Saturday, 27 October 2012


Algerian Flag
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, ending the state's monopoly on broadcast media, increasing women's quotas for elected assemblies, and expanding the role of judges in administering elections. 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. Parliamentary elections held in May 2012 resulted in an increase of seats for presidentially-aligned parties. Parliament in 2013 is expected to revise the constitution.
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia 
Geographic coordinates: 
28 00 N, 3 00 E 
Map references: 
total: 2,381,741 sq km
country comparison to the world: 10
land: 2,381,741 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: 
slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas

Land boundaries: 
total: 6,343 km
border countries: Libya 982 km, Mali 1,376 km, Mauritania 463 km, Morocco 1,559 km, Niger 956 km, Tunisia 965 km, Western Sahara 42 km 

998 km 

Maritime claims: 
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 32-52 nm 

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

mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain 

Elevation extremes: 
lowest point: Chott Melrhir -40 m
highest point: Tahat 3,003 m 

Natural resources: 
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc

 Land use: 
arable land: 3.17%
permanent crops: 0.28%
other: 96.55% (2005) 

Irrigated land: 
5,700 sq km (2003) 

Total renewable water resources: 
14.3 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 
total: 6.07 cu km/yr (22%/13%/65%)
per capita: 185 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: 
mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season 
Environment - current 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 
Environment - international agreements: 
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements  
Geography - note: 
largest country in Africa
noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups:
Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
note: although almost all Algerians are Berber in origin (not Arab), only a minority identify themselves as Berber, about 15% of the total population; these people live mostly in the mountainous region of Kabylie east of Algiers; the Berbers are also Muslim but identify with their Berber rather than Arab cultural heritage; Berbers have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy; the government is unlikely to grant autonomy but has offered to begin sponsoring teaching Berber language in schools
Arabic (official), French (lingua franca), Berber dialects: Kabylie Berber (Tamazight), Chaouia Berber (Tachawit), Mzab Berber, Tuareg Berber (Tamahaq)
Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
37,367,226 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.8% (male 4,297,588/ female 4,123,103)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 12,652,479/ female 12,436,658)
65 years and over: 5% (male 874,908/ female 1,021,567) (2012 est.)
Median age:
total: 28.1 years
male: 27.9 years
female: 28.4 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.165% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
Birth rate:
16.64 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
Death rate:
4.72 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Net migration rate:
-0.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
urban population: 66% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities - population:
ALGIERS (capital) 2.74 million; Oran 770,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
97 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 75
Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.9 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 81
male: 27.82 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.73 years
country comparison to the world: 99
male: 72.99 years
female: 76.57 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.78 children born/woman (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
Health expenditures:
5.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 113
Physicians density:
1.207 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
Hospital bed density:
1.7 beds/1,000 population (2004)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1%; note - no country specific models provided (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
18,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
3.7% (2005)
country comparison to the world: 97
Education expenditures:
4.3% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 89
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.9%
male: 79.6%
female: 60.1% (2002 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2005)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 24.3% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 34
By far, Algeria's most significant exports today (in terms of financial value) are petroleum and natural gas. The reserves are mostly in the Eastern Sahara; the Algerian government curbed the exports in the 1980s to slow depletion; exports increased again somewhat in the 1990s. Other significant exports are sheep, oxen, and horses; animal products, such as wool and skins; wine, cereals (rye, barley, oats), vegetables, fruits (chiefly figs and grapes for the table) and seeds, esparto grass, oils and vegetable extracts (chiefly olive oil), iron ore, zinc, natural phosphates, timber, cork, crin vegetal and tobacco. The import of wool exceeds the export. Sugar, coffee, machinery, metal work of all kinds, clothing and pottery are largely imported. Of these by far the greater part comes from France. The British imports consist chiefly of coal, cotton fabrics and machinery.
Algeria trades most extensively with France and Italy, in terms of both imports and exports, but also trades with the United States and Spain. Algeria currently has only one stock exchange, the Algiers Stock Exchange.

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