logo Ministry of Foreign Affairs
People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Embassy of Algeria in Tokyo

About Algeria

About Algeria

Algeria (Arabic: الجزائر Tamazight:Dzayer), officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a State of North Africa which is a part of the Maghreb. It is the biggest country lining the Mediterranean Sea and the vaster first one of Africa. It shares ground borders in the northeast with Tunisia, in the East with Libya, in the South with Niger and Mali, in the southwest with Mauritania and territory of the Western Sahara, and on the West with Morocco.

Algeria is a member of the United Nations (UN), of the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States almost since independence in 1962. It joined the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1969. In February 1989, Algeria took part, along with the other Maghreb states, in the creation of the organization of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).

The Algerian Constitution defines "Islam, Arabity and Amazighness" as "fundamental components" of the identity of the Algerian people and the country as "land of Islam, an integral part of the Greater Maghreb, Mediterranean and African".

Public holidays
  • January 1: New Year's Day
  • January 12 : Yennayer - Amazigh New Year
  • May 1: Labor Day
  • November 1: Liberation Revolution Day
  • July 5: Independence Day
Religious holidays
  • Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadhan)
  • Eid al-Adha
  • Hegira New Year's Day (Awal Muharram)
  • Ashura
  • Birth of the Prophet (Mawlid Ennabawi Echarif)
Neighboring countries

Algeria is located in North Africa. It shares land borders to the northeast with Tunisia, to the east with Libya, to the south with Niger and Mali, to the southwest with Mauritania and Western Sahara territory, and to the west with Morocco.

General infos
Capital city
Algiers
Political regime
Democratic and popular republic
Area
2 381 741 km²
Population
43,9 million inhabitants (estimate January 2020)
Languages
Arabic and Tamazight
Religion
Sunni Islam
Currency
Algerian dinar
Phone code
+213
Local time
G.M.T. + 1
Official name
People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
The highlands and the Saharan Atlas

A set of semi-arid plains and highlands running diagonally from the Moroccan border to North-eastern Algeria. Summers are heavy and dry and winters are very cold and humid. The ground is dug by many depressions, the chotts, which turn into salt lakes after the rainy season. The vegetation is quite poor and sparse. It is limited to tufts of grass (very useful for flocks of sheep), as well as alfa, a graminaceous plant that is used to make ropes, baskets, carpets, etc.

These steppes are delimited in the South by a mountainous barrier (the Saharan Atlas) which is in fact only the extension in Algeria of the Moroccan High Atlas. From west to east follow the mountains of Ksour, Ouled-Naïl, Zibans and Aurès which culminate at more than 2,300 m. at the bottom of these mountains are a string of oases that mark the threshold of the Sahara: Biskra Boussaâda Laghouat, or Ghardaïa, further south, in the M'zab Valley.

The Fauna

In the countryside and the mountains in the north of the country, we meet sheep, monkeys magots in the gorges of Chiffa (south of Algiers), goats, horses, hares, foxes and even wild boars. Looking up to the sky, we can see the ball of migratory birds that move south in the winter (starlings, storks, etc.). Further south, we meet gazelles, fennecs, some striped hyenas, small desert rodents (gerboises, gerbils ...), some scorpions and of course camels. Lions, ostriches and other crocodiles have left the country for more than a century.

The Coastline

The Algerian coastline is 1,200 kilometers of sandy beaches bordered by a turquoise sea. Grouping all the major cities on its territory, abounding with magnificent natural sites, the region is today one of the most touristic of the country. From Algiers the white to Oran the radiant, via Annaba and the wild creeks of Kabylie, the coastline make certainly the happiness of hikers, swimmers, and lovers of fishing and water sports. The tourist activity of this part of Algeria does not prevent the preservation of the marine fauna and flora. A true place of relaxation, the Algerian coast is also a place rich in history, the seaside being dotted with several archaeological sites of the ancient or Ottoman era.

The East

The Constantine coast’s is certainly less recognized than that of the West, with an atypical charm. Nicknamed the "city of suspension bridges", Constantine (ancient Cirta) is built on a rock overlooking deep gorges at the bottom of which flows the river Rhummel, for lack of the sea.

It was founded by Emperor Constantine I who gave it his name. City of the Mufuf, the famous Arab-Andalusian music, Constantine is a very important cultural and university center. Monuments like the great mosque of Emir Abdelkader or the Bey Palace bear witness to the architectural wealth of the city. However the real important city of the Constantine coast is Annaba, the old Bône. It is one of the cities that has the most beautiful coast of Algeria. Built on the ruins of the ancient city known as Hippone, the city is now the fourth largest city in the country.

The main point of interest of the city, besides the ancient ruins, is the Basilica of St. Augustine, erected in memory of this priest born in Algeria in 354 BC. J-C, who gave his nobility to the city of Hippone. The other important town on the coast is Skikda, the city of strawberries. Formerly known as Philippeville, as a tribute to King Louis-Philippe, the city of Skikda was a small commercial port that has grown considerably today.

The West

Beautiful beaches and large ports, here is what summarizes the Oranie. Nicknamed "El Bahia" (the radiant), Oran is the second largest city in the country. Its coast is dotted with beaches some of which are among the wildest in the Mediterranean. The agglomeration now has nearly two million inhabitants. Coming from a turbulent colonial past (Spanish, Turkish and French), the region knew how to form its own identity. It is now recognized for its impressive cultural heritage, including raï. This style of music, rebellious as sensual, has become the ambassador of the city around the world.

The second city of Oranie, Tlemcen, situated in 800 m of height, is the only city of Algeria to being able to boast to possess Moresque buildings of the quality of those of Andalusia. Nowadays, the one that we call "the city of cherries" is a place convenient to the relaxation and of the most pleasant to visit. Mostaganem kept, as for it, a old character, but also opened in a modern economy. For proof, it is enough to surrender to the new district of Tijdit, where the beautiful beaches surroundings allow to take advantage of the sun.

The Desert

Sahara, desert situated in the North of Africa, extends over ten countries (from Morocco to Mauritania, including Sudan and Niger), however it is on the Algerian territory that it occupies most surface. The term Sahara is of Arabic origin (As-Sahara) which means desert or steppe. Thus it is the pleonasm that to say the "desert of Sahara".

It is a hot and dry desert: in summer, it is more than 50 degrees during the day; in winter, he can be 5 degrees at high altitude. Previously, Sahara was swampy. Place setting of steppe and savanna, its fauna was very rich. Today there are only fossils lost in the sand and the rock paintings left by our ancestors in caves. It is a place where the time seems not to have grip anymore on the life so much dunes, changing according to the wind, are short-lived and the unchanging and eternal rocks. The silence is master of a kingdom where the beauty of the landscapes of the rise and the sunset, taking colors seen nowhere else, takes the breath away of the spectator.

The Big Erg

Ergs are big massifs of dunes which occupy approximately 20 % of the surface of Sahara. They evolve according to prevailing wind. Weather conditions are extremely severe there. The rare tracks of vegetation concentrate in small oases situated in the perimeter of the desert. Among the biggest, we find in the North that of El Oued. However it is in the Big western Erg that we find the gardens of Saoura. Of the name of the oued which crosses it, the valley of Saoura is really one of the most attractive regions of the Algerian South.
Gourara is a region of Algeria formed of a set of oasis. Encircled by the Big Western Erg (in the North), Touat and Saoura (on the West) and plateau of Tadmaït (in the South and in the East), an immense flat and rocky area which separates it from Tidikelt ( Aïn Salah). Just like Touat ( Adrar) and Tidikelt, this region uses the system of irrigation of Foggaras (system of captation of waters of infiltrations).

The Big Erg, it is also Beni Abbès, Guirzim, Kerzaz, Timoudi, the oases of Gourara and the closeness of the cities of Laghouat, Ghardaïa and Béchar. This apparently impassable barrier was always crossed by the caravans which make the connection between oases spread in the waves of sand. The main cities, lining the Big Western Erg, are El Meniaa (so called El Goléa), Timimoun ( Gourara) and Adrar ( Touat).

The Tassili

This mountainous massif with an area of nearly 120,000 km reminds of the ruins of an ancient city. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and as a human and biosphere reserve in 1986, this park has one of the largest collections of rock art in the world, comprising over 15,000 drawings and engravings. This is considered, to date, the largest open-air museum in the world. Its main city is Djanet.

This city, real pearl of Tassili, deserves its name which means Paradise. The white buildings with blue doors, lining streets enhanced with dark blue and golden streetlights, are a real invitation to rest. Its magnificent palm grove dominated by imposing mountains is worth a look by itself.

The Tell

The relief of Algeria consists of three large groups: Tell in the North, the highlands and the Saharan Atlas in the center, and the Sahara in the South.

The Tell is a narrow coastal strip 1200 km long and 100 to 200 km wide. It is bounded on the south by a mountain range, more or less parallel to the coast, and which extends from the Tlemcen region to the west, to the Tunisian border to the east. It is made up of fertile plains (like the one of Mitidja south of Algiers) where the majority of the Algerian population, valleys and a succession of mountains (the Tellian Atlas) are concentrated, which regularly exceed 2,000 m. in the East, especially in Kabylie where the peaks of the Djurdjura massif are covered with snow in winter.

The Sahara

It covers about 85% of the Algerian territory (2,000 km from East to West, 1,500 km from North to South). The Great South of Algeria alternates between volcanic landscapes (Hoggar massif) and lunar (Tassili N'Ajjer), plains of stones and (the Regs) and sandy plains (the Ergs) from which sometimes emerge beautiful oases.

The Flora

The vegetation is Mediterranean in the north of the country. The forest (cork oaks, carob trees, pines ...) and the maquis dominate all along the coast and on the flanks of the Tellien Atlas and different kinds of flowers and plants grow in gardens and orchards (jasmine, rose, geranium, rosemary ...). Apart from alfa, very few plants grow on the highlands in the center of the country. In the oases of the Sahara, ingenious irrigation systems allow peasants to cultivate, apart from date palms, all kinds of fruits and vegetables in their plantations.

The Hoggar

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the Hoggar volcanic massif, which has been existing for more than three billion years, is a huge geological formation. It has extended a fascinating landscape with its waves of hardened lava whose colors range from flaming yellow to black purple. The climate is very hot in summer, and it can freeze on winter nights. However, it is less extreme than the rest of the Sahara, and the Hoggar is an important refuge for certain animal and vegetable species. The Hoggar is also the territory of the Tuareg, these blue men so welcoming with the foreigners.

The breathtaking beauty of this volcanic relief, invites you to meditate as did Father Charles de Foucauld, a Christian priest who lived as a hermit in the heart of the Hoggar.

The Center

Nicknamed "El Bahdja" (the joyful) or Algiers the White, the capital is now the first agglomeration of the Maghreb. Founded in the year 960 on the ruins of the ancient Roman city Icosium by Bologhine Ibn Ziri, the old Ottoman city stretches for about thirty kilometers. It is bordered to the north and east by the Mediterranean Sea forming the famous bay of Algiers, and dominated by the Kasbah - the old Muslim city. The many foreign influences (Roman, Turkish and French) have shaped the region of Algiers, making it a cosmopolitan region open to the world.

From the mythical Kasbah to the traditional bouqalettes, through its gastronomy, the city of Mohamed Racim has taken advantage of its important cultural heritage. A few kilometers away is Tipaza the ancient Roman city and its incredible ancient museum, and further afield there is the Kabylie and its craggy coves that are definitely worth a visit. From Jijel to Bejaia, through Tizi Ouzou, everything here invites you to relax.

The Oasis

No oasis is similar to another one, they are maintained with a big art and an exceptional science at the threshold of the Algerian desert. Oases are colored and paradisiac spaces which make wonder all the visitors … They are the islands of the desert, where wadis dig a furrow of happiness, Palm trees draw up themselves staying up the prosperity of his inhabitants.

The Algerian oases are impressive and mythical. It is the profit of a distinctive agricultural and architectural know-how. Among these oases, Bou Saada " the estate of the Happiness ", Biskra, " the queen of the Zibans ", El Oued, the " city in thousand domes ", Touggourt, the region of dunes (the North of the Big oriental erg), Ouargla, the immense oasis the palm grove of which counts more than a million date palms, Ghardaïa, the city in pyramidal shape (Established in 1053) and Laghouat the authentic door of the desert (400 km from the capital Algiers). Result of certain know-how and exceptional science of the irrigation, the Algerian oases are the most beautiful of the world. It is the cool and crystal clear water which springs from bowels of the Earth, and which the ingenious hands of the Algerian farmers lead to the surface to transform the desert of sand into a paradisiac landscape.

Several big cities are considered as their oases. It is in particular the case of Tolga, that is the most important oasis of Zibans. The city owes its fame to the quality of its dates, the "DegletNour" (the fingers of light). However, the most famous palm grove of the country remains unquestionably that of Taghit, real jewel of the desert.

The M'zab

Situated in the center of Algeria, The M'zab is a rocky tray the height of which varies between 300 and 800 meters. It is a set of five oases, which groups five ksours ( strengthened villages): Ghardaïa - Melika-Beni-Isguen - Bounoura and El-Atteuf; and two isolated oases further north: Berriane and Guerrara.

In, its foot, houses, in the tiny windows and low doors (to protect itself from the wind of sand and from the heat) hang on the some to the others and the narrow alleys form a real labyrinth. Every city is protected by ramparts and doors which allow the access. Palm groves are inseparable of these cities because they shelter the summer residences which welcome the population during the big hot season. Gardens are there luxuriant and plentiful fruits thanks to the ancestral system of irrigation. The valley of Mzab been a part of the world heritage and was represented in paint by numerous Orientalist painters.

All rights reserved - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abraod - 2023