Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Fula is an ethnic group of people spread over many countries in West Africa, from Mauritania in the northwest to Cameroon in the east. In Nigeria, others, and literature, usually calls them Fulani. They themselves prefer Fulfulde (in counterpoint to what they call the Habe or Hausa people. They are also many other ways they and others refer to them, including Foulah, Peulh, Peul, and Fulbe. A closely related group is the Tukolor (Toucouleur) in the central Senegal River valley.
They speak the Pulaar language, or variants thereof, as do the Tukulor ; all local people who speak that language natively are known as the "halpulaar". The traditional dress of the Fula in most places is long colorful flowing robes, modestly embroidered or otherwise decorated. Most Fula in the countryside spend long times alone on foot, moving their herds. They are the only major migrating people of West Africa.
The Fulani were traditionally a nomadic, pastoral community, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations. During the 16th century the Fula expanded through the sahel grasslands stretching from what is today Senegal to Sudan. Fulani strength was centered on powerful cavalry that could quickly move across the large empire and defeat rivals. This meant the Fulani could not expand southwards, however, as the horses could not withstand the diseases of those latitudes.
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