Berber (Berber el-Musherrif or el-Me-kheie), a town of Nubia, capital of a district of the same name belonging to Egypt, on the E. bank of the Nile, in lat. 17° 59' N., lon. 33° 59' E., 25 m. N. of the mouth of the Atbara, and 190 m. N. of Khartoom; pop. about 8,000. The streets are unpaved and dirty, and the flat-roo'fed houses are built of sun-dried bricks. The town is subject to sudden and destructive whirlwinds. It usually contains a garrison of about 1,500 men. It carries on considerable traffic with Egypt and the interior of Africa in spices, ivory, leather, tobacco, liquors, and European manufactures.

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Berbers, the race which originally peopled the whole northern part of Africa, embracing the nations known to the Greeks and Romans as Mauri, Gaetuli, Numidians, Nasa-mones, Phazanians, and Libyans. The Bar-bary states derive their name from them. Some writers have derived the name from the Arabian word oar, desert; others from berberat, murmuring, as descriptive of the sound of the North African language; others from Ber, the son of one of the shepherd kings of Egypt. The Berbers call themselves Amazirghs, either from their progenitor or as a generic name signifying noble or freemen. They have been conquered in succession by the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, and Arabs. The Arabs in the 7th century, like the former conquerors, took chiefly possession of the northern portions of their territory, and dispersed them over the interior, between Egypt and the Atlantic. The principal remnants of the race consist of three groups: the Shelloohs, found in Morocco, the Kabyles in Algeria, and the Tuariks in the desert. Their language is classed by modern philologists among the Hamitic tongues. By some it is specifically designated as Libyan. Their number is estimated at between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000. They are light brown in complexion, of middle stature, and sparely but strongly built.

They have dark hair, little beard, dark and piercing eyes, and are proud, suspicious, implacable, and generally at war.