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Background Notes: North Africa, May, 2005 [Secure eReader]
eBook by U.S. Department of State

eBook Category: Politics/Government
eBook Description: Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs country background notes for international travelers to Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. Each country's brief, factual background note summarizes its geography, people (population, ethnic groups, languages, health, and religion), history, culture, government and political conditions (type, political parties and principal government officials), economy (GDP; land, climate, and demographics; agriculture and natural resources; trade, industry, and investment; and transportation), defense, human rights, and foreign relations. Each country's background note also provides travel and business information, including principal U.S. officials (ambassador, public affairs officer, counselor for economic affairs, etc.); embassy location, telephone, and fax numbers; and passport information.

eBook Publisher: InfoStrategist.com/InfoStrategist.com
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2005

Background Note: Algeria



People's Democratic Republic of Algeria


Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia.
Area: Total – 2,381,740 sq. km. Land – 2,381,740 sq. km.; water – 0 sq. km. More than three times the size of Texas.
Cities: Capital – Algiers.
Terrain: Mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain. Mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mud slides.
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.
Land use: Arable land – 3%; permanent crops – 0%, permanent pastures – 13%; forests and woodland – 2%.


Nationality: Noun – Algerian(s); adjective – Algerian.
Population (July 2003 est.): 32,818,500.
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 1.65%. Birth rate – 21.94 births/1,000, population; death rate – 5.09 deaths/1,000 population.
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.
Education: Literacy (definition – age 15 and over can read and write) – total population, 70%; male 78.8%, female 61% (2003 est.)
Health (2003 est.): Infant mortality rate – 37.74 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth – total population, 70.54 years; male 69.14 years, female 72.01 years.
Work force (2003): 9.5 million. Government – 32%; agriculture – 14%; construction and public works – 10%; industry – 13.4%; trade
– 14.6%, other – 16%.
Unemployment rate (2004 est.): 30%.


Type: Republic.
Independence: July 5, 1962 (from France).
Constitution: November 19, 1976; revised November 3, 1988, February 23, 1989, and November 28, 1996.
Branches: Legal system 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.
Administrative divisions: 48 provinces (wilayates; singular, wilaya).
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal.
National holiday: Revolution Day, November 1, 1954.


GDP (2004 est.): $64.3 billion.
GDP growth rate (2004 est.): 4.1%.
Per capita real GDP (2004 est.): $1,972.
Agriculture: Products – wheat, barley, oats, grapes, olives, citrus, fruits; sheep, cattle.
Industry: Types – petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining, electrical, petrochemical, food processing, pharmaceuticals, cement, seawater desalination.
Trade: Exports – (2004 est.) $25 billion: petroleum, natural gas, and petroleum products 97%. Partners (2004 est.) – U.S.18.2%, Italy 16.1%, France 11.4%, Spain 4.7 Imports – $12.3 billion (f.o.b., 2003 est.): capital goods, food and beverages, consumer goods. Partners (2003 est.) – France 22.5%, U.S. 9.6%, Italy 9.5%, Germany 6.5%, Spain 5.2%, Turkey 4.1%, Canada 3.1%.
Budget (2004 est.): Revenues – $23.3 billion; expenditures – $22.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $7.8 billion.
Debt (external, 2004 est.): $19 billion.
U.S. economic assistance (2004 est.): $1.5 million (MEPI and IMET).
Fiscal year: Calendar year.


Algeria, the second-largest state in Africa, has a Mediterranean coastline of about 998 kilometers (620 mi.). The Tellian and Saharan Atlas mountain ranges cross the country from east to west, dividing it into three zones. Between the northern zone, Tellian Atlas, and the Mediterranean is a narrow, fertile coastal plain – the Tell (Arabic for hill) – with a moderate climate year round and rainfall adequate for agriculture. A high plateau region, averaging 914 meters (3,000 ft.) above sea level, with limited rainfall and great rocky plains and desert, lies between the two mountain ranges. It is generally barren except for scattered clumps of trees and intermittent bush and pastureland. The third and largest zone, south of the Saharan Atlas range of mountains, is mostly desert. About 80% of the country is desert, steppes, wasteland, and mountains.

Algeria's weather is irregular from year to year. In the north, the summers are usually hot with little rainfall. Winter rains begin in the north in October. Frost and snow are rare, except on the highest slopes of the Tellian Atlas Mountains. Dust and sandstorms occur most frequently between February and May.

Soil erosion from overgrazing and other poor farming practices; desertification; dumping of raw sewage, petroleum refining wastes, and other industrial effluents are leading to the pollution of rivers and coastal waters. The Mediterranean Sea, in particular, is becoming polluted from oil wastes, soil erosion, and fertilizer runoff; there are inadequate supplies of potable water.

Copyright © 2004

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