"Berbers" or "Imazighen" are the original inhabitants of North and Northwest Africa. Actually, the term "Berber" refers more to the language spoken in the area than to the ethnic groups. "Imazighen" is the plural of "Amazigh", a word which means "a free man". The Berber people are a mixture of different ethnic groups and no one really knows where they came from. Genetic evidence seems to indicate that their ancestors came from East Africa and/or the Middle East.  The arabization of the Berbers which began with the Islamic conquest in the 7th century AD, led to the predominance of the Arabic language in North Africa. Nowadays, about 40 % of the Moroccans and 25 % of the Algerians still speak Berber.
        The history of the Berber people is as old as that of the ancient Egyptians, who has mentioned them in their writings during the Predynastic Period and during the New kingdom. References to them also occur in Greek and Roman sources. Over time, Berber people were invaded successively by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals and Alans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans and the French and Spanish.

        Berber or Amazigh languages belong to the Afroasiatic family (see among others Greenberg, J. H. (1966), The languages of Africa; Cohen, M. et al. (1988), Les langues du Monde ). They are spoken in North and Northwest Africa by more than 22 million people; especially in Morocco (12 million), Algeria (more than 7 million), Niger, Mali, Tunisia, Lybia, Egypt, Chad and the Canary Islands. The main Berber varieties are Tashlhiyt, Tamazight and Tarifit which are spoken in the south, middle and north of Morocco, respectively. Taqbaylit is spoken in Algeria. Tuareg is spoken in Mali and Niger..etc. In the last decade, Morocco and Algeria have adopted the Tifinagh alphabet as the official writing system for the language. Tuareg people in Niger and Mali used to write their language in this alphabet a long time ago.

        Agadir is one of the main Berber cities in Morocco with more than 350000 inhabitants (the city and the surrounding area). The city  is located in South Morocco, 250 km south Marrakesh. Its name means "a fortress" or " fortified granary" in Berber. Formerly, it was a fishing village. Under the influence of the Portuguese, Saadians, Alaouites, Germans and French, among others, the village was transformed into a prosperous port.On 29 February 1960, at exactly 23:47 p.m, a devastating earthquake rocked the city. Currently, it is one of the main tourist destinations in Morocco. The Berber variety spoken in the area is called Tashlhiyt.

Afroasiatic languages


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