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    Country Overview

    Population: 44,178,884
    Population Growth Rate: 1.77%
    Religious Groups Breakdown: Muslim 97%, 3% Other
    Youth Unemployment: 39.3%
    UNDP HDI: 0.748 (91/189)
    Life Expectancy (Male Life Expectancy & Female Life Expectancy): 78.03 (M: 76.57, F: 79.57)
    Literacy Rate (Male Literacy Rate & Female Literacy Rate): 81.4% (M: 87.4%, F: 75.3%)
    Primary School Completion Rate: 104%
    Median Age: 28.9

    Capital: Algiers
    Largest City: Illizi
    Nationality: Algerian
    Currency: Algerian Dinar

    Languages: Arabic (official), French (lingua franca), Berber or Tamazight (official); dialects include Kabyle Berber (Taqbaylit), Shawiya Berber (Tacawit), Mzab Berber, Tuareg Berber (Tamahaq); (note: Berber is the more widely known term but many consider it to be perorative; Imazighen is the preferred term)

    Agriculture: potatoes, wheat, milk, watermelons, barley, onions, tomatoes, oranges, dates, vegetables

    Industries: petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining, electrical, petrochemical, food processing


    Algeria (Arabic: Al-Jeza’ir), officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is the largest country in Africa, located on the Mediterranean coast between Morocco and Tunisia. It is the tenth largest country in the world. Most of Algeria’s cities are located on or near the coast. Algiers, the capital, is located in northern Algeria and it is the most populous city with 2.9 million residents

    The Sahara Desert comprises 80% of the country. Algeria’s summers range from 70-75°F and its winters 50-54°F. A unique feature of Algeria’s climate is the Sirocco winds. The Sirocco winds are hot, sandy, gale force winds that are prominent in the summer season and occasionally strong enough to cause sandstorms.

    There are large reserves of oil and gas scattered across the country. Some are on the eastern border with Libya, in the southern desert, and along the northern coastline. Offshore drilling is also utilized by Algeria to tap into oil and gas reserves in the Mediterranean and continuously enters oil and drilling contracts with France since 1964. Recently in 2012, French President (at the time) Hollande negotiated a shale exploration contract with Algeria.

    Climate Change

    Despite its large territory, only 3.2% of Algeria’s land is arable. Algeria faces soil erosion and desertification issues from overgrazing and poor farming practices. Approximately 28% of Algerians don’t have access to clean water because oil waste and fertilizers are polluting the water systems along with heavy reliance on a couple of reservoirs for water.

    To combat water scarcity, various Algerian companies are building water desalination plants that convert seawater from the Mediterranean into fresh drinking water. General Electric completed the Hamma Seawater Desalination Plant in 2008, providing 25% of the country’s drinking water. Asea Brown Boveri and Hyflux Corporation supplied technlohy to the Magtaa Plant — the world’s largest desalination plant, providing water to over 2 million people in the region. The Algerian government has put forth their own initiatives to match company initiatives. In 2006, the Société des Eaux et d'Assainissement d'Alger (SEAAL) was tasked with increasing the efficacy of water networks. A water quality monitoring system with over 100 stations is responsible for the safety of its surface water. SEAAL tests Algeria’s groundwater levels every three months.


    Early Algerian Civilizations

    The earliest recorded history in Algeria dates back to 6000 BCE with a depicted in the wall art of Tassili n’Ajer (see “Art” section below for more details). Throughout ancient Algerian history, the majority of people lived in nomadic tribes, until these bands of nomads coalesced into larger groups to establish the Imazighen (the term Berber is pejorative) civilization. The Imazighen were the original inhabitants of the Maghreb, an area composed of modern day Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

    “Amazigh,” or the plural “Imazighen” are the names they use to refer to themselves. As the Imazighen civilization was established, three The distinct Imazighen kingdoms arose —  the Mauri in Morocco, Massyli in Tunisia, and the Masaesyli in Algeria. Ruled by powerful kinds, the Massyli and Masaesyli had combined into the Kingdom of Numidia in the 2nd century BCE. The Imazighen kings had strong trade ties with Numidia and Rome. During Rome’s civil war  (130-30 BCE), Roman factions sought the Imazighen kings’ aid to control the empire. In 24 CE, the Romans annexed the Imazighen kingdom of Numidia.

    Algeria was conquered by the Romans and then the Vandals occupied it in 429 for only four years. They then were drive out by the Byzantine occupation, which introduced Islam to Algeria.

    The Introduction of Muslim Rule

    Arabs’ arrival meant converting Maghreb residents to Islam. For the next four hundred years, various caliphates ruled the land. The Abbasid Caliphate succeeded the Umayyads in 750, which was then followed by the Rustumids until the 10th century. Two groups subsequently arose with the intention of spreading Islam beyond North Africa: the Almoravids and the Almohads. The Almoravids, a Imazighen tribe from southwestern Sahara, practiced a less strict version of Islam than the Almohads. The Almoravids marched their way into Spain through Morocco to rule the Maghreb from 1062-1147. The Almohads who replaced them until 1269, were an Amazigh tribe from Morocco that forced Christians and Jews to either convert or identify themselves as non-Muslim through their attire.

    In 1492, after centuries of Muslim rule, the Spanish monarchs Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon occupied the Maghreb and expelled Muslims from Spain. The Spanish created fortress colonies, called presidios, along the Mediterranean coast and forced the Muslims to pay tribute to the Spanish crown. Barbary pirates from Algeria prevented Spanish ships from delivering supplies to the ruling presidios.

    Algeria Under the Ottomans

    Khayr al-Din, a pirate known as Barbarossa (“Red Beard”) to the Europeans, successfully resisted Spain. He knew that a handful of pirates were powerless to stop Spanish occupation, so he called upon the Ottoman Empire to conquer Algeria and protect it from the Spanish. The Ottomans accepted al-Din’s request and added Algiers to the empire as a tribute-paying vassal state. With the support of the Ottoman Empire and its forces, Khayr al-Din managed to defend Algeria and drive out the Spanish.

    For the next three centuries, while the regency of Algiers remained a vassal state to the Ottomans. Algerians retained a great deal of independence under the Ottomans. Ruling elites were usually Turkish military men organized into a council and a Dey who was Algerian or council elected ruling office was installed by an Ottoman sultan. However, only an Ottoman official in Algiers was the judge of the Islamic court.

    The autonomy granted to Algiers had both advantages and disadvantages. Their connection to the Ottoman Empire protected them from larger powers, and the dey engaged in trade and agreements directly. However, the dey held little legitimacy in the eyes of other powers. For example, in 1793 and 1798, the dey demanded payment for when Algiers lent France grain on credit.

    French Colonization of Algeria

    Decades passed and France did not repay the debt, despite numerous requests from the dey to do so. Relations between the then-Algerian dey Husayn Pasha and French consul to Algiers Pierre Deval soured, and friendly negotiations were terminated. Charles X, the king of France, used the “Fan Affair” as justification to blockade the port of Algiers in 1830. King Charles hoped that a victory over a foreign power would rally support for the monarchy in France, so he invaded Algeria, defeated the dey’s forces, and occupied Algeria. In 1832, Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine, who wished to free Algeria from colonial rule, led a revolt against the French. After he reclaimed a large portion of Algeria, he signed the Treaty of Tafna in 1836 for the French to recognize his state. By 1839, Abdelkader controlled two-thirds of present-day Algeria. In that same year, the French occupied Constantine, a city within Abdelkader's territory. He fought the French again but to no avail. By 1843, the French controlled all of Algeria again and imposed strict laws favoring French citizens. In 1848, the French government formally incorporated coastal Algeria into France as the départements of Algiers, Oran, and Constantine.

    Over time, Muslim Algerians feared French discrimination. In 1865, native Imazighen and the Arab could only become French citizens if they converted to Christianity.

    The Algerian War with France

    Tensions between the French colonists and Algerians came to a head in late 1954, when the Front de libération nationale (National Liberation Front, or FLN) executed terrorist attacks in Algeria to put pressure on France. These attacks started the Algerian War with France from 1954 and 1962. The FLN and its supporters used guerilla tactics against military and immigrant targets. The French army relocated around two million Algerians from their villages to camps which prevented them from supporting the FLN in response to Algerian agency.

    The French army took FLN’s strongholds in 1885 to regain control of Algeria. Some historians claim that the Algerian death toll was 1.5 million while the French claimed only 400,000 casualties from both sides. In 1961, the French public public opinion favored independence in Algeria, and soon talks opened between the FLN and French leaders. On July 3, 1962, France declared Algeria independent and installed the first president, Ahmed Ben Bella, a former leader of the FLN. To remember Algerian agency, the Battle of Algiers, a 1966 historical war film, detailed French occupation in Algeria. In the French language, there are references to Algerians like “Pied-Noir” and “Harki”. A "Pied-Noir" is a French person whose family lived in Algeria for several generations. Pied Noir means black feet because their feet resembled the black boots the French soldiers wore.  A "Harki" is an Algerian person who chose to fight on the side of France despite French support of Algerian independence.

    The Sand War in 1963 started when Morocco tried to conquer a part of western Algeria. The Algerian army utilized hit-and-run tactics to hold the more advanced Moroccan army at bay. The Organization for African Unity coordinated a ceasefire in 1964, although it took eight years for an agreement to be reached.

    20th Century Power Struggles

    In 1965, Houari Boumediene, President Ben Bella’s chief of staff, seized power from Bella in a bloodless coup that abolished the government while creating a revolutionary council backed by the army. Boumediene nationalized the Algerian oil and agricultural industry to use revenues to industrialize the country. Algeria’s economy grew under his control, despite strict government censorship. The sécurité militaire (military police) effectively quelled any opposition to the new government. A constitution was formed to establish parliament and reinstated the office of the president for Boumediene to claim in 1978 for one year before dying from  a rare blood disease.

    Chadli Bendjedid, Boumediene’s former minister of defense became president. Bendjedid received backlash from pro-statists who believed in a strong central government in the late 1980s. In 1988, Algerian youth protested against the lack of  economic growth and political reforms. The military stopped the riots by violently killing 500 and arresting 3,000 according to unofficial sources.  In response, Bendjedid moved the government toward a multi-party system to address the population’s concerns in 1991.

    The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), a fundamentalist group that sought to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law, won the local elections that year. The FIS won 188 seats out of 430 in the first multi-party parliament elections. Before the second round of voting took place for contested seats, the army intervened and cracked down on voters by the FIS as illegal and arresting their supporters. In 1992, the military removed the government and appointed a former leader in the FLN, Mohamed Boudiaf. Six months later, he was assassinated by a FIS sympathizer, leading to mass arrests of FIS supporters. The military declared an official state of emergency, effectively suspending Algerian citizens’ freedom of expression, assembly, and association for 19 years until the 2011 Arab Spring.

    The Algerian Civil War

    The Algerian Civil War broke out after conflicts between Islamist rebel groups and the Algerian government intensified in 1991. During the decade-long battle,  more than 150,000 Algerians died. In 1999, the government granted FIS members amnesty and eventually the group disbanded. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a member of the FLN, was elected in 1999 with support from the military. He vowed to gain Algerian trust in national institutions, inclusion of all parties and groups in dialogue, including the then-outlawed FIS leaders. Bouteflika was reelected for his fourth and last term in April 2014. 

    In 2006, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) and Al-Qaeda  renamed themselves as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM believes in a pure interpretation of the Quran and promised to destroy symbols of Western culture internally and externally to establish an Islamic State in Algeria. AQIM led a number of violent attacks against the government and Westerners. In June 2018, AQIM conducted a suicide bombing of the G5 headquarters in Mali. Since 2019, AQIM has been in rapid decline due to the assainatin of their leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel. Infighting ensued within the organization causing a failure to transition smoothly into the next generation. 

    The Arab Spring in Algeria & the Hirak Movement

    Boutefilka’s regime faced many serious economic and social problems, including a high unemployment rate, housing shortages, unreliable electrical and water supplies, and government corruption, among other obstacles. The wealth from oil was distributed inequitably, creating a gap between the wealthy and poor.

    Those suffering from these unaddressed problems prompted protests and riots influenced by the Arab Spring in 2011. To appease the demonstrators, the Bouteflika government voted to lower taxes on certain foods, promote job creation and open the state-run television to other parties. They also lifted the 19-year state-of-emergency declaration. These acts restored Algerians’ freedom of expression, assembly and association. In addition, the government offered more than $23 billion in public grants to raise the wages of civil servants, funded more food subsidies and offered interest-free loans for young entrepreneurs. Around $65 billion were invested between 2010 and 2014 for infrastructure development. According to the Washington Post, “the housing occupancy rate [decreased] from 6.8 in 1999 to 4.3.” As of 2016, 905,000 units of housing have been built. Learn more about the Algerian response to the Arab Spring in this Teach Mideast article.

    On February 16, 2019, millions of non-violent protesters began filling Algeria’s streets against President Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term because of his corruption.  On April 1, 2019, the 82-year-old president was forced from power. The army chief of staff, Ahmed Gaïd Salah, a former Bouteflika ally, claimed that the president was physically unable to perform his role since his 2013 stroke. The country’s constitutional council ratified Bouteflika’s resignation on April 2, 2019. An interim government named by Bouteflika presided over by a Bouteflika ally bought the country time to organize elections. Anti-government rallies (designated Hirak, or “the movement”) took place throughout and after the election as protesters demanded the elimination of the entire political establishment. Peaceful protesters demanded the withdrawal of Bouteflika and his candidacy and the removal of Prime Minister Ahmen Ouyahia. Protesters walked for anti-corruption measurements like calling for the resignation of many corrupt officials and a new era of democracy and liberty.

    Contemporary Government Reform

    In December 2019, Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected president in an election with the lowest turnout (40%) since Algerian independence in 1962. Many protestors viewed Tebboune as a Bouteflika loyalist and a close ally to army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

    On November 1, 2020 Algeria voted to cement changes made after Bouteflika left office such as the return of a two-term limit for president and ministers of parliament, the creation of  a “corruption-busting” unit, and the requirement for public institutions to guarantee the freedom of press. Though some demands were met, the president still controls key powers and appointments. The vote had a record low tournout with only 23.8% tournout since the referendum was seen as the government's way to silence the Hirak movement.

    In 2020, Algerians voted to change the constitution in a referendum supported by Tebboune to meet the demands of the Hirak movement. The president was  allowed to appoint a prime minister as long as his political party held the majority in party. The PM could be removed by the National Assembly. A two term limit for presidents and ministers of parliament was reinstated. In addition,  the Constitutional court replaced the Algerian Constitutional council. The general public, however, were still hesitant of the governmentl; Hirak’s lack of leadership led to his downfall. Without proper leadership and a declining economic situation, tensions amongst Algerians have been rising, becoming exacerbated through the COVID-19 pandemic growth and low vaccine rollout rates and poor safety measures. Many believe that Hirak is poised for a rebirth.

    With a new government in place, Bouteflika made few public appearances and passed away in September 2021.


    Government Structure

    The Algerian government is structured as a multiparty, presidential republic with an executive branch and a bicameral parliament. The bicameral parliament consists of the National People’s Assembly (389 seats) and the Council of the Nation (144 seats). The People’s Assembly is elected every five years, and the council’s elections are every six years, with one third of the seats appointed by the president. Although Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had amended the constitution to remove presidential term limits in 2008, presidential term limits were reinstated in 2020. The president is elected every five years. It was also ruled that political parties cannot be based on religion. As of 2021, there are thirty-three recognized political parties.

    The current president is Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The head of government is Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane who was appointed by Tebboune in July 2021. The president has a cabinet whom he appoints.

    Court System

    Algeria’s capital is Algiers. There are 58 provinces (wilayas). The French legal system and political Islam heavily influenced the legal system. The highest court is the Supreme Court, consisting of 150 judges fitting into eight different chambers, though there are also state courts.


    Citizenship can only be granted if the mother of the subject was an Algerian citizen or through naturalization after seven years of residence. Many Algerians hold French citizenship due to a law in France that provides for the children of French parents — even those maintaining their citizenship after the Algerian War — the right to claim French citizenship.

    Government Resources

    International & Regional Issues

    Algeria-Morocco Relations & the Western Sahara

    Algeria rejects its regional rival Morocco's administration of the Western Sahara territory. The Polisario Front, a rebel movement made up of the Sahrawi people living in Western Sahara, claims the territory as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Polisario is currently in exile. Algeria supports the Sahrawi rebels, and the Polisario Front’s headquarters is in the Algerian city of Tindouf across the border from Morocco near the area claimed by the Sahrawi people. Although there have been protests by the Sahrawi in Western Sahara, Algeria and the Polisario have not engaged in armed conflicts with the Moroccans since the UN-issued ceasefire in 1991. There are approximately 173,600 Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria-sponsored camps. Since 2003, there have been talks between Morocco, Algeria, and the Polisario to decide the future of the Western Sahara, with neither Algeria nor the Polisario willing to accept anything less than independence.

    Tensions between the Polisario and Morocco re-ignited in November 2020 as Morocco launched a military operation into the UN-controlled buffer strip in response to the Polisario’s blockade of a key trading route to Mauritania. In response, the Polisario declared war on Morocco and a brief fire exchange occurred on November 13, 2020. Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad criticized Morocco’s military decision and claimed the move was meant to “destabilize Algeria.”

    In December 2020, Morocco established diplomatic ties with Israel, making it the fourth Arab state to do so. The deal was brokered by the Trump administration in what is known as the Abraham Accords as part of a larger attempt to normalize Iraeli-Arab relations region-wide. In return for opening ties with Israel, the United States recognized Morocco’s claim on the Western Sahara. This was a substaintial success for the Moroccans but various experts deem the recognition as obstructive to self-determination. Algeria’s Prime Minister decried the normalization of the Moroccan-Iraeli relationship and stated the move “bring[s] the Israeli and Zionist entity to our borders.” 

    The border with Morocco is another source of tension, as both nations claim the other is harboring militants. This dispute dates back to the 1990s during the Algerian Civil War, in which Algeria accused Morocco of supporting the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, a terrorist organization. In 1994, after Morocco accused Algeria of being complicit in a bombing in Marrakesh and deported a majority of Algerians from the country, Algeria closed its border indefinitely. The border remains closed to this day, although Morocco has indicated a desire for its reopening. Algeria has been unreceptive to the rhetoric of Moroccan officials, claiming the reopening of the border would be detrimental to national security. Given the nature of tribal Imazighen culture, which crosses state lines, the closed border has had a profound impact on familial relations.

    Migration and Refugees

    Algeria provides a way for sub-Saharan refugees to flee to Europe. In 2018, Algeria expelled over 13,000 migrants from its borders. African neighbors resented the refugees as European neighbors called for stricter controls on migration. Neither Algeria or its coastal neighbors have found a durable solution. These refugees are estimated to require over $44.9 million in financial aid from the UNHCR. As of May 2022, more than 90,000 Sahrawi refugees remain in Algeria , divided between five different camps.

    Algeria-France Relations

    Celebrating sixty years of independence from France in 2022, despite mutual criticism of each other, Algeria and France have maintained fairly benevolent relations. French President Emmanuel Macron issued an apology in September 2021 for France’s massacre of Algerians during the war. French human rights activists have also commemorated the 1961 massacre of Algerians living in France who were killed by Paris police during demonstrations against discriminatory policies. Algeria has taken steps to decolonize such as terminating the use of French in official Algerian correspondence. President Tebboune demanded “total respect” from Macron after ill remarks by Paris on Algerian independence.


    On February 25, 2020, Algeria reported its first case of COVID-19 from an Italian traveler that arrived on February 17. Algeria was the second African  country to report a COVID-19 case following Egypt. On November 3, 2020, President Tebbone announced he tested positive for COVID-19 after being hospitalized in Germany on October 28th.

    On March 20, 2020, the protest movement Hirak (“the movement”) suspended its Friday demonstrations due to COVID, making it the first Friday missed since the beginning of the movement back in 2019. It was not until October 5th that protests resumed to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the pro-democracy movement even with a ban on protests still in place.

    Algeria signed a supply contract with Russia for the Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine. Algeria started to produce its own vaccines as of September 2021 to double the number of vaccines administered. Algeria wants to export their  vaccines according to Lotfi Djamel Benbahmed, their pharmaceutical industry minister. They calculate that 70% of the population will be vaccinated by the end of the year. As of July 2022, there have been 266,487 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 6,875 deaths, reported to WHO, and a total of 15,205,854 vaccine doses have been administered.

    International & Regional Issues Resources


    Algeria's economy remains dominated by the state. In recent years, the Algerian government has halted the privatization of state-owned industries and imposed restrictions on imports and foreign direct investments. In 2016, the government passed a series of major constitutional amendments to strengthen Algeria’s governing structure and deepen separation of powers. Hydrocarbons account for nearly 94% of exports, making up 19% of GDP and 40% of budget revenues. This means Algeria is very sensitive to changes in the energy market as the 6th largest gas exporter in the world. The slump in global oil prices since mid-2014 has contributed to the constitutional amendments which were made in 2016. Russia’s 2022 offensive in Ukraine, however, has given the country a slight relief as the move raised global oil prices significantly.

    With declining revenues caused by falling oil prices, the government was forced to reduce spending. In 2016, the government increased taxes on electricity and fuel, and in 2017 the value added tax was raised by 2% on nearly all products. The government has, however, refrained from directly reducing subsidies, particularly for education, healthcare, and housing programs. 

    In 2018 Algeria imposed an indefinite suspension of 850 products to limit imports and encourage domestic production which remains to this day. The government also curtailed the use of foreign expertise, claiming that it will save around $7 billion a year while also canceling infrastructure projects. 

    Despite some changes to the economic structure, formal-sector unemployment and housing shortages remain high. Youth unemployment rose to nearly 30% in 2020. Algeria’s budget deficit was predicted to be 14% of Algeria’s GDP in 2021, placing it among the bottom 15 countries in the world. Long-term economic challenges for Algeria include diversifying the economy away from its reliance on hydrocarbon exports, bolstering the private sector, attracting foreign investment, and providing adequate jobs for younger Algerians.

    The government has exposed itself to the possibility of relying on organizations such as the IMF and greater protests by the Hirak will ensue after a decline in Covid-19 cases.

    Economy Resources


    Algeria is ranked 91 out of 179 on the 2020 UN Human Development Index (HDI) Report. 

    In 2022, Algeria had a population of 44,178,884 million with the majority of the population (74.8% in 2022) living in urban centers. The median age in Algeria is 28.9 years old.

    Arab-Berbers account for 99% of the total population and only 1% is made up of people from France, Corsica, Spain, Italy, and Malta. The official language of the country is Arabic, although French is often used for business and administrative tasks.

    While most Algerians are Amazigh in origin, only 15% (5.7 million) identify solely as Amazigh people who eschew Arab culture and adhere to ancient indigenous traditions. 11 million people identify as at least part Amazigh, according to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. They are split into four main groups: Kabylies, Chaouias, M’zabites and Tauregs. Lastly, the Tuaregs, a traditionally nomadic people, travel through neighboring countries such as Mali, Niger, and Libya. They can be found in the Sahara Desert and speak Tuareg.

    Berbers call themselves Imazighen, meaning noble or free born. The term ‘Berber’ derives from the Greek barbario and the Latin barbari from which Arabs derived the term “barbariy,” meaning primitive or foreign. The Imazighen people lived in Africa long before the Arabization of Algeria in the mid-seventh century and their culture dates back almost 4,000 years. Since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, those who identify themselves as Amazigh have been fighting the Algerian government for increased political participation, governmental recognition, and teaching and use of their languages in schools.

    As of 2018, 81.4% of the population over the age of fifteen is literate. There is a sizable literacy gap between the men (87.4%) and women (75.3%), possibly because of lower school attendance rates for girls in rural communities. Despite the literacy gap, women are a driving force for social change: in 2018 the gross enrollment ratio in higher education was 64.4% for women and 38.8% for men.

    After the Arab Spring, the government established a gender quota that mandated that one-third of parliament seats and local government positions be allotted to women. This resulted in increased representation in government from 7% to 31%, and launched Algeria into first place among Arab countries, and 26th place globally in 2017, for women’s political representation at both national and local levels.

    The average Algerian child can expect free and compulsory education for nine years of primary school. Less than half of students continue to secondary schooling which is divided into three branches: general, specialized/technical, and vocational. General and specialized/technical studies are completed in three years, whereas vocational studies may be completed in one to four years. The University of Algiers, established in 1909, is the oldest institution of higher learning in Algeria. It offers degrees in law, Islamic sciences and medicine.

    Healthcare is slowly improving in Algeria. Algeria slightly misses the WHO recommended ratio of physicians to patients at 1.13 doctors per 1,000 people as of 2021.  The nation is focused on developing preventative care clinics instead of hospitals to benefit the young population. An immunization program is offered by the government, but poor sanitation and unclean water still contributes to cases of diseases like hepatitis. The poor receive free healthcare, and the wealthy are charged for healthcare based on a sliding scale. Healthcare access is increasing due to regulations that require all physicians to work in the public health sector for at least five years. Physicians are generally easier to access in the northern parts of the country than in the southern Sahara.

    The child mortality rates in Algeria have steadily declined over the past decades. In 1970 the number was at 242 deaths out of 1,000 live births, and in 2019 it stood at 19.72 out of 1,000 live births.

    Society Resources

    LGBTQ+ Issues

    Under Article 338 of the Algerian penal code, same-sex relations are criminalized and punishable by two years of inprisonment. Additionally, article 333 increases the penalty for public indecency to six months to three years in prison and a fine if it involves “acts against nature with a member of the same sex,” whether between men or women. While Algeria has ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, its law does not extend antidiscrimination protections to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The country also prohibits the registration of public organizations whose aims are deemed inconsistent with “public morals.” These laws make it nearly impossible for members of the LGBT+ community to form or become active in queer groups. 

    LGBTQ+ Resources


    Islam is the state and dominant religion with 99% of the population identifying as Muslim. Of this percentage, 99.73% of people identify as Sunni, while 0.39% identify as Shi’ites. Most Muslims follow the Maliki school of thought, founded by Imam Malik (711-795), who wrote Al-Muwatta (The Approved). Al-Muwatta is a collection of rituals, rites, customs, traditions and laws from the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Muwatta includes only the verbatim sayings of Muhammad, which makes it unique, as the Hadith (the record of the prophet’s life that supplements the Quran as a source of religious guidance) contains the words of others in addition to Muhammad’s sayings. Christianity first appeared in Algeria during the Roman Empire and started to disappear with its collapse, although interest in it was revitalized under the Byzantines. In the 7th century, after the Arab invasions, it disappeared entirely and did not return until the French colonization of Algeria.

    Freedom of religion is limited in Algeria. The constitution allows for freedom of worship in accordance with the law and there are ordinances in place that allow non-Sunni Muslims to worship as they please. In practice, the rights of Jews, Christians and other Muslims to worship in public are often restricted and religious minorities often meet in secret or informally, as only Sunni Muslims have the full protection of the law. In addition, the Algerian constitution bans non-Muslims from holding high-level government positions. There is also a ban on proselytizing, which prevents open religious discussions. Muslim converts to Christianity or Judaism face imprisonment, fines, or are pressured to convert back to Islam. According to the State Department’s 2020 Religions Freedom report, “proselytizing by non-Muslims is a criminal offense with a penalty of one million dinars ($8,400) and five years imprisonment.”

    Religion Resources


    General Information

    The culture has been touched by Arab, African and Mediterranean civilizations and Algeria’s geographical location has enabled exposure to different cultures through trade, colonization and migration.


    Wall and cave paintings found at Tassili n’Ajjer are the oldest forms of art in Algeria and depict the lives of the ancient people that lived there. The art in Tassili n’Ajer is classified into five different periods from 12000 CE to 1000 CE and later. For example, the first is the Large Wild Fauna Period, which depicts the relationship the people had with the animals. There are over 15,000 drawings and engravings at Tassili n’Ajjer.

    Algerian artists are known for their intricate paintings, sculptures and woven tapestries. Mohammed Racim is a famous painter considered to be the “Father of Miniatures''  is regarded as a cultural and national influence in Algeria. His miniature paintings, no more than a few inches, are hand-painted in watercolor or oil.  Racim’s work in the 1930s made him a significant cultural and political figure in Algeria as his work often portrayed a fictional Algerian future without the influence of French colonizers and a rich and prosperous past before French rule.

    A popular style of modern art displays abstract calligraphy and decorative traditions of Islamic art (such as traditional signs and symbols), combined with contemporary abstract art. Certain artists, for example, look to traditional Amazigh art for symbols, which they might use as structural elements in their works, amplifying some and reinventing others, as in the work of the Algerian artist Rashid Koraishi. Koraishi’s sculpture explorations extend across a range of media, including ceramics, textiles, various metals and painted silk, paper and canvas. Rashid begins with Arabic calligraphic scripts and incorporates symbols, glyphs and ciphers drawn from a wide variety of languages and cultures.

    Art Resources


    Algerian cuisine reflects a variety of cultural influences. Durum wheat was a staple of the Amazigh people and continues to be currently. Couscous dishes (often served with lamb, chicken or cooked vegetables) are so common, they’re often referred to as ta’am in Arabic, which simply translates as ‘food’. Other kinds of grain – such as bulgur wheat and barley – can also be steamed to create different varieties of couscous. Locally-grown crops, such as potatoes, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, olives and dates, are common ingredients in Algerian dishes. In Saharan regions, dates, figs and hard cheeses are eaten with flat unleavened breads baked over fires.

    Many dishes, especially stews, soups and sausages, have a hot or spicy flavor. A popular spicy soup is chorba (literally translating to soup). It is flavored with spices like saffron, nutmeg and cinnamon, which were introduced by the Arabs.

    The Ottoman Turks brought sweet pastries to the region. Many local sweets incorporate the staple wheat, such as tamina, into pastries or desserts.

    Food Resources

    Literature & Film

    Algerian literature has a rich history recognized beyond Algerian borders, specifically during the early to mid-20th century. Assia Djebar (Fatima Zohra Imalayen), an Algerian writer and filmmaker, wrote about feminism in Algeria and her experience as a woman. Her two most famous cinematic pieces are titled La Nouba des Femmes du Mont Chenoua and La Zerda ou les Chants de l’Oubli. She was an avid anti-patriarchal activist. She was chosen to the Academie Francaise in 2005. She was the first ever female Maghrebi writer to receive such recognition. She also received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and was a contender for the Nobel Prize. 

    Mohammed Moulessehoul, also known as Yasmina Khadra is an Algerian novelist. He has over 40 works published. He writes about civil wars in Arab countries, detailing the life of people under radical Islam and Sharia law. He wrote about the schism between the East and the West and on Algeria’s political instability and long-time military regime.

    Kamel Daoud is also a very renowned Algerian writer and journalist. He is an editor and opinion-piece writer for Le Quotidien d’Oran. He is also a news commentator. He won the  Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman prize for his novel, Meursault Investigation. He is a guest writer for the New York Times as well. He has been the center of many controversies for writing and criticizing certain Islamic precepts. 

    Literature & Film Resources


    Algerian people have a strong clothing tradition that is still adhered to today. Folk dresses are commonly worn, especially in rural areas. Many local designers use the traditional features of Algerian outfits in modern clothes. 

    A burnous is a long woolen cloak with a hood traditionally used by Algerian men. Many Algerian garments are hooded because it protects the wearer from the sun, desert winds, and sand, and in the mountain regions it protects from the cold, rain, and snow. Usually, the burnous is white and made from fine, thin wool. A burnous is often very festive, decorated with embroidery, tassels, and patterns on the fabric. This garment is used in several Arab countries.

    Another piece of Algerian traditional clothing is a djellaba, a garment that is used in several Mediterranean countries. It is a loose, long-sleeved robe with a hood used by both men and women. The color of a Djellaba tells the marital status of the wearer: light colors for married men and dark brown color for bachelors. Traditionally it was ankle-length or ground-length but modern djellabas are a little shorter. The male djellaba is more loose and plain than women’s one.

    The traditional female outfits are usually bright and colorful, with rich decorations in gold and silver threads. The modest clothing is often fitted with lace, patterns on the fabric, jewelry, and so on. Algerian women wear different long dresses that cover their body from head to toe. Commonly, the traditional loose trousers are worn underneath the dress. Most Algerians are Muslim, so the women tend to cover their heads with various headgears. 

    One of the traditional Algerian dresses is called “karakou”. It always consists of a velvet jacket embroidered with gold threads. Usually, the jacket is worn with the traditional Arab trousers called “saroual,” but modern karakou can be used with a long skirt.

    The traditional Algerian male headdress is a fez. It is a felt, tight-fitting cap in the shape of a short cylinder. Usually, a fez is red. The fez is particularly popular in the countries that used to be a part of the Ottoman Empire.

    Clothing Resources


    Two of the most popular genres of music found in the North African and Arab regions have originated in Algeria: Algerian Chaabi (“folk”) and Rai. Chaabi is a combination of classical Arab and Andalusian music with traditionally deep moral messages of love, loss, celebration, and friendship. El Hadj M’Hamed El Anka (1907-1978) is considered the master of both Andalusian and Algerian Chaabi music in Algeria. He was an accomplished musician who recorded over 360 songs on 130 albums throughout his lifetime

    By far the most popular type of modern music is Rai, a mixture of Western and traditional Algerian Bedouin (nomadic) music. Translated as “opinion,” young people use it to express political and social discontent. It is more abrasive and louder than the typical soft, flowery music that comes out of the region. Rai is in opposition to the government authoritarianism and conservative fundamentalists’ religious ideals. Its popularity has spread to France, Spain and other Middle Eastern countries.

    The most famous Rai artist is Cheb Khaled, the legendary “King of Rai.” Born in Oran, Algeria, he began recording in his early teens and is considered the most famous Algerian singer in the Arab world. He sold over 46 million albums worldwide and his 1992 hit single, “Didi,” propelled him into international stardom. Likewise, Chab Khaled’s French and Algerian Arabic “Aicha,” released in 1996, rose to the top of a multitude of international music charts. The song features the title subject’s rejection of a suitor’s offer of fanciful gifts and adoration in favor of equal rights and respect as a woman.

    Music Resources

    Sites & Places of Interest

    Algeria’s many mosques and places of worship draw many visitors. The Great Mosque of Algiers in 1097 CE is the oldest mosque in the capital. Roman Catholic churches, reminiscent of colonial rule, such as la Cathédrale du Sacré-Coeur in Oran serve as tourist cites as well. This cathedral was founded in 1913 and converted into a public library in 1996. The city of Oran itself is a major tourist destination and is often referred to “little Paris” by locals due to the remnants of French influence noticeable in the city’s architecture. It is also the birthplace of Rai music.

    Algeria is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Timgad, a Roman ruin about 68 miles southwest of Algiers, was a Roman military colony by Emperor Trajan in 100 CE. Timgad was sacked by Vandals in the 5th century. Djemila is notable for the adaptation of Roman architecture in the first century CE by Nerva and occupied by Romans until the fall of the empire. Mzab Valley, 372 miles south of Algiers and in the heart of the Sahara, refers to the five fortified villages (ksour) that make up the area. The five villages circle a mosque and are known as the Pentapolis. Mzab Valley was established between 1012 and 1350 CE and exemplifies communal living in a harsh environment.

    Tassili n’Ajjer, a mountain range in the Sahara Desert, is home to pictographs that depict human activities in the region from 6,000 BCE to the beginning of the current era (see ‘Art’). It also has more than 500 natural arches.

    Sites & Places of Interest Resources


    Throughout Algeria’s history, fantasia popularity has not dwindled, and remains popular today. Fantasia, or lab el baroud (the gunpowder play), is an event where a group of horsemen synchronize firing of their  muskets or muzzle-loading rifles in the air at the same time while on a horse. The goal is to make it seem as if only one rifle has been shot. 

    Football (U.S. soccer) is Algeria’s most popular modern sport and is played by children and adults in the nation’s streets and parks. Founded in 1962, Algeria’s national football team has been represented three times in the FIFA World Cup and several times in the All-Africa Games. The men’s football team, the Fennec Foxes, won the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations and have earned the gold medal in both the Mediterranean (1975) and All-African Games (1978), and was an Olympic Qualifier in 1980, making it to the quarter final round. Algeria appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on four occasions in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014.

    The French introduced Algerians to boxing in 1930 and within nine years, 11 major boxing clubs had formed. It remains popular to this day. 

    The majority of Algeria’s Olympic medals have come from boxing and track and field events (six in boxing, nine in track and field). Algeria has participated in all but one of the Summer Olympic Games (1976). Algeria has also been represented at three winter games, however, they have yet to win a medal. Algeria has won a total of 17 Olympic medals: five gold, four silver, and eight bronze.

    Sports Resources

    Latest News & Commentary on Algeria

    Algerian News Outlets


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