Algeria

Algeria

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Overview

Algeria was originally inhabited by Berbers until the Arabs conquered North Africa in the 7th century. Based mainly in the mountainous regions, the Berbers resisted the spread of Arab influence, managing to preserve much of their language and culture. They make up some 30% of the population.

With a total area of 2,381,741 square kilometers (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, and the largest in Africa and in the Mediterranean. The country is bordered in the northeast by Tunisia, in the east by Libya, in the west by Morocco, in the southwest by Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Mali, in the southeast by Niger, and in the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League,OPEC and the United Nations, and is a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union.

Algeria was the site of the highest state of development of Middle Paleolithic Flake tool techniques. Tools of this era, starting about 30,000 BC, are called Aterian (after the archeological site of Bir el Ater, south of Tebessa).

The earliest blade industries in North Africa are called Iberomaurusian (located mainly in Oran region). This industry appears to have spread throughout the coastal regions of the Maghreb between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. Neolithic civilization (animal domestication and agriculture) developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean Maghrib between 6000 and 2000 BC. This life, richly depicted in the Tassili n’Ajjer paintings, predominated in Algeria until the classical period.

The amalgam of peoples of North Africa coalesced eventually into a distinct native population that came to be called Berbers, who are the indigenous peoples of northern Africa.

The Situation

Algeria is an authoritarian regime, according to the Democracy Index 2010. The Freedom of the Press 2009 report gives it rating “Not Free”.
Elected politicians are considered to have relatively little sway over Algeria. Instead, a group of unelected civilian and military “décideurs”, known as “le pouvoir” (“the power”), actually rule the country, even deciding who should be president. The most powerful man may be Mohamed Mediène, head of the military intelligence.[In recent years, many of these generals have died or retired. After the death of General Larbi Belkheir, Bouteflika put loyalists in key posts, notably at Sonatrach, and secured constitutional amendments that make him re-electable indefinitely.
The head of state is the president of Algeria, who is elected for a five-year term. The president was formerly limited to two five-year terms, but a constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament on 11 November 2008 removed this limitation. Algeria has universal suffrage at 18 years of age.[63] The President is the head of the army, the Council of Ministers the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister who is also the head of government.
The Algerian parliament is bicameral; the lower house, the People’s National Assembly, has 462 members who are directly elected for five-year terms, while the upper house, the Council of the Nation, has 144 members serving six-year terms, of which 96 members are chosen by local assemblies and 48 are appointed by the president. According to the constitution, no political association may be formed if it is “based on differences in religion, language, race, gender, profession or region”. In addition, political campaigns must be exempt from the aforementioned subjects.
Parliamentary elections were last held in May 2012, and were judged to be largely free by international monitors, though local groups alleged fraud and irregularities.[65] In the elections, the FLN won 221 seats, the military-backed National Rally for Democracy won 70, and the Islamist Green Algeria Alliance won 47.

It is not unusual for Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to disappear from view. The 76-year-old’s health has been a source of rumor for years, and he has often gone weeks or months without making a public appearance.

But his prolonged absence after being treated at a military hospital in Paris in late April for a “mini-stroke” has focused attention on whether Algeria might finally be exposed to profound change as power passes to a new generation. It also appears to have quashed recent speculation that Mr Bouteflika could stand for a fourth term next year, and triggered intense maneuverings over the expected succession.

At the same time, however, the state has continued to operate, and observers say real political change, if it comes at all, may come slowly. “We’re not in an autocratic system but an authoritarian one, in which the president is just one element, and is far from having all powers concentrated in his hands,” says Mohammed Hachemaoui, an Algerian political scientist currently at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

“So his absence doesn’t put the functioning of this regime at risk.”

Fun Trivia Facts

Fact 1:
Algeria is the 11th largest country in the world and the 2nd largest in Africa.

Fact 2:
Arabic is the official language of the country spoken by 80% of the population. They also speak French.

Fact 3:
The legal system in Algeria is based on French and Islamic law.

Fact 4:
80%-90% of Algeria is Sahara desert. And they have the biggest sand dunes.

Fact 5:
Algeria is considered the country with the highest cost of living in North Africa.

Fact 6:
The first Algerian president is Ahmed Ben Bella who was elected in 1963 and served for only 2 years.

Fact 7:
The couscous is the Algerian national dish.

Fact 8:
The highest weather temperature that was ever recorded in Algeria is 60.5 celsius.

Fact 9:
The national day in Algeria is on November 1st. It’s also called “Revolution Day”.

Fact 10:
The currency of Algeria is the Algerian Dinar.

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