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The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of Berber and Arab descent from Northern Africa, some of whom came to conquer and occupy the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed other religions. They called the territory Al Andalus, comprising most of what is now Spain and Portugal.

"Moors" are not a distinct or self-defined people. Medieval and early modern Europeans applied the name primarily to Berbers, but also at various times to Arabs, Muslim Iberians[1] and West Africans from Mali and Niger who had been absorbed into the Almoravid dynasty.[2] Mainstream scholars observed in 1911 that "The term 'Moors' has no real ethnological value."[3]

The Andalusian Moors of the late Medieval era inhabited the Iberian Peninsula after the Moorish conquests of the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates, and the final Umayyad conquest of Hispania.[citation needed]The Moors' rule stretched at times as far as modern-day Mauritania, West African countries, and the Senegal River. Earlier, the Classical Romans interacted (and later conquered) parts of Mauretania, a state that covered northern portions of modern Morocco and much of north western and central Algeria during the classical period. The people of the region were noted in Classical literature as the Mauri.

The term Mauri, or variations, was later used by European traders and explorers of the 16th to 18th centuries to designate ethnic Berber and Arab groups speaking the Hassaniya Arabic dialect.[citation needed] Today such groups inhabit Mauritania and parts of Algeria, western Sahara, Morocco, Niger and Mali.[4] Speakers of European languages have historically designated a number of associated ethnic groups as "Moors". In modern Iberia, the term is applied to people of Moroccan ethnicity living in Europe. "Moor" is sometimes colloquially applied to any person from North Africa. Some people to whom it is applied consider the term pejorative and racist.


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