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Algeria

Algeria

Algeria officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria is a country located in North Africa. It is the largest country of the Mediterranean sea, the second largest on the African continent and the eleventh-largest country in the world in terms of land area. It is bordered by Tunisia in the northeast, Libya in the east, Niger in the southeast, Mali and Mauritania in the southwest, Morocco in the northwest, and the Mediterranean Sea in the north.

Background History

After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was established in 1954 as part of the struggle for independence and has largely dominated politics since. The Government of Algeria in 1988 instituted a multi-party system in response to public unrest, but the surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets, and fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense violence between 1992-98 resulting in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s, and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, with the backing of the military, won the presidency in 1999 in an election widely viewed as fraudulent. He was reelected to a second term in 2004 and overwhelmingly won a third term in 2009 after the government amended the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA, including large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants. The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 2006 merged with al-Qa'ida to form al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, which has launched an ongoing series of kidnappings and bombings targeting the Algerian Government and Western interests. The government in 2011 introduced some political reforms in response to the Arab Spring, including lifting the 19-year-old state of emergency restrictions and ending the state's monopoly on broadcast media. Political protest activity in the country remained low in 2011, but small, sometimes violent socioeconomic demonstrations by disparate groups continued to be a common occurrence.

Government

Country Name:

  • conventional long form: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
  • conventional short form: Algeria
  • local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Jaza'iriyah ad Dimuqratiyah ash Sha'biyah
  • local short form: Al Jaza'ir

Capital:

  • name: Algiers
  • population: 2,740,000
  • geographic coordinates: 36 45 N, 3 03 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 5 July 1962 (from France)

Government Type:

  • Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (since 28 April 1999)
  • head of government: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (since 28 April 1999)
  • cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); next election to be held in April 2014

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: Bicameral Parliament consists of the Council of the Nation (upper house) and the National People's Assembly (lower house)

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court

People & Society

Population:

  • 35,406,303 (global rank: 35)
  • growth rate: 1.165% (global rank: 101)

Nationality:

  • noun: Algerian(s)
  • adjective: Algerian

Major Cities:

  • Algiers (capital): 2.74 million; Oran: 770,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Arab-Berber: 99%, European: less than 1%

Religions:

  • Sunni Muslim: 99% (state religion), Christian and Jewish: 1%

Languages:

  • Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 74.73 years (global rank: 98)
  • male: 72.99 years
  • female: 76.57 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 24.9 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 81)
  • male: 27.82 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 21.83 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS:

  • adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2009 est.) (global rank: 108)
  • people living with AIDS: 18,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 81)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 69.9%
  • male: 79.6%
  • female: 60.1%

Economy

Overview: Algeria's 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 privatiazation of state-owned industries and imposed restrictions on imports and foreign involvement in its economy. Hydrocarbons have long been the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the tenth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the sixth-largest gas exporter. It ranks 16th in oil reserves. 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. Algeria has struggled to develop industries outside of 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. 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 five years. Long-term economic challenges include diversification from hydrocarbons, relaxing state control of the economy, and providing adequate jobs for younger Algerians.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $264.1 billion (global rank: 48)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $7,200 (global rank: 130)
  • real growth rate: 2.9% (global rank: 124)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 8.1%, industry: 61.6%, services: 30.2%

Currency:

  • currency: Algerian Dinar (DZD)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 72.51

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: 23%
  • unemployment rate: 9.7%

Agricultural Products:

  • wheat, barley, oats, grapes, olives, citrus, fruits; sheep, cattle

Industries:

  • petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining, electrical, petrochemical, food processing

Export Commodities:

  • petroleum, natural gas, and petroleum products

Import Commodities:

  • capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods

Geography

Location:

  • Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia

Area:

  • total: 2,381,741 sq km (global rank: 10)
  • land: 2,381,741 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km
  • comparative: slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas

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: 3.17%
  • permanent crops: 0.28%
  • other: 96.55%

Natural Resources:

  • petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc

Current Environmental Issues:

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

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Algeria, and many other states, rejects Moroccan administration of Western Sahara; the Polisario Front, exiled in Algeria, represents the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic; Algeria's border with Morocco remains an irritant to bilateral relations, each nation accusing the other of harboring militants and arms smuggling; dormant disputes include Libyan claims of about 32,000 sq km still reflected on its maps of southeastern Algeria and the FLN's assertions of a claim to Chirac Pastures in southeastern Morocco.
  • refugees (country of origin): 90,000 (Western Saharan Sahrawi, mostly living in Algerian-sponsored camps in the southwestern Algerian town of Tindouf)
  • human trafficking: Algeria is a transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination and source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; criminal networks which sometimes extend to sub-Saharan Africa and to Europe are involved in both smuggling and human trafficking

For more info please contact:
African Studies
(310) 825-3686
africa@international.ucla.edu

African Studies Center