Coordinates: 28°N 2°E
Algeria /ælˈdʒɪəriə/ (Arabic: الجزائر, al-Jazā'ir; Berber: ⴷⵣⴰⵢⴻⵔ Dzayer), officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria (الجمهورية الجزائرية الديمقراطية الشعبية, Al-Jumhūriyyah Al-Jazāʾiriyyah Ad-Dīmuqrāṭiyyah Ash-Shaʿbiyyah), also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Algerian Republic, is a country in the Maghreb region of Africa, with Algiers as its capital and most populous city.
The territory of today's Algeria was the home of many ancient cultures, including Aterian and Capsian cultures. Its area have been ruled by many empires and dynasties, including ancient Numidians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arab Umayyads, Berber Fatimids and Almohads and later Turkish Ottomans.
Algeria is a semi presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1541 communes. With a population exceeding 37 million, it is the 34th most populated country on earth. It is linguistically an arab country with some other local dialects. Its economy is oil based, suffering from Dutch disease. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has the second largest army in Africa and in the arab world, after Egypt, and has Russia and China as strategic allies, and arms furnisher.
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. 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. As of 2012, Algeria has an estimated population of 37.1 million. 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 country's name is derived 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[who?] 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.
Algeria has been populated since 10,000 BC, as depicted in the Tassili National Park. The indigenous peoples of northern Africa are a distinct native population, called the Berbers by Greeks and Romans, and then by Arabs.
The cave painting found around the Tassili n'Ajjer in northern Tamanrasset, and in other places, depicts scenes from everyday life in the prehistoric Algeria, between 8000 and 4000 BC. They were executed by hunters during the Capsian period of the Neolithic age who lived in a savanna region, known then as the Green Sahara. Those paintings show giant buffalos, elephants, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, animals that no longer exist in the now-desert area. The pictures provide the most complete record of a prehistoric Algerian history.
Earlier inhabitants of Algeria also left a significant amount of remains. 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.
According to some sources, 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) and are marked by a high standard of workmanship, great variety, and specialization.
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 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. Distinguished by cultural and linguistic attributes, the Berbers were typically depicted as "barbaric" enemies, troublesome nomads, or ignorant peasants by Roman, Greek, Byzantine, and Arab Muslim invaders. They were, however, to play a major role in the area's history.
From their principal center 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.
By the early fourth 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 second 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 second 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 2 centuries.
Arrival of Islam
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 Lesser Kabylia 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 themselves 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, Italy, 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.
The Spanish expansionist policy in North Africa began with the rule of the Catholic monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon and their regent Cisneros. Once the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula was completed, several towns and outposts on the Algerian coast were conquered and occupied by the Spanish Empire: Mers El Kébir (1505), Oran (1509), Peñón of Algiers (1510) and Bugia (1510). The Muslim leaders of Algiers called for help from the Barbary corsairs Hayreddin Barbarossa and Oruç Reis, who previously helped Andalusian Muslims and Jews escape from Spanish oppression in 1492. In 1516, Oruç Reis conquered Algiers with the support of 1,300 Turkish soldiers on board 16 galliots and became its ruler, with Algiers joining the Ottoman Empire.
The Spaniards left Algiers in 1529, Bugia in 1554, Mers El Kébir and Oran in 1708. The Spanish returned in 1732 when the armada of the Duke of Montemar was victorious in the Battle of Aïn-el-Turk; Spain recaptured Oran and Mers El Kébir. Both cities were held until 1792, when they were sold by King Charles IV of Spain to the Bey of Algiers.
Algeria was made part of the Ottoman Empire by Hayreddin Barbarossa and his brother Aruj in 1517. After the death of Oruç Reis in 1518, his brother succeeded him. The Sultan Selim I sent him 6,000 soldiers and 2,000 janissaries with which he conquered most of the Algerian territory taken by the Spanish, from Annaba to Mostaganem. Further Spanish attacks led by Hugo of Moncada in 1519 were also pushed back. In 1541, Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, attacked Algiers with a convoy of 65 warships, 451 large ships and 23,000 men, 2000 of whom were mounted. The attack resulted in failure however, and the Algerian leader Hassan Agha became a national hero as Algiers grew into a center of military power in the Mediterranean.
The Ottomans established Algeria's modern boundaries in the north and made its coast a base for the Ottoman corsairs; their privateering peaked in Algiers in the 17th century. Piracy on American vessels in the Mediterranean resulted in the First (1801–1805) and Second Barbary Wars (1815) with the United States. The pirates forced the people on the ships they captured into slavery; when the pirates attacked coastal villages in southern and Western Europe the inhabitants were forced into the Arab slave trade.
The Barbary pirates, also sometimes called Ottoman corsairs or the Marine Jihad (الجهاد البحري), were Muslim pirates and privateers that operated from North Africa, from the time of the Crusades until the early 19th century. Based in North African ports such as Tunis in Tunisia, Tripoli in Libya and Algiers in Algeria, they preyed on Christian and other non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea.
Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa known as the Barbary Coast (a medieval term for the Maghreb after its Berber inhabitants), but their predation was said to extend throughout the Mediterranean, south along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard, and into the North Atlantic as far north as Iceland and the United States. They often made raids, called Razzias, on European coastal towns to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in places such as Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Algeria and Morocco.
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 them to Libya. In 1554, pirates sacked Vieste in southern Italy and took an estimated 7,000 slaves.
In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadella (Minorca), destroyed it, slaughtered the inhabitants and took 3,000 survivors to Istanbul as slaves. In 1563, Turgut Reis landed on the shores of the province of Granada, Spain, and captured coastal settlements in the area, such as Almuñécar, along with 4,000 prisoners. Barbary pirates often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response many coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. The threat was so severe that the island of Formentera became uninhabited.
Between 1609 to 1616, England lost 466 merchant ships to Barbary pirates. In the 19th century, Barbary pirates would capture ships and enslave the crew. Later American ships were attacked. During this period, the pirates forged affiliations with Caribbean powers, paying a "license tax" in exchange for safe harbor of their vessels. One American slave reported that the Algerians had enslaved 130 American seamen in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from 1785 to 1793.
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 again in 1654–57, 1665, 1691, and 1740–42.
Relations with the US
US ships paid the tribute demanded by the rulers of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and Morocco, preventing attacks on their shipping by Mediterranean corsairs, no longer covered by Great Britain after independence. In 1794, US Congress voted for funds appropriation for warship construction, to counter Mediterranean threats. Despite this the US signed a treaty of $10M (20% of the US annual revenue in 1800) with Algerian Dey to ensure 12 years of attack-free shipping in the Mediterranean sea.
After the Napoleonic wars, Algeria found itself at war with Spain, Netherlands, England, Prussia, Denmark, Russia and Naples. In March of this year the US government authorized war against the Barbary States, giving place to what is known as Barbary wars. The next year, after 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.
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.
Between 1825 and 1847, 50,000 French people emigrated to Algeria. These settlers benefited from the French government's confiscation of communal land and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land. Algeria's social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted, while land development uprooted much of the population.
Starting from the end of the 19th century, people of European descent in Algeria (or natives like Spanish people in Oran), as well as the native Algerian Jews (classified as Sephardi Jews), became full French citizens.
After Algeria's 1962 independence, the Europeans were called Pieds-Noirs ("black feet"). Some apocryphal sources suggest the title comes from the black boots settlers wore, but the term seems not to have been widely used until the time of the Algerian War of Independence and it is more likely it started as an insult towards settlers returning from Africa.
In 1954, the National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale or FLN) launched the Algerian War of Independence which was a guerrilla campaign. By the end of the war, French President Charles de Gaulle held a plebiscite, offering Algerians three options. In a famous speech (4 June 1958 in Algiers), de Gaulle proclaimed in front of a vast crowd of Pieds-Noirs "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you"). Most Pieds-Noirs then believed that de Gaulle meant that Algeria would remain French. The poll resulted in a landslide vote for complete independence from France. Over one million people, that is 10% of the population, fled the country for France in just a few months in mid-1962. These included most of the 1,025,000 Pieds-Noirs, as well as 81,000 Harkis (pro-French Algerians serving in the French Army). In the days preceding the bloody conflict, a group of Algerian Rebels opened fire on a marketplace in Oran, killing numerous civilians, mostly women. It is estimated that somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and their dependents were killed by the FLN or by lynch mobs in Algeria.
Algeria's first president was the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella. He was overthrown by his former ally and defense minister, Houari Boumédienne in 1965. Under Ben Bella, the government had already become increasingly socialist and authoritarian, and this trend continued throughout Boumédienne's government. However, Boumédienne relied much more heavily on the army, and reduced the sole legal party to a merely symbolic role. Agriculture was collectivised, and a massive industrialization drive launched. Oil extraction facilities were nationalized. This was especially beneficial to the leadership after the 1973 oil crisis. However, the Algerian economy became increasingly dependent on oil which led to hardship when the price collapsed during the 1980s oil glut.
In foreign policy, Algeria has strained relations with Morocco, its western neighbor. Reasons for this include Morocco's disputed claim to portions of western Algeria (which led to the Sand War in 1963), Algeria's support for the Polisario Front for its right to self-determination, and Algeria's hosting of Sahrawi refugees within its borders in the city of Tindouf.
Within Algeria, dissent was rarely tolerated, and the state's control over the media and the outlawing of political parties other than the FLN was cemented in the repressive constitution of 1976. Boumédienne died in 1978, but the rule of his successor, Chadli Bendjedid, was little more open. The state took on a strongly bureaucratic character and corruption was widespread.
The modernization drive brought considerable demographic changes to Algeria. Village traditions underwent significant change as urbanization increased. New industries emerged and agricultural employment was substantially reduced. Education was extended nationwide, raising the literacy rate from less 10% to over 60%. There was a dramatic increase in the fertility rate. Therefore by 1980, there was a very youthful population and a housing crisis. The new generation struggled to relate to the cultural obsession with the war years and two conflicting protest movements developed: communists, including Berber identity movements; and Islamic intégristes. Both groups protested against one-party rule but also clashed with each other in universities and on the streets during the 1980s. Mass protests from both camps in autumn 1988 forced Bendjedid to concede the end of one-party rule.
Boumediene putsch over Ben Bella on 19 March 1965 was described, by the Algerian authorities, as a "historical rectification" of the Algerian Revolution. Boumediene dissolved the National Assembly, suspended the 1963 Constitution, disbanded the militia, and abolished the political bureau, a Ben Bella legacy considered his instrument of rule.
After 1965 Algeria was governed by the 26 members of the Revolutionary Council, led by Boumediene. Boumediene was an ardent patriot, deeply influenced by Islamic values. The 'agricultural revolution', the main policy initiative of the Boumediene era, commenced in 1971, but did not have the desired impact. It consisted mainly in the seizure of proprieties and the redistribution of said properties to cooperative farms. During the Boumediene era, a third Algerian Constitution was inaugurated in 1976.
Boumediene was criticised among FLN radical members for betraying "rigorous socialism". Some of the military attempted a coup d'état in 1967. Boumediene also survived an assassination attempt in 1968, after which opponents were exiled or imprisoned, and Boumediene's power consolidated.
- Arabization policy and Movement
Of all current Arab countries subject to European colonization, Algeria absorbed the heaviest colonial impact. The French controlled almost all the education and cultural life of the colonial system, for over 132 years. Consequently, it emerged as the bi-linguistic state of Algeria after 1962.
French policy was oriented towards "civilizing" the country, even with a literacy rate of 50% in 1830 (more than in France itself ), a lot of Algerian Arabic books of the early 19th century are currently present in the National Library of Algeria. The French language replaced the Arabic and Berber languages in almost everything and Arabic declined drastically. Dialectic Arabic, used for every day communications, (Algerian Arabic) survived, but was also influenced by the French language.
During this period a small but influential French-speaking indigenous elite was formed, made up of Berbers mostly from Kabyles. In their policy of "divide to reign," Kabyles were favored by this colonial system; about 80% of Indigenous Schools were destined for Kabyles. As a result, Kabyles moved into large levels of state administration across Algeria after 1962, who, among all Algerians, were the most attached to the French culture.
The Nationalists who ruled Algeria after independence committed themselves to the hard task of regenerating indigenous language and cultural background, in order to recover the precolonial past and to use it in order to restore (if not to create) a national identity based on Islam, Arabic Language, and Algerianism.
This movement was transformed into a state policy called "arabization." Many problems occurred in the application of this new policy. Arabic teachers were lacking, and Algerians were not used to the Literary Arabic. More problems came out during the 1980s Berber Spring, in which Kabyles asked for a solution to the Berber question. They believed Arabization was a menace to the Berber Culture and heritage, and that the French Language offered more opportunities.
Under Boumediene, arabization took the form of a national language requirement on street signs and shop signs. Algeria remains caught between strident demands to eliminate any legacy from its colonial past and the more pragmatic concerns of the costs of rapid arabization. Calls have been made to eliminate coeducational schooling and affect the arabization of medical and technological schools.
The Arabization of Algerian society would expedite the inevitable break with France. Tahir Wattar, a prominent pro-arabization Berber, called French use and teaching the "Vestige of Colonialism". In December 1990, a law was passed that would implement complete arabization of secondary school and higher education by 1997. In early July 1993, the most recent legislation proposing a national timetable for imposing Arabic as the only legal language in government and politics was again delayed; this was a result of official concerns about the existence of the necessary preconditions for sensible arabization. The law was to require that Arabic be the language of official communication, and would impose substantial fines for law violations.
Because many of the Algerian elite had been taught French under colonialism, and because a significant sector of the population spoke Tamazight, arabization has not always been popular.
Political events (1991–2002)
The first round of elections were held in 1991. In December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front won the first round of the country's first multi-party elections. The military then intervened, declared a state of emergency that limited freedom of speech and assembly, and canceled the second round of elections. It forced then-president Bendjedid to resign and ban all political parties based on religion (including the Islamic Salvation Front). The military junta, the High Council of State (HCE), invited Mohamed Boudiaf to return from exile to become its chairman, but he was assassinated on 29 June 1992. The political conflict continued, leading Algeria into the violent Algerian Civil War.
More than 160,000 people were killed between 17 January 1992 and June 2002 in various terrorist attacks which were claimed by the Armed Islamic Group and Islamic Salvation Army. However, elections resumed in 1995, and after 1998, the war waned. On 27 April 1999, after a series of short-term leaders representing the military, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the current president, was chosen by the army.
By 2002, the main guerrilla groups had either been destroyed or surrendered, taking advantage of an amnesty program, though fighting and terrorism continues in some areas (See Islamic insurgency in Algeria (2002–present)).
The issue of Amazigh languages and identity increased in significance as of 1998, when the United Nations declared that the Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa, and giving them rights to their language, culture and historical facts. In Algeria after the extensive protests of 2001 and the near-total boycott of local elections in Kabylie Protests in Arris and T'kout Aures in 2004, where over 200 were jailed. The government responded with concessions including naming of Tamazight (Berber) as a national language and teaching it in schools. As of 1 May 2009 Tamazight is taught in the schools throughout Algeria.
Much of Algeria is now recovering and developing into an emerging economy. The high prices of oil and natural gas are being used by the new government to improve the country's infrastructure and especially improve industry and agricultural land.
Popular protests since 2010
Following a wave of protests in the wake of popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, Algeria officially lifted its 19-year-old state of emergency on 24 February 2011. The country's Council of Ministers approved the repeal two days prior.
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 north eastern 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, which ends with the Saharan Atlas; further 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.
Algeria is the biggest country in Africa, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 90% of its surface is covered by the Sahara desert.
Climate and hydrology
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).
Algeria is an authoritarian regime, according to the Democracy Index 2010. The Freedom of the Press 2009 report gives it rating "Not Free".
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, 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 five years.
Under the 1976 constitution (as modified 1979, and amended in 1988, 1989, and 1996), Algeria is a multi-party state. The Ministry of the Interior must approve all parties. To date, Algeria has had more than 40 legal political parties. 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.
Foreign relations and military
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). The commander-in-chief of the military is the president, who is also Minister of National Defense.
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.
Algeria has its force oriented toward its western (Morocco) and eastern (Libyan) neighbors borders. Its primary military supplier has been the former Soviet Union, which has sold various types of sophisticated equipment under military trade agreements, and the People's Republic of China. Algeria has attempted, in recent years, to diversify its sources of military material. Military forces are supplemented by a 70,000-member gendarmerie or rural police force under the control of the president and 30,000-member Sûreté nationale or metropolitan police force under the Ministry of the Interior.
The Algerian Air Force signed a deal with Russia in 2007, to purchase 49 MiG-29SMT and 6 MiG-29UBT at an estimated $1.9 billion. They also agreed to return old aircraft purchased from the former USSR. Russia is also building two 636-type diesel submarines for Algeria.
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, which was nominally established in 1989 but which has carried little practical weight.
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. According to the Algerian constitution, a province is a territorial collectivity enjoying some economic freedom.
The People's Provincial Assembly is the political entity governing a province, which has a "president", who is elected by the members of the assembly. They are in turn elected on universal suffrage every five years. The "Wali" (Prefect or governor) directs each province. This person is chosen by the Algerian President to handle the PPA's decisions.
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:
The fossil fuels energy sector is the backbone of Algeria's economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. The country ranks 14th[when?] in petroleum reserves, containing 11.8 billion barrels (1.88×109 m3) of proven oil reserves with estimates suggesting that the actual amount is even more. 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, the tenth largest in the world. Average annual non-hydrocarbon GDP growth averaged 6% between 2003 and 2007, with total GDP growing at an average of 4.5% during the same period due to less-buoyant oil production during 2006 and 2007. External debt has been virtually eliminated, and the government has accumulated large savings in the oil-stabilization fund (FRR). Inflation, the lowest in the region, has remained stable at 4% on average between 2003 and 2007.
Algeria's financial and economic indicators improved during the mid-1990s, in part because of policy reforms supported by the International Monetary Fund and debt rescheduling from the Paris Club. Algeria's finances in 2000 and 2001 benefited from an increase 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 have had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards, however. In 2001, the government signed an Association Treaty with the European Union that will eventually lower tariffs and increase trade. 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.
Algeria also decided in 2006 to pay off its full $8 billion (£4.3 billion) debt to the Paris Club before schedule. This would reduce the Algerian foreign debt to less than $5 billion in the end of 2006. The Paris Club said the move reflected Algeria's economic recovery in recent years.
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.
Algeria has always been noted for the fertility of its soil. About 14% of its labor force are employed in the agricultural sector.
A considerable amount of cotton was grown at the time of the United States' Civil War, but the industry declined afterwards. In the early years of the 20th century efforts to extend the cultivation of the plant were renewed. A small amount of cotton is also grown in the southern oases. Large quantities of dwarf palm are cultivated for the leaves, the fibers of which resemble horsehair. The olive (both for its fruit and oil) and tobacco are cultivated with great success.
More than 30,000 km2 (7,000,000 acres) are devoted to the cultivation of cereal grains. The Tell Atlas is the grain-growing land. During the time of French rule its productivity was increased substantially by the sinking of artesian wells in districts which only required water to make them fertile. Of the crops raised, wheat, barley and oats are the principal cereals. A great variety of vegetables and fruits, especially citrus products, are exported. Algeria also exports figs, dates, esparto grass, and cork. the vast mountain ranges of the Aures (Batna, Khenchela, Oum-El-Bouaghi, Ain M'lila, Souk Ahras, Guelma, Biskra) and Nememcha (Tebessa) occupy the entire eastern Algeria and are delineated by the Tunisian border. The highest point is Mount Chélia (2328 meters). The most fertile land in the world would be in the Aures, especially if it could be watered regularly
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.
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. Furthermore, the country has a diverse population ranging from light-skinned, gray-eyed Chaoui and blue-eyed Kabyles in the Atlas Mountains to very dark-skinned populations in the Sahara (e.g., the Tuaregs). Descendants of Andalusian refugees are also present in the population of Algiers and other cities.
Linguistically, approximately 73% of Algerians speak Algerian Arabic, while about 27% speak one of the Berber languages  mainly found in the Kabyle and Chaoui regions. French is widely understood, and Standard Arabic (Fos'haa) is taught to and understood by most Algerian-Arabic-speaking youth.
Europeans account for less than 1% of the population, inhabiting almost exclusively the largest metropolitan areas. However, during the colonial period there was a large (15.2% in 1962) European population, consisting primarily of French people, in addition to Spaniards in the west of the country, Italians and Maltese in the east, and other Europeans such as Greeks in smaller numbers. Known as Pieds-Noirs, European colonists were concentrated on the coast and formed a majority of the population of Oran (60%) and important proportions in other large cities including Algiers and Annaba. Almost all of this population left during or immediately after the country's independence from France. Housing and medicine shortages 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 United Nations Development Programme, the country 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.
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.
It is estimated that 95,700 refugees and asylum-seekers have sought refuge in Algeria. This includes roughly 90,000 from Morocco and 4,100 from Palestine. An estimated 46,000Sahrawis from Western Sahara live in refugee camps in the Algerian part of the Sahara desert. As of 2009[update], 35,000 Chinese migrant workers lived in Algeria.
Almost all Algerians are Berbers in origins, not Arabs the Semitic ethnic presence in the country is mainly due to the Phoenicians and Hilallians migratory movements (3rd century BC and 11th century, respectively). The majority of Arabized Berber claim an Arab heritage due to Arab nationalism. The Berbers are divided into many groups with varying languages. The largest of these are the Kabyles, who live in the Kabylia Mountains east of Algiers, the Chaoui of North-East Algeria, and the Tuaregs in the southern desert and the Shenwa people of North Algeria. Another historical migratory movements that made the actual Algerians was the Vandalic invasion of the 5th century, and the Mediterranean trade of the 16th–19th century.
There is also a minority of about 600,000 to 2 million Algerian Turks who arrived in the region during the Ottoman rule in North Africa; today's Turkish descendants are often called "Kouloughlis" which means the descendants of Turkish men and of native Algerian women.
The official language of Algeria is Modern Standard Arabic, as specified in its constitution since 1963. In addition to this, Berber has been recognized as a "national language" by constitutional amendment since 8 May 2002. Between them, these two languages are the native languages of over 99% of Algerians, with colloquial Algerian Arabic spoken by about 72% and Berber by 27%. French, though it has no official status, is widely used in government, culture, media (newspapers) and education (taught from primary school), due to Algeria's colonial history and can be regarded as being the de facto co-official language of Algeria. The Kabyle language, the most-spoken Berber language in the country, is taught and partially co-official (with a few restrictions) in parts of Kabylia. Algerian cities have commonly been given Berber and ancient Roman or also known French names.
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 also some 250,000 Christians in the country[dubious – discuss], including about 10,000 Roman Catholics and 150,000 to 200,000 evangelical Protestants (mainly Pentecostal), according to the Protestant Church of Algeria's leader Mustapha Krim. Algeria had an important Jewish community until the 1960s. Nearly all of this community emigrated following the country's independence, although a very small number of Algerian Jews continue to live in Algiers.
Women in Algeria
Below is a list of the most important Algerian cities:
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.
Education is officially compulsory for children between the ages of six and 15. Approximately 5% of the adult population of the country is illiterate.
In Algeria there are 46 universities, 10 colleges, and 7 institutes for higher learning. The University of Algiers was founded in 1909, and its students contributed to the total 267,142 students that were enrolled in Algerian universities in 1996. The Algerian school system is structured into Basic, General Secondary, and Technical Secondary levels:
- Ecole fondamentale (Fundamental School)
Length of program: nine years
Age range: six to 15
Certificate/diploma awarded: Brevet d'Enseignement Moyen B.E.M.
- General Secondary
- Lycée d'Enseignement général (School of General Teaching), lycées polyvalents (General-Purpose School)
Length of program: three years
Age range: 15 to 18
Certificate/diploma awarded: Baccalauréat de l'Enseignement secondaire
(Bachelor's Degree of Secondary School)
- Technical Secondary
- Lycées d'Enseignement technique (Technical School)
Length of program: three years
Certificate/diploma awarded: Baccalauréat technique (Technical Bachelor's Degree)
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.
In philosophy and the humanities, Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, was born in El Biar in Algiers; 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. Algerian culture has been strongly influenced by Islam, the main religion. 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. In painting, Mohammed Khadda and M'hamed Issiakhem have been notable in recent years.
The birth of Algerian cinema goes back to independence in 1962, which was the main subject of different movie productions of that time. Next were films such as The Winds of the Aures (1965) of Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, Patrol To The East (1972) of Amar Laskri, Prohibited Area of Ahmed Lallem, (1972), The Opium and the stick of Ahmed Rachedi, or The Battle of Algiers (1966) which is an Algerian-Italian film selected three times at the Oscars. The most famous work of Algerian cinema is probably that of Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, Chronicle of the Years of Fire, which won the palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival in the year 1975. Algeria remains to this day, the only nation in Africa and the Arab world to have achieved such a distinction. Algeria had also won an Oscar for the movie Z, a political thriller directed by Costa Gavras.
Subsequently other topics would be explored in films such as Omar Guetlato of Merzak Allouache; this production, which has been a significant success, is a chronicle of the difficulties that can meet the urban youth.
In comedy, several players are emerging in the image of the very popular Rouiched which is illustrated in several films such as Hassan Terro or Hassan Taxi, or actor Hadj Abderrahmane better known under the pseudonym of the Inspector Tahar in 1973 comedy The Holiday of The Inspector Tahar directed by Musa Haddad. The most accomplished comedy is Carnaval fi dechra directed by Mohamed Oukassi, and starting Athman Ariouet.
From the mid 1980s, Algerian cinema began to go through a long period of lethargy where major productions became rare. This situation is greatly due to the gradual disengagement of the state, which makes it very difficult to subsidize film achievements. However, some productions have recorded success: Carnival fi Dachra produced by Mohamed Oukassi and Athmane Aliouet in 1994, or as "Salut Cousin !" (1996) produced by Merzak Allouache. Currently Algerian cinema is in a phase of restructuring; the French-wing is taking the lead over the Algerian one, and many film production are written in French rather than Algerian arabic. This is mainly due to the immigration wave of the 1990s.
Algeria has always been a source of inspiration for different painters who tried to immortalize the prodigious diversity of the sites it offers and the profusion of the facets that passes its population, which offers for Orientalists between the 19th century and the 20th century, a striking inspiration for a very rich artistic creation like Eugène Delacroix with his famous painting women of Algiers in their apartment or Etienne Dinet or other painters of world fame like Pablo Picasso with his painting women of Algiers, or painters issued from the Algiers school.
Meanwhile 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.
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.
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.
Algerian music is a perfect reflection of the cultural diversity that characterizes the country, music directories are distinguished by a profusion of several styles.
Chaâbi music is a typically Algerian musical genre that was derived from the Andalusian music during the 1920s. The style is characterized by specific rhythms and of Qacidate (Popular poems) in Arabic dialect that are long poems from the Algerian heritage. 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.
Andalusian so-called Algerian classical music is a musical style that was reported in Algeria by Andalusian refugees who fled the inquisition of the Christian Kings from the 11th century, it will develop considerably in the cities of the North of the Algeria. This music is characterized by a large technical research and focuses mainly on twelve long Noubate "series", its main instruments are the mandolin, violin, lute, guitar, zither, flute and piano. Among the most noted interpreters, there are Bahdja Rahal, Cheikh El Hadj Mohamed El Ghafour, Nasserdine Chaouli, Cheikh Larbi Bensari, Nouri El Koufi as troops music such as El Mouahidia, El Mossilia, El Fakhardjia, Es Sendoussia and El-Andalusians.
Folk music is primarily distinguished by several styles. Bedouin music is characterized by the poetic songs that interpret the pastoralists in the area of the Highlands. It is based on of long kacida (poems) single rhyme and the monotonous sound of the flute. In general this music focuses on themes in love, religious and epic. Among the great performers, there is Khelifi Ahmed and Abdelhamid Ababsa Rahab Tahar. Kabyle music is based on a rich repertoire that is poetry and old tales passed through generations. Some songs address the theme of exile, love and politics, among others. Great performers are: Cheikh El Hasnaoui, Slimane Azem, Aït Menguellet, Idir, Kamel Messaoudi, Lounès Matoub or even Takfarinas. Shawiya music is a folklore diverse areas of the aurès mountains. Traditional music is well represented by many Aurassian singers. The first singers who have had international success are Aissa Jermouni (he sung at the Olympia in 1937) 307 and Ali Khencheli. 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.
Aures region. In addition, several styles of music exist as the known arabo-andalous, one of the singers Chaoui style is Salim Hallali. Several singers of the aurès mountains were inspired by this style as Youcef Boukhantech. 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 with his two fiefs are Oran and Sidi Bel Abbès. Its modern development was initiated in the 1970s when it adds a modern instrumentation to the image of the electric guitar, synthesizer and drums. This style was also influenced by Western music such as rock, reggae and the funk. But what would give a particular boom, it was the arrival on the music scene such as Hadj Brahim talented performers, said Khaled, Cheb Mami, Cheb Hasni, Faudel, Rachid Taha, Raina Rai, Reda Taliani, Cheb Anouar, Cheb Bilal, Cheb Abdou or even Cheba Djenet and Cheba Zahouania a. Music rap, relatively recent style in Algeria, is experiencing significant growth with the emergence of groups such as MBS, Double Barrel, Intik Hamma Boys. Your themes of this music generally revolve around social evils and love. In addition, several singers prefer Arab classical style as the Warda Al-Jazairia features.
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.
Landscapes and monuments
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
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 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.
Algeria is a member of the following organizations:
- Outline of Algeria
- Index of Algeria-related articles
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