N orthwest Africa is an intermediate territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the great Saharian deserts in the South that separate it from the tropical rainforests of the continent. The vast Atlas range and its countreforts configure the spinal chord that structures and determines its great climatic variety, as well as the ways of life and traditions of its inhabitants. The region was densely populated since prehistoric times, as testify the plentiful archaeological traces, paintings and petrogliphs dispersed all along the territory.
Greeks, Phoenicians and Carthaginians soon created colonies and commercial factories along its coasts. It was, however, the Romans who —after the destruction of Carthage, in present day, Tunisia— finally occupied the whole area and integrated it in the Empire, where the Mediterranean was but an inner sea, epicentre of its expansion and development.
At the beginnings of the VIIIth century the vast expansive tide of Islam incorporated their land and people into the Caliphate. The Mediterranean, until then a link of union, became a dividing frontier between the Christian kingdoms, in its northern shores, and the Muslim world in its African banks. At the decline of the Ottoman Empire the European colonial powers proceeded to share between them the North of Africa.
The countries born as a result of the decolonization process preserve untouched their Muslim character and identity.