After the colonization of North Africa by France, "the French government succeeded in integrating the French language in Algeria by making French the official national language and requiring all education to take place in French." Foreign languages, mainly French and to some degree Spanish, inherited from former European colonial powers, are used by most educated Berbers in Algeria and Morocco in some formal contexts, such as higher education or business.Today, most Berber people live in North Africa, mainly in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco; Small Berber populations are also found in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Egypt, as well as large immigrant communities living in France, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and other countries of Europe.
Much of Berber culture is still celebrated among the cultural elite in Morocco and Algeria.
All those names are similar and perhaps foreign renditions of the name used by the Berbers in general for themselves, Imazighen.
Local cave paintings, which have been dated to twelve millennia before present, have been found in the Tassili n'Ajjer region of southern Algeria.
According to Leo Africanus, Amazigh meant "free man", though this has been disputed, because there is no root of M-Z-Gh meaning "free" in modern Berber languages.
This dispute, however, is based on a lack of understanding of the Berber language as "Am-" is a prefix meaning "a man, one who is […]" Therefore, the root required to verify this endonym would be (a)zigh, "free", which however is also missing from Tamazight's lexicon, but may be related to the well attested aze "strong", Tizzit "bravery", or jeghegh "to be brave, to be courageous".
Historically, they spoke Berber languages, which together form the Berber branch of the Afroasiatic family.