Facts about Algeria

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AlgeriaAfter more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), has dominated politics ever since. Many Algerians in the subsequent generation were not satisfied, however, and moved to counter the FLN's centrality in Algerian politics. The surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets. The government later allowed elections featuring pro-government and moderate religious-based parties, but did not appease the activists who progressively widened their attacks. The fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense fighting between 1992-98 and which resulted in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. However, small numbers of armed militants persist in confronting government forces and conducting ambushes and occasional attacks on villages. The army placed Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA in the presidency in 1999 in a fraudulent election but claimed neutrality in his 2004 landslide reelection victory. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA in his second term, including the ethnic minority Berbers' ongoing autonomy campaign, large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants. The 2006 merger of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) with al-Qaida (followed by a name change to al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb) signaled an increase in bombings, including high-profile, mass-casualty suicide attacks targeted against the Algerian government and Western interests. Algeria must also diversify its petroleum-based economy, which has yielded a large cash reserve but which has not been used to redress Algeria's many social and infrastructure problems. BOUTEFLIKA was overwhelmingly reelected to a third term in 2009 after the government amended the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA, including large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants.

Geography of Algeria

Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia
28 00 N, 3 00 E
Map references:
total: 2,381,740 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 2,381,740 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas
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
998 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive fishing zone: 32-52 NM
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
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
Natural hazards:
mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season
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
Geography - note:
second-largest country in Africa (after Sudan)

More Geography

Population of Algeria

34,586,184 (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 25.4% (male 4,436,591/female 4,259,729)
15-64 years: 69.5% (male 11,976,965/female 11,777,618)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 798,576/female 928,709)
Median age:
total: 26 years
male: 25.8 years
female: 26.2 years
Growth rate:
1.28% (2004 est.), 1.22% (2006 est.), 1.209% (2008 est.)
Infant mortality:
25.39 deaths deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.77 years
male: 72.13 years
female: 75.49 years
Total fertility rate:
1.82 children born/woman
noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups:
Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
note: almost all Algerians are Berber in origin, not Arab; the minority who identify themselves as Berber live mostly in the mountainous region of Kabylie east of Algeirs; the Berbers are also Muslim but identify with their Berber rather than Arab cultural heritage; Berbers have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy; the government is unlikely to grant autonomy but has offered to begin sponsoring teaching Berber language in schools
Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.9%
male: 79.6%
female: 60.1%


Country name:
conventional long form: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
conventional short form: Algeria
local short form: Al Jaza'ir
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Jaza'iriyah ad Dimuqratiyah ash Sha'biyah
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
48 provinces (wilayas, singular - wilaya); Adrar, Ain Defla, Ain Temouchent, Alger, Annaba, Batna, Bechar, Bejaia, Biskra, Blida, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Bouira, Boumerdes, Chlef, Constantine, Djelfa, El Bayadh, El Oued, El Tarf, Ghardaia, Guelma, Illizi, Jijel, Khenchela, Laghouat, Mascara, Medea, Mila, Mostaganem, M'Sila, Naama, Oran, Ouargla, Oum el Bouaghi, Relizane, Saida, Setif, Sidi Bel Abbes, Skikda, Souk Ahras, Tamanghasset, Tebessa, Tiaret, Tindouf, Tipaza, Tissemsilt, Tizi Ouzou, Tlemcen
5 July 1962 (from France)
National holiday:
Revolution Day, 1 November (1954)
19 November 1976, effective 22 November 1976; revised 3 November 1988, 23 February 1989, and 28 November 1996
Legal system:
socialist, based on French and Islamic law; judicial review of legislative acts in ad hoc Constitutional Council composed of various public officials, including several Supreme Court justices; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA
head of government: Prime Minister Ahmed OUYAHIA
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consisting of the National People's Assembly or Al-Majlis Ech-Chaabi Al-Watani (389 seats - formerly 380 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Council of Nations (Senate) (144 seats; one-third of the members appointed by the president, two-thirds elected by indirect vote; members serve six-year terms; the constitution requires half the council to be renewed every three years)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Court Supreme


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 eighth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the fourth-largest gas exporter; it ranks 14th in oil reserves. Sustained high oil prices in recent years have helped improve Algeria's financial and macroeconomic indicators. Algeria is running substantial trade surpluses and building up record foreign exchange reserves. Algeria has decreased its external debt to less than 10% of GDP after repaying its Paris Club and London Club debt in 2006. Real GDP has risen due to higher oil output and increased government spending. The government's continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector, however, has had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards. Structural reform within the economy, such as development of the banking sector and the construction of infrastructure, moves ahead slowly hampered by corruption and bureaucratic resistance.

$233.2 billion (2005 est.), $222.3 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
7.3% (2003 est.), 6% (2005 est.), 4.5% (2007 est.)
GDP per capita:
$5,900 (2003 est.), $7,200 (2005 est.), $6,700 (2007 est.)
GDP composition by sector:
:agriculture: 8.2%
industry: 61.5%
services: 30.3%
Population below poverty line:
23% (1999 est.), 25% (2005 est.)
Inflation rate:
3.1% (2003 est.), 3% (2006 est.), 3.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
9.5 million (2003), 9.31 million (2006 est.), 9.38 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 14%, industry 13.4%, construction and public works 10%, trade 14.6%, government 32%, other 16% (2003 est.)
28.4% (2003 est.), 15.7% (2006 est.), 11.8% (2007 est.)
revenues: $57.03 billion
expenditures: $40.53 billion (2007 est.)
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.7%
hydro: 0.3%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining, electrical, petrochemical, food processing
wheat, barley, oats, grapes, olives, citrus, fruits; sheep, cattle
petroleum, natural gas, and petroleum products 97%
Export partners:
US 29.4%, Italy 13.8%, Spain 9.6%, Canada 8.4%, France 7.4%, Netherlands 4.9%, Brazil 4.2% (2007)
capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods
Import partners:
France 19.1%, China 9.2%, Italy 8.7%, Spain 6.1%, US 5.6%, Germany 5.5%, Turkey 4.2% (2007)
Algerian dinar (DZD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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