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Coordinates: 28°N 2°E

People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
الجمهورية الجزائرية الديمقراطية الشعبية (Arabic)
Tagduda Tadzayrit Tamagdayt Taɣerfant (Berber)
Flag Emblem
Motto: بالشّعب وللشّعب (Arabic)
"By the people and for the people"
Anthem:  Kassaman
We Pledge by: Moufdi Zakaria
External audio file:
and largest city
36°42′N 3°13′E
Official languages Arabic
Other languages
Ethnic groups
  • 99% Arab-Berber
  • <1% Europeans
Demonym Algerian
Government Semi-presidential republic
 -  President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
 -  Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Council of the Nation
 -  Lower house People's National Assembly
Independence from France
 -  Recognized 3 July 1962 
 -  Declared 5 July 1962 
 -  Total 2,381,741 km2 ( 10th)
919,595 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2012 estimate 37,100,000
 -  2008 census 34,080,030
 -  Density 14.6/km2 ( 206th)
37.9/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $263.661 billion ( 47th)
 -  Per capita $7,333 ( 100th)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $190.709 billion ( 49th)
 -  Per capita $5,304 ( 93rd)
Gini (1995) 35.3
HDI (2013) Increase 0.713
high · 93rd
Currency Algerian dinar ( DZD)
Time zone CET ( UTC+01)
Drives on the right
Calling code +213
ISO 3166 code DZ
Internet TLD
  • .dz
  • الجزائر.

Algeria (English / æ l ˈ ɪ ə r i ə / Arabic: الجزائر‎, /al-jaza-ir/, Berber: ⴷⵣⴰⵢⴻⵔ, /ed-dzayer/), officially The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. Its capital and most populous city is Algiers. Algeria is a semi presidential republic, it consists of 48 provinces and 1541 communes. With a population exceeding 37 million, it is the 34th most populated country on Earth. With an economy based on oil resources, manufacturing has suffered, in what is called Dutch disease. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has the second largest army with the largest defense budget in Africa. Algeria had a peaceful Nuclear Program by the 90s.

With a total area of 2,381,741 square kilometres (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world and the largest in Africa, and in the Mediteranean. The country is bordered in the northeast by Tunisia, in the east by Libya, in the west by Morocco, in the southwest by Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Mali, in the southeast by Niger, and in the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League, OPEC and the United Nations, and is a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union.

The territory of today's Algeria was the home of many ancient prehistoric cultures including Aterian and Capsian cultures. Its area has known many empires and dynasties, including ancient Berber Numidians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arab Umayyads, Berber Fatimids, Berber Almohads and later Turkish Ottomans.


The country's name derives from the city of Algiers. The most common etymology links the city name to al-Jazā'ir (الجزائر, "The Islands"), a truncated form of the city's older name Jazā'ir Banī Mazghanna (جزائر بني مزغنة, "Islands of the Mazghanna Tribe"), employed by medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi. Others trace it to Ldzayer, the Maghrebi Arabic and Berber for "Algeria" possibly related to the Zirid Dynasty King Ziri ibn-Manad and founder of the city of Algiers.


Ancient history

Detail of Tassili rock paintings dating from about 3000 BC relating a probably lost civilization in what was known as the Green Sahara

At Ain Hanech region ( Saïda Province), early remnants (200,000 BC) of hominid occupation in North Africa were found. Neanderthal tool makers produced hand axes in the Levalloisian and Mousterian styles (43,000 BC) similar to those in the Levant.

Algeria was the site of the highest state of development of Middle Paleolithic Flake tool techniques. Tools of this era, starting about 30,000 BC, are called Aterian (after the archeological site of Bir el Ater, south of Annaba).

The earliest blade industries in North Africa are called Iberomaurusian (located mainly in Oran region). This industry appears to have spread throughout the coastal regions of the Maghreb between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. Neolithic civilization (animal domestication and agriculture) developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean Maghrib between 6000 and 2000 BC. This life, richly depicted in the Tassili n'Ajjer paintings, predominated in Algeria until the classical period.

The amalgam of peoples of North Africa coalesced eventually into a distinct native population that came to be called Berbers, who are the indigenous peoples of northern Africa.

Ancient Roman theatre in Djémila

From their principal centre of power at Carthage, the Carthaginians expanded and established small settlements along the North African coast; by 600 BC, a Phoenician presence existed at Tipasa, east of Cherchell, Hippo Regius (modern Annaba) and Rusicade (modern Skikda). These settlements served as market towns as well as anchorages.

As Carthaginian power grew, its impact on the indigenous population increased dramatically. Berber civilization was already at a stage in which agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and political organization supported several states. Trade links between Carthage and the Berbers in the interior grew, but territorial expansion also resulted in the enslavement or military recruitment of some Berbers and in the extraction of tribute from others.

Numidia along with Egypt, Rome, and Carthage 200 BCE

By the early 4th century BC, Berbers formed the single largest element of the Carthaginian army. In the Revolt of the Mercenaries, Berber soldiers rebelled from 241 to 238 BC after being unpaid following the defeat of Carthage in the First Punic War. They succeeded in obtaining control of much of Carthage's North African territory, and they minted coins bearing the name Libyan, used in Greek to describe natives of North Africa. The Carthaginian state declined because of successive defeats by the Romans in the Punic Wars.

In 146 BC the city of Carthage was destroyed. As Carthaginian power waned, the influence of Berber leaders in the hinterland grew. By the 2nd century BC, several large but loosely administered Berber kingdoms had emerged. Two of them were established in Numidia, behind the coastal areas controlled by Carthage. West of Numidia lay Mauretania, which extended across the Moulouya River in modern day Morocco to the Atlantic Ocean. The high point of Berber civilization, unequaled until the coming of the Almohads and Almoravids more than a millennium later, was reached during the reign of Massinissa in the 2nd century BC.

After Masinissa's death in 148 BC, the Berber kingdoms were divided and reunited several times. Massinissa's line survived until 24 AD, when the remaining Berber territory was annexed to the Roman Empire.

For several centuries Algeria was ruled by the Romans, who founded many colonies in the region. Like the rest of North Africa, Algeria was one of the breadbaskets of the empire, exporting cereals and other agricultural products. The Vandals of Geiseric moved into North Africa in 429, and by 435 controlled coastal Numidia. They did not make any significant settlement on the land. The region was later recaptured by the Eastern Roman Empire, which ruled it until the Muslim Conquest in the 7th century.

Middle Ages

Mansourah mosque, Tlemcen
Fatimid Caliphate 969 A.D.

When Muslim Arabs arrived in Algeria in the mid-7th century, a large number of locals converted to the new faith. After the fall of the Umayyad Arab Dynasty in 751, numerous local Berber dynasties emerged. Amongst those dynasties were the Aghlabids, Almohads, Abdalwadid, Zirids, Rustamids, Hammadids, Almoravids and the Fatimids. converted the Berber Kutama of the Petite Kabylie 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 and Banu Sulaym Arabian tribes who unexpectedly defeated the Zirids.

The Berber people controlled much of the Maghreb region throughout the Middle Ages. The Berbers were made up of several tribes. The two main branches were the Botr and Barnès tribes, who were divided into tribes, and again into sub-tribes. Each region of the Maghreb contained several tribes (for example, Sanhadja, Houaras, Zenata, Masmouda, Kutama, Awarba, and Berghwata). All these tribes were independent and made territorial decisions.

Several Berber dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages in Maghreb, Sudan, Andalusia, Sicily, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Egypt, and other nearby lands. Ibn Khaldun provides a table summarizing the Zirid, Banu Ifran, Maghrawa, Almoravid, Hammadid, Almohad, Merinid, Abdalwadid, Wattasid, Meknassa and Hafsid dynasties.

In the early 16th century, Spain constructed fortified outposts ( presidios) on or near the Algerian coast. Spain took control of Mers el Kebir in 1505; Oran in 1509; and Tlemcen, Mostaganem, and Ténès, in 1510. In the same year, the merchants of Algiers ceded one of the rocky islets in their harbour to Spain, which built a fort on it. The presidios in North Africa turned out to be a costly and largely ineffective military endeavor that did not guarantee access for Spain's merchant fleet.

Ottoman Algeria

Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha

In 1516 the Muslim privateer brothers Aruj and Hayreddin Barbarossa, who operated successfully under the Hafsids, moved their base of operations to Algiers. When Aruj was killed in 1518 during his invasion of Tlemcen, Hayreddin succeeded him as military commander of Algiers. The Ottoman sultan gave him the title of beylerbey and a contingent of some 2,000 janissaries. With the aid of this force, Hayreddin subdued the coastal region between Constantine and Oran (although the city of Oran remained in Spanish hands until 1791).

The next beylerbey was Hayreddin's son Hasan, who assumed the position in 1544. Until 1587 the area was governed by officers who served terms with no fixed limits. Subsequently, with the institution of a regular Ottoman administration, governors with the title of pasha ruled for three-year terms. The pasha was assisted by janissaries, known in Algeria as the ojaq and led by an agha. Discontent among the ojaq rose in the mid-1600s because they were not paid regularly, and they repeatedly revolted against the pasha. As a result, the agha charged the pasha with corruption and incompetence and seized power in 1659.

Plague had repeatedly struck the cities of North Africa. Algiers lost from 30,000 to 50,000 inhabitants to the plague in 1620–21, and suffered high fatalities in 1654–57, 1665, 1691, and 1740–42.

In 1671, the taifa rebelled, killed the agha, and placed one of its own in power. The new leader received the title of dey. After 1689, the right to select the dey passed to the divan, a council of some sixty notables. It was at first dominated by the ojaq; but by the 18th century, it had become the dey's instrument. In 1710, the dey persuaded the sultan to recognize him and his successors as regent, replacing the pasha in that role. Although Algiers remained a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman government ceased to have effective influence there.

The dey was in effect a constitutional autocrat. The dey was elected for a life term, but in the 159 years (1671-1830) that the system survived, fourteen of the twenty-nine deys were assassinated. Despite usurpation, military coups, and occasional mob rule, the day-to-day operation of government was remarkably orderly. Although the regency patronized the tribal chieftains, it never had the unanimous allegiance of the countryside, where heavy taxation frequently provoked unrest. Autonomous tribal states were tolerated, and the regency's authority was seldom applied in the Kabylie.

Privateers era

Christian slaves in Algiers, 1706

The Barbary pirates preyed on Christian and other non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea. The pirates often took the passengers and crew on the ships and sold them or used them as slaves. They also did a brisk business in ransoming some of the captives. According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. They often made raids, called Razzias, on European coastal towns to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire.

In 1544, Hayreddin captured the island of Ischia, taking 4,000 prisoners, and enslaved some 9,000 inhabitants of Lipari, almost the entire population. In 1551, Turgut Reis enslaved the entire population of the Maltese island of Gozo, between 5,000 and 6,000, sending the captives to Libya. In 1554, pirates sacked Vieste in southern Italy and took an estimated 7,000 captives as slaves.

In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadella (Minorca), destroyed it, slaughtered the inhabitants and took 3,000 survivors as slaves to Istanbul. Barbary pirates often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response, the residents built many coastal watchtowers and fortified churchesd. The threat was so severe that residents abandoned the island of Formentera.

Between 1609 to 1616, England lost 466 merchant ships to Barbary pirates. In the 19th century, the pirates forged affiliations with Caribbean powers, paying a "license tax" in exchange for safe harbour of their vessels. One American slave reported that the Algerians had enslaved 130 American seamen in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from 1785 to 1793.

Piracy on American vessels in the Mediterranean resulted in the United States initiating the First (1801–1805) and Second Barbary Wars (1815). Following those wars, Algeria was weaker, and Europeans, with an Anglo-Dutch fleet commanded by the British Lord Exmouth, attacked Algiers. After a nine-hour bombardment, they obtained a treaty from the Dey that reaffirmed the conditions imposed by Decatur (US navy) concerning the demands of tributes. In addition, the Dey agreed to end the practice of enslaving Christians.

French Algeria

The "Fan Affair" which was the pretext for the invasion.

On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded and captured 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. The population of Algeria, which stood at about 1.5 million in 1830, reached nearly 11 million in 1960. French policy was predicated on "civilizing" the country, although its literacy rate of 50% in 1830, according to some Algerian historians, exceeded that of France. Algeria's social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted. During this period, a small but influential French-speaking indigenous elite was formed, made up of Berbers mostly from Kabyles.

In the French policy of "divide to reign," its government favored the Kabyles. About 80% of Indigenous Schools were constructed for Kabyles.

From 1848 until independence, France administered the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria as an integral part and département of the nation. One of France's longest-held overseas territories, Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, who became known as colons and later, as pieds-noirs. Between 1825 and 1847, 50,000 French people emigrated to Algeria. These settlers benefited from the French government's confiscation of communal land from tribal peoples, and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land.

Gradually, dissatisfaction among the Muslim population, which lacked political and economic status in the colonial system, gave rise to demands for greater political autonomy, and eventually independence, from France. Tensions between the two population groups came to a head in 1954, when the first violent events of what was later called the Algerian War began. Historians have estimated that between 30,000 and 150,000 Harkis and their dependents were killed by the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) or by lynch mobs in Algeria. The FLN used terrorist attacks in Algeria and France as part of its war, and the French conducted severe reprisals and repression. The war concluded in 1962, when Algeria gained complete independence following the March 1962 Evian agreements and the July 1962 self-determination referendum.


Houari Boumedienne (1966)

Algeria's first president was the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella. Morocco's claim to portions of western Algeria led to the Sand War in 1963. Ben Bella was overthrown in 1965 by Houari Boumédienne, his former ally and defense minister. Under Ben Bella, the government had become increasingly socialist and authoritarian; Boumédienne continued this trend. But, he relied much more on the army for his support, and reduced the sole legal party to a symbolic role. He collectivised agriculture and launched a massive industrialization drive. Oil extraction facilities were nationalized. This was especially beneficial to the leadership after the international 1973 oil crisis.

In the 1960s and 70s under President Houari Boumediene, Algeria pursued a programme of industrialisation within a state-controlled socialist economy. Boumediene’s successor, Chadli Bendjedid, introduced some liberal economic reforms. He promoted a policy of Arabisation in Algerian society and public life. Teachers of Arabic, brought in from other Muslim countries, spread radical Islamic thought in schools and sowed the seeds of political Islamism.

The Algerian economy became increasingly dependent on oil, leading to hardship when the price collapsed during the 1980s oil glut. Economic recession caused by the crash in world oil prices resulted in Algerian social unrest during the 1980s; by the end of the decade, Bendjedid introduced a multi-party system. Political parties developed, such as the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS), a broad coalition of Islamist groups.

Civil War and aftermath

In December 1991 the Front Islamique du Salut dominated the first of two rounds of legislative elections. Fearing the election of an Islamist government, the authorities intervened on 11 January 1992, cancelling the elections. Bendjedid resigned and a High Council of State was installed to act as Presidency. It banned the FIS, triggering a civil insurgency between its armed wing, the Armed Islamic Group, and the national armed forces, in which more than 100,000 persons are thought to have died. The Armed Islamic Group declared a ceasefire in October 1997.

Algeria held elections in 1999, which were won by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He worked to restore political stability to the country and announced a ‘Civil Concord’ initiative, approved in a referendum, under which many political prisoners were pardoned, and several thousand members of armed groups were granted exemption from prosecution under a limited amnesty, in force until 13 January 2000. The AIS disbanded and levels of insurgent violence fell rapidly. The Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC), a splinter group of the Group Islamic Armée, continued a terrorist campaign against the Government.

Bouteflika was re-elected in the April 2004 presidential election after campaigning on a programme of national reconciliation. The programme comprised economic, institutional, political and social reform to modernise the country, raise living standards, and tackle the causes of alienation. It also included a second amnesty initiative, the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, which was approved in a referendum in September 2005. It offered amnesty to most guerrillas and Government security forces.

In November 2008, the Algerian Constitution was amended following a vote in Parliament, removing the two-term limit on Presidential incumbents. This change enabled Bouteflika to stand for re-election in the 2009 presidential elections, and he was re-elected in April 2009. During his election campaign and following his re-election, Bouteflika promised to extend the programme of national reconciliation and a $150-billion spending programme to create three million new jobs, the construction of one million new housing units, and to continue public sector and infrastructure modernisation programmes.

A continuing series of protests throughout the country started on 28 December 2010, inspired by similar protests across the Middle East and North Africa. On 24 February 2011, the government lifted Algeria's 19-year-old state of emergency. The government enacted legislation dealing with political parties, the electoral code, and the representation of women in elected bodies. In April 2011, Bouteflika promised further constitutional and political reform.


The Sahara, the Ahaggar and the Atlas mountains compose the Algerian relief

Algeria is the largest country in Africa, the Arab world, and the Mediterranean Basin. Its southern part includes a significant portion of the Sahara. To the north, the Tell Atlas form with the Saharan Atlas, further south, two parallel sets of reliefs in approaching eastbound, and between which are inserted vast plains and highlands. Both Atlas tend to merge in eastern Algeria. The vast mountain ranges of Aures and Nememcha occupy the entire northeastern Algeria and are delineated by the Tunisian border. The highest point is Mount Tahat (3,003 m).

Algeria lies mostly between latitudes 19° and 37°N (a small area is north of 37°), and longitudes 9°W and 12°E. 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 Atlas is fertile. South of the Tell Atlas is a steppe landscape ending with the Saharan Atlas; farther south, there is the Sahara desert.

The Ahaggar Mountains (Arabic: جبال هقار‎), also known as the Hoggar, are a highland region in central Sahara, southern Algeria. They are located about 1,500 km (932 mi) south of the capital, Algiers, and just west of Tamanghasset. Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Tizi Ouzou and Annaba are Algeria's main cities.

Climate and hydrology

An oasis in the Hoggar

In this region, midday desert temperatures can be hot year round. 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 official temperature was 50.6 °C (123.1 °F) at In Salah.

Rainfall is fairly plentiful along the coastal part of the Tell Atlas, ranging from 400 to 670 mm (15.7 to 26.4 in) 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 1,000 mm (39.4 in) 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. Among these, in the summer time when winds are heavy and gusty, temperatures can get up to 110 °F (43.3 °C).

Fauna and Flora

Cedrus of Chélia in the Aures

The varied vegetation of Algeria includes coastal, mountainous and grassy desert-like regions which all support a wide range of wildlife. Many of the creatures comprising the Algerian wildlife live in close proximity to civilization. The most commonly seen animals include the wild boars, jackals, and gazelles, although it is not uncommon to spot fennecs (foxes), and jerboas. Algeria also has a few panther, leopard and cheetah populations, but these are seldom seen.

A variety of bird species makes the country an attraction for bird watchers. The forests are inhabited by boars and jackals. Barbary macaques are the sole native monkey. Snakes, monitor lizards, and numerous other reptiles can be found living among an array of rodents throughout the semi arid regions of Algeria. Many animals are now extinct, among which the Barbary lions and bears.

In the north, some of the native flora includes Macchia scrub, olive trees, oaks, cedars and other conifers. The mountain regions contain large forests of evergreens ( Aleppo pine, juniper, and evergreen oak) and some deciduous trees. Fig, eucalyptus, agave, and various palm trees grow in the warmer areas. The grape vine is indigenous to the coast. In the Sahara region, some oases have palm trees. Acacias with wild olives are the predominant flora in the remainder of the Sahara.

Camels are used extensively; the desert also abounds with poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes, scorpions, and numerous insects.


The People's National Assembly

Algeria is an authoritarian regime, according to the Democracy Index 2010. The Freedom of the Press 2009 report gives it rating "Not Free".

Elected politicians are considered to have relatively little sway over Algeria. Instead, a group of unelected civilian and military "décideurs", known as "le pouvoir" ("the power"), actually rule the country, even deciding who should be president. The most powerful man may be Mohamed Mediène, head of the military intelligence. In recent years, many of these generals have died or retired. After the death of General Larbi Belkheir, Bouteflika put loyalists in key posts, notably at Sonatrach, and secured constitutional amendments that make him re-electable indefinitely.

The head of state is the president of Algeria, who is elected for a five-year term. The president was formerly limited to two five-year terms, but a constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament on 11 November 2008 removed this limitation. Algeria has universal suffrage at 18 years of age. The President is the head of the army, the Council of Ministers the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister who is also the head of government.

The Algerian parliament is bicameral; the lower house, the People's National Assembly, has 462 members who are directly elected for five-year terms, while the upper house, the Council of the Nation, has 144 members serving six-year terms, of which 96 members are chosen by local assemblies and 48 are appointed by the president. According to the constitution, no political association may be formed if it is "based on differences in religion, language, race, gender, profession or region". In addition, political campaigns must be exempt from the aforementioned subjects.

Parliamentary elections were last held in May 2012, and were judged to be largely free by international monitors, though local groups alleged fraud and irregularities. In the elections, the FLN won 221 seats, the military-backed National Rally for Democracy won 70, and the Islamist Green Algeria Alliance won 47.

Foreign relations

In October 2009, Algeria cancelled a weapons deal with France over the possibility of inclusion of Israeli parts in them.

Tensions between Algeria and Morocco in relation to the Western Sahara have been an obstacle to tightening the Arab Maghreb Union, nominally established in 1989, but which has carried little practical weight.


Algerian sailors conducting maritime interdiction operations

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).

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 18 months (six training and 12 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.

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

Provinces and districts

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.

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:

# Wilaya Area (km2) Population map # Wilaya Area (km2) Population
1 Adrar 402,197 439,700
Algeria provinces numbered2.png
25 Constantine 2,187 943,112
2 Chlef 4,975 1,013,718 26 Médéa 8,866 830,943
3 Laghouat 25,057 477,328 27 Mostaganem 2,269 746,947
4 Oum El Bouaghi 6,768 644,364 28 M'Sila 18,718 991,846
5 Batna 12,192 1,128,030 29 Mascara 5,941 780,959
6 Béjaïa 3,268 915,835 30 Ouargla 211,980 552,539
7 Biskra 20,986 730,262 31 Oran 2,114 1,584,607
8 Béchar 161,400 274,866 32 El Bayadh 78,870 262,187
9 Blida 1,696 1,009,892 33 Illizi 285,000 54,490
10 Bouïra 4,439 694,750 34 Bordj Bou Arréridj 4,115 634,396
11 Tamanrasset 556,200 198,691 35 Boumerdes 1,591 795,019
12 Tébessa 14,227 657,227 36 El Taref 3,339 411,783
13 Tlemcen 9,061 945,525 37 Tindouf 58,193 159,000
14 Tiaret 20,673 842,060 38 Tissemsilt 3,152 296,366
15 Tizi Ouzou 3,568 1,119,646 39 El Oued 54,573 673,934
16 Algiers 273 2,947,461 40 Khenchela 9,811 384,268
17 Djelfa 66,415 1,223,223 41 Souk Ahras 4,541 440,299
18 Jijel 2,577 634,412 42 Tipaza 2,166 617,661
19 Sétif 6,504 1,496,150 43 Mila 9,375 768,419
20 Saïda 6,764 328,685 44 Ain Defla 4,897 771,890
21 Skikda 4,026 904,195 45 Naâma 29,950 209,470
22 Sidi Bel Abbès 9,150 603,369 46 Ain Timouchent 2,376 384,565
23 Annaba 1,439 640,050 47 Ghardaia 86,105 375,988
24 Guelma 4,101 482,261 48 Relizane 4,870 733,060


Graphical depiction of the country's exports in 28 colour-coded categories.

Algeria is classified as an upper middle income country by the World Bank. The economy remains dominated by the state, a legacy of the country's socialist post-independence development model. In recent years the Algerian Government has halted the privatization of state-owned industries and imposed restrictions on imports and foreign involvement in its economy.

Algeria has struggled to develop industries outside of hydrocarbons in part because of high costs and an inert state bureaucracy. The government's efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector have done little to reduce high youth unemployment rates or to address housing shortages. The country is facing a number of short-term and medium-term problems, including the need to diversify the economy, strengthen political, economic and financial reforms, improve the business climate and reduce inequalities amongst regions.

A wave of economic protests in February and March 2011 prompted the Algerian Government to offer more than $23 billion in public grants and retroactive salary and benefit increases. Public spending has increased by 27% annually during the past five years. The 2010-14 public-investment programme will cost US$ 286 billion, 40% of which will go to human development.

The Algerian economy grew by 2.6% in 2011, driven by public spending, in particular in the construction and public-works sector, and by growing internal demand. If hydrocarbons are excluded, growth has been estimated at 4.8%. Growth of 3.1% is expected in 2012, rising to 4.2% in 2013. The rate of inflation was 3.9% and the budget deficit 3% of GDP. The current-account surplus is estimated at 9.3% of GDP and at the end of December 2011, official reserves were put at US$ 182.2 billion. Inflation, the lowest in the region, has remained stable at 4% on average between 2003 and 2007.

In 2011 Algeria announced a budgetary surplus of $26.93 billion, 62.46% increase in comparison to 2010 surplus. In general, the country exported $73.39 billion worth of commodities while it imported $46.45 billion.

Thanks to strong hydrocarbon revenues, Algeria has a cushion of $173 billion in foreign currency reserves and a large hydrocarbon stabilization fund. In addition, Algeria's external debt is extremely low at about 2% of GDP. The economy remains very dependent on hydrocarbon wealth, and, despite high foreign exchange reserves (US$178 billion, equivalent to three years of imports), current expenditure growth makes Algeria’s budget more vulnerable to the risk of prolonged lower hydrocarbon revenues.

In 2011, the agricultural sector and services recorded growth of 10% and 5.3%, respectively. About 14% of the labor force are employed in the agricultural sector. Fiscal policy in 2011 remained expansionist and made it possible to maintain the pace of public investment and to contain the strong demand for jobs and housing.

Algeria has not joined the WTO, despite several years of negotiations.

In March 2006, Russia agreed to erase $4.74 billion of Algeria's Soviet-era debt during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the country, the first by a Russian leader in half a century. In return, Algerian President Abdelaziz 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.


Refinery located in Sidi Arcine ( Baraki, Algiers)

Algeria, whose economy is reliant on petroleum, has been an OPEC member since 1969. Its crude oil production stands at around 1.1 million barrels/day, but it is also a major gas producer and exporter, with important links to Europe. Hydrocarbons have long been the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the 10th-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the sixth-largest gas exporter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2005, Algeria had 160 trillion cubic feet (4.5×10^12 m3) of proven natural-gas reserves. It also ranks 16th in oil reserves.

Non-hydrocarbon growth for 2011 was projected at 5%. To cope with social demands, the authorities raised expenditure, especially on basic food support, employment creation, support for SMEs, and higher salaries. High hydrocarbon prices have improved the current account and the already large international reserves position.

Income from oil and gas rose in 2011 as a result of continuing high oil prices, though the trend in production volume is downwards. Production from the oil and gas sector in terms of volume, continues to decline, dropping from 43.2 million tonnes to 32 million tonnes between 2007 and 2011. Nevertheless, the sector accounted for 98% of the total volume of exports in 2011 and 70% of budgetary receipts, or USD 71.4 billion.

The Algerian national oil company is Sonatrach, which plays a key role in all aspects of the oil and natural gas sectors in Algeria. All foreign operators must work in partnership with Sonatrach, which usually has majority ownership in production-sharing agreements.

Labour market

Despite a decline in total unemployment, youth and women unemployment is high. Unemployment particularly affects the young, with a jobless rate of 21.5% among the 15-24 age group.

The overall rate of unemployment was 10% in 2011, but remained higher among young people, with a rate of 21.5% for those aged between 15 and 24. The government strengthened in 2011 the job programmes introduced in 1988, in particular in the framework of the programme to aid those seeking work (Dispositif d’Aide à l’Insertion Professionnelle).


The development of the tourism sector in Algeria had previously been hampered by a lack of facilities, but since 2004 a broad tourism development strategy has been implemented resulting in many hotels of a high modern standard being built.

There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Algeria including Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad, the first capital of the Hammadid empire; Tipasa, a Phoenician and later Roman town; and Djémila and Timgad, both Roman ruins; M'Zab Valley, a limestone valley containing a large urbanized oasis; also the Casbah of Algiers is an important citadel. The only natural World Heritage Sites is the Tassili n'Ajjer, a mountain range.


The main highway relaying the Moroccan to the Tunisian borders, was a part of the Cairo–Dakar Highway project

The Algerian road network is the most dense of the African continent, its length is estimated at 180,000 km of highways, with a rate of more than 3 756 structures and coating of 85%. This network should be complemented by a major highway infrastructure being completed, the East-West Highway. It is a 3-way 1 216 km, linking the city of Annaba in the extreme east to the city of Tlemcen in the far West. Algeria is also crossed by the Trans-Sahara Highway, which is now totally paved. This road is pushed forward by the Algerian Government to increase trade between the six countries crossed (Algeria, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Tunisia).


Historical populations (in thousands)
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1856 2,496
1872 2,416 -0.2%
1886 3,752 3.14%
1906 4,721 1.15%
1926 5,444 0.71%
1931 5,902 1.62%
1936 6,510 1.96%
1948 7,787 1.49%
1954 8,615 1.68%
1966 12,022 2.78%
1977 16,948 3.12%
1987 23,051 3.08%
1998 29,113 2.12%
2008 34,080 1.58%
Source: (1856-1872) (1886-2008)

As of a January 2010 estimate, Algeria's population was 34.9 million, who are mainly Arab-Berber ethnically. At the outset of the 20th century, its population was approximately four million. About 90% of Algerians live in the northern, coastal area; the inhabitants of the Sahara desert are mainly concentrated in oases, although some 1.5 million remain nomadic or partly nomadic. More than 25% of Algerians are under the age of 15.

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

USCRI estimates that 95,700 refugees and asylum-seekers have sought refuge in Algeria. This includes roughly 90,000 from Western Sahara and 4,100 from Palestine. Between 90,000 and 165,000 Sahrawis from Western Sahara live in the Sahrawi refugee camps, in western Algerian Sahara desert. As of 2009, 35,000 Chinese migrant workers lived in Algeria.

The largest concentration of Algerian migrants outside Algeria is in France, which has reportedly over 1.7 million Algerians of up to the 2nd generation.

Ethnic groups

Algerians in traditional clothes

The Berbers are the indigenous ethnic group of Algeria and are believed to be the ancestral stock on which elements from the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks as well as other ethnic groups have contributed to the ethnic makeup of Algeria. Descendants of Andalusian refugees are also present in the population of Algiers and other cities.

The overwhelming majority of Algerians are Berbers in origins, but a majority identifies with an Arabic-based culture. Berbers are divided into many groups with varying languages. The largest of these are the Kabyles, who live in the Kabylie region east of Algiers, the Chaoui of North-East Algeria, the Tuaregs in the southern desert and the Shenwa people of North Algeria.

There is also a minority of about 600,000 to 2 million Algerian Turks, descendants of Turks who came to the region during the Ottoman rule in North Africa. Today's Turkish descendants are often called Kouloughlis, meaning descendants of Turkish men and native Algerian women.

During the colonial period, there was a large (15.2% in 1962) European population who became known as Pieds-Noirs. They were primarily of French origin, but there were also Spanish colonists in the west of the country, Italians and Maltese in the east, and other Europeans such as Greeks in smaller numbers. Almost all of this population left during the war of independence or immediately after its end.


Traffic sign in Isser in three languages: Arabic, Berber, and French

Modern Standard Arabic is the official language. Algerian Arabic (Darja) is the language used by the majority of the population. The dialectic variant was also influenced by the French language.

Berber is spoken by one fourth of the population and has been recognized as a " national language" by the constitutional amendment since 8 May 2002. The Kabyle language, the predominant Berber language, is taught and is partially co-official (with a few restrictions) in parts of Kabylie.

Although French has no official status, Algeria is the second largest Francophone country in the world in terms of speakers and French is still widely used in the government, the culture, the media (newspapers) and the education system (since primary school) due to Algeria's colonial history. It can be regarded as being the de facto co-official language of Algeria. In 2008, 11.2 million Algerians could read and write in French.

Algeria emerged as a bilingual state after 1962. Colloquial Algerian Arabic is spoken by about 72% of the population and Berber by 27-30%.


Religion in Algeria, 2010
Religion Percent

Islam is the predominant religion with 99% of the population. Almost all Algerian Muslims follow Sunni Islam, with the exception of some 200,000 Ibadis in the M'zab Valley in the region of Ghardaia.

There are an estimated 10,000 Christians in Algeria as of 2008.

Nearly all of Algeria's Jewish community emigrated following the country's independence, although a very small number of Algerian Jews continue to live in Algiers.


Below is a list of the most important Algerian cities:


Algerian musicians in Tlemcen. Painting by Bachir Yellès

Modern Algerian literature, split between Arabic, Kabyle and French, has been strongly influenced by the country's recent history. Famous novelists of the 20th century include Mohammed Dib, Albert Camus, Kateb Yacine and Ahlam Mosteghanemi 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.

Malek Bennabi and Frantz Fanon are noted for their thoughts on decolonization; Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste (modern-day Souk Ahras); and Ibn Khaldun, though born in Tunis, wrote the Muqaddima while staying in Algeria. 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 Madaurus (Mdaourouch), in what later became Algeria.

Contemporary Algerian cinema is various in terms of genre, exploring a wider range of themes and issues. There has been a transition from cinema which focused on the war of independence to films more concerned with the everyday lives of Algerians.


Hamid Tibouchi, a painter and calligrapher

Algerian painters, like Mohamed Racim or Baya, attempted to revive the prestigious Algerian past prior to French colonization, at the same time that they have contributed to the preservation of the authentic values of Algeria. In this line, Mohamed Temam,Abdelkhader Houamel have also returned through this art, scenes from the history of the country, the habits and customs of the past and the country life. Other new artistic currents including the one of M'hamed Issiakhem, Mohammed Khadda and Bachir Yelles, appeared on the scene of Algerian painting, abandoning figurative classical painting to find new pictorial ways, in order to adapt Algerian paintings to the new realities of the country through its struggle and its aspirations. Mohammed Khadda and M'hamed Issiakhem have been notable in recent years.


The historic roots of Algerian literature goes back to the Numidian era, when Apuleius wrote The Golden Ass, the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety. This period had also known Augustine of Hippo, Nonius Marcellus and Martianus Capella among many others. The Middle Ages have known many Arabic writers who revolutionized the Arab world literature with authors like Ahmad al-Buni and Ibn Manzur and Ibn Khaldoun who wrote the Muqaddimah while staying in Algeria, and many others.

Albert Camus was an Algerian-born French pied-noir author. In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

Kateb Yacine

Today Algeria contains, in its literary landscape, big names having not only marked the Algerian literature, but also the universal literary heritage in Arabic and French.

As a first step, Algerian literature was marked by works whose main concern was the assertion of the Algerian national entity, there is the publication of novels as the Algerian trilogy of Mohammed Dib, or even Nedjma of Kateb Yacine novel which is often regarded as a monumental and major work. Other known writers will contribute to the emergence of Algerian literature whom include Mouloud Feraoun, Malek Bennabi, Malek Haddad, Moufdi Zakaria, Ibn Badis, Mohamed Laïd Al-Khalifa, Mouloud Mammeri, Frantz Fanon, and Assia Djebar.

In the aftermath of the independence, several new authors emerged on the Algerian literary scene, they will attempt through their works to expose a number of social problems, among them there are Rachid Boudjedra, Rachid Mimouni, Leila Sebbar, Tahar Djaout and Tahir Wattar.

Currently, a part of Algerian writers tends to be defined in a literature of shocking expression, due to the terrorism that occurred during the 1990s, the other party is defined in a different style of literature who staged an individualistic conception of the human adventure. Among the most noted recent works, there is the writer, the swallows of Kabul and the attack of Yasmina Khadra, the oath of barbarians of Boualem Sansal, memory of the flesh of Ahlam Mosteghanemi and the last novel by Assia Djebar nowhere in my father's House.


Chaâbi music is a typically Algerian musical genre characterized by specific rhythms and of Qacidate (Popular poems) in Arabic dialect. The undisputed master of this music is El Hadj M'Hamed El Anka. The Constantinois Malouf style is saved by musician from whom Mohamed Tahar Fergani is one of the best performers.

Folk music styles include Bedouin music, characterized by the poetic songs based on long kacida (poems); Kabyle music, based on a rich repertoire that is poetry and old tales passed through generations; Shawiya music, a folklore from diverse areas of the Aurès Mountains.Rahaba music style is unique to the Aures. Souad Massi is a becoming famous Algerian singer of traditional songs. Other Algerian singers of the diaspora include Manel Filali in Germany and Kenza Farah in France. Tergui music is sung in Tuareg languages generally, Tinariwen had a world wide success. Finally, the staïfi music is born in Sétif and remains a unique style of its kind.

Modern music is available in several facets, Raï music is a style typical of Western Algeria. Rap, relatively recent style in Algeria, is experiencing significant growth.


Omar Hammadi Stadium in Algiers

Games already existed during antiquity. In the Aures, people played several games such As El Kherdba or El khergueba (chess variant). Playing cards, checkers and chess games are part of Algerian culture. Racing ( fantasia) and the rifle shooting are part of cultural recreation of the Algerians.

The first Algerian, Arab and African gold medalist is Boughera El Ouafi in 1928 Olympics of Amsterdam in the Marathon. The second Algerian Medalist was Alain Mimoun in 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. Several men and women were champions in athletics in the 1990s including Noureddine Morceli, Hassiba Boulmerka, Nouria Merah-Benida, and Taoufik Makhloufi, all specialized in middle distance running.

Football is the most popular sport in Algeria. Several names are engraved in the history of the sport, including Lakhdar Belloumi, Rachid Mekhloufi, Hassen Lalmas, Rabah Madjer, Salah Assad and Djamel Zidane. The Algeria national football team qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, 1986 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup. In addition, several football clubs have won continental and international trophies as the club ES Sétif or JS Kabylia. The Algerian Football Federation is an association of Algeria football clubs organizing national competitions and international matches of the selection of Algeria national football team.


A Couscous based Salad

Algerian cuisine is rich and diverse. The country was considered as the "granary of Rome". It offers a component of dishes and varied dishes, depending on the region and according to the seasons. This cuisine uses cereals as the main products, since always it is produced with abundance in the country. There is not a dish where cereals are not present.

Algerian cuisine varies from one region to another, according to seasonal vegetables. It can be prepared using meat, fish, vegetables. Among the dishes known, couscous, the chorba, the Rechta, the Chakhchoukha, the Berkoukes, the Shakshouka, the Mthewem, the Chtitha, the Mderbel, the Dolma, the Brik or Bourek, the Garantita, Lham'hlou, etc. Merguez sausage is very used in Algeria, but it differs, depending on the region and on the added spices.

The cakes are marketed and can the found in cities either in Algeria or in Europe or North America. However, traditional cakes made at home have a vast directory of revenue, according to the habits and customs of each family. Among these cakes, there are Tamina, Chrik, Garn logzelles, Griouech, Kalb el-louz, Makroud, Mbardja, Mchewek, Samsa, Tcharak, Baghrir, Khfaf, Zlabia, Aarayech, Ghroubiya, Mghergchette. The Algerian pastry also contains Tunisian or French cakes and it is marketed. The bread may be cooked such as Kessra or Khmira or Harchaya, chopsticks and so-called washers Khoubz dar or Matloue.


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% of the population in urban areas and 80% of the population in rural areas. Some 99% of Algerians living in urban areas, but only 82% 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.

Health records have been maintained in Algeria since 1882 and began adding Muslims living in the South to their Vital record database in 1905 during French rule.


Algiers Medical School

Since the 1970s, in a centralized system that was designed to significantly reduce the rate of illiteracy, the Algerian Government introduced a decree by which the school became compulsory for all children aged between 6 and 15 years who have the ability to track their learning through the 20 facilities built since independence, now the literacy rate is around 78.7%.

Since 1972, Arabic is used as the language of instruction during the first nine years of schooling. From the third year, French is taught and it is also the language of instruction for science classes. The students can also learn English, Italian, Spanish and German. In 2008, new programs at the elementary appeared, therefore the compulsory schooling does not start at the age of six anymore, but at the age of five. Apart from the 122 private, learning at school, the Universities of the State are free of charge. After nine years of primary school, students can go to the high school or to an educational institution. The school offers two programs: general or technical. At the end of the third year of secondary school, students pass the exam of the Bachelor's degree, which allows once it is successful to pursue graduate studies in universities and institutes.

Education is officially compulsory for children between the ages of six and 15. In 2008, the illiteracy rate for people over 10 was 22.3%, 15.6% for men and 29.0% for women. The province with the lowest rate of illiteracy was Algiers Province at 11.6%, while the province with the highest rate was Djelfa Province at 35.5%.

Algeria has 26 universities and 67 institutions of higher education, which must accommodate a million Algerians and 80,000 foreign students in 2008. The University of Algiers, founded in 1879, is the oldest, it offers education in various disciplines (law, medicine, science and letters). 25 of these universities and almost all of the institutions of higher education were founded after the independence of the country.

Even if some of them offer instruction in Arabic like areas of law and the economy, most of the other sectors as science and medicine continue to be provided in French and English. Among the most important universities, there are the University of sciences and technology Houari Boumediene, the University of Mentouri Constantine, Oran Es-Senia University. Best universities of qualifications remain the University of Tlemcen and Batna Hadj Bereket, they occupy the 26th and 45th row in Africa, which is a very bad standing.

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