Contemporary Life


Urban life in North Africa is similar to city life across Africa. There is great diversity. A mix of traditional and western clothing is worn by men and women. Housing includes beautiful mansions, middleclass apartments and poorer homes. New migrants and poor people often live in overcrowded housing on the outer edges of cities.

There is great diversity in religious communities in North African cities. Even in countries with Islamic governments, people born into Christian or Jewish families are allowed freedom of practice.


Rural North Africans live a more traditional life. There is change happening from subsistence farming to producing agricultural products for sale. There is increasing access to schools and other public services like healthcare and transportation. Families send their children to be educated and work in urban areas (and even overseas). These children regularly send money home to support their families.

Very few nomadic groups still move freely around the desert. Most live in permanent homes and only some family members move with the herds for seasonal grazing. Permanent settlements have more access to health care and education. Tourists pay to visit “traditional” nomadic communities, enjoying camel rides and other traditional experiences.

Gender issues

In urban areas, women have access to education and as a result they tend to have fewer children. They work in more formal economic sectors. In rural areas, women are responsible for childcare, food production, and domestic tasks, while men are involved in herding and agricultural production. As men migrate to urban areas to look for jobs, more women must take responsibility for traditional men’s tasks as well as their own. This change has given women experience in public affairs.

Source: Contemporary Life
Copyright © 2020 Exploring Africa.

Back to top