Kabylia or Kabylie (Berber: ⵜⴰⵎⵓⵔⵜ ⵏ ⵍⴻⴽⴱⴰⵢⴻⵍ, Tamurt n Iqbayliyen), is a natural and historical region in the north of Algeria.
It is part of the Tell Atlas Mountains and is located at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Kabylia covers several provinces of Algeria: the whole of Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia (Bgayet), most of Bouira (Tubirett) and parts of the wilayas of Boumerdes, Setif, Bordj Bou Arreridj and Jijel. Gouraya National Park and Djurdjura National Park are also located in Kabylia.
Kabylia was a part of the Kingdom of Numidia (202 BC – 46 BC). It was later taken over by the Roman Empire, and became split between the provinces of Africa and Mauretania Caesariensis. In AD 289, the Quinquegentiani, a Berber tribe from Kabylia, rebelled against Roman rule; the rebels were defeated in a year-long Roman offensive in the years 297-298, in which the Quinquegentiani were driven from their homeland in Kabylia, into the Sahara.
The Kabyle country remained as unconquerable as it was inaccessible to the Ottoman deys. They generally established a few coastal military settlements and some in valleys, where they imposed the rule of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The mountainous core land, however, remained independent. Islam was gradually adopted through peaceful means, namely the Marabout movement. Some scholars argue that this is the reason of the Kabyles’ indifference towards Islam. The Ottoman threat disappeared with the arrival of the European and American navies to conquer North Africa.
Regency of Algiers
During the Regency of Algiers, most of Kabylia was independent. Kabylia was split into two main kingdoms, the Kingdom of Kuku in modern Tizi Ouzou, and the Kingdom of Ait Abbas in modern Béjaïa.
You can have a look to 19th century Kabylian jar, National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC
Though the region was the last stronghold against French colonization, the area was gradually taken over by the French from 1857, despite vigorous local resistance by the local population led by leaders such as Faḍma n Sumer, continuing as late as Mokrani’s rebellion in 1871. Much land was confiscated in this period from the more recalcitrant tribes and given to French pieds-noirs. Many arrests and deportations were carried out by the French in response to uprisings, mainly to New Caledonia. Colonization also resulted in an acceleration of the emigration into other areas of the country and outside of it.
Algerian migrant workers in France organized the first party promoting independence in the 1920s. Messali Hadj, Imache Amar, Si Djilani, and Belkacem Radjef rapidly built a strong following throughout France and Algeria in the 1930s and actively trained militants who became key players during the struggle for independence and in building an independent Algerian state.
During the War of Independence (1954–1962), Kabylia was one of the areas most affected because of the importance of the maquis (aided by the mountainous terrain) and resultant French counter-insurgency operations. Several historic leaders of the FLN came from this region, including Hocine Aït Ahmed, Abane Ramdane, and Krim Belkacem.