North Africa

North Africa is the Northern part of the African continent.

Countries

Countries of North Africa
Algeria (Algiers)
The largest country in Africa.
Egypt (Cairo)
Home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies.
Libya (Tripoli)
Large open spaces with more than 90% of the country being desert or semidesert.
Morocco (Rabat)
Situated on both the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
Tunisia (Tunis)
Located in the very centre of Mediterranean Africa
Western Sahara
Governance is in dispute between Morocco and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), but the majority of the region is occupied by Morocco.

Other territories

Atlantic Ocean Islands: Canary Islands (Spain), Madeira Islands (Portugal)

Spanish Exclaves: Ceuta, Melilla

Cities

Djemaa El Fna, the famous square in Marrakech

Other destinations

View from Carthage to the Mediterranean

Understand

Ramadan

Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.

  • 6 June – 5 July 2016 (1437 AH)
  • 27 May – 24 June 2017 (1438 AH)
  • 16 May – 14 June 2018 (1439 AH)
  • 6 May – 3 June 2019 (1440 AH)
  • 24 April – 23 May 2020 (1441 AH)

If you're planning to travel to North Africa during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.

North Africa, as a region is very different from the countries to the South. The people and culture are Arabic, the food is different, and Islam is the dominant religion. Many organizations now group North Africa and the Middle East together as MENA (Middle East North Africa) because North Africa has much more in common with countries like Syria or Jordan than countries like Mali or Ivory Coast.

Talk

Arabic is without a doubt the dominant language, and is the official language in every North African country. However Arabic dialects are mutually unintelligible, so there's no way a tourist speaking standard Arabic could understand a Moroccan speaking his dialect. However, standard Arabic is always the official language, and with the exception of Western Sahara, almost all urban people are able to speak it.

French is the most widely known second language in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, due to much of the area's history as a French colony. In Libya and Egypt, English is the dominant second language (except among older Libyans, where Italian is more prevalent)

Many people in North Africa, especially in Algeria and Morocco, speak Berber as their first language.

Get in

By boat

There are some ferries from Italy, notably Sicily and also the Canary Islands.

See Ferries in the Mediterranean‎.

See

Sahara

Eat

North African cuisine has a lot in common with the Middle Eastern cuisine.

Stay safe

Avoid drinking untreated ground water.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 11, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.