Algeria, known officially as the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is the largest country in the Arab world and Africa.
History of Algeria
Algeria’s early history included periods within the Carthaginian and Phoenician settlements. The Berbers were the primary inhabitants of the region, and when the Carthaginians enslaved them and made them fight in their armies during the Punic Wars, they rebelled and successfully fought back around 241 BC.
By 146 BC, the Romans had defeated Carthage, and the Berbers established the kingdoms, Numidia and Mauretania. The Berber kingdoms existed in various forms over the next centuries, but in 24 AD, the Roman Empire took control of it for several centuries. The Muslim Conquest began in the 7th century, spreading the religion across the region as the Berber dynasties emerged once again. The Berbers continued to rule the region throughout the Middle Ages.
Spain began establishing settlements on coastal regions of Algeria in the beginning of the 16th century. In 1830, the French violently conquered Algeria, and ruled the country as one of its overseas territories. During French rule of Algeria, many Europeans migrated and settled there. However, by 1954, those settlers and the Muslims of Algeria faced conflict, sparking the Algerian War. The war ended in 1962, with the independence of Algeria. As an independent country, Algeria’s first president was Ahmed Ben Bella, who was an authoritarian ruler and was overthrown just a few years later.
In the 1990s, Algeria faced internal conflict with its Islamic Salvation Front gunning for control of the government, and as many as 100,000 people died in the massacres that followed. Reconciliation began in 2004, with new elections, and continued in 2005 with a peace charter. Algeria continued to struggle with its government, with its people protesting in 2010 and reforms that followed.
Algeria borders Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger.
- Algiers (capital)
Algeria is a country in the region of North Africa known as the Maghreb, and the largest country on the continent. In the north, Algeria features the coastline along the Mediterranean Sea and its Alboran Sea, as well as the Tell Atlas and Saharan Atlas mountain ranges, while southern regions of Algeria hold part of the Sahara Desert, featuring massive sand dunes. Other mountains in Algeria are the Aures and Nememcha, and the Ahaggar Mountains, in which the country’s highest point, Mount Tahat, which stands 2,908 meters (9,541 feet) above sea level. The longest river in Algeria is the Chelif River, though the Soummam River is also an important river, located on the edge of the Tell mountains.
Points of Interest
The capital of Algeria, Algiers, is the cultural capital of the country and features the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the Casbah. The Casbah is the ancient town of Algiers, constructed during the 17th century and featuring several mosques, including the El Kebir Mosque. Other attractions in Algiers include Aquafortland and Monument of Martyrs. Another UNESCO site in Algeria is M’zab, where visitors will find a city built up of fortresses with unique architecture in the desert. The Sahara Desert is another worldly sight and expeditions through the desert often start in Tamanrasset or Bechar. The Grand Erg Oriental is one of the large dune fields in the Sahara, not far from El-Oued, which features unique architecture of its own.
The main airport in Algeria is Houari Boumediene Airport, located outside of Algiers. The airport serves destinations across Algeria, and other major African cities. There are also frequent flights to and from destinations in Spain and France. Traveling to Algeria by car is possible from Tunisia, while the other borders are more difficult to cross. There are boats from Spain, France, and Italy into Algeria, though these are much slower than flying and often more expensive.
Algeria has train services offered by SNTF, with lines between Algeria and Tunisia. Within Algeria, there are train lines between Algiers an Oran, Annaba, and Constantine. To reach other destinations, domestic flights are recommended, as it is a very large company. Taxis are available in cities, and cars, particularly 4WD vehicles, are suggested for exploration of the Sahara.