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(both: twä`rĕg), BerbersBerbers,
aboriginal Caucasoid peoples of N Africa, called Imazighen in the Tamazight language. They inhabit the lands lying between the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea and between Egypt and the Atlantic Ocean.
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 of the Sahara, numbering c.2 million. They have preserved their ancient alphabet, which is related to that used by ancient Libyans. The Tuaregs traditionally maintained a feudal system consisting of a small number of noble families, a large majority of vassals, and a lower class of black non-Tuareg serfs, who performed the agricultural tasks. The upper classes, organized in tribes, convoyed caravans and, until subdued by France, were feared as raiders. The fiercely independent Tuareg resented European hegemony in Africa, and they long resisted conquest.

Tuareg men go veiled, while the women are unveiled. Women enjoy respect and freedom, and descent and inheritance are through the female line. Though nominally Muslim, the people still retain many pre-Islamic rites and customs, but the traditional way of life for the Tuaregs (e.g., raiding neighboring tribes, leading caravans, and exacting taxes from trans-Sahara travelers) has changed. Since the 1970s droughts and famines have forced many Tuaregs from their desert homes into urban areas; many have become farmers.

In the 1990s political tensions caused further relocation. Groups of Tuaregs fought for autonomy from Niger and Mali, but cease-fires were signed in both nations in the mid-1990s and largely held in the following decade. Beginning in 2006, however, there were Tuareg attacks against government forces in Mali despite cease-fires in subequent years; in early 2009 Mali's military gained significant victories against the rebels. The collapse of the Qaddafi regime in Libya (2011) revived Mali's Tuareg rebels when Tuaregs who had fought in Qaddafi's army returned to Mali. Following the 2012 coup in Mali, Tuareg and Islamist rebels seized control of much of N Mali, but Islamists subsequently marginalized non-Islamist Tuaregs, and then French-led forces reestablished (2013) government control over most of the region. A peace agreement with the main Tuareg rebel alliance was signed in 2015, but there has been fighting between pro- and antigovernment Tuareg groups since then. A peace accord between the Tuareg groups was signed in 2017. In 2007 a new Tuareg rebel group began mounting attacks in Niger, claiming that the government had failed to honor promises made in the 1995 peace accord. In 2009 negotiations with two of the three Tuareg rebel groups in Niger led to a cease-fire.


See F. J. Rennell, People of the Veil (1926, repr. 1966); P. Fuchs, The Land of Veiled Men (tr. 1956).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(self-designation, Imochag), a people living in Niger, Mali, Upper Volta, and the desert regions of Algeria. They originally inhabited the more northerly regions of Africa, but were forced into their present regions by the Arab conquests. They number about 1 million (1973, estimate).

The Tuareg speak a Berber language, and they are Sunni Muslims. Their main occupation is hoe farming of cereals, legumes, and vegetables, combined with the raising of sheep and goats. A small group of Tuareg living in the Algerian Sahara are nomadic herders of camels and goats. The Tuareg have retained their tribal divisions and significant elements of a patriarchal feudal system, with some traits of matrilinearity; the largest tribal groups are the Aulliminden, Ifora, Kel Geres, Kel Ahaggar, and Kel Air.


Narody Afriki. Moscow, 1954.
Murdock, G. P. Africa: Its Peoples and Their Culture History. New York-Toronto-London, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A fighter with the Tuareg separatist group MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad).
Using an interdisciplinary approach at the crossroads of psychological anthropology, oral history and the 'archival turn' (Stoler 2009), this article explores the theme of the dream in Tuareg historical sources and its relation to contemporary gendered and oneiric practices.
(8) Originally from Gao, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) is a terrorist group known for smuggling, whereas Ansar al Dine is a Salafist group created by Iyad ag Ghali, the famous Tuareg aristocrat who turned Islamist after the turn of the century.
To themselves, the Tuareg are Kel Tamasheq -- the people who speak Tamasheq -- and are seven distinct groups living mainly across Niger, Algeria, Mali and western Libya.
In the south, the Toubou, Tuareg, and Arabs all set up competing militia and clash over sparse resources, according to AFP.
Bombino said he was introduced to music by his cousins, during the Tuareg rebellion in the 1990s.
Tuareg writer Ibrahim al-Koni is considered one of the most prominent and prolific writers in Arabic today.
Indeed, it is precisely the support of the Tuareg and Tubu, with their links across the Sahel, which will be essential in mitigating the threat from transnational militias.
Tuareg Marketing, a subsidiary of Spain-headquartered Taurus Group, was formed after the $1-billion group acquired INALSA brands in 2004.
Tuareg separatists, backed by Al-Qaeda linked Islamists, staged an insurgency against the Malian government, advancing toward the capital Bamako in late 2012.
According to Malian intelligence sources cited by (http://www.france24.com/en/20131107-mali-french-journalists-qaeda-botched-operation-aqim?ns_campaign=editorial&ns_source=twitter&ns_mchannel=reseaux_sociaux&ns_fee=0&ns_linkname=20131107_mali_french_journalists_qaeda_botched_operation) France 24 , the man responsible for the seizure of the two journalists was a disgraced AQIM militant named Baye Ag Bakabo, an ethnic Tuareg with direct links to Targui.
According to Ag Rhissa, the kidnappers wore turbans and spoke the Tuareg language of Tamashek, RFI said.