Algeria History – The Kabylia

By | December 13, 2021

First of all, it is necessary to examine separately the sector of Kabylia, which is the most mountainous part of the Tell, and where the highest peak, which reaches 2308 meters, rises in the Djurdjura. But here the mountains are, more than anything else, massive. The most famous landscapes are a few throats (gorges) dug deep into the socket (Palestro, the Iron Gates gorges of Kerrata). The mountainous mass immediately flanks the sea (renowned setting followed by the road between Bugia and Djidjelli), and is not interrupted by internal plains; among the flat areas, the most important is the Soummam valley. which ends in Bugia, but it is narrow and dominated by high mountains: the Turks of Bugia have never been able to use the Soummam as an access route.

The massif of the Kabylia attracts the rains, and as a whole it is closed in the curve of 800 millimeters, although a large part of it receives more than one meter. One station averaged 1357 mm for a decade. The largest forests of Algeria are in Kabylia, especially on the flysch sandstones (several species of green oaks; large expanses covered with corks).

The residents of Kabylia represent what the country has the most characteristic.

It should not be forgotten that a tribe of Kabili, that of the Ketāmah, founded the Fāṭimida dynasty, and that under the Fāṭimids and under the Ṣanhāgiah emirs, from the century X to XII, the Kabyles dominated the entire Maghreb to E. della Muluia. No other Algerian tribe has a similar past; and even at present the Kabyles retain a kind of primacy. At the eastern end of Kabylia (east of the Babors, between Sétif and Djidjelli), that is to say in the ancient territory of the Ketāmah, the natives speak a special Arabic, which seems to date back to the great Fāṭimid era; but elsewhere the Kabyles speak Berber, and generally do not speak Arabic; however, they are very different from their neighbors, the Chaouïa, who also speak Berber, sedentary peasants, especially arboriculturists, very jealous of individual property and their land. The Cabili live grouped in large villages, which they have always managed by themselves, and which, until the French conquest, had never obeyed a foreign master. They have aroused keen interest in the learned, and have been studied by them like no other indigenous group.

The population density is much higher than in all other indigenous groups: it reaches over 100 residents per square kilometer. This mountain breed, poor, energetic and prolific, migrates in swarms. Since 1830 the Kabyles have tended to keep other natives away from the city of Algiers. Smugglers can be found everywhere. The immigration of indigenous Algerians to France, which increased after the war, is for the most part by Cabili (almost 100,000 individuals). This emigration, which is temporary, returns to Kabylia men who have become familiar with the French language and who have opened their minds to new horizons. For Algeria history, please check

Kabylia is the only part of the Tell that has opposed economic resistance to the penetration of the colonists; this was already the case at the time of the Roman Empire: indeed, very few Roman ruins have been found by archaeologists in the region.

The Roman road, which connected Mauretania Sitifiana to Mauretania Cesariana, that is the region of Sétif to that of Algiers, did not pass through Kabylia, but bordered its southern edge (Auzia, Rapidi ; today: Aumale, Berrouaghia). In this, France did not follow Rome. To the way of the crests, dear to the natives, the modern engineer, not wanting to leave the coast, always prefers the way of the valleys. Thus the railway crosses the Kabylia through the Isser valley and the Soummam valley, with branches towards the urban centers: Tizi-Ouzou, Bugia. Nowhere else do trains pass in the midst of such a grandiose landscape; here they enter magnificent gorges (Palestro, Iron Gates). Tizi-Ouzou, capital of the Great Kabylia, in an amphitheater of granite peaks, each of which has a village of Cabili on the top, with the horizon closed to the South. by the limestone and toothed crests of the Djurdjura, is a wonderful excursion center. A truckable road completes the circuit, joining Tizi-Ouzou to Bugia, through magnificent forests. The interests of tourism are therefore well served; but those of colonization are less so.

On the ancient Roman road, around Aumale, the lack of railway lines hindered any progress. Along the railway, in the heart of the mountains, he was faced with the economic resistance of the Cabili, who live off their work and have a deep love for the land. Bugia, which is the least bad natural port of Algeria, has not become a large commercial port, like Algiers, Oran or Bona. The traveler who travels by train from Algiers to Constantina, entering Kabylia no longer sees the uninterrupted succession of vineyards and fields; he will find such a spectacle only outside Kabylia, in the vicinity of Sétif. Kabylia is sandwiched between the two deeply colonized parts of the Tell, the western and the eastern.

Algeria History - The Kabylia