This article focuses on the geographical area of Kabylie and its people. See Kabyle for details on the Kabyle language.

Template:Ethnic group Kabylie is a mountainous area in the north of Algeria. Its name comes from Arabic "Al Qabayel" ("tribes"), but its inhabitants call it "Tamurt Idurar" (Land of Mountains) or "Tamurt Leqvayel" (Land of Kabyles). It is part of the Atlas Mountains and is located at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Kabylie covers several districts (wilayas) of Algeria: the whole of Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia (Bgayet), most of Bouira (Tubiret) and Bordj Bou Arreridj, and parts of the wilayas of M'Sila (Tamsilt), Jijel, Boumerdes, and Setif.



The area is populated by the Kabyles, the second Berber group per order of importance after the Chleuhs in Morocco. Their name means "tribe" (from the Arabic "qablah" قبيلة). They speak the Kabyle variety of Berber. Since the Berber Spring in 1980, Kabyles have been at the forefront of agitation for the official recognition of the Berber language in Algeria (see Languages of Algeria).


  • The Y chromosome is passed exclusively through the paternal line. The composition is: 48% E3b2, 12% E3b* (xE3b2), 17% R1*(xR1a) and 23% F*(xH,I,J2,K)[1] (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v75n2/41184/41184.fg1.html), according to the method used in Bosch et al. 2001 (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v68n4/002582/002582.html). We may summarize the historical origins of the Kabyle Y-chromosome pool as follows: 60% Northwest African Upper Paleolithic (H36/E3b* and H38/E3b2), 23% Neolithic (F*(xH,I,J2,K)) and 17% historic European gene flow (R1*(xR1a)).
  • The mtDNA, by contrast, is inherited only from the mother and is: 30.65% H, 29.03% U* (with 17.74% U6), 3.23% preHV, 4.84% preV, 4.84% V, 3.23% T*, 4.84% J*, 3.23% L1, 4.84% L3e, 3.23% X, 3.23% M1, 1.61% N and R 3.23% [2] (http://www.ifr26.nantes.inserm.fr/img/North_Africa.pdf). Thus the mtDNA makeup of Kabyles is: 66.12% general Western Eurasian (H, J, U, T, K, X, V and I), 22.58% specific Northwest African (U6, L3E), 8.07% Asian (M1, N, R) and 3.23% sub-Saharan gene flow (L1-L3a).


  • There are no real statistics on the religious beliefs of Kabyles, but they seem to be predominantly Muslim secularist (they vote at 80% for secularist political parties: the FFS and the RCD).
  • Christians are few in number, and nonreligious people outnumber them.


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One distinguishes:

  • The Grande Kabylie (Great Kabylia), which goes from Thenia (west) to Bejaia (east), and from the Mediterranean Sea (north) to the valley of Soummam (south), that is to say, 200 km by 100 km, beginning 50 km from Algiers, the capital of Algeria.
  • Kabylie of Bibans and Kabylie of Babors, which form the Petite Kabylie (Little Kabylia).

Three large chains of mountains occupy most of the area:

  • In the north, the mountain range of maritime Kabylie, culminating with At Jennad (1278 m)
  • In the south, the Djurdjura, dominating the valley of Soummam, culminating with Lalla-Khaddja (2308 m)
  • Between the two lies the mountain range of Agawa, which is the most populous and is 800 m high on average. The largest town of Grande Kabylie, Bejaia, lies in that mountain range. Larbaa Nat Iraten (formerly "Fort-National"), which numbered 28,000 inhabitants in 2001, is the highest urban centre of the area.


The traditional economy of the area is based on arboriculture (orchards, olive trees) and on the craft industry (tapestry or pottery). The mountain and hill farming is gradually giving way to local industry (textile and agro-alimentary).


  • Two political parties dominate in Kabylie and have their principal support base there: the FFS, led by Hocine At Ahmed, and the RCD, led by Sad Sadi. Both parties are secularist, Berberist and "Algerianist".
  • The Arouch emerged during the Black Spring of 2001 as a revival of a traditional Kabyle form of democratic organization, the village assembly. The Arouch share roughly the same political views as the FFS and the RCD.
  • The MAK (Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie) also emerged during the Black Spring, and is a political association that militates for the autonomy of Kabylie; thus it may be described as "Kabylist".


Middle Ages

The Fatimid dynasty of the 10th century originated in Petite Kabylie, where an Ismaili da'i found a receptive audience for his millennialist preaching, and ultimately led the Kutama tribe to conquer first Ifriqiya and then Egypt. After taking over Egypt, the Fatimids themselves lost interest in the Maghreb, which they left to their Berber deputies, the Zirids. The Zirid family soon split, with the Hammadid branch taking over Kabylie as well as much of Algeria, and the Zirids taking modern Tunisia. They had a lasting effect on not only Kabylie's but Algeria's development, refounding towns such as Bejaia (their capital after the abandonment of Qalaat Beni Hammad) and Algiers itself.

After the Hammadids' collapse, the coast of Kabylie changed hands regularly, while much of the interior was often effectively unruled. Under the Ottoman Turks, most of Kabylie was inaccessible to the deys, who had to content themselves with occasional incursions and military settlements in some valleys. In the early part of the Ottoman period, the Belkadi family ruled much of Grande Kabylie from their capital of Koukou, now a small village near Tizi-Ouzou; however, their power declined in the 17th century.

Modern age

The French colonization

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Lalla Fatma N Soumer in a rebellion against the french.

The area was gradually taken over by the French from 1857, despite vigorous local resistance by the local population led by leaders such as Lalla Fatma n Soumer, continuing as late as Cheikh Mokrani's rebellion in 1871. Much land was confiscated in this period from the more recalcitrant tribes and given to French pied-noirs. Many arrests and deportations were carried out by the French, mainly to New Caledonia. Colonization also resulted in an acceleration of the emigration into other areas of the country and outside of it.

During the war of independence, Kabylie was one of the areas that was most affected, because of the importance of the maquis (aided by the mountainous terrain) and French repression. The FLN recruited several of its historical leaders there, including Hocine At Ahmed, Abane Ramdane, and Krim Belkacem.

After the independance of Algeria

Tensions have arisen between Kabylie and the central government on several occasions, initially in 1963, when the FFS party of Hocine At Ahmed contested the authority of the single party (FLN). In 1980, several months of demonstrations demanding the officialization of the Berber language took place in Kabylie, called the Berber Spring. The politics of identity intensified as the Arabization movement in Algeria gained steam in the 1990s. In 19941995, a school boycott occurred, termed the "strike of the school bag". In June and July of 1998, the area blazed up again after the assassination of singer Matoub Lounes and at the time that a law generalizing the use of the Arabic language in all fields went into effect. In the months following April, 2001 (called the Black Spring), major riots together with the emergence of the Arouch, neo-traditional local councils followed the killing of a young Kabyle (Masinissa Guermah) by gendarmes, and gradually died down only after forcing some concessions from the President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Famous Kabyles


Figures of the Algerian resistance and revolution

  • Abane Ramdane, Algerian revolutionary fighter, assassinated in 1957.
  • Krim Belkacem, Algerian revolutionary fighter, assassinated in 1970.
  • Colonel Amirouche, Algerian revolutionary fighter, killed by french troops in 1959.
  • Lalla Fatma n Soumer, woman who led western Kabylie in battle against French colonizers.




See also

External links

Template:Berberar:بلاد_القبائل de:Kabylische Sprache fr:Kabylie sv:Kabyler


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