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Algeria

The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria is a country in northern Africa
bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the north, Tunisia in the northeast,
Libya in the east, Niger in the southeast, Mali and Mauritania in the
southwest, and Morocco in the west (the Moroccan border is closed).

History
                                       Official language Arabic
The native Berber population of        Capital           Algiers
Algeria has been under the rule of
foreign occupants for most of the last President         Abdelaziz
                                                         Bouteflika
3000 years. The Phoenicians (1000 BC)
and the Roman Republic (200 BC) were   Area              Ranked 11th
the most important of these, until the - Total          2,381,740 km²
coming of the Arabs in the 8th         - % water
century.                                                 Negligible
                                       Population        Ranked 34th
Formally a part of the Ottoman Empire, - Total (2002)   32,818,500
Algeria's coast was used as a base for - Density        13.3/km²
pirates. This was ended by a French    Independence      From France
invasion in 1830, followed by a        - Date           July 5, 1962
complete conquest of Algeria several
years later. In 1954, a guerilla war   Currency          Algerian dinar
began to make Algeria independent,     Time zone         UTC +1
which succeeded in 1962.               National anthem   Kassaman
In the 1990s, Algeria experienced      Internet TLD      .DZ
resistance from Islamic                Calling Code      213
fundamentalists, whose political
parties were blocked from elections.

Politics

The head of state is the political association may be formed if it is "based
on differences in religion, language, race gender or region." The head of
state is the President of the republic, who is elected to a 5-year term,
renewable once. Algeria has universal suffrage. The President is the head of
the Council of Ministers and of the High Security Council. He appoints the
Prime Minister who also is the head of government. The Prime Minister
appoints the Council of Ministers.

The Algerian parliament is bicameral, consisting of a lower chamber, the
National People's Assembly (APN), with 380 members and an upper chamber, the
Council of Nation, with 144 members. The APN is elected every 5 years.

Provinces

Algeria is divided into 48 wilayas, or provinces:

    * Adrar                 * Laghouat
    * Ain Defla             * Mascara
    * Ain Temouchent        * Medea
    * Alger                 * Mila
    * Annaba                * Mostaganem
    * Batna                 * M'Sila
    * Bechar                * Naama
    * Bejaia                * Oran
    * Biskra                * Ouargla
    * Blida                 * Oum el Bouaghi
    * Bordj Bou Arreridj    * Relizane
    * Bouira                * Saida
    * Boumerdes             * Setif
    * Chlef                 * Sidi Bel Abbes
    * Constantine           * Skikda
    * Djelfa                * Souk Ahras
    * El Bayadh             * Tamanghasset
    * El Oued               * Tebessa
    * El Tarf               * Tiaret
    * Ghardaia              * Tindouf
    * Guelma                * Tipaza
    * Illizi                * Tissemsilt
    * Jijel                 * Tizi Ouzou
    * Khenchela             * Tlemcen

Geography

Most of the coastal area is hilly, sometimes even mountainous, and there are
few good harbours. The area just south of the coast, known as the Tell, is
fertile. Further south is the Atlas mountain range and the Sahara desert.
Algiers, Oran and Constantine are the main cities.

Algeria's climate is arid and hot, although the coastal climate is mild, and
the winters in the mountainous areas can be severe. Algeria is prone to
sirocco, a hot dust- and sand-laden wind especially common in summer.

Economy

The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy, accounting for
roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings.
Algeria has the fifth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is
the second largest gas exporter; it ranks 14th in oil reserves.

Algeria has massive foreign debts. Algeria's financial and economic
indicators improved during the mid-1990s, in part because of policy reforms
supported by the IMF and debt rescheduling from the Paris Club. Algeria's
finances in 2000 and 2001 benefited from the temporary spike in oil prices
and the government's tight fiscal policy, leading to a large increase in the
trade surplus, record highs in foreign exchange reserves, and reduction in
foreign debt. The government's continued efforts to diversify the economy by
attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector has had
little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards.
In 2001, the government signed an Association Treaty with the European Union
that will eventually lower tariffs and increase trade.

Demographics

About 90% of the Algerians lives in the northern, coastal area, although
there are about 1.5 million Bedouin living in the southern desert. The mixed
Arab and Berber population is mostly Islamic (99%); other religions are
restricted to small groups of foreign citizens.

The official language is Arabic, while French and Berber languages are also
still spoken.

Culture

Rai, a local music form, has great popularity in Algeria, and enjoys some
popularity abroad as well, notably in France, where a large number of
Algerians lives.
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