Afri (singular Afer) was a Latin name for the inhabitants of Africa, referring in its widest sense to all the lands south of the Mediterranean (Ancient Libya).[1][2] Latin speakers at first used afer as an adjective, meaning "of Africa". As a substantive, it denoted a native of Africa; i.e., an African.[citation needed]

The ultimate etymology of the term for the country remains uncertain. It may derive from a Punic term for an indigenous population of the area surrounding Carthage.[citation needed] (See Terence for discussion.) The name is usually connected with Phoenician ʿafar "dust"[3] (also found in other Semitic languages), but a 1981 hypothesis[4] asserted that it stems from the Berber ifri (plural ifran) "cave", in reference to cave dwellers.[5] (See Tataouine.) The same word[5] may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as Ifrane) in northwestern Libya.[6] The classical historian Flavius Josephus asserted that descendants of Abraham's grandson Epher invaded the region and gave it their own name.[citation needed]

This ethnonym provided the source of the term Africa. The Romans referred to the region as Africa terra (land of the Afri), based on the stem Afr- with the adjective suffix -ic, giving Africus, Africa, Africum in the nominative singular of the three Latin genders.[citation needed] Following the defeat of Carthage in the Third Punic War, Rome set up the province of Africa Proconsularis. Afer came to be a cognomen for people from this province.[citation needed]

The Germanic tribe of the Vandals conquered the Roman Diocese of Africa in the 5th century; the empire reconquered it as the Praetorian prefecture of Africa in AD 534. The Latin name Africa came into Arabic after the Islamic conquest as Ifriqiya.[7]

The name survives today as Ifira and Ifri-n-Dellal in Greater Kabylie (Algeria). A Berber tribe was called[by whom?] Banu Ifran in the Middle Ages, and Ifurace was the name of a Tripolitan people in the 6th century.[citation needed]

Troglodytism, once frequent in northern Africa, still occurs today in southern Tunisia. Herodotus wrote that the Garamantes, a North African people, used to live in caves. The Greeks called an African people who lived in caves Troglodytae.[citation needed]