Description of Algeria
Algeria is located on the Mediterranean coast in North Africa. The most populated city and capital of the country is Algiers. It is the 10th largest country of the world with its total area being 2,381,741 kilometers squared. Algeria shares borders with Tunisia in the northeast, Libya on the east, Morocco on the west, Western Sahara on the southwest, Niger in the south east, and the Mediterranean Sea on the north.
There were many ancient prehistoric cultures that called this area home. This includes Aterian and Capsian. There have been several dynasties and empires in the region as well. This includes the Numidians, the Phoenecians, the Carthaginians, romans, Byzantines, Vandals, Umayyad’s, Abbasids, Fatimid’s, Almoravids, Almohads, the Turkish Ottomans, and a French Colonial empire.
The country is now a semi-presidential republic. There are 48 provinces as well as 1541 communes located in the country. The population of Algeria is roughly 37.9 million. Abdelaziz Boutefilka is the president of the country and has been since 1999, winning 4 elections in a row.
The economy of the country is based mainly on hydrocarbons. Algeria supplies a lot of natural gas to Europe. This makes energy exports the main aspect of the economy. OPEC states that Algeria has the 17th largest amount of reserves in the world, and the 2nd largest amount of reserves in Africa. The largest company in all of Africa is Sonatrach, which is a national oil company from Algeria.
The country has the 2nd largest military in all of northern Africa and also boasts the biggest defense budget of the continent. Since the 1990s the country has had a peaceful nuclear program. The country is a member of the Arab League, the African Union, as well as the United Nations. The country was one of the founding members for the Arab Maghreb Union.
Algeria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs during the middle of the 7th century. During this time many locals converted to the Muslim faith. There were several Berber dynasties that merged together after the Umayyad Arab dynasty fell in 751.
The first president of the country was Ahmed Ben Bella. In 1963, Morocco’s claim to sections of the western part of the country led to the Sand War. Bella was overthrown in the year 1965 by Houari Boumediene. The government had become quite socialist and authoritarian during Bella’s reign and Boumediene continued this trend. Boumediene created a massive industrialization drive and also collectivized agriculture during his reign as president. He also nationalized oil extraction facilities.
During the 60s and 70s under Boumediene, the country pursued an industrialization program that would take place inside the state controlled socialist economy. His successor, Bendjedid, would introduce more liberal economic reforms. Bendjedid promoted an Arabisation policy in Algerian public life and society. He brought in teachers of Arabic from other Muslim countries, which spread political Islamism throughout the schools and the country.
Throughout the years there has been political unrest in the country. Protests that began on the 28th of December in 2010 were inspired by protests from other areas across the northern part of Africa and the Middle East. The government has enacted legislation to help deal with political parties, the representation of women in elected positions, and the electoral code. However, there are still critics of the election process in the country as opposition group’s state that they are unfair and human rights groups state that media censorship as well as harassment of opponents continues.
When visiting Algeria, one thing that you simply must do is visit the Tassilli-National Park. The park is located in the southern part of the country and offers you the chance to travel on camels throughout the Sahara desert. This is an experience like no other and something that you must do while traveling in the country.
The official currency for the country is the Dinar. You will be able to exchange money at either a post office or a bank while in the country. There are ATMs available throughout the country and they allow you to withdrawal the Algerian Dinar using any major credit card that you may have. Compared to western conditions, living in Algeria is very cheap.
The food in Algeria is delicious, with many French dishes being variations of what you will find here. Some of the food that you should try includes Fettate, which is a specialty in the Sahara, the nomad specialty Taguella, Couscous, which will often be served with meat and potatoes, carrots, chick peas, and courgette, the cooked lambs head called Buseluf, and Chorba, which is a wonderful meaty soup. There are several other dishes that should be tried while visiting the country as well. All of the food is very flavorful and quite tasty.
There is a selection of wine and beer produced in the country as well. However, since Algeria is mostly a Muslim country, you are not going to be able to find alcohol everywhere. There are a few bar restaurants located in the bigger cities where beer and wine will be served. You can also find alcohol in night clubs and some of the higher end hotels. There are also several discrete shops where you can buy a bottle of Algerian beer or wine to take home with you.
There are several advisories against visiting Algeria. If you choose to visit the country it is important to note that the terrorism of 2005 was focused in a few specific areas including Collo, Medea, Laarba, Relizane, Ain Defla, and Chief. Since 2009, most of the terrorist attacks are directed towards governmental targets and police offices.
When traveling in the country you will want to make sure to never travel after nightfall. If it is possible you will want to travel by plane instead of car. All minor roads should be avoided and if you are unsure about where you are ask a police officer. Make sure to only trust official travel advisories for your personal safety when you are traveling in a foreign land.
Some facts about Algeria
Gallery of Algeria
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