The Tuuaregs or « Targuis » are a nomad population of approximately 1,330,000 people living in the central and southern areas of the Saharan desert. Their language belongs to the Berber group. The Tuaregs are Sunni Muslims, they are monogamous and form a tribal matriarchal society with a strong hierarchy of various classes: nobility, vassals, freed slaves and slaves.

The Tuaregs are scattered over different states: Algeria (15,000), Libya (10,000), Mali, Niger and Burkina Fasso. The bulk of the population lives in Niger and Mali.

The traditional society of the Tuaregs has been strongly shaken by the decline of the caravan trade and a series of severe droughts. Due to their way of life – far from the urban centers – they have been kept away from power sharing and are also torn between five states jealous of their sovereignty: this makes it difficult for them to fit into national frameworks and borders. Notably in Algeria and Libya they are subject to more or less forced – and usually not well accepted – settling and assimilation.