How old is Algeria


Current information

Current information on Algeria can be found in English in the CIA Factbook on Algeria, in French in the Algeria country overview (chiffres clés) of the magazine Jeune Afrique and in German on the Algeria website of the Federal Foreign Office.

The independent French-language daily El Watan is worth reading with good information on Algerian domestic and daily politics as well as Maghreb issues in general.

The French-language blog algerie gives an insight into the daily news in Algeria without explicitly oppositional claims. The human rights situation and balance sheet in Algeria is critically examined by Algeria-Watch. offers an aggregated collection of links (portal) on all aspects of the Algerian present. Oppositional and system-critical standpoints can be found in Algerie-Politique. An important platform for independent, system-critical information and more in-depth analyzes is the internet newspaper, which is operated by the well-known and competent critic of the Algerian system, Mohamed Benchicou.
The El Manchar platform has recently taken a satirical look at the situation in Algeria by spreading false "true" news (which may be false, but could be true).

Tourism in Algeria is mainly desert tourism, but the country officially offers a wide range of experiences. However, like almost everywhere in Algeria, there are numerous regulations to be observed, as the German-speaking website Tourismus.Algerien knows how to report. In addition, tourism has almost completely come to a standstill due to the terrorist threat.

Overview map

This physical map of Algeria gives a visual impression of the height differences between the regions. The alternative map that can be reached here also shows the relief clearly.

location and size

Algeria lies north to the Mediterranean Sea (998 km coast) and borders Tunisia (965 km border) and Libya (982 km) in the east, Niger (956 km) and Mali (1376 km) in the south and Morocco in the west and southwest (1559 km) and Mauritania (463 km). Its total area of ​​2,382,000 km² is around 6.5 times as large as that of Germany.

The fertile coastal region has partly good loess soils and is extremely useful for agriculture. To the south of it the Algerian Atlas stretches with mountains up to a height of approx. 2300 meters and sometimes snowy winters.

The Sahara begins further south and is criss-crossed by huge plateaus. There is the highest elevation in Algeria with over 2900 meters.

The concentration of the population in the north is reflected in urbanization and the concentration of administrative resources in the north, whereas the state presence in the south is patchy.

Basic data and sources of information

Algeria currently has a population of 40.4 million, according to official figures; the information on population growth is otherwise partly different. 70% of the population are under 30 years old. 70% of the population is also counted as part of the Arab majority, 30% are non-Arab Berbers, whose culture has been displaced by Arabization.

The national language is Arabic, the Berber language Tamazight has been recognized as the second national language since 2002. A Maghrebian-Algerian Arabic dialect is spoken. In the older generation, as well as in science and administration, French is still partly widespread.

According to the Algerian constitution, the state religion is Islam, to which 99% of the population belong (Sunnis). The president must not be a non-Muslim. Christians make up no more than 1% of the population. In Kabylia there are said to be a significant number of Protestant converts who turned away from Islam during the civil war of the 1990s.

The Algerian Statistical Office (ONS) offers a glimpse into the world of Algerian numbers and indicators. It is also worth taking a look at the World Bank figures and statistics on Algeria. Further basic information can be found at "" and at the United Nations World Development Organization (PNUD).

Natural conditions


Algeria lies on the borderline between two tectonic plates, the so-called African and Eurasian plates. The African plate, and thus also North Africa and Algeria, is pushing against the Eurasian plate in the course of the continental drift, which, according to geological knowledge and theories, will lead to the disappearance of the Mediterranean in about 80 million years, which will be replaced by a mountain range.

For the present, this means that earthquakes can occur at any time. This has happened quite often in the last 50 years, with a total of around 4,500 fatalities.

The last major current earthquake occurred on August 1, 2014; its focus was about 15km northeast of Algiers.


Two mountain chains, the Tell Atlas to the north and the Sahara Atlas to the south, cross Algeria in an east-west direction and rise to over 2300m. Between the two mountain ranges there are plateaus, north of the Tell Atlas lies the fertile coastal region and south of the Sahara Atlas lies the Algerian deserts. The coastal region in the north is protected from Sahara winds by the Tell Atlas and Sahara Atlas, and in the north, cooler, fresher air masses are brought in from the Mediterranean Sea.

South of the Sahara Atlas are the sparsely populated desert areas, which in turn are very different: sandy deserts (Erg Oriental in the east, Erg Occidental in the west) and stone deserts with desert mountains. The Hoggar Mountains in the southeast reach over 3000m altitude. The desert mountains are of volcanic origin.


The rivers of Algeria originate in the Tell or Sahara Atlas and flow either north from the Tell Atlas to the Mediterranean Sea or from the Sahara Atlas south towards the Sahara. The Chelif or Chlef (namesake of the city of the same name between Algiers and Oran) has water all year round. Over a length of 725 km it pours into the Mediterranean Sea at Mostaganem (near Oran) and carries up to 1500 cbm of water per second with it (Rhine: up to 12,000 cbm). Some smaller rivers such as the Soummam or the Medjerda also flow from the Tell Atlas north into the Mediterranean and improve the agricultural utilization of the fertile soils in northern Algeria.

The currents flowing south towards the Sahara are not permanent. During heavy rains they can become torrential rivers, so-called wadis or oueds, and cause great damage and accidents. Further south, the water inflows form only temporary flat salt lakes that dry out in summer, so-called chotts, such as the chott-ech-chergui. On the other hand, some of the water seeps away and flows into large groundwater stocks, which are considered to be the largest and most extensive in the world. Accordingly, there is a hypothetical groundwater reservoir the size of the three countries Algeria, Libya and Chad with a water depth of 75m. The exact quantitative and cartographic recording and the possible exploitation and utilization of freshwater reserves, as already partially realized in Libya, still raise many questions (technology, ecology, financing).

In the south of Algeria, oases have formed around natural wells; these wells are fed from the freshwater reserve in the groundwater. In addition, the water storage and distribution of the surface precipitation is optimized, as in Ghardaia, Djanet or Tamanrasset, which extend over the entire huge Sahara area. Traditional irrigation systems (Foggara) sometimes allow the groundwater to be tapped.

Hot thermal baths in north-east Algeria are already known from Roman times; these are of volcanic origin.


Due to the extreme size of the country, the climate is very different. The heavily populated north has a Mediterranean climate; the quite frequent precipitation falls mostly outside the summer months and can be up to 1000 mm, fertile agriculture is quite possible. The temperatures fluctuate from around 10 degrees on average in January to around 25-30 degrees in August. In the Tell Atlas, the precipitation in winter often falls as snow, winter sports are possible in some places (e.g. Tikdja, Chrea).

In the highlands adjoining this to the south, the temperature fluctuations are greater (winter 0, summer 30 degrees), and precipitation is halved. To the south of this lies the Sahara region, where the average rainfall is 10 mm, one hundredth of the amount in the north.

In the desert areas it is very dry, the temperature differences between day and night can be up to 50 degrees in extreme cases. The oases are often characterized by a special, relatively mild microclimate.


80% of the land is very sparsely or not at all overgrown. The forest stock is said to have increased slightly during the civil war - due to a lack of clearing and use - in the 1990s from 2 to approx. 3%; however, the total area is not known. The forest areas mainly in the Kabylia, e.g. in the area of ​​Constantine, consist of cedars and cork oaks.

The Schotts highlands contain steppe-like vegetation, e.g. with half-grass, the south (Sahara, Hoggar high plateau) is largely devoid of vegetation.


The best known of the wild animals is the Algerian desert fox Fennec, a carnivorous night hunter. There are also Barbary macaques reminiscent of baboons, which can also be found not far from Algiers and have become very used to people. In the deserts, gerbils and scorpions find adapted living conditions.

Natural resources

Algeria is generally very rich in raw materials, in particular it has large deposits of crude oil and natural gas. Together with Libya and Nigeria, it plays in the "first league" of the oil and gas exporting countries and, as a member of this group of three, has access to large natural resources. The country also has stocks of iron, copper, lead and zinc ores as well as mercury and phosphate, which are mined at the respective locations.

Ecological problems

Partly poor air quality, scarce water resources, pollution of the coasts and seas, inadequate waste management, nature conservation and increasing desertification are the biggest environmental problems in Algeria. A number of measures have been implemented (or at least addressed) in Algerian environmental policy, in particular with regard to desertification, waste management and the protection of coastal and marine regions, but there is a strong implementation deficit between plan and action. In many cases, the focus is on raising awareness and collecting information. The Algerian state endeavors to provide the environmental authorities with legal instruments for effective environmental management in the interests of preserving the national heritage ("patrimoine"). However, there is a lack of the necessary financial resources to effectively implement and enforce the applicable law and the applicable norms and limit values, e.g. first of all a comprehensive or at least large-scale monitoring of the environmental situation using qualified measuring instruments, in particular with regard to air pollution. , Soil and water quality.

Algeria is - in its southern part, the Sahara - one of the most arid areas on earth; however, the regional differences (especially in comparison to the relatively rainy northern Algeria) are very large. Four fifths of the national territory are arid and semi-arid areas, affected by soil degradation and erosion. Wastewater and waste from industrial companies and households are increasingly polluting the scarce ground and surface water. The coastal waters are suffering from the construction boom in the densely populated coastal regions and the increase in activity in the ten major Mediterranean ports of Algeria.

In general, an increase in desertification is observed in the Sahara regions, which is attributed to anthropogenic climate changes. In addition, it is assumed that as a result of the expropriation of the nomads and the seizure of the land for growing wheat during the French colonial period, the Algerian nomads were forced to switch to poorer soils and overexploit it, which encouraged desertification.

In the 1950s, France undertook nuclear weapon tests in the desert. Numerous people suffer from long-term effects in different ways; the extent of long-term contamination of the affected areas is controversial. There is no precise documentation.

Radioactive residues, for which there is no evidence of disposal, also arise in the production of oil and natural gas. Another environmental problem arises from gas and oil extraction and the associated gas that results from it, most of which is flared. Flaring results in high local CO2 emissions.

Near Tamanrasset in the extreme south, the state oil and gas monopoly Sontatrach is trying out gas extraction by fracking. Negative effects on the environment caused by this process are controversial, but there are now protests not only in western countries, but also massive in Algeria itself because of the feared water pollution. However, there is no particular time pressure; studies are currently underway that do not suggest effective use before 2020.

Environmental protection concerns are not considered to be a priority, and unfortunately, environmental pollution is often little noticed, especially in inner-city areas (wild rubbish dumps, bottles and beverage cans, all types of household waste).

The Algerian state has set priorities as part of its environmental action plan: the existing reservoirs are to be significantly expanded and the water shortage compensated for by seawater desalination.

In the city of Annaba near the Tunisian border, GIZ has carried out a pioneering project on "integrated environmental management" that integrates the most diverse aspects of waste management, from awareness and education to the setting up of rubbish bins and the collection and disposal of rubbish. The focus here was not primarily on the technical feasibility, but on the involvement of the population.

Socio-geographical conditions

Algeria is divided into 48 administrative districts (Wilayas). The names of the wilayas are based on the capitals. In the densely populated north, the Wilaya names are often almost identical to the city limits, in the sparsely populated south, on the other hand, the area of ​​the Wilayas is much larger and the population smaller.
Historically, the Wilayas go back to the French departments. The head of government is known as a wali.

The vast majority of Algeria's cities are located in the country's coastal areas. Almost 65% of the population live in the coastal cities on 4% of the national territory. The trend towards urbanization is very strong, the urbanization rate fluctuates depending on the reference year, but is now likely to be around 70%, also because the country was partially depopulated during the civil war in the 1990s and an opposite trend has not yet been visible. In the metropolises and in their surroundings there is crowded tightness, housing shortages and employment poverty. The capital Algiers and its suburbs have over 3 million inhabitants; other important cities are Oran, Batna, Setif, Annaba and Constantine.

The railway network of the state-owned company SNTF covers around 3600 km, is partly in good condition and allows for quite comfortable journeys. However, there are only connections within the populous north. In addition, the well-developed motorway network is heavily used, although it is heavily overloaded in the large urban centers and cannot keep up with the increase in the number of automobiles.

Buses of different price and comfort levels are used within the metropolitan areas; Since October 31, 2011 there is also a subway in Algiers (one line in the first expansion stage, more are to follow). Due to the extreme slope of Algiers and the rockiness of the ground, larger inner-city transport projects are technically very demanding.

There are currently over 30 airports, some of which are reserved for military use. Although no passenger numbers are available, the huge distances within the country cannot be bridged in any other way.

The majority of foreign trade and passenger traffic with foreign countries is handled via the 9 seaports; State and private ferries are available in Algiers, Oran and other cities, connecting Algeria primarily with France and Spain.

Flags and symbols

The national flag

The green color is the color of Islam, the crescent moon has also established itself as an Islamic symbol, but together with the star is probably of pre-Islamic origin. White is the color of purity.

The flag is almost identical to the flag of the FLN during the War of Independence until 1962 and has been adopted as the national flag. There are different theories about its origin.

The state seal

The seal has existed since 1976.

In the middle is the hand of Fatima, surrounded by three ears of grain. Below that are the crescent moon and star as symbols of Islam. Behind the hand is the atlas, behind which the sun rises. To the right and left of the hand are a factory and plants. The seal is surrounded by the state name in Arabic.

The National anthem

The national anthem is a contemporary freedom and battle song written by a fighter in prison during the 1956 War of Independence:

We swear by the destructive lightning bolt
By the rivers of pure blood that have been shed
By the brightly waving flags
That blow proudly on the high mountains
That we have risen and whether we will live or die
That we have decided that Algeria may live.
You should testify to that!

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