Hamites, African people of caucasoid descent who occupy the Horn of Africa (chiefly Somalia and Ethiopia), the western Sahara, and parts of Algeria and Tunisia. They are believed to be the original settlers of N Africa. The Hamitic cradleland is generally agreed to be in Asia—perhaps S Arabia or possibly an area farther east. The Hamites entered Africa in a long succession of migrations, of which the earliest may have been as far back as the end of the pluvial period. They are commonly divided into two great branches, Eastern and Northern. The Eastern Hamites comprise the ancient and modern Egyptians, the Beja, the Berberines, the Oromo, the Somali, the Danakil, and most Ethiopians. The Northern Hamites include the Berbers of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, Tunisia, and Algeria; the Berbers of Morocco; the Tuareg and Tibu of the Sahara; the Fulbe of the Western Sudan; and the extinct Guanche of the Canary Islands.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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