People

 
 

Various races and people have shared and are still sharing this huge land which is Libya , co-existing and interacting peacefully, strongly preserving their traditions and life-style as they did hundreds years ago. Modern life is slowly making way in the desert, but the lucky traveler can still find traces of unspoiled customs and rituals of all kind .

THE ARABS

The successive waves of Arabs arrived in the region beginning with the seventh century imposed Islam and the Arabic language along with their political domination. Conversion to Islam was largely complete by 1300, but Arabic replaced the indigenous Berber dialects more slowly. Initially, many Berbers fled into the desert, resisting Islam and viewing it as an urban religion. In the eleventh century, however, tribes of the Bedouin Bani Hilal and Bani Salim invaded first Cyrenaica and later Tripolitania and were generally effective in imposing their Islamic faith and nomadic way of life. This Bedouin influx disrupted existing settlements and living patterns; in many areas, tribal life and organization were introduced or strengthened. A further influx of Arabic-speaking peoples occurred in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries as a result of the upheavals accompanying the fall to the Christians of the last Muslim kingdom in Spain .

It is estimated that the total number of Arabs who arrived in North Africa during the first two migrations did not exceed 700,000 and that in the twelfth-century population of 6 or 7 million they did not constitute more than 10 percent of the total. Arab blood later received some reinforcement from Spain , but throughout North Africa Berber background heavily outweighed Arab origin. Arabization of the Berbers advanced more rapidly and completely in Libya than elsewhere in the Maghrib and by the mid-twentieth century relatively few Berber speakers remained. By contrast, in Morocco and Algeria , and to a lesser extent in Tunisia , Berbers who had yet to become arabized continued to form substantial ethnic minorities.

THE BERBERS

Part of what was once the dominant ethnic group throughout North Africa , the Berbers of Libya today live principally in remote mountain areas or in desert localities where successive waves of Arab migration .

By and large, cultural and linguistic, rather than physical, distinctions separate Berber from Arab. The touchstone of Berber hood is the use of the Berber language. A continuum of related but not always mutually intelligible dialects, Berber is a member of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is distantly related to Arabic, but unlike Arabic it has not developed a written form and as a consequence has no written literature.

The name Berber has been attributed to them by outsiders and is thought to derive from barbari , the term the ancient Romans applied to them. Berbers identify with their families, clans, and tribe. Only when dealing with outsiders do they identify with other groupings such as the Tuareg.

Most of the remaining Berbers live in Tripolitania , and many Arabs of the region still show traces of their mixed Berber ancestry. Their dwellings are clustered in groups made up of related families; households consist of nuclear families, however, and the land is individually held. Berber enclaves also are scattered along the coast and in a few desert oases. The traditional Berber economy has struck a balance between farming and pastoralism, the majority of the village or tribe remaining in one place throughout the year while a minority accompanies the flock on its circuit of seasonal pastures.

 

TEBU POLPULATION ( The black Africans)

In southernmost Libya live about 2,600 Tebu, part of a larger grouping of around 215,000 Tebu in northern Chad , Niger , and Sudan . Their ethnic identity and cohesion are defined by language, not social organization or geography, although all Tebu share many cultural traits. Their language, Tebu, is a member of the Nilo-Saharan language family, not all dialects being mutually intelligible. The basic social unit is the nuclear family, organized into patrilineal clans. The Tebu economy is a combination of pastoralism, farming, and date cultivation. The Tebu are Muslim. Neighboring peoples view them as tough, solitary, and desert and mountain people

 

THE TOUAREG POPULATION

About 10,000 Tuareg nomads live scattered in the southwest desert, wandering in the general vicinity of the oasis towns of Ghat and Ghadames. Like other desert nomads, they formerly earned their livelihood by protecting caravans, conducting long-distance trading, and erning protection fees from caravans and travelers.

The Tuareg language, Tamasheq, is a Berber dialect. Men-but not women-wear veils, and the blue dye used in the veils and clothing of nobles frequently transfers to the skin, causing the Tuareg to be known as "blue men, and Touareg women enjoy high status; inheritance is through the female line, and as a general rule only women.

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