People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. Its capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the country’s far north. With an 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 and the Arab world. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes. Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been President since 1999.
Ancient Algeria has known many empires and dynasties, including ancient Numidians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Umayyads, Abbasids, Idrisid, Aghlabid, Rustamid, Fatimids, Zirid, Hammadids, Almoravids, Almohads, Ottomans and the French colonial empire. Berbers are generally considered to be the indigenous inhabitants of Algeria. Following the Arab conquest of North Africa, most indigenous inhabitants were Arabised; thus, although most Algerians are Berber in origin, most identify with Arab culture. En masse, Algerians are a mix of Berbers, Arabs, Turks and Black Africans.
The North African country supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, and energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 17th largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has one of the largest militaries in Africa and the largest defence budget on the continent; most of Algeria’s weapons are imported from Russia, with whom they are a close ally. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League, OPEC, the United Nations and is the founding member of the Maghreb Union.
In the region of Ain Hanech (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.
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 Tebessa).
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 Maghreb perhaps as early as 11,000 BC or as late as between 6000 and 2000 BC. This life, richly depicted in the Tassili n’Ajjer paintings, predominated in 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, who are the indigenous peoples of northern Africa.
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 4th 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 2nd 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 2nd 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 several centuries Algeria was ruled by the Romans, who founded many colonies in the region. Like the rest of North Africa, Algeria was one of the breadbaskets of the empire, exporting cereals and other agricultural products. Saint Augustine was the bishop of Hippo Regius (modern-day Algeria), located in the Roman province of Africa. The Germanic Vandals of Geiseric moved into North Africa in 429, and by 435 controlled coastal Numidia. They did not make any significant settlement on the land, as they were harassed by local tribes, in fact by the time the Byzantines arrived Lepcis Magna was abandoned and the Msellata region was occupied by the indigenous Laguatan who had been busy facilitating an Amazigh political, military and cultural revival.
After negligible resistance from the locals, the Arabs conquered Algeria in the mid-7th century and a large number of the indigenous people converted to the new faith. After the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate, numerous local dynasties emerged, including the Aghlabids, Almohads, Abdalwadid, Zirids, Rustamids, Hammadids, Almoravids and the Fatimids.
During the Middle Ages, North Africa was home to many great Scholars, Saints and Sovereigns including Judah Ibn Quraysh the first grammarian to suggest the Afroasiatic language family, the great Sufi masters Sidi Boumediene (Abu Madyan) and Sidi El Houari, as well as the Emirs Abd Al Mu’min and Yāghmūrasen. It was during this time period that the Fatimids or children of Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, came to the Maghreb. These “Fatimids” went on to found a long lasting dynasty stretching across the Maghreb, Hejaz, and the Levant, boasting a secular inner government, as well as a powerful army and navy, primarily made of Arabs and levantians extending from Algeria to their capital state of Cairo. The Fatimid caliphate began to collapse when its governors the Zirids seceded. In order to punish them the Fatimids sent the Arab Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym against them. The resultant war is recounted in the epic Tāghribāt. In Al-Tāghrībāt the Amazigh Zirid Hero Khālīfā Al-Zānatī asks daily, for duels, to defeat the Hilalan hero Ābu Zayd al-Hilalī and many other Arab knights in a string of victories. The Zirids however were ultimately defeated ushering in an adoption of Arab customs and culture. The indigenous Amazigh tribes however remained largely independent, and depending on tribe, location, and time controlled varying parts of the Maghreb, at times unifying it (as under the Fatimids). The Fatimid Islamic state, also known as Fatimid Caliphate made an Islamic empire that included North Africa, Sicily, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Red Sea coast of Africa, Tihamah, Hejaz, and Yemen. Caliphates from Northern Africa traded with the other empires of their time, as well as forming part of a confederated support and trade network with other Islamic states during the Islamic Era.
The Amazighs historically consisted of several tribes. The two main branches were the Botr and Barnès tribes, who were 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 made independent territorial decisions.
Several Amazigh dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages in the Maghreb and other nearby lands. Ibn Khaldun provides a table summarizing the Amazigh dynasties of the Maghreb region, the Zirid, Banu Ifran, Maghrawa, Almoravid, Hammadid, Almohad, Merinid, Abdalwadid, Wattasid, Meknassa and Hafsid dynasties.
In the early 16th century, Spain constructed fortified outposts (presidios) on or near the Algerian coast. Spain took control of few coastal towns like Mers el Kebir in 1505; Oran in 1509; and Tlemcen, Mostaganem, and Ténès, in 1510. In the same year, few merchants of Algiers ceded one of the rocky islets in their harbor to Spain, which built a fort on it. The presidios in North Africa turned out to be a costly and largely ineffective military endeavor that did not guarantee access for Spain’s merchant fleet.
Reigned in Ifriqiya, current Tunisia, a Berber family, Zirid, somehow recognizing the suzerainty of the Fatimid caliph of Cairo. Probably in 1048, the Zirid ruler or viceroy, el-Mu’izz, decided to end this suzerainty. The Fatimid state was too weak to attempt a punitive expedition; The Viceroy, el-Mu’izz, also found another means of revenge.
Between the Nile and the Red Sea were living Bedouin tribes expelled from Arabia for their disruption and turbulent influence, both Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym among others, whose presence disrupted farmers in the Nile Valley since the nomads would often loot. The then Fatimid vizier devised to relinquish control of the Maghreb and obtained the agreement of his sovereign. This not only prompted the Bedouins to leave, but the Fatimidtreasury even gave them a light expatriation cash allowance.
Whole tribes set off with women, children, ancestors, animals and camping equipment. Some stopped on the way, especially in Cyrenaica, where they are still one of the essential elements of the settlement but most arrived in Ifriqiya by the Gabes region. The Zirid ruler tried to stop this rising tide, but each meeting, the last under the walls of Kairouan, his troops were defeated and Arabs remained masters of the field.
The flood was still rising and in 1057, the Arabs spread on the high plains of Constantine where they gradually choked Qalaa of Banu Hammad, as they had done Kairouan few decades ago. From there, they gradually gained the upper Algiers and Oran plains, some were forcibly taken by the Almohads in the second half of the 12th century. We can say that in the 13thcentury there were in all of North Africa, with the exception of the main mountain ranges and certain coastal regions remained entirely Berber.
The region of Algeria was partially ruled by Ottomans for three centuries from 1516 to 1830. In 1516 the Turkish privateer brothers Aruj and Hayreddin Barbarossa, who operated successfully under the Hafsids, moved their base of operations to Algiers. They succeeded in conquering Jijel and Algiers from the Spaniards but eventually assumed control over the city and the surrounding region, forcing the previous ruler, Abu Hamo Musa III of the Bani Ziyad dynasty, to flee. When Aruj was killed in 1518 during his invasion of Tlemcen, Hayreddin succeeded him as military commander of Algiers. The Ottoman sultan gave him the title of beylerbey and a contingent of some 2,000 janissaries. With the aid of this force, Hayreddin conquered the whole area between Constantine and Oran (although the city of Oran remained in Spanish hands until 1791).
The next beylerbey was Hayreddin’s son Hasan, who assumed the position in 1544. Until 1587 the area was governed by officers who served terms with no fixed limits. Subsequently, with the institution of a regular Ottoman administration, governors with the title of pasha ruled for three-year terms. The pasha was assisted by janissaries, known in Algeria as the ojaq and led by an agha. Discontent among the ojaq rose in the mid-1600s because they were not paid regularly, and they repeatedly revolted against the pasha. As a result, the agha charged the pasha with corruption and incompetence and seized power in 1659.
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 suffered high fatalities in 1654–57, 1665, 1691, and 1740–42.
In 1671, the taifa rebelled, killed the agha, and placed one of its own in power. The new leader received the title of dey. After 1689, the right to select the dey passed to the divan, a council of some sixty nobles. It was at first dominated by the ojaq; but by the 18th century, it had become the dey’s instrument. In 1710, the dey persuaded the sultan to recognize him and his successors as regent, replacing the pasha in that role. Although Algiers remained a part of the Ottoman Empire.
The dey was in effect a constitutional autocrat. The dey was elected for a life term, but in the 159 years (1671–1830) that the system survived, fourteen of the twenty-nine deys were assassinated. Despite usurpation, military coups, and occasional mob rule, the day-to-day operation of Ottomon government was remarkably orderly. Although the regency patronized the tribal chieftains, it never had the unanimous allegiance of the countryside, where heavy taxation frequently provoked unrest. Autonomous tribal states were tolerated, and the regency’s authority was seldom applied in the Kabylie.
The Barbary pirates preyed on Christian and other non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea. The pirates often took the passengers and crew on the ships and sold them or used them as slaves. They also did a brisk business in ransoming some of the captives. According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. They often made raids, called Razzias, on European coastal towns to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire.
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 the captives to Libya. In 1554, pirates sacked Vieste in southern Italy and took an estimated 7,000 captives as slaves.
In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadella (Minorca), destroyed it, slaughtered the inhabitants and took 3,000 survivors as slaves to Istanbul. Barbary pirates often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response, the residents built many coastal watchtowers and fortified churches. The threat was so severe that residents abandoned the island of Formentera.
In July 1627 two pirate ships from Algiers sailed as far as Iceland, raiding and capturing slaves. Two weeks earlier another pirate ship from Salé in Morocco had also raided in Iceland. Some of the slaves brought to Algiers were later ransomed back to Iceland, but some chose to stay in Algeria. In 1629 pirate ships from Algeria raided the Faroe Islands.
In the 19th century, 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.
Piracy on American vessels in the Mediterranean resulted in the United States initiating the First (1801–1805) and Second Barbary Wars (1815). Following 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.
French colonisation of Algeria
Under the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded and captured Algiers in 1830. The conquest of Algeria by the French took some time 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. The population of Algeria, which stood at about 1.5 million in 1830, reached nearly 11 million in 1960. French policy was predicated on “civilizing” the country. Algeria’s social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted. During this period, a small but influential French-speaking indigenous elite was formed, made up of Berbers mostly from Kabyles. As a consequence, French government favored the Kabyles. About 80% of Indigenous Schools were constructed for Kabyles.
From 1848 until independence, France administered the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria as an integral part and département of the nation. One of France’s longest-held overseas territories, Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, who became known as colons and later, as Pied-Noirs. Between 1825 and 1847, 50,000 French people emigrated to Algeria. These settlers benefited from the French government’s confiscation of communal land from tribal peoples, and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land. Many Europeans settled in Oran and Algiers, and by the early 20th century they formed a majority of the population in both cities.
Gradually, dissatisfaction among the Muslim population, which lacked political and economic status in the colonial system, gave rise to demands for greater political autonomy, and eventually independence, from France. Tensions between the two population groups came to a head in 1954, when the first violent events of what was later called the Algerian War began. Historians have estimated that between 30,000 and 150,000 Harkis and their dependents were killed by the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) or by lynch mobs in Algeria. The FLN used hit and run attacks in Algeria and France as part of its war, and the French conducted severe reprisals. The war led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Algerians and hundreds of thousands of injuries. The war concluded in 1962, when Algeria gained complete independence following the March 1962 Evian agreements and the July 1962 self-determination referendum.
The number of European Pied-Noirs who fled Algeria totaled more than 900,000 between 1962 and 1964. The exodus to mainland France accelerated after the Oran massacre of 1962, in which hundreds of militants entered European sections of the city, and began attacking civilians.
Algeria’s first president was the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella. Morocco’s claim to portions of western Algeria led to the Sand War in 1963. Ben Bella was overthrown in 1965 by Houari Boumediene, his former ally and defence minister. Under Ben Bella, the government had become increasingly socialist and authoritarian; Boumédienne continued this trend. But, he relied much more on the army for his support, and reduced the sole legal party to a symbolic role. He collectivised agriculture and launched a massive industrialization drive. Oil extraction facilities were nationalized. This was especially beneficial to the leadership after the international 1973 oil crisis.
In the 1960s and 1970s under President Houari Boumediene, Algeria pursued a programme of industrialisation within a state-controlled socialist economy. Boumediene’s successor, Chadli Bendjedid, introduced some liberal economic reforms. He promoted a policy of Arabisation in Algerian society and public life. Teachers of Arabic, brought in from other Muslim countries, spread radical Islamic thought in schools and sowed the seeds of political Islamism.
The Algerian economy became increasingly dependent on oil, leading to hardship when the price collapsed during the 1980s oil glut. Economic recession caused by the crash in world oil prices resulted in Algerian social unrest during the 1980s; by the end of the decade, Bendjedid introduced a multi-party system.
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 northeastern Algeria and are delineated by the Tunisian border. The highest point is Mount Tahat (3,003 m).
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, and Annaba are Algeria’s main cities.
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. 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 43.3 °C (110 °F).
Fauna and flora
he varied vegetation of Algeria includes coastal, mountainous and grassy desert-like regions which all support a wide range of wildlife. Many of the creatures comprising the Algerian wildlife live in close proximity to civilization. The most commonly seen animals include the wild boars, jackals, and gazelles, although it is not uncommon to spot fennecs (foxes), and jerboas. Algeria also has a small African leopard and Saharan cheetah population, but these are seldom seen.
A variety of bird species makes the country an attraction for bird watchers. The forests are inhabited by boars and jackals. Barbary macaques are the sole native monkey. Snakes, monitor lizards, and numerous other reptiles can be found living among an array of rodents throughout the semi arid regions of Algeria. Many animals are now extinct, including the Barbary lions, Atlas bears and crocodiles.
In the north, some of the native flora includes Macchia scrub, olive trees, oaks, cedars and other conifers. The mountain regions contain large forests of evergreens (Aleppo pine, juniper, and evergreen oak) and some deciduous trees. Fig, eucalyptus, agave, and various palm trees grow in the warmer areas. The grape vine is indigenous to the coast. In the Sahara region, some oases have palm trees. Acacias with wild olives are the predominant flora in the remainder of the Sahara.
Camels are used extensively; the desert also abounds with poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes, scorpions, and numerous insects.
Algeria is classified as an upper middle income country by the World Bank. Algeria’s currency is the dinar (DZD). The economy remains dominated by the state, a legacy of the country’s socialist post-independence development model. In recent years, the Algerian government has halted the privatization of state-owned industries and imposed restrictions on imports and foreign involvement in its economy.
Algeria has struggled to develop industries outside hydrocarbons in part because of high costs and an inert state bureaucracy. The government’s efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector have done little to reduce high youth unemployment rates or to address housing shortages. The country is facing a number of short-term and medium-term problems, including the need to diversify the economy, strengthen political, economic and financial reforms, improve the business climate and reduce inequalities amongst regions.
A wave of economic protests in February and March 2011 prompted the Algerian government to offer more than $23 billion in public grants and retroactive salary and benefit increases. Public spending has increased by 27% annually during the past 5 years. The 2010–14 public-investment programme will cost US$286 billion, 40% of which will go to human development.
The Algerian economy grew by 2.6% in 2011, driven by public spending, in particular in the construction and public-works sector, and by growing internal demand. If hydrocarbons are excluded, growth has been estimated at 4.8%. Growth of 3% is expected in 2012, rising to 4.2% in 2013. The rate of inflation was 4% and the budget deficit 3% of GDP. The current-account surplus is estimated at 9.3% of GDP and at the end of December 2011, official reserves were put at US$182 billion. Inflation, the lowest in the region, has remained stable at 4% on average between 2003 and 2007.
In 2011 Algeria announced a budgetary surplus of $26.9 billion, 62% increase in comparison to 2010 surplus. In general, the country exported $73 billion worth of commodities while it imported $46 billion.
Thanks to strong hydrocarbon revenues, Algeria has a cushion of $173 billion in foreign currency reserves and a large hydrocarbon stabilization fund. In addition, Algeria’s external debt is extremely low at about 2% of GDP. The economy remains very dependent on hydrocarbon wealth, and, despite high foreign exchange reserves (US$178 billion, equivalent to three years of imports), current expenditure growth makes Algeria’s budget more vulnerable to the risk of prolonged lower hydrocarbon revenues.
In 2011, the agricultural sector and services recorded growth of 10% and 5.3%, respectively. About 14% of the labor force are employed in the agricultural sector. Fiscal policy in 2011 remained expansionist and made it possible to maintain the pace of public investment and to contain the strong demand for jobs and housing.
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-defence systems and other arms from Russia, according to the head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
On January 2013 Algeria’s population was an estimated 37.9 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. 28.1% of Algerians are under the age of 15.
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. 60% of university students are women, according to university researchers.
Between 90,000 and 165,000 Sahrawis from Western Sahara live in the Sahrawi refugee camps, in the western Algerian Sahara desert. There are also more than 4,000 Palestinian refugees, who are well integrated and have not asked for assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2009, 35,000 Chinese migrant workers lived in Algeria.
The largest concentration of Algerian migrants outside Algeria is in France, which has reportedly over 1.7 million Algerians of up to the second generation.
Berbers, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, various Sub-Saharan Africans, and French as well as other ethnic groups have contributed to the ethnic makeup of Algeria. Descendants of Andalusian refugees are also present in the population of Algiers and other cities. Moreover, Spanish was spoken by these Aragonese and Castillian Morisco descendants deep into the 18th century, and even Catalan was spoken at the same time by Catalan Morisco descendants in the small town of Grish El-Oued.
The majority of Algerians identify with an Arabic-based culture. Berbers are divided into many groups with varying languages. The largest of these are the Kabyles, who live in the Kabylie region east of Algiers, the Chaoui of Northeast Algeria, the Tuaregs in the southern desert and the Shenwa people of North Algeria.
During the colonial period, there was a large (10% in 1960) European population who became known as Pied-Noirs. They were primarily of French, Spanish and Italian origin. Almost all of this population left during the war of independence or immediately after its end.
Modern Standard Arabic is the official language. Algerian Arabic (Darja) is the language used by the majority of the population. Colloquial Algerian Arabic is heavily infused with borrowings from French and Berber.
Berber is spoken by one quarter of the population and has been recognized as a “national language” by the constitutional amendment since 8 May 2002. Kabyle, the predominant Berber language, is taught and is partially co-official (with a few restrictions) in parts of Kabylie.
Although French has no official status, Algeria is the second-largest Francophone country in the world in terms of speakers, and French is widely used in government, media (newspapers, radio, local television), and both the education system (from primary school onwards) and academia due to Algeria’s colonial history. It can be regarded as the de facto co-official language of Algeria. In 2008, 11.2 million Algerians could read and write in French. An Abassa Institute study in April 2000 found that 60% of households could speak and understand French or 18 million in a population of 30 million then. In recent decades the government has reinforced the study of French and TV programs have reinforced use of the language.
Algeria emerged as a bilingual state after 1962. Colloquial Algerian Arabic is spoken by about 72% of the population and Berber by 27–30%.
Modern Algerian literature, split between Arabic, Tamazight 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.
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. 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.
Contemporary Algerian cinema is various in terms of genre, exploring a wider range of themes and issues. There has been a transition from cinema which focused on the war of independence to films more concerned with the everyday lives of Algerians.
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. Mohammed Khadda and M’hamed Issiakhem have been notable in recent years.
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, Ibn Manzur and Ibn Khaldoun, who wrote the Muqaddimah while staying in Algeria, and many others.
Albert Camus was an Algerian-born French Pied-Noir author. In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.
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, Abdelhamid Ben 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.
Chaâbi music is a typically Algerian musical genre characterized by specific rhythms and of Qacidate (Popular poems) in Arabic dialect. 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.
Modern music is available in several facets, Raï music is a style typical of Western Algeria. Rap, relatively recent style in Algeria, is experiencing significant growth.
The Algerian state’s interest in film-industry activities can be seen in the annual budget of DZD 200 million (EUR 1.8) allocated to production, specific measures and an ambitious programme plan implemented by the Ministry of Culture in order to promote national production, renovate the cinema stock and remedy the weak links in distribution and exploitation.
The financial support provided by the state, through the Fund for the Development of the Arts, Techniques and the Film Industry (FDATIC) and the Algerian Agency for Cultural Influence (AARC), plays a key role in the promotion of national production. Between 2007 and 2013, FDATIC subsidised 98 films (feature films, documentaries and short films). In mid-2013, AARC had already supported a total of 78 films, including 42 feature films, 6 short films and 30 documentaries.
According to the European Audiovisual Observatory’s LUMIERE database, 41 Algerian films were distributed in Europe between 1996 and 2013. 21 films in this repertoire are Algerian-French co productions. Indigènes (Days of Glory) (2006) and Hors la loi (Outside the Law) (2010) by the director Rachid Bouchareb are two films in this repertoire that recorded the highest number of admissions in the European Union, with 3,172,612 admissions for Indigènes and 474,722 for Hors la loi.
The European Audiovisual Observatory and Euromed Audiovisual releases a full report on Cinema and Television in Algeria in May 2014.
Various games have existed in Algeria since antiquity. In the Aures, people played several games such As El Kherdba or El khergueba (chess variant). Playing cards, checkers and chess games are part of Algerian culture. Racing (fantasia) and the rifle shooting are part of cultural recreation of the Algerians.
The first Algerian, Arab and African gold medalist is Boughera El Ouafi in 1928 Olympics of Amsterdam in the Marathon. The second Algerian Medalist was Alain Mimoun in 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. Several men and women were champions in athletics in the 1990s including Noureddine Morceli, Hassiba Boulmerka, Nouria Merah-Benida, and Taoufik Makhloufi, all specialized in middle distance running.
Football is the most popular sport in Algeria. Several names are engraved in the history of the sport, including Lakhdar Belloumi, Rachid Mekhloufi, Hassen Lalmas, Rabah Madjer, Salah Assad and Djamel Zidane. The Algeria national football team qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, 1986 FIFA World Cup, 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup. In addition, several football clubs have won continental and international trophies as the club ES Sétif or JS Kabylia. The Algerian Football Federation is an association of Algeria football clubs organizing national competitions and international matches of the selection of Algeria national football team.
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. The cuisine uses cereals as the main products, since they are always 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 and 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 be 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. Other tradionel meals (Chakhchokha-Hassoua-T’chicha-Mahjouba and Doubara) are famous in Biskra.
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.
Health records have been maintained in Algeria since 1882 and began adding Muslims living in the South to their Vital record database in 1905 during French rule.
Since the 1970s, in a centralized system that was designed to significantly reduce the rate of illiteracy, the Algerian government introduced a decree by which school attendance became compulsory for all children aged between 6 and 15 years who have the ability to track their learning through the 20 facilities built since independence, now the literacy rate is around 78.7%.
Since 1972, Arabic is used as the language of instruction during the first nine years of schooling. From the third year, French is taught and it is also the language of instruction for science classes. The students can also learn English, Italian, Spanish and German. In 2008, new programs at the elementary appeared, therefore the compulsory schooling does not start at the age of six anymore, but at the age of five. Apart from the 122 private, learning at school, the Universities of the State are free of charge. After nine years of primary school, students can go to the high school or to an educational institution. The school offers two programs: general or technical. At the end of the third year of secondary school, students pass the exam of the bachelor’s degree, which allows once it is successful to pursue graduate studies in universities and institutes.
Algeria has 26 universities and 67 institutions of higher education, which must accommodate a million Algerians and 80,000 foreign students in 2008. The University of Algiers, founded in 1879, is the oldest, it offers education in various disciplines (law, medicine, science and letters). 25 of these universities and almost all of the institutions of higher education were founded after the independence of the country.
Even if some of them offer instruction in Arabic like areas of law and the economy, most of the other sectors as science and medicine continue to be provided in French and English. Among the most important universities, there are the University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene, the University of Mentouri Constantine, University of Oran Es-Senia. Best universities of qualifications remain the University of Abou Bekr Belkaïd in Tlemcen and University of Batna Hadj Lakhdar, they occupy the 26th and 45th row in Africa.