At nearly one million square miles, Algeria is the largest country in the African continent. It sits along the coast of northern Africa and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. Ninety percent of the country’s population is concentrated in this coastal area. Its terrain is composed mainly of dry land, most notably the Sahara Desert, but the country also features two parallel mountain ranges in the northeast called the Tell Atlas and the Sahara Atlas.
Having undergone Arabic and European invasions, the Algerian culture is an eclectic one. As a result, though the country is primarily Muslim, there are large Christian and Jewish populations. Their cuisine reflects their diverse population as well. It is a combination of typical Arabic Mediterranean foods like couscous and the cuisine of the indigenous African population. French and Jewish influences can be found in the food as well.
Arabic is spoken by three quarters of Algeria’s population, but many also speak Tamazight, which is the native language of northern Africans in the area. In 2016, it was recognized as a federal language by the Algerian government.
- The current capital of Algeria fell under Ottoman rule in the 16th century and served for 300 years as the headquarters of the Barbary pirates.
- Almost all Algerians are ethnically Berber, rather than Arab. About 99 percent of Algerians are Muslim.
- The crescent on the Algerian flag is more complete than other Muslim nations’ flags because Algerians hold the belief that longer crescent horns bear happiness.
- Algeria depends heavily on petroleum to maintain its economy. It is the third greatest oil exporter in the Arabic world.
- Algeria’s highest point is Mount Tahat, a peak located in the Sahara Desert. This point rises to 9,850 ft. (3,000 m).
- In comparison to other Islamic countries, Algeria is very progressive. Though women only make up one-fifth of the work force, more than two-thirds of the country’s judges and lawyers are female.
- The border between Algeria and Morocco was closed after tense relations between the two countries. To cross from Algeria into its bordering country, one must take a ferry to Spain and then another into Morocco.
- Algeria has virtually no external debt, owing less than two percent of their GDP to foreign nations.
- The country has a blossoming film industry. Their national budget allots two million dollars (USD) annually to film production.