or MaghrebRegion of North Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea.It comprises the coastal plains of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and, often, Libya. In earlier times the term sometimes included parts of Muslim Spain. During Roman times the region was called Africa Minor, but, following the Muslim conquests of the 7th–8th centuries, it came to be known as the Maghrib ("West") inasmuch as it comprised the most westerly reaches of the Muslim world. The region has since developed its own unique culture within the larger Islamic world. Berbers and Arabs are the two main ethnic groups. Arabic is the predominant language. Berber and French are also widely spoken.
* * *region of North Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Africa Minor of the ancients, it at one time included Moorish Spain and now comprises essentially the Atlas Mountains and the coastal plain of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The weather of the Maghrib is characterized by prevailing westerly winds, which drop most of their moisture on the northern slopes and coastal plain, leaving little for the southern slopes, which maintain desert scrub fading into true desert in the Sahara to the south.From the vastness of their mountain ranges, the native peoples of the Maghrib have resisted successive Punic, Roman, and Christian invasions. Not until the 7th and 8th centuries was the Maghrib conquered; the Arabs, who imposed on the native peoples the religion of Islam and Arabic, the language of the Quʾrān, thus absorbed the Maghrib into the Muslim civilization. Despite this absorption, most of the North African societies have preserved their cultural identity throughout the centuries.The people of the Maghrib belong to both Berber and Arab ethnolinguistic groups. The Berbers are descended from the earlier inhabitants of the region and may trace their ancestry to Paleolithic times. Many other groups have invaded the area, including the Phoenicians, the Arabs, and the French. About one-sixth of the population of the Maghrib still speak one of the Berber languages (Amazigh languages) (most of them in Algeria and Morocco), but most also speak some form of Arabic (Arabic language).
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