North Africa is the northern part of the African continent in between the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea. It has an ancient history, with many Berber kingdoms as well as the Greek, Roman, and Ottoman empires ruling there.
Countries of North Africa
|| Algeria (Algiers)|
The largest country in Africa, heart of Numidia.
|| 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, with some Greek and Roman ruins along the coast, but sadly in the middle of a deadly civil war.
|| Morocco (Rabat)|
Situated on both the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is a cosmopolitan nation.
|| Tunisia (Tunis)|
Located in the very centre of Mediterranean Africa, it is the northernmost country in Africa as well as the home of Carthage
|| Western Sahara |
Governance is in dispute between Morocco and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), but the majority of the region is occupied by Morocco.
Atlantic Ocean Islands: Canary Islands (Spain), Madeira Islands (Portugal)
Spanish Exclaves: Ceuta, Melilla
- Alexandria — Egypt's major Mediterranean city is a pale shadow of its former glorious self but remains a major tourism site
- Algiers — the capital of Algeria with a notable medieval casbah
- Cairo — the largest city in Africa with major monuments of Ancient Egypt nearby
- Casablanca — the largest city in Morocco is of sparse interest to the traveller, but is a major transit point
- El Aaiún — the capital city of the disputed territory of Western Sahara
- Marrakech — this historic Moroccan city close to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains is an extraordinary meeting of the ancient and modern
- Tripoli — Libya's capital was long off-limits to most travellers but is experiencing a real resurgence of interest
- Tunis — the capital of Tunisia is a relatively small and sleepy city but is the gateway to the remains of Carthage and other very notable historical sites.
- Abu Simbel — a very remote area in far south Egypt, with some beautiful ancient temples
- Carthage — Phoenician colony in Tunisia and the biggest trade metropolis of the antique world; famously razed by the Romans and the remnants are now encased in a museum
- El-Oued — in Algeria with its domed architecture & nearby Grand Erg Oriental — the Sahara's second largest dune field
- Ghat — an ancient settlement in southwest Libya with prehistoric rock paintings and very challenging desert trekking
- High Atlas — hiking, skiing and Berber culture amongst these peaks and valleys in Morocco.
- Leptis Magna — extensive Roman ruins in Libya
- Matmata — desert village in Tunisia of cave abodes, where Star Wars's Tatooine was filmed
- Merzouga and M'Hamid — from either of these two settlements in Morocco at the edge of the Sahara, ride a camel or 4x4 into the desert for a night (or a week) among the dunes and under the stars
- Valley of the Kings — the great site of Ancient Egypt
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). Coptic Christians also speak the Coptic language. In some areas of the Maghreb, the Amazigh languages are spoken.
There are some ferries from Italy, notably Sicily and also the Canary Islands.
See Ferries in the Mediterranean.
Avoid drinking untreated ground water.
Also avoid Libya as a whole. The country is currently experiencing violence throughout and AQIM also has a presence within Libya. Travelers run the risk of kidnapping and death.