Algeria Travel Information

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Facts About Algeria

Background: After a century of rule by France, Algeria became independent in 1962. The surprising first round success of the fundamentalist FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) party in December 1991 balloting caused the army to intervene, crack down on the FIS, and postpone the subsequent elections. The FIS response has resulted in a continuous low-grade civil conflict with the secular state apparatus, which nonetheless has allowed elections featuring pro-government and moderate religious-based parties. FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, dissolved itself in January 2000 and many armed insurgents surrendered under an amnesty program designed to promote national reconciliation. Nevertheless, some residual fighting continues. Other concerns include large-scale unemployment and the need to diversify the petroleum-based economy.
Government type: republic
Capital: Algiers
Currency: 1 Algerian dinar (DA) = 100 centimes

Geography of Algeria

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia
Geographic coordinates: 28 00 N, 3 00 E
Map references: Africa
total: 2,381,740 sq km
land: 2,381,740 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 6,343 km
border countries: Libya 982 km, Mali 1,376 km, Mauritania 463 km, Morocco 1,559 km, Niger 956 km, Tunisia 965 km, Western Sahara 42 km
Coastline: 998 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 32-52 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer
Terrain: mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Chott Melrhir -40 m
highest point: Tahat 3,003 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc
Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 13%
forests and woodland: 2%
other: 82% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 5,550 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mud slides
Environment - current issues: soil erosion from overgrazing and other poor farming practices; desertification; dumping of raw sewage, petroleum refining wastes, and other industrial effluents is leading to the pollution of rivers and coastal waters; Mediterranean Sea, in particular, becoming polluted from oil wastes, soil erosion, and fertilizer runoff; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note: second-largest country in Africa (after Sudan)

More Geography

People of Algeria

Ninety-one percent of the Algerian population lives along the Mediterranean coast on 12% of the country's total land mass. Forty-five percent of the population are urban, and urbanization continues, despite government efforts to discourage migration to the cities. About 1.5 million nomads and semi-settled bedouin still live in the Saharan area. According to 1986 data, 45% of the population is under age 15.

Nearly all Algerians are Muslim, of Arab, Berber, or mixed Arab-Berber stock. A mostly foreign Roman Catholic community of about 45,000 exists, as do very small Protestant and Jewish communities. As of January 2002, there were about 600 American citizens in the country, the majority of whom live and work in the oil/gas fields of the south.

Algeria's educational system has grown dramatically since 1962; in the last 12 years, attendance has doubled to more than 5 million students. Education is free and compulsory to age 16. Despite government allocation of substantial educational resources, population pressures and a serious shortage of teachers have severely strained the system, as has terrorism attacks against the educational infrastructure during the 1990s. Modest numbers of Algerian students study abroad, primarily in Europe and Canada. In 2000, the government launched a major review of the country's educational system.

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.

Population: 32,531,853 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  34.21% (male 5,528,755; female 5,328,083)
15-64 years:  61.72% (male 9,901,319; female 9,687,449)
65 years and over:  4.07% (male 594,973; female 695,474)
Population growth rate: 1.71% 
Birth rate: 22.76 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 5.22 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: -0.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 40.56 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  69.95 years
male:  68.6 years
female:  71.34 years
Total fertility rate: 2.72 children born/woman
noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
Religions: Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
Languages: Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 61.6%
male: 73.9%
female: 49% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Algeria > Map Economy History