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Algeria
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Algeria

The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria is a country in northern Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the north, Tunisia in the northeast, Libya in the east, Niger in the southeast, Mali and Mauritania in the southwest, and Morocco in the west (the Moroccan border is closed [1]).

Al Jumhūrīyah al Jazā'irīyah
ad Dīmuqrāţīyah ash Sha'bīyah

الجمهوريّة الجزائرية
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: None
Official language Arabic
Capital Algiers
PresidentAbdelaziz Bouteflika
Prime MinisterAhmed Ouyahia
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 11th
2,381,740 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 34th
32,818,500
13.3/km²
Independence
 - Date
From France
July 5, 1962
Currency Algerian dinar
Time zone UTC +1
National anthem Kassaman
Internet TLD .DZ
Calling Code213

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links
10 Official government websites

History

Main article: History of Algeria

The native Berber population of Algeria has been under the rule of foreign occupants for much of the last 3000 years. The Phoenicians (1000 BC) and the Roman Republic (200 BC) were the most important of these, until the coming of the Arabs in the 8th century. However, the flow of conquests was not all one-way; in medieval times the Berber Fatimid dynasty, originating in Algeria, took over Egypt, although it soon afterwards abandoned North Africa.

Algeria was brought into the Ottoman Empire by Khair ad Din and his brother Aruj who made its coast a base for the corsairs; their privateering peaked in Algiers in the 1600's, after which the center of activity moved to Tripoli in Libya. On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded Algiers in 1830; however, intense resistance from such personalities as Emir Abdelkader made for a slow conquest of Algeria, not technically completed until the early 1900s when the last Tuareg were conquered.

Meanwhile, however, the French invaders had made Algeria into an integral part of metropolitan France, and more than a million French settlers moved across the Mediterranean to farm the Algerian coastal plain and occupy the most prized parts of Algeria's cities. People of French descent in Algeria were treated as French citizens like any other, with representation in Parliament, while native Arabs and Berbers were subjected to an intense apartheid-like system. In 1954, the National Liberation Front(FLN) launched the guerrilla Algerian war of independence; after nearly a decade of urban and rural warfare, they succeeded in pushing the French out in 1962.

Algeria's first president, the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella, was overthrown by his former ally and defense minister, Houari Boumédiènne in 1965. The country then enjoyed almost 25 years of relative stability under the one-party socialism of Boumedienne and his successors.

In the 1990s, Algeria was engulfed in a bloody civil war after the military prevented an Islamist political party, the Islamic Salvation Front from taking power following the country's first multiparty elections. More than 100,000 people were killed, often in unprovoked massacres of civilians, by guerrilla groups such as the Armed Islamic Group.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Algeria

The head of state is the President of the republic, who is elected to a 5-year term, renewable once. Algeria has universal suffrage. The President is the head of the Council of Ministers and of the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister who also is 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 5 years.

Provinces

Main article: Provinces of Algeria

Algeria is divided into 48 wilayas, or provinces:

Geography

Main article: Geography of Algeria

Most of the coastal area is hilly, sometimes even mountainous, and there are few good harbours. The area just south of the coast, known as the Tell, is fertile. Further south is the Atlas mountain range and the Sahara desert. Algiers, Oran and Constantine are the main cities.

Algeria's climate is arid and hot, although the coastal climate is mild, and the winters in the mountainous areas can be severe. Algeria is prone to sirocco, a hot dust- and sand-laden wind especially common in summer.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Algeria

The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the fifth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the second largest gas exporter; it ranks 14th in oil reserves.

Algeria has massive foreign debts. Algeria's financial and economic indicators improved during the mid-1990s, in part because of policy reforms supported by the IMF and debt rescheduling from the Paris Club. Algeria's finances in 2000 and 2001 benefited from the temporary spike 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 has had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards. In 2001, the government signed an Association Treaty with the European Union that will eventually lower tariffs and increase trade.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Algeria

About 90% of the Algerians lives in the northern, coastal area, although there are about 1.5 million Bedouin living in the southern desert. The mixed Berber and Arab population is mostly Islamic (99%); other religions are restricted to extremely small groups, mainly of foreigners.

The official language is Arabic, spoken natively in dialectal form ("Darja") by some 80% of the population; the other 20% or so speak Berber languages such as Kabyle and Chaouia, Tamahaq, (apart from one oasis, Tabelbala, where a dialect of Songhay is spoken.) French is widely known from schools, but is very rare as a native language.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Algeria

Rai, a locally developed pop music form, has great popularity in Algeria, and enjoys some popularity abroad as well, notably in France, where a large number of Algerians live. More traditional forms include Chaabi music (Algerian folk music), and Andalusi music, the "classical" music of Algeria, descended from the courtly tradition of Moorish Spain.

See also: Music of Algeria, List of Algerian writers

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Official government websites


[ Edit {}] Countries in Africa
Algeria | Angola | Benin | Botswana | Burkina Faso | Burundi | Cameroon | Cape Verde | Central African Republic | Chad | Comoros | Democratic Republic of the Congo | Republic of the Congo | Côte d'Ivoire | Djibouti | Egypt¹ | Equatorial Guinea | Eritrea | Ethiopia | Gabon | The Gambia | Ghana | Guinea | Guinea-Bissau | Kenya | Lesotho | Liberia | Libya | Madagascar | Malawi | Mali | Mauritania | Mauritius | Morocco | Mozambique | Namibia | Niger | Nigeria | Rwanda | São Tomé and Príncipe | Senegal | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Somalia | South Africa | Sudan | Swaziland | Tanzania | Togo | Tunisia | Uganda | Zambia | Zimbabwe
Other areas: Canary Islands | Madeira Islands | Mayotte | Réunion | Saint Helena | Western Sahara