Member of one of a group of eight nomadic peoples, mainly stock breeders, from west and central Sahara and Sahel (Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso). Their language, Tamashek, belongs to the Berber branch of the Hamito-Semitic family and is spoken by 500,000850,000 people. Many are Muslims.
In the 15th century the Tuareg traded with Portuguese West Africa and controlled trade routes across the Sahara until the 20th century. Caravan raiding was common and slaves were taken during raids to the south. At the end of the 19th century they conducted raids on the French, who tried to take control of their caravan routes. The various groups were systematically subdued by the French in the early part of the 20th century. In 1917 there was a general uprising against the French, the noble classes were decimated and as many as 30,000 Tuareg fled to Nigeria. The French military administration allowed slavery to continue for a time but it has since been outlawed.
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