Algeria is the largest country in Africa and is located in the center of the Maghreb. Politically, socially, historically, but also geographically and climatically, there is diversity, but also extreme contrasts. Recent history before and after independence has been marked by excessive, traumatizing violence.
In terms of area (after the division of Sudan), Algeria is the largest country in Africa (approx. 6.5 times larger than Germany), but 85% consists of desert in the south, stony high plateaus in the center and fertile, sometimes very mountainous regions in the north. The raw material deposits are still considered sufficient for about 30 years – under current conditions.
Long before the Islamic conquest, Algeria was inhabited by its original residents, the Berbers. After the end of the Roman Empire, they came under Arab rule and adopted Islam. After 1830 Algeria was colonized for 132 years (from 1848 as “Département Outre Mer”) and freed itself from it in a traumatic, bloody war of independence.
The structure of the Algerian economy is a state-dominated pension economy based on oil and natural gas. Algeria is the fourth largest natural gas and tenth largest oil producer in the world. The Algerian economy is not very diversified. Almost all consumer and industrial goods are obtained from abroad. The private sector is only slowly gaining in importance.
The society traumatized by colonialism, Islamic terror and civil war is looking for its own identity. One-party state and socialism have failed in the consciousness of the Algerian population as has a comprehensive claim to political power by Islam. Western democracy cannot simply be imported; Algeria must find its own way.
Entry is only possible with a visa upon application; the length of the residence permit may vary depending on the current political opportunity. A large number of regulations must be observed for long-term stays, starting with the work permit and the vehicle registration to the rental agreement. The national currency is traded intensively on the black market.
Official name: People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
Area: 2,382,000 km²
Residents: 40.4 million (2016, official Algerian statistics)
Growth of population: 1.8% (2014, World Bank, estimated)
Seat of government: Algiers
Official languages: Arabic, Tamazight
Regional languages: French (lingua franca)
Current information on Algeria can be found in English in the CIA Factbook on Algeria, in French in the Algeria country overview (chiffres clés) of the magazine Jeune Afrique and in German on the Algeria website of the Federal Foreign Office.
The independent French- language daily El Watan is well worth reading with good information on Algerian domestic and daily politics as well as Maghreb issues in general.
The French-language blog algerie gives an insight into the daily news in Algeria without explicitly oppositional claims. The human rights situation and balance sheet in Algeria are critically examined by Algeria-Watch. Algerieinfo.com offers an aggregated collection of links (portal) on all aspects of the Algerian present. Oppositional and system-critical standpoints can be found in Algerie-Politique. An important platform for independent, system-critical information and more in-depth analyzes is the internet newspaper lematindz.net, which is run by the well-known and competent critic of the Algerian system, Mohamed Benchicou.
OneThe El Manchar platform recently threw a satirical view of the situation in Algeria by spreading false “true” news (which may be false, but could be true).
According to a2zgov, tourism in Algeria is mainly desert tourism, but the country officially offers a wide range of experiences. However, as almost everywhere in Algeria, there are numerous regulations to be observed, as the German-language website Tourismus.Algerien knows how to report. In addition, tourism has almost completely come to a standstill due to the terrorist threat.
This physical map of Algeria gives a visual impression of the height differences between the regions. The alternative map that can be reached here also shows the relief clearly.
Basic data and sources of information
Algeria currently has a population of 40.4 million, according to official figures; the information on population growth is otherwise partly different. 70% of the population are under 30 years old. Also 70% of the population are counted as part of the Arab majority, 30% are non-Arab Berbers, whose culture has been displaced by Arabization.
The national language is Arabic, the Berber language Tamazight has been recognized as the second national language since 2002. A Maghrebian-Algerian Arabic dialect is spoken. In the older generation as well as in science and administration, French is still partly widespread.
According to the Algerian constitution, the state religion is Islam, to which 99% of the population belong (Sunnis). The president cannot be a non-Muslim. Christians make up no more than 1% of the population. In Kabylia there are said to be a significant number of Protestant converts who turned away from Islam during the civil war of the 1990’s.
The Algerian Statistical Office (ONS) offers a glimpse into the world of Algerian numbers and indicators. It is also worth taking a look at the World Bank figures and statistics on Algeria. Further basic information can be found at ” knoema.fr ” and at the United Nations World Development Organization (PNUD).