North Africa

North Africa is probably best known for Egypt, and its ancient civilization with some of the world famous monuments – the pyramids, ancient Egypt which was a bit of a mystery, almost because of the huge buildings that can be found around the desert area. Religion is more than anywhere else the dominant one – Islam, which leads to civil wars, states of war between the different cultures, even each other, where it is a matter of carrying out one coup d’état after another if one is dissatisfied with the country’s supreme! World War II was fought in North Africa, and some of the greatest battles of World War II were fought here – in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In Libya, as many as 97% of the population is subject to Islam. Libya also played a role in World War II in 1941 at the Gulf of Sidra where the city of El Agheila was conquered by British troops in a violent desert war. The state religion in Morocco is of course also Islam – and Morocco still has a firm grip on Western Sahara, which has been fought for several times over the years. Sudan is probably the worst of all landings in North Africa, namely because the Darfur conflict has displaced many people, and Sudan has the rather boring record of having had war for the longest time on the African continent. The conflict is rooted in the economic, political and social oppression of Christian and African groups in northern Sudan by Muslim northern Sudan.

The Africans can be grouped according to whether they live north or south of the Sahara, these groups are called North Africans and sub-Saharan Africans respectively. Afro-Asian-speaking peoples dominate in North Africa, while sub-Saharan Africa is dominated by a number of peoples grouped by their language, Niger-Congo in West Africa, Nilosaharic in the Eastern Highlands and Khoisan in the South.

According to COUNTRYAAH.COM, North Africa includes the following countries:

Area (km²): 2,381,740
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 32,277,942
Population density (per km²): 13.6
Capital: Algiers

Nation: EGYPT
Area (km²): 1,001,450
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 70,712,345
Population density (per km²): 70.6
Capital: Cairo

Nation: LIBYA
Area (km²): 1,759,540
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 5,368,585
Population density (per km²): 3.1
Capital: Tripoli

Area (km²): 446,550
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 31,167,783
Population density (per km²): 69.8
Capital: Rabat

Nation: SUDAN
Area (km²): 1,886,068
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 37,090,298 (?)
Population density (per km²): 14.8 (?)
Capital: Khartoum

Area (km²): 619,745
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): (?)
Population density (per km²): (?)
Capital: Juba

Area (km²): 163,610
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 10,102,000
Population density (per km²): 61.7
Capital: Tunis

Nation: WEST SAHARA (Occupied by Morocco)
Area (km²): 266,000
Population (estimated 1 July 2002): 256,177
Population density (per km²): 1.0
Capital: Laayoune

Western Sahara

Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco, which for many years has succeeded in preventing the referendum decided by the UN from being conducted. The desert area lacks large natural resources. A large part of the population are nomads. Normal trade union activity is not possible, but there is a trade union organization that operates from Algeria and in the refugee camps.

Country Facts

State condition: Occupied by Morocco

Surface: 266 000 km²

Capital: El-Aaiún

Language: Arabic

Labor market and economy:

In addition to some phosphate deposits, the country has fish-rich waters off the coast. There may also be oil there which makes the area interesting. Due to the desert climate, most of the food has to be imported. The people outside the cities are nomads. Morocco controls trade. The standard of living is significantly lower than in Morocco, but in the occupied parts Morocco has invested in, among other things, other infrastructure.

Most Sahrawi workers are employed by the occupying forces. The salary is extremely low. The worst is said to be oppression for those who work at the phosphate company Fos Bucraa. The majority of women are unemployed, but even among men, unemployment is close to 50 percent.

Trade Union

No trade union activity can be conducted in the occupied territories. A delegation from the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, was stopped by the Moroccan authorities from visiting the occupied territories.

The refugee camps in Algeria are not subject to Algerian law but are governed by the Polisario, which acts as a government in exile. Polisario also has control over parts of Western Sahara’s territory outside the cities where certain trade union activities are conducted.


There is a central trade union organization working in exile, Unión General de Trabajadores de Saguia el Hamra y Rio de Oro, UGTSARIO. UGTSARIO divides the country’s employees into four groups: workers on the battlefield, workers in the occupied territories, workers who emigrated and workers in liberated areas or refugee camps. UGTSARIO organizes employees in all these groups.

UGTSARIO is almost a branch of the Western Saharan liberation organization Polisario. The organization is not connected to the World Unions International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC. UGTSARIO receives active support from several African trade unions, including NLC in Nigeria and COSATU in South Africa.

North Africa