Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian and traditionally as Hamito-Semitic (Chamito-Semitic), is a large language family of several hundred related languages and dialects. It comprises about 300 or so living languages and dialects, according to the 2009 Ethnologue estimate. It includes languages spoken predominantly in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel.
Afroasiatic languages have 350+ million native speakers, the fourth largest number of any language family (after Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, and Niger–Congo). The phylum has six branches: Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, Egyptian, Omotic and Semitic.
The most widely spoken Afroasiatic language is Arabic, including literary Arabic and the spoken colloquial varieties. It has around 200 to 230 million native speakers concentrated primarily in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Malta. Tamazight and other Berber varieties are spoken in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, northern Mali, and northern Niger by about 25 to 35 million people.
Other widely spoken Afroasiatic languages include:
In addition to languages spoken today, Afroasiatic includes several important ancient languages, such as Ancient Egyptian, Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew, and Old Aramaic. It is uncertain when or where the original homeland of the Afroasiatic family existed. Proposed locations include North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Sahara, and the Levant....LESS
West Africa is defined as the area south of the Sahara between the Atlantic and Lake Chad, encompassing the Sahel zone, tropical forests, and pasturelands. West Africans speak languages belonging to three major families: Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, and Afro-Asiatic, as well as the official languages, French and English, introduced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The language of scholarship and learning has been Arabic since the seventh century, when Arab merchants, soldiers, and missionaries came south and established major trade routes. Ancient Ghana emerged as major regional powers. This study, which provides an overview of the region's history from medieval times to the twentieth century, traces the developments following colonialism; the effects of Arab nationalism on West African politics; the role of the Israelis in helping to develop new states; the politics of OPEC; and the rise of Islamic extremism.