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African ethnic group of the week: The Bisharin people of Egypt and Sudan

The Bisharin are an ethnic group inhabiting Northeast Africa. They are one of the major divisions of the Beja nomadic population. The Bisharin speak the Beja language, which belongs to the Afro-Asiatic family. 

The Bisharin live in the eastern part of the Nubian Desert in Sudan and southern Egypt. They reside in the Atbai area between the Nile River and the Red Sea, north of the Amarar and south of the Ababda. The Bisharin population numbers around 42,000 individuals. Most of the ethnic group moves within the territory of Sudan, where members have political representation in the Beja Congress.

The Bisharin are traditionally nomadic pastoralists, tending camels, cattle, sheep, goats and buffalo. Qamhat Bishari from the Aswan region traded agricultural commodities with other Bejawi people since ancient times. There is also a breed of chicken named after the Bejawi peopled called Bigawi, which was carried to Fayoum in antiquity. This important African breed is better known as the Fayoumi.

For Bisharin residing along the Nile River, farming is a way of life. They grow cotton, sugar cane, corn, dura, wheat, sesame, fruits and vegetables, and raise poultry.