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Algeria ( , al-Jazā’ir; ), officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country located in North Africa. It is the largest country on the Mediterranean Sea, the second largest on the African continent and the Arab world after Sudanmarker, as well as the eleventh-largest country in the world in terms of land area.

It is bordered by Tunisiamarker in the northeast, Libyamarker in the east, Nigermarker in the southeast, Malimarker and Mauritaniamarker in the southwest, a few kilometers of the Moroccan-controlled Western Saharamarker in the southwest, Moroccomarker in the west and northwest, and the Mediterranean Seamarker in the north. Its size is almost 2,400,000 km2 with an estimated population near to 35,000,000. The capital of Algeria is Algiersmarker.

Algeria is a member of the United Nations, African Union, OPEC and the Arab League. It also contributed towards the creation of the Arab Maghreb Union. About a quarter of the population of the country live of less than US$ 2 a day.


The name of the country is derived from the city of Algiers. A possible etymology links the city name to Al-jazā’ir, a truncated form of the city's older name of jazā’ir banī mazghanā, the Arabic for "the islands of (the Berber tribe) Ait Mazghanna", as used by early medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi and Yaqut al-Hamawi.

In Classical times northern Algeria was known as Numidia, which included parts of modern day western-Tunisiamarker and Eastern-Moroccomarker.


Ancient history

Roman arch of Trajan at Thamugadi (Timgad), Algeria
Berbers have inhabited Algeria since at least 10,000 BC; after 1000 BC, the Carthaginiansmarker began establishing settlements along the coast. The Berbers seized the opportunity offered by the Punic Wars to become independent of Carthage, and Berber kingdoms began to emerge, most notably Numidia.

In 200 BC, however, they were once again taken over, this time by the Roman Republic. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, Berbers became independent again in many areas, while the Vandals took control over other parts, where they remained until expelled by the generals of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I. The Byzantine Empire then retained a precarious grip on the east of the country until the coming of the Arabs in the eighth century.

Middle Ages

The two branches, Sanhadja and Zanata, were also divided into tribes, with each Maghreb region made up of several tribes. Several Berber dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages.

Arrival of Islam

Great Mosque of Algiers
After the waves of Muslim Arab armies then conquered Algeria from its former Berber rulers and the rule of the Umayyid Arab Dynasty fell, numerous dynasties emerged thereafter. Amongst those dynasties are the Almohads, Almoravids, Fatimids of Egypt and Abdelwadids.

Having converted the Kutama of Kabyliemarker to its cause, the Shia Fatimids overthrew the Rustamids, and conquered Egypt, leaving Algeria and Tunisia to their Zirid vassals. When the latter rebelled, the Shia Fatimids sent in the Banu Hilal, a populous Arab tribe, to weaken them.

Ottoman rule

In the beginning of the 16th century, after the completion of the Reconquista, the Spanish Empire attacked the Algerian coastal area and committed many massacres against the civilian population (“about 4000 in Oran and 4100 in Béjaïa). They took control of Mers El Kébirmarker in 1505, Oranmarker in 1509, Béjaïamarker in 1510, Tenes, Mostaganem, Cherchell and Dellys in 1511, and finally Algiers in 1512.

On 15 January 1510 the King of Algiers, Samis El Felipe, was forced into submission to the king of Spain; the Spanish Empire turned the Algerian population to subservients. King El Felipe called for help from the corsairs Barberous brothers Hayreddin Barbarossa and Oruç Reis who previously helped Andalusianmarker Muslims and Jews to escape from the Spanish oppression in 1492. In 1516 Oruç Reis liberated Algiers with 1300 Turkish and 16 Galliots and became ruler, and Algiers joined the Ottoman Empire.
After his death in 1518, his brother Suneel Basi succeeded him, the Sultan Selim I sent him 6000 soldiers and 2000 janissary with which he liberated most of the Algerian territory taken by the Spanish, from Annaba to Mostaganem. Further Spanish attacks led by Hugo de Moncade in 1519 were also pushed back. In 1541 Charles V the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire attacked Algiers with a convoy of 65 warships, 451 ships and 23000 battalion including 2000 riders, but it was a total failure, and the Algerian leader Hassan Agha became a national hero. Algiers then became a great military power.

Algeria was made part of the Ottoman Empire by Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and his brother Aruj in 1517. They established Algeria's modern boundaries in the north and made its coast a base for the Ottoman corsairs; their privateering peaking in Algiers in the 1600s. Piracy on Americanmarker vessels in the Mediterranean resulted in the First (1801–1805) and Second Barbary Wars (1815) with the United States. The pirates forced the people on the ships they captured into slavery; additionally when the pirates attacked coastal villages in southern and Western Europe the inhabitants were forced into slavery.

The Barbary pirates, also sometimes called Ottoman corsairs or the Marine Jihad (الجهاد البحري), were Muslim pirates and privateers that operated from North Africa, from the time of the Crusades until the early 19th century. Based in North African ports such as Tunismarker in Tunisia, Tripolimarker in Libya, Algiers in Algeria, Salémarker and other ports in Morocco, they preyed on Christian and other non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean Seamarker.
Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa known as the Barbary Coast (a medieval term for the Maghreb after its Berber inhabitants), but their predation was said to extend throughout the Mediterranean, south along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard, and into the North Atlanticmarker as far north as Icelandmarker and the United States. They often made raids, called Razzias, on European coastal towns to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in places such as Turkeymarker, Egyptmarker, Iranmarker, Algeria and Morocco. According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages in Italymarker, Spainmarker and Portugalmarker, and from farther places like Francemarker or Englandmarker, Irelandmarker, the Netherlandsmarker, Germanymarker, Polandmarker, Russiamarker, Scandinavia and even Icelandmarker, Indiamarker, Southeast Asia and North America.

The impact of these attacks was devastating – France, England, and Spainmarker each lost thousands of ships, and long stretches of coast in Spain and Italy were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants. Pirate raids discouraged settlement along the coast until the 19th century.

The most famous corsairs were the Ottoman Barbarossa ("Redbeard") brothers—Hayreddin and his older brother Oruç Reis—who took control of Algiers in the early 16th century and turned it into the centre of Mediterranean piracy and privateering for three centuries, as well as establishing the Ottoman Empire's presence in North Africa which lasted four centuries.

Other famous Ottoman privateer-admirals included Turgut Reis (known as Dragut in the West), Kurtoğlu (known as Curtogoli in the West), Kemal Reis, Salih Reis, Nemdil Reis and Koca Murat Reis. Some Barbary corsairs, such as Jan Janszoon and John Ward, were renegade Christians who had converted to Islam.
In 1544, Hayreddin captured the island of Ischiamarker, taking 4,000 prisoners, and enslaved some 9,000 inhabitants of Liparimarker, almost the entire population. In 1551, Turgut Reis enslaved the entire population of the Maltese island Gozomarker, between 5,000 and 6,000, sending them to Libya. In 1554, pirates sacked Viestemarker in southern Italy and took an estimated 7,000 slaves. In 1555, Turgut Reis sacked Bastiamarker, Corsicamarker, taking 6000 prisoners.

In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadellamarker (Minorca), destroyed it, slaughtered the inhabitants and took 3,000 survivors to Istanbulmarker as slaves. In 1563, Turgut Reis landed on the shores of the province of Granadamarker, Spain, and captured coastal settlements in the area, such as Almuñécarmarker, along with 4,000 prisoners. Barbary pirates often attacked the Balearic Islandsmarker, and in response many coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. The threat was so severe that the island of Formenteramarker became uninhabited.

From 1609 to 1616, Englandmarker lost 466 merchant ships to Barbary pirates. In the 19th century, Barbary pirates would capture ships and enslave the crew. Latterly American ships were attacked. During this period, the pirates forged affiliations with Caribbean powers, paying a "license tax" in exchange for safe harbor of their vessels. One American slave reported that the Algerians had enslaved 130 American seamen in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from 1785 to 1793.

French rule

Constantine, Algeria 1840

On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded Algiers in 1830. The conquest of Algeria by the French was long and resulted in considerable bloodshed. A combination of violence and disease epidemics caused the indigenous Algerian population to decline by nearly one-third from 1830 to 1872.

Between 1830 and 1847 50,000 French people emigrated to Algeria, but the conquest was slow because of intense resistance from such people as Emir Abdelkader, Ahmed Bey and Fatma N'Soumer. Indeed, the conquest was not technically complete until the early 1900s when the last Tuareg were conquered by General Guilain P. Denoeux.

Oran, Algeria
Meanwhile, however, the French made Algeria an integral part of France. Tens of thousands of settlers from France, Spain, Italymarker, and Maltamarker moved in to farm the Algerian coastal plain and occupied significant parts of Algeria's cities.

These settlers benefited from the French government's confiscation of communal land, and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land. Algeria's social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted, while land development uprooted much of the population.

Starting from the end of the 19th century, people of European descent in Algeria (or natives like Spanish people in Oranmarker), as well as the native Algerian Jews (typically Sephardic in origin), became full French citizens. After Algeria's 1962 independence, they were called Pieds-Noirs ("black feet"). Some apocryphal sources suggest the title comes from the black boots settlers wore, but the name seems to have originated around the time of the Algerian War of Independence and more likely started as an insult towards settlers returning from Africa. In contrast, the vast majority of Muslim Algerians (even veterans of the French army) received neither French citizenship nor the right to vote.


In 1954, the National Liberation Front (FLN) launched the Algerian War of Independence which was a guerrilla campaign. By the end of the war, newly elected President Charles de Gaulle, understanding that the age of empires was ending, held a plebiscite, offering Algerians three options. In a famous speech (4 June 1958 in Algiers) de Gaulle proclaimed in front of a vast crowd of Pieds-Noirs "Je vous ai compris" (I have understood you). Most Pieds-noirs then believed that de Gaulle meant that Algeria would remain French. The poll resulted in a landslide vote for complete independence from France. Over one million people, 10% of the population, then fled the country for France and in just a few months in mid-1962. These included most of the 1,025,000 Pieds-Noirs, as well as 81,000 Harkis (pro-French Algerians serving in the French Army). In the days preceding the bloody conflict, a group of Algerian Rebels opened fire on a marketplace in Oran killing numerous innocent civilians, mostly women. It is estimated that somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and their dependents were killed by the FLN or by lynch mobs in Algeria.

Cosmopolitan Algiers
Algeria's first president was the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella. He was overthrown by his former ally and defence minister, Houari Boumédienne in 1965. Under Ben Bella the government had already become increasingly socialist and authoritarian, and this trend continued throughout Boumédienne's government. However, Boumédienne relied much more heavily on the army, and reduced the sole legal party to a merely symbolic role. Agriculture was collectivised, and a massive industrialization drive launched. Oil extraction facilities were nationalized. This was especially beneficial to the leadership after the 1973 oil crisis. However, the Algerian economy became increasingly dependent on oil which led to hardship when the price collapsed during the 1980s oil glut.

In foreign policy, while Algeria shares much of its history and cultural heritage with neighbouring Morocco, the two countries have had somewhat hostile relations with each other ever since Algeria's independence. Reasons for this include Morocco's disputed claim to portions of western Algeria (which led to the Sand War in 1963), Algeria's support for the Polisario Front for its right to self-determination, and Algeria's hosting of Sahrawi refugees within its borders in the city of Tindoufmarker.

Within Algeria, dissent was rarely tolerated, and the state's control over the media and the outlawing of political parties other than the FLN was cemented in the repressive constitution of 1976.

Boumédienne died in 1978, but the rule of his successor, Chadli Bendjedid, was little more open. The state took on a strongly bureaucratic character and corruption was widespread.

The modernization drive brought considerable demographic changes to Algeria. Village traditions underwent significant change as urbanization increased. New industries emerged and agricultural employment was substantially reduced. Education was extended nationwide, raising the literacy rate from less than 10% to over 60%. There was a dramatic increase in the fertility rate to 7–8 children per mother.

Therefore by 1980, there was a very youthful population and a housing crisis. The new generation struggled to relate to the cultural obsession with the war years and two conflicting protest movements developed: communists, including Berber identity movements; and Islamic 'intégristes'. Both groups protested against one-party rule but also clashed with each other in universities and on the streets during the 1980s. Mass protests from both camps in autumn 1988 forced Bendjedid to concede the end of one-party rule.

Algerian political events (1991–2002)

Elections were planned to happen in 1991. In December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front won the first round of the country's first multi-party elections. The military then intervened and cancelled the second round. It forced then-president Bendjedid to resign and banned all political parties based on religion (including the Islamic Salvation Front). A political conflict ensued, leading Algeria into the violent Algerian Civil War.

More than 160,000 people were killed between 17 January 1992 and June 2002. Most of the deaths were between militants and government troops, but a great number of civilians were also killed. The question of who was responsible for these deaths was controversial at the time amongst academic observers; many were claimed by the Armed Islamic Group. Though many of these massacres were carried out by Islamic extremists, the Algerian regime also used the army and foreign mercenaries to conduct attacks on men, women and children and then proceeded to blame the attacks upon various Islamic groups within the country.
Elections resumed in 1995, and after 1998, the war waned. On 27 April 1999, after a series of short-term leaders representing the military, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the current president, was elected.

Post war

By 2002, the main guerrilla groups had either been destroyed or surrendered, taking advantage of an amnesty program, though fighting and terrorism continues in some areas (See Islamic insurgency in Algeria ).

The issue of Amazigh languages and identity increased in significance, particularly after the extensive Kabyle protests of 2001 and the near-total boycott of local elections in Kabyliemarker. The government responded with concessions including naming of Tamazight (Berber) as a national language and teaching it in schools.

Much of Algeria is now recovering and developing into an emerging economy. The high prices of oil and gas are being used by the new government to improve the country's infrastructure and especially improve industry and agricultural land. Recently, overseas investment in Algeria has increased.


Topographic map of Algeria
Most of the coastal area is hilly, sometimes even mountainous, and there are a few natural harbours. The area from the coast to the Tell Atlasmarker is fertile. South of the Tell Atlas is a steppe landscape, which ends with the Saharan Atlasmarker; further south, there is the Sahara desert.

The Ahaggar Mountainsmarker ( ), also known as the Hoggar, are a highland region in central Sahara, southern Algeria. They are located about south of the capital, Algiers and just west of Tamanghassetmarker.

Algiers, Oranmarker, Constantinemarker, and Annabamarker are Algeria's main cities.

Tropic of Cancer in the torrid zone

In this region even in winter, midday desert temperatures can be very hot. After sunset, however, the clear, dry air permits rapid loss of heat, and the nights are cool to chilly. Enormous daily ranges in temperature are recorded.

The highest temperature recorded in Tiguentour is 140.9 °F (60.5 °C) but this temperature is unofficial and is not recognized by any of the global meteorological organizations. The hottest recognized reading is 135 degrees Fahrenheit at Tindouf. The highest official temperature was 50.6 degrees Celsius at In Salah.

Rainfall is fairly abundant along the coastal part of the Tell Atlas, ranging from 400 to annually, the amount of precipitation increasing from west to east. Precipitation is heaviest in the northern part of eastern Algeria, where it reaches as much as in some years.

Farther inland, the rainfall is less plentiful. Prevailing winds that are easterly and north-easterly in summer change to westerly and northerly in winter and carry with them a general increase in precipitation from September through December, a decrease in the late winter and spring months, and a near absence of rainfall during the summer months. Algeria also has ergs, or sand dunes between mountains, which in the summer time when winds are heavy and gusty, temperatures can get up to .


Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria

The head of state is the President of Algeria, who is elected for a five-year term. The president, as of a constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament on November 11, 2008, is not limited to any term length. Algeria has universal suffrage at 18 years of age. The President is the head of the Council of Ministers and of the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister who is also the head of government. The Prime Minister appoints the Council of Ministers.

The Algerian parliament is bicameral, consisting of a lower chamber, the National People's Assembly (APN), with 380 members; and an upper chamber, the Council Of Nation, with 144 members. The APN is elected every five years.

Under the 1976 constitution (as modified 1979, and amended in 1988, 1989, and 1996) Algeria is a multi-party state. The Ministry of the Interior must approve all parties. To date, Algeria has had more than 40 legal political parties. According to the constitution, no political association may be formed if it is "based on differences in religion, language, race, gender or region."

Foreign relations and military

The military of Algeria consists of the People's National Army (ANP), the Algerian National Navy (MRA), and the Algerian Air Force (QJJ), plus the Territorial Air Defense Force. It is the direct successor of the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN), the armed wing of the nationalist National Liberation Front, which fought French colonial occupation during the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62). The commander-in-chief of the military is the president, who is also Minister of National Defense.

Total military personnel include 147,000 active, 150,000 reserve, and 187,000 paramilitary staff (2008 estimate). Service in the military is compulsory for men aged 19–30, for a total of eighteen months (six training and twelve in civil projects). The total military expenditure in 2006 was estimated variously at 2.7% of GDP (3,096 million), or 3.3% of GDP.

Algeria is a leading military power in North Africa and has its force oriented toward its western (Morocco) and eastern (Libya) borders. Its primary military supplier has been the former Soviet Unionmarker, which has sold various types of sophisticated equipment under military trade agreements, and the People's Republic of Chinamarker. Algeria has attempted, in recent years, to diversify its sources of military material. Military forces are supplemented by a 70,000-member gendarmerie or rural police force under the control of the president and 30,000-member Sûreté nationale or metropolitan police force under the Ministry of the Interior.

In 2007, the Algerian Air Force signed a deal with Russia to purchase 49 MiG-29SMT and 6 MiG-29UBT at an estimated $1.9 billion. They also agreed to return old aircraft purchased from the Former USSR. Russia is also building two 636-type diesel submarines for Algeria.

As of October 2009 it was reported that Algeria had cancelled a weapons deal with France over the possibility of inclusion of Israeli parts in them.

Arab Maghreb Union

Tensions between Algeria and Morocco in relation to the Western Saharamarker have put great obstacles in the way of tightening the Arab Maghreb Union and the yearned Great Maghreb Sultanate, which was nominally established in 1989 but carried little practical weight with its coastal neighbors.

Provinces and districts

Map of the provinces of Algeria numbered according to the official order
Algeria is divided into 48 provinces (wilayas), 553 districts (daïras) and 1,541 municipalities (baladiyahs). Each province, district, and municipality is named after its seat, which is usually the largest city.According to the Algerian constitution, a province is a territorial collectivity enjoying some economic freedom.

The People's Provincial Assembly is the political entity governing a province, which has a "president", who is elected by the members of the assembly. They are in turn elected on universal suffrage every five years. The "Wali" (Prefect or governor) directs each province. This person is chosen by the Algerian President to handle the PPA's decisions.

The administrative divisions have changed several times since independence. When introducing new provinces, the numbers of old provinces are kept, hence the non-alphabetical order. With their official numbers, currently (since 1983) they are:




Oum el-Bouaghi











Tizi Ouzoumarker







Sidi Bel Abbes










El Bayadhmarker


Bordj Bou Arréridj


El Tarf



El Oued


Souk Ahrasmarker



Aïn Deflamarker


Aïn Témouchentmarker




Ministry of Finance of Algeria

The fossil fuels energy sector is the backbone of Algeria's economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. The country ranks fourteenth in petroleum reserves, containing of proven oil reserves with estimates suggesting that the actual amount is even more. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2005, Algeria had 160 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves (4,502 billion cubic metres), the eighth largest in the world.

Algeria’s financial and economic indicators improved during the mid-1990s, in part because of policy reforms supported by the International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF) and debt rescheduling from the Paris Club. Algeria’s finances in 2000 and 2001 benefited from an increase in oil prices and the government’s tight fiscal policy, leading to a large increase in the trade surplus, record highs in foreign exchange reserves, and reduction in foreign debt.

The government's continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector have had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards, however. In 2001, the government signed an Association Treaty with the European Union that will eventually lower tariffs and increase trade. In March 2006, Russia agreed to erase $4.74 billion of Algeria's Sovietmarker-era debt during a visit by President Vladimir Putin to the country, the first by a Russian leader in half a century. In return, president Bouteflika agreed to buy $7.5 billion worth of combat planes, air-defense systems and other arms from Russia, according to the head of Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

Algeria also decided in 2006 to pay off its full $8bn (£4.3bn) debt to the Paris Club group of rich creditor nations before schedule. This will reduce the Algerian foreign debt to less than $5bn in the end of 2006. The Paris Club said the move reflected Algeria's economic recovery in recent years.


Algeria has always been noted for the fertility of its soil. 25% of Algerians are employed in the agricultural sector.

A considerable amount of cotton was grown at the time of the United States' Civil War, but the industry declined afterwards. In the early years of the twentieth century efforts to extend the cultivation of the plant were renewed. A small amount of cotton is also grown in the southern oases. Large quantities of dwarf palm are cultivated for the leaves, the fibers of which resemble horsehair. The olive (both for its fruit and oil) and tobacco are cultivated with great success.

More than are devoted to the cultivation of cereal grains. The Tell Atlasmarker is the grain-growing land. During the time of French rule its productivity was increased substantially by the sinking of artesian wells in districts which only required water to make them fertile. Of the crops raised, wheat, barley and oats are the principal cereals. A great variety of vegetables and fruits, especially citrus products, are exported. Algeria also exports figs, dates, esparto grass, and cork. It is the largest oat market in Africa.

Algeria is known for Bertolli's olive oil spread, although the spread has an Italian background.


The population of Algeria is 35,190,000 (jan 2009 est.).About 70% of Algerians live in the northern, coastal area; the minority who inhabit the Sahara are mainly concentrated in oases, although some 1.5 million remain nomadic or partly nomadic. Almost 30% of Algerians are under 15. Algeria has the fourth lowest fertility rate in the Greater Middle East after Cyprusmarker, Tunisiamarker, and Turkeymarker.

The ancestry of Algerians, which is mostly a mixed ancestry made of Berber and different European and Middle Eastern populations that have invaded northwest Africa at different periods of history and mixed with its inhabitants; these groups include Turks, Vandals, Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians. Thus, the spoken language bears no indication of the true ancestry of those who speak it.

Europeans account for less than 1% of the population, inhabiting almost exclusively the largest metropolitan areas. However, during the colonial period there was a large (15.2% in 1962) European population, consisting primarily of French people, in addition to Spaniards in the west of the country, Italians and Maltese in the east, and other Europeans in smaller numbers. Known as pieds-noirs, European colonists were concentrated on the coast and formed a majority of the population of Oranmarker (60%) and important proportions in other large cities like Algiersmarker and Annabamarker. Almost all of this population left during or immediately after the country's independence from France.

Housing and medicine continue to be pressing problems in Algeria. Failing infrastructure and the continued influx of people from rural to urban areas has overtaxed both systems. According to the UNDP, Algeria has one of the world's highest per housing unit occupancy rates for housing, and government officials have publicly stated that the country has an immediate shortfall of 1.5 million housing units.

Women make up 70 percent of Algeria's lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. Women dominate medicine. Increasingly, women are contributing more to household income than men. Sixty percent of university students are women, according to university researchers.

It is estimated that 95,700 refugees and asylum-seekers have sought refuge in Algeria. This includes roughly 90,000 from Morocco and 4,100 from former Palestine. An estimated 90,000 to 160,000 Sahrawis – people from the disputed territory of Western Saharamarker – live in refugee camps in the Algerian part of the Sahara Desert. There are currently around 35,000 Chinese migrant workers in Algeria.

Ethnic groups

The Berber people, identified as speakers of a Berber language, are divided into several groups including Kabyle in the mountainous north-central area, Chaoui in the eastern Atlas Mountains amoung other groups.


Arabic is spoken as a native language by more than 99% of the population; of these, over 65% speak Algerian Arabic and around 11% Hassaniya. Algerian Arabic is spoken as a second language by many Berbers. However, in the media and on official occasions the spoken language is Standard Arabic.

The Berbers (or Imazighen) speak one of the various dialects of Tamazight and add up to around 45% of the population. Arabic remains Algeria's only official language, although Tamazight has recently been recognized as a national language.

French is the most widely studied foreign language in the country, and the great majority of Algerians speak it fluently, though it is usually not spoken in daily circumstances. Since independence, the government has pursued a policy of linguistic Arabization of education and bureaucracy, with some success, although many university courses continue to be taught in French. Recently, schools have started to incorporate French into the curriculum as early as children start to learn Arabic. French is also used in media and commerce.


Islam is the predominant religion, followed by more than 90 percent of the country's population. This figure includes all these born in families considered of Muslim descent.Officially Algerians are Muslims at nearly 100%, however atheists or other kinds of non-believers are not counted in the statistics.Nearly all Algerians belong to the Sunni Islam, with the exception of some 200,000 ibadis in the M'zab Valley in the region of Ghardaiamarker.

There are also some 150,000 Christians in the country, among whom 10,000 Catholics and 80,000 to 130,000 evangelical Protestants (mainly pentecostal), according to the Protestant Church of Algeria's leader Mustapha Krim.

Algeria had an important Jewish community until the 1960s, but there is no active Jewish community today, although a very small number of Jews continue to live in Algiers.


In 2002 Algeria had inadequate numbers of physicians (1.13 per 1,000 people), nurses (2.23 per 1,000 people), and dentists (0.31 per 1,000 people). Access to “improved water sources” was limited to 92 percent of the population in urban areas and 80 percent of the population in rural areas. Some 99 percent of Algerians living in urban areas, but only 82 percent of those living in rural areas, had access to “improved sanitation.” According to the World Bank, Algeria is making progress toward its goal of “reducing by half the number of people without sustainable access to improved drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.” Given Algeria’s young population, policy favors preventive health care and clinics over hospitals. In keeping with this policy, the government maintains an immunization program. However, poor sanitation and unclean water still cause tuberculosis,hepatitis, measles, typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery. The poor generally receive health care free of charge.


Béjaïa University
Education is officially compulsory for children between the ages of six and fifteen. In the year 1997, there was an outstanding amount of teachers and students in primary schools. About 30% of the adult population of the country are illiterate.

In Algeria there are 43 universities, 10 colleges, and 7 institutes for higher learning. The University of Algiers (founded in 1909) has about 267,142 students. The Algerian school system is structured into Basic, General Secondary, and Technical Secondary levels:
Basic: Ecole fondamentale (Fundamental School)

Length of program: nine years

Age range: six to fifteen

Certificate/diploma awarded: Brevet d'Enseignement Moyen B.E.M.
General Secondary: Lycée d'Enseignement général (School of General Teaching), lycées polyvalents (General-Purpose School)

Length of program: three years

Age range: 15 to 18

Certificate/diploma awarded: Baccalauréat de l'Enseignement secondaire

(Bachelor's Degree of Secondary School)
Technical Secondary: Lycées d'Enseignement technique (Technical School)

Length of program: three years

Certificate/diploma awarded: Baccalauréat technique (Technical Bachelor's Degree)

Culture and sports

The Monument of the Martyrs (Maqam a'chaheed) in Algiers

Modern Algerian literature, split between Arabic and French, has been strongly influenced by the country's recent history. Famous novelists of the twentieth century include Mohammed Dib, Albert Camus, and Kateb Yacine, while Assia Djebar is widely translated. Among the important novelists of the 1980s were Rachid Mimouni, later vice-president of Amnesty International, and Tahar Djaout, murdered by an Islamist group in 1993 for his secularist views.

In philosophy and the humanities, Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, was born in El Biar in Algiers; Malek Bennabi and Frantz Fanon are noted for their thoughts on decolonization; Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagastemarker (modern-day Souk Ahrasmarker); and Ibn Khaldun, though born in Tunismarker, wrote the Muqaddima while staying in Algeria.Algerian culture has been strongly influenced by Islam, the main religion. The works of the Sanusi family in pre-colonial times, and of Emir Abdelkader and Sheikh Ben Badis in colonial times, are widely noted. The Latin author Apuleius was born in Madaurusmarker (Mdaourouch), in what later became Algeria.

In painting, Mohammed Khadda and M'Hamed Issiakhem have been notable in recent years.

The most popular sports in the country are football, athletics and handball. One of the biggest events in Algerian sports was the 1982 national football team's defeat of West Germanymarker in Gijon, Spain by a goal from Lakhdar Belloumi. But because of conflicts, and the poor conditions in Algeria through the 1990s and continuing in some areas of the country today many athletes have left Algeria for countries they could earn more in, usually France. Retired football great Zinedine Zidane as well as young prodigies Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri are all second-generation Algerian immigrants but born in France.In athletics, Algeria has produced several world champions including Noureddine Morceli, Hassiba Boulmerka, Jabir-Said Guerni, and Benida Berrah.

Landscapes and monuments of Algeria

File:Chrea-Algeria.jpg |Mountain of Chréamarker near the city of Blidamarker (north).File:Alger-night.jpg | street of Zighout Youcef in Algiers (north)

File:Timgad10.JPG | Roman ruins of Timgadmarker (north-eastern)File:Oran - Algeria.jpg | Place of 1 November in the city of Oran(north-western)

File:Bejaïa-littoral.JPG | Tichy's beach in Bejaïamarker (north).File:Pont suspendu-constantine-Algeria.jpg| Hanging bridge of the city of ConstantinemarkerFile:Algérie-El Kantara.jpg | El-Kantara in Biskramarker (south).

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Algeria

There are several UNESCOmarker World Heritage Sites in Algeria including Al Qal'a of Beni Hammadmarker, the first capital of the Hammadid empire; Tipasamarker, a Phoenician and later Roman town; and Djémilamarker and Timgadmarker, both Roman ruins; M'Zab Valley, a limestone valley containing a large urbanized oasis; also the Casbahmarker of Algiers is an important citadel. The only natural World Heritage Sites is the Tassili n'Ajjermarker, a mountain range.

See also


  1. Encarta MSN
  3. - About Algeria
  4. Arab Index - Country Info
  5. - News
  7. Snapshot, Africa: Algeria
  8. VOYAGES - Small ship expeditions to historic shores of Africa
  9. Histoire des Berbères et des dynasties musulmanes de l'Afrique Septentrionale De Ibn Khaldūn, William MacGuckin
  10. Barbary Pirates—Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911
  11. Rees Davies, British Slaves on the Barbary Coast, BBC, 1 July 2003
  12. Mackie, Erin Skye, Welcome the Outlaw: Pirates, Maroons, and Caribbean Countercultures Cultural Critique - 59, Winter 2005, pp. 24–62
  13., La démographie figurée de l'Algérie, op.cit., p.260 et 261.
  14. 'France - Republic, Monarchy, and Empire' By Keith Randell
  15. Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe, Andrea L. Smith, Indiana University Press, 2006
  16. " French 'reparation' for Algerians". BBC News. December 6, 2007.
  17. Khilafah - An overview of recent events in Algeria
  18. Arabic German Consulting . Retrieved 4 April 2006.
  19. See: and Burt, Christopher C. 'Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book (W.W. Norton Press, 2007)
  20. Algeria cancels weapons deal over Israeli parts
  21. Bin Ali calls for reactivating Arab Maghreb Union, Tunisia-Maghreb, Politics, 19 February 1999 . Retrieved 4 April 2006.
  22. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  23. Algeria Country Analysis Brief, EIA, March 2005. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  24. [U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. "World Refugee Survey 2008." Available Online at: pp.34]
  25. " Western Sahara’s Conflict Traps Refugees in Limbo". The New York Times. June 4, 2008.
  26. " WESTERN SAHARA: Lack of donor funds threatens humanitarian projects". IRIN Africa. September 5, 2007.
  27. Chinese, Algerians fight in Algiers - witnesses. Reuters. August 4, 2009.
  28., Jacques Leclerc, L’aménagement linguistique dans le monde. CIRAL (Centre international de recherche en aménagement linguistique)
  29. « Loi n° 02-03 portant révision constitutionnelle », adopted on 10 April 2002.
  30. Ibadis and Kharijis
  31. Top Chrétien
  32. Vodeo TV
  33. U.S. Department of State
  35. Tahar Djaout French Publishers' Agency and France Edition, Inc. Retrieved 4 April 2006.
  36. Mohammed Khadda official site. Retrieved 4 April 2006.


  • Ageron, Charles-Robert (1991). Modern Algeria. A History from 1830 to the Present. Translated from French and edited by Michael Brett. London: Hurst. ISBN 086543266X.
  • Aghrout, Ahmed and Bougherira, Redha M. (2004). Algeria in Transition: Reforms and Development Prospects. Routledge. ISBN 041534848X
  • Bennoune, Mahfoud (1988). The Making of Contemporary Algeria: Colonial Upheavals and Post-Independence Development, 1830–1987. Cambridge U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521301505.
  • Fanon, Frantz (1966). The Wretched of the Earth. Grove Press. ASIN B0007FW4AW, ISBN 0802141323 (2005 paperback).
  • Horne, Alistair (1977). A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962. Viking Adult. ISBN 0670619647, ISBN 1-59017-218-3 (2006 reprint)
  • Roberts, Hugh (2003). The Battlefield: Algeria, 1988–2002. Studies in a Broken Polity. London: Verso. ISBN 185984684X.
  • Ruedy, John (1992). Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253349982.
  • Stora, Benjamin (2001). Algeria, 1830–2000. A Short History. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801437156.

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