Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Kabyles (Arab, qabil = "tribe;" plural qabail), the collective name of one of the chief divisions of the Berber race, who occupy the coast ranges and tablelands of Mauritania, and who call themselves Imazighen. Unlike the Arab nomads, the Kabyles are chiefly peasantry settled in villages with a communal organisation administered by an amir, whose office is elective and not hereditary like that of the Arab sheikh. In Algeria there are as many as 120 distinct tribes grouped in thakebilt ("confederacies"), some of which, such as the Ait-Iraten, the Igawawen (Zwawas, whence the French Zouaves), the Gueshtulas, and others, are of great antiquity, and were formerly very powerful. At present they number from 450,000 to 500,000 souls, all Mohammedans, but of a less fanatical type than their Arab neighbours. Since 1850 the Algerian Kabyles have been subject to France, while those of Morocco are for the most part still semi-independent, often revolting against the Sultan's authority, and paying tribute only under compulsion.