Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, covering an area of nearly
2.5 million square miles. It is located in northern Africa, along the Mediterranean Sea, between
Morocco and Tunisia, and is bounded on the southwest by Mauritania and Mali, on the southeast by
Niger, and the west by Libya. Measuring 2,381,741 square kilometers (919,595 square miles),
Algeria covers an area comparable to slightly less than 3.5 times the size of the state of Texas.
Since earliest times, this part of Africa was inhabited by Berber people. Then, for over 500
years, the coast came under Roman rule until the Arabs penetrated North Africa in the seventh
century and converted the Berbers to Islam.
ln 1830, the French invaded Algeria. The Algerian population was condemned to economic, social
and political inferiority and an armed resistance to the occupation followed, lasting for decades.
Unlike Morocco and Tunisia, also occupied by the French, Algeria was considered an integral part
of France. Thus, education, for example, when available to Algerians, was in French.
The years before World War II saw a revival of the Nationalist movement and the formation of the
Party of the Algerian People (PPA). In 1942, Algerian nationalists established an Algerian
constituent assembly, and, a year later, demanded reforms including the introduction of Arabic as
an official language, and the eventual creation of an Algerian state. The French rejected these
In March 1944, after a visit to Algiers by General Charles de Gaulle, some compromises were made.
Still, French settlers continued to reject any real concessions to the Algerians. During a
peaceful demonstration on the 8th of May, 1945, during which Algerians called for recognition of
their right to independence after having contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany, 45,000
Algerians were killed in a brutal repression.
By 1954, Algerian opposition had turned into full-scale revolt led by the Front de Libération
Nationale (FLN). Severe French repression of the Muslim population, including the use of torture
and internment, and the hijacking and arrest of the FLN leader, Ahmed Ben Bella in 1957, was
condemned both at home and abroad. By 1959, General de Gaulle was forced to recognize the
strength of Algerian nationalism and the first secret talks between the FLN and the French took
place in 1960.
In November, de Gaulle announced that a referendum on the future of Algeria would be held.
The final step towards Algerian independence was taken at a referendum in July 1962; 91 % of the
population voting in its favor. Independence was declared on July 3rd, 1962.
The United States Department of State warns U.S. citizens to evaluate carefully the implications
for their security and safety before deciding to travel to Algeria. Although the level of
terrorist incidents in Algeria is lower than in recent years, unpredictable attacks continue to
occur in crowded urban areas, in rural villages and roadsides, and on public transport.
For those Americans who decide to travel to Algeria despite this warning, the Department urges
maximum caution, including the following measures: minimize use of regularly scheduled commercial
flights, be met and accompanied by pre-arranged local contacts upon arrival and departure at
airports, and have armed protection while traveling overland. Nighttime travel outside the
central urban areas should be strictly avoided. Visitors to the capital of Algiers should reside
only in one of the several large, internationally recognized hotels where security is provided.
U.S. citizens should not travel or walk anywhere in Algeria unless accompanied by a known
Algerian companion. This measure applies to walking the streets of Algiers and other cities.
U.S. Embassy personnel take all of these precautions.
Most recent terrorist activity has occurred in northern Algeria. U.S. oil companies operating in
the desert region south of the Saharan Atlas Mountains have experienced no attacks in the past
year. The Algerian Government and the companies themselves take maximum security precautions,
including the measures described above, to ensure safety in the oil-producing region.
A giant of a country, plagued by terrorism and violence, Algeria has enormous resources,
a tremendous potential and seems, at last, to be on the path of peace. It is well into the
process of stripping itself of its state run industries and has flung wide the gates to
desperately needed private and foreign investment required to solve its pressing problems of
housing, unemployment and poverty.
It has chosen a new President whose announced aims seem to be to widen and further
liberalization, to bring peace and prosperity to the people.
For Daring Adventurers
The principal towns in Algieria include Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Annaba, Blida, Setif, and
Sidi be Abbes, and main tourist attractions include the Mediterranean coast, the Atlas mountains
and the desert.
Algerias multiple faces boast some beautiful architecture.
Its geography, its sites, its climates, and its traditions have created various masterpieces.
You can find terrace-leveled architectures in the Aures, prodigious vernacular representations
in the antique towns of Timgad or M'zab, and the Casbah or the Mansourah remains.
In Algeria, the traditional clothing is a keen illustration of the life of women and men
during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Virtually all Algerians, according to statistics, are Sunni Muslims, and Islam is recognized
as the state religion. Christianity, since the departure of the French in 1962, is a peripheral
religion. Jews, according to the most recent statistics gathered by the Sephardic Jewish
Federation, number 5,000.
Algerian Arabic is the primary language of around 86 percent of the Algerian population. The
official language is Modern Standard Arabic. Most of the remainder speak various Amazigh dialects.
French is also spoken among the educated, a result of French colonialism. In 1995, about 57
percent of the population, over 15 years, were literate.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between
Morocco and Tunisia
Area-comparative: slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas
Coastline: 998 km
Climate: 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
Terrain: mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow,
discontinuous coastal plain
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates,
uranium, lead, zinc
Geographynote: second-largest country in Africa (after Sudan)
Population: 31,133,486 (July 1999 est.)
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
Religions: Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
Languages: Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects
conventional long form: Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria
conventional short form: Algeria
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Jaza'iriyah ad Dimuqratiyah ash Shabiyah
local short form: Al Jaza'ir
Government type: republic
National Holiday: Anniversary of the Revolution, 1 November (1954)
Constitution: 19 November 1976, effective 22 November 1976; revised 3
November 1988, 23 February 1989, and 28 November 1996; notereferendum approving the revisions
of 28 November 1996 was signed into law 7 December 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
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ramtane LAMAMRA
chancery: 2118 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:  (202) 265-2800
FAX:  (202) 667-2174
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Cameron R. HUME
embassy: 4 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi, Algiers
mailing address: B. P. Box 549, Alger-Gare, 16000 Algiers
telephone:  (2) 69-11-86, 69-12-55, 69-18-54, 69-38-75
FAX:  (2) 69-39-79
Flag description: two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and
white with a red, five-pointed star within a red crescent; the crescent, star, and color green
are traditional symbols of Islam (the state religion)
Economyoverview: The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the
economy, accounting for roughly 52% of budget revenues, 25% of GDP, and over 95% of export
earnings. Algeria has the fifth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the second
largest gas exporter; it ranks fourteenth for oil reserves. Algiers' efforts to reform one of the
most centrally planned economies in the Arab world began after the 1986 collapse of world oil
prices plunged the country into a severe recession. In 1989, the government launched a
comprehensive, IMF-supported program to achieve economic stabilization and to introduce market
mechanisms into the economy. Despite substantial progress toward economic adjustment, in 1992 the
reform drive stalled as Algiers became embroiled in political turmoil. In September 1993, a new
government was formed, and one priority was the resumption and acceleration of the structural
adjustment process. Burdened with a heavy foreign debt, Algiers concluded a one-year standby
arrangement with the IMF in April 1994 and the following year signed onto a three-year extended
fund facility which ended 30 April 1998. Progress on economic reform, a Paris Club debt
rescheduling in 1995, and oil and gas sector expansion have contributed to a recovery since 1995.
Investments in developing hydrocarbon resources have spurred growth, but the economy remains
heavily dependent on volatile oil and gas revenues. The government has continued efforts to
diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector in
order to reduce high unemployment and improve living standards.
Labor forceby occupation: government 29.5%, agriculture 22%,
construction and public works 16.2%, industry 13.6%, commerce and services 13.5%, transportation
and communication 5.2% (1989)
Unemployment rate: 30% (1998 est.)
Industries: petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining,
electrical, petrochemical, food processing
Agricultureproducts: wheat, barley, oats, grapes, olives,
citrus, fruits; sheep, cattle
Exportscommodities: petroleum and natural gas 97%
Importscommodities: capital goods, food and beverages,
Currency: 1 Algerian dinar (DA) = 100 centimes
domestic: good service in north but sparse in south; domestic satellite system with 12
earth stations (20 additional domestic earth stations are planned)
international: 5 submarine cables; microwave radio relay to Italy, France, Spain,
Morocco, and Tunisia; coaxial cable to Morocco and Tunisia; participant in Medarabtel;
satellite earth stations2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik, and 1
total: 4,772 km
standard gauge: 3,616 km 1.435-m gauge (301 km electrified; 215 km double track)
narrow gauge: 1,156 km 1.055-m gauge
total: 102,424 km
paved: 70,570 km (including 608 km of expressways)
unpaved: 31,854 km (1995 est.)
Ports and harbors: Algiers, Annaba, Arzew, Bejaia, Beni Saf, Dellys,
Djendjene, Ghazaouet, Jijel, Mostaganem, Oran, Skikda, Tenes
Airports: 137 (1998 est.)
Military branches: National Popular Army, Navy, Air Force,
Territorial Air Defense, National Gendarmerie