al., the authors conclude that North African populations retain a unique signature of early "Maghrebi" ancestry, but are not a homogenous group and most display varying combinations of five distinct ancestries (Maghrebi, European, Near Eastern, eastern and western sub-Saharan Africa). The majority of their ancestry derives from populations outside of Africa and is the result of at least three distinct episodes:

  • ancient "back-to-Africa" gene flow prior to the Holocene
  • more recent gene flow from the Near East resulting in a longitudinal gradient
  • limited but very recent migrations from sub-Saharan Africa.

They observed two distinct, opposite gradients of ancestry : an east-to-west increase in likely autochthonous North African ancestry likely derived from "back-to-Africa" gene flow more than 12,000 years ago and an east-to-west decrease in likely Near Eastern Arabic ancestry. The indigenous North African ancestry is more frequent in populations with historical Berber ethnicity. They also find significant signatures of sub-Saharan African ancestry that vary substantially among populations. According to the authors "these sub-Saharan ancestries appear to be a recent introduction into North African populations, dating to about 1,200 years ago in southern Morocco and about 750 years ago into Egypt, possibly reflecting the patterns of the trans-Saharan slave trade that occurred during this period".[53]

Admixture analysis

Recent genetic analysis of North African populations have found that, despite the complex admixture genetic background, there is an autochthonous genomic component which is likely derived from “back-to-Africa” gene flow older than 12,000 years ago (ya) (i.e., prior to the Neolithic migrations). This local population substratum seems to represent a genetic discontinuity with the earliest modern human settlers of North Africa (those with the Aterian industry) given the estimated ancestry is younger than 40,000 years ago. North Morocco, Libya and Egypt carry high proportions of European and Near Eastern ancestral components, whereas Tunisia and Saharawi are those populations with highest autochthonous North African component.[54]

Average ancestry proportions in North African populations estimated by ADMIXTURE for k = 4 different ancestries (October 2012)[55]
Population N Maghreb Europe Near East Sub-Saharan Africa
Algeria 19 39% 27% 16% 18%
Tunisia 18 93% 4% 2% 1%
Saharawi 18 55% 17% 10% 18%
Morocco North 18 44% 31% 14% 11%
Morocco South 16 44% 13% 10% 33%
Libya 17 31% 28% 25% 16%
Egypt 19 19% 37% 30% 14%


According to a recent study in 2013 by Botigué et al. using genome-wide SNP data from over 2,000 individuals, "southwestern European populations averaged between 4% and 20% of their genomes assigned to a North African ancestral cluster, whereas this value did not exceed 2% in southeastern European populations". The highest North African admixture (20%) was found into Canarians while in the Iberian peninsula, the average was 10-12%.[56][57][58]

In the Iberian Peninsula, North African male haplogroups, especially E1b1b1b (E-M81), E1b1b1a-b (M78 derived chromosomes showing the rare DYS439 allele 10 or E-V65) and a subset of J1 (M267 derived),[59] are found in significant amounts with an average frequency of about 7-8% in the peninsula with frequencies surpassing 10% in some regions, like 18.6% in Cantabria.[60][61][62][63]

Historically introduced NW African types in Italy and Iberia (Capelli et al. (2009))
Sample N E1b1b1b E1b1b1a-b
allele 10)
J1 (subset) Total %
Peninsular Italy 915 0.8 0.3 0.7 1.7
Sicily 93 2.2 2.2 3.2 7.5
Spain 717 5.2 1 1.5 7.7
Portugal 659 5 0.3 1.8 7.1
Iberia 1376 5.1 0.7 1.7 7.4

As an exceptional case in Europe, E-M81 has also been observed at 40% the Pasiegos from Cantabria.[64]

Concerning the level of male genetic admixture in Iberia, an important study by Adams et al. 2008 that analysed 1140 individuals in Iberia found a mean North African admixture of 10.6%, with wide geographical variation, ranging from 2.5% in Catalonia, 11.8% in North Portugal, 16.1% in South Portugal, 20.8% in Galicia to 21.7% in Northwest Castile.[62][65]

Iberian region %NW African
male admixture
Castile, NorthWest 21.7%
Minorca 21.5%
Galicia 20.8%
Extremadura 19%
Andalucia, West 16.7%
Portugal, South 16.1%
Valencia 12.8%
Portugal, North 11.8%
Asturias 10.5%
Castile, NorthEast 9.3%
Majorca 6.6%
Aragon 4.8%
Ibiza 3.8%
Andalucia, East 2.4%
Catalonia 2.3%

MtDna (female lineages) genetic studies on Iberian populations also show that North African mitochondrial DNA sequences (haplogroup U6) are found at much higher levels than those generally observed elsewhere in Europe. Although the overall absolute frequency of U6 is low (2.4%), this signals a possible current North African ancestry proportion of 8%–9%, because U6 is not a common lineage in North Africa itself. U6 reaches its highest frequency in North Portugal at about 4-6% where Gonzalez et al. 2003 estimated a possible North African ancestry proportion of 27%.[66][67][68]

Iberia is also the region in Europe with the highest frequency of the female mediated mtDNA haplogroup L of Sub-Saharan origin, likely a result of Berber and Arab colonization or African slave trade. Pereira et al. 2005, who analysed 1045 Iberian individuals, found sub-Saharan mtDNA L haplogroups at rates of 11.38% in south Portugal, 5.02% in Center Portugal, 3.21% in North Portugal and 3.26% in Galicia.[66] According to Alvarez et al. 2010 who found L haplogroups at a rate of 4.70% in the Spanish province of Zamora, "as the Hts found in the area are also shared with North African populations, we cannot discard the possibility that these lineages derived from the North African Muslim permanence in the Iberian Peninsula".[69] In another study, Casas et al. 2006 extracted DNA from human remains that were exhumed from historic burial sites in Al-Andalus, Spain (between 12th-13th century). The frequency of Sub-Saharan lineages detected in the medieval samples was 14.6% and 8.3% in the present population of Priego de Cordoba. The authors suggest both the Muslim occupation, and prehistoric migrations before the Muslim occupation would have been the source of these lineages.[70] Brehm at al. 2003 also found a significant Sub-Saharan imprint in the Autonomous regions of Portugal, with L haplogroups constituting about 13% of the lineages in Madeira and 3.4% in the Azores.

Iberian region/NW African mtDna > 2% N %U6 %L Total Study
Portugal, Alcacer do Sal 50 6.00% 22.00% 28.00% Pereira 2010[71]
Spain, Canary islands (Avg) 300 14.00% 6.60% 20.60% Brehm 2003[72]
Portugal, Madeira 155 3.90% 12.90% 16.80% Brehm 2003
Spain, Huelva (Andalusia) 135 8.86% 5.70% 14.56% Hernandez 2014[73]
Portugal, South 123 1.63% 11.38% 13.01% Pereira 2005[74]
Portugal, South 203 0.49% 10.84% 11.33% Achilli 2007[75]
Portugal, Coruche 160 0.62% 8.7% 9.32% Pereira 2010
Spain, Priego de Cordoba 108 0.93% 8.33% 9.26% Casas 2006[76]
Portugal, Center 203 2.46% 6.40% 8.87% Achilli 2007
Portugal, North 187 5.35% 3.21% 8.56% Pereira 2005
South Iberian Peninsula 310 0.65% 7.42% 8.07% Casas 2006
Portugal, Center 239 2.51% 5.02% 7.53% Pereira 2005
Portugal, North 188 4.26% 3.19% 7.45% Achilli 2007
Spain, Galicia 92 2.17% 3.26% 5.43% Pereira 2005
Spain, Zamora 214 0.47% 4.67% 5.14% Alvarez 2010[77]
Portugal, Açores 179 1.70% 3.40% 5.10% Brehm 2003
Spain, NorthWest 216 1.39% 3.70% 5.09% Achilli 2007
Spain, Center 148 4.05% 0.68% 4.73% Achilli 2007
Spain, NorthEast 118 1.69% 2.54% 4.24% Pereira 2005
Spain, multiple regions 312 1.28% 2.88% 4.16% CarlosAlvarez 2007[78]
Portugal, Pias 75 0.00% 3.9% 3.9% Pereira 2010
Spain, Andalusia 114 1.75% 1.75% 3.51% Achilli 2007
Spain, Granada (Andalusia) 117 2.48% 0.83% 3.31% Hernandez 2014
Spain, Leon 61 1.64% 1.64% 3.28% Pereira 2005
Spain, Andalusia 65 1.54% 1.54% 3.08% Pereira 2005
Spain, NorthEast 179 1.12% 1.68% 2.79% Achilli 2007
Spain, Castile 38 2.63% 0.00% 2.63% Pereira 2005
Spain, Balearic islands 231 0.00% 2.16% 2.16% Picornell 2005[79]

Canary Islands

In Canary Islands, a study by Nicole Maca-Meyer in 2003 found mtDna haplogroup U6 at rate of 14% in the present-day Canary Islands populations reflecting the Berber origin of the Guanches, the aboriginal population of the Canary Islands. In this study they compared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonization, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA lineages constitute a considerable proportion [42–73%] of the Canarian gene pool".[80] MtDNA haplogroup L were also found at rate of 6.6%[81] and E-M81 at a rate of 8.28% with frequencies over 10% in the three largest islands of Tenerife (10.68%), Gran Canaria (11.54%) and Fuerteventura (13.33%). According to Fregel et al. 2009 the presence of autochthonous North African E-M81 lineages, and also other relatively abundant markers (E-M78 and J-M267) from the same region in the indigenous Guanche population, "strongly points to that area [North Africa] as the most probable origin of the Guanche ancestors". In this study, they estimated that, based on Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroup frequencies, the relative female and male indigenous Guanche contributions to the present-day Canary Islands populations were respectively of 41.8% and 16.1%.[82]

Canary Islands/
NW African mtDna
N %U6 %L Total Study
La Gomera 46 50.01% 10.86% 60.87% Fregel 2009[83]
El Hierro 32 21.88% 12.49% 34.37% Fregel 2009
Lanzarote 49 20.40% 8.16% 28.56% Fregel 2009
Gran Canaria 80 11.25% 10% 21.25% Fregel 2009
Tenerife 174 12.09% 7.45% 19.54% Fregel 2009
La Palma 68 17.65% 1.47% 19.12% Fregel 2009
Fuerteventura 42 16.66% 2.38% 19.04% Fregel 2009

An autosomal study in 2011 found an average Northwest African influence of about 17% in Canary Islanders with a wide interindividual variation ranging from 0% to 96%. According to the authors, the substantial Northwest African ancestry found for Canary Islanders supports that, despite the aggressive conquest by the Spanish in the 15th century and the subsequent immigration, genetic footprints of the first settlers of the Canary Islands persist in the current inhabitants. Paralleling mtDNA findings, the largest average Northwest African contribution was found for the samples from La Gomera.[84]

Canary Islands N Average
NW African
La Gomera 7 42.50%
Fuerteventura 10 21.60%
La Palma 7 21.00%
El Hierro 7 19.80%
Lanzarote 13 16.40%
Tenerife 30 14.30%
Gran Canaria 30 12.40%
Total Canary Islanders 104 17.40%


In Sicily, the contribution of North African populations is estimated to be about 6%-8% which shows a "genetic affinity between Sicily and North Africa".[63][85] In Italy,[86] North African haplogroups were found especially in a region of Southern Italy (East Campania, Northwest Apulia, Lucera) at frequency of 4.7% due to Frederick II’s relocation of Sicilian Muslims in the city of Lucera in the 13th century.[63] Haplogroup U6 have also been detected in Sicily and Southern Italy at very low levels.[87]


Haplogroup E-M81 is also found in some regions of France (excluding recent immigration as only men with French surname were analysed). 2.70% (15/555) overall with frequencies surpassing 5% in Auvergne (5/89) and Île-de-France (5/91).[88]

According to a genetic study in 2000 based on HLA, French from Marseille "are more or less isolated from the other western European populations. They are in an intermediate position between the North Africans (Algerians from Algiers and Oran; Tunisians) and the western Europeans populations (France, Spain, and Portugal)". According to the authors "these results cannot be attributed to recent events because of the knowledge of the grandparents’ origin" in the sample. This study reveals "that the southern French population from Marseilles is related genetically to the southwestern Europeans and North Africans, who are geographically close" and that "a substantial gene flow has thus probably been present among the populations of these neighboring areas".[89]

Latin America

As a consequence of Spanish and Portuguese colonization of Latin America, North African haplogroups are also found throughout Latin America especially in Brazil and Cuba where frequencies surpass generally 5%.[90][91][92] and among Hispanic men in USA.[93]

According to Fregel et al. (2009), the fact that male North African E-M81 and female U6 lineages from the Canaries have been detected in Cuba and Iberoamerica, demonstrates that Canary Islanders with indigenous Guanche ancestors actively participated in the American colonization.[94]

Other regions

In other countries, North African haplogroups can be found in France, Sudan, Somalia, Jordan (4%),[95] Lebanon and amongst Sephardi Jews.


The Maghreb have hosted several languages. Berber or also known as Amazigh is the indigenous language family of the region, belonging to the greater Afro-Asiatic family. Two thousand years ago, Punic, Berber and Latin would have alternated in communication among the populations of the Western parts of North Africa and the rest of the Mediterranean basin. The Arabic language as known throughout the region nowadays arrived later in the Maghreb with the historical Arab conquest and Islam. This language ousted the Berber languages in its various variants, although the process was a long time one, Berber has long been a very prominent language in Algeria and Morocco till our contemporary era. Romance language itself might still have existed in the Maghreb in the 12th century. The Maghreb once again became partly Romance with colonisation. From the 1830s, the French began by conquering Algeria, where French was declared the official language of the country. It also obtains the position of highly placed languages of local elites.

In today's Maghreb, only Modern Standard Arabic possesses the status of official language, despite Maghrebi Arabic and Berber being the languages of most people. In spite of that, French is doing well in the region at the start of the 21st century.

English is becoming quite popular as a second language subject at schools across the Maghreb.

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ Population of Algeria exceeds 37M in 2012
  2. ^ without Ceuta and Melilla
  3. ^ "Estimé à six millions d'individus, l'histoire de leur enracinement, processus toujours en devenir, suscite la mise en avant de nombreuses problématiques...", « Être Maghrébins en France » in Les Cahiers de l’Orient, n° 71, troisième trimestre 2003
  4. ^ Maghreb people represent 45% of people born in Arab countries who emigrated to Europe and N.America, they are 41% of the all Immigrants in Europe
  5. ^
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  11. ^ Michèle Tribalat, Revue Commentaire, juin 2009, n°126, p.436
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