Modern states /
The Algerian republic
Independent republic in North Africa with 34.2 million inhabitants (2009 estimate) and an area of 2.4 million km². Its capital is Algiers, and the country is divided into 48 provinces.
Algeria is a democracy, the president has the most power, with the prime minister acting with more limited powers. Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been president since 1999, Abdelaziz Belkhadem prime minister since May 25, 2006.
Algeria is a country that has seen two decades of unrest and even today certain pockets in the northern mountains and a few empty regions in the desert are under great influence, even direct control, of Islamist rebels. Furthermore, many areas in the south are close to autonomous with little control from the national government. Still, most of Algeria is now safe, and well above 90% of the population has lives completely unaffected by the conflict.
Algeria is one of the largest countries of Africa, the largest in North Africa. Its history is defined by geography, the modern state consists of regions with unique identities.
Algeria has great potential for economic growth, but has not succeeded with its structures of state control and socialist mechanisms.
Considering its diverse and spectacular nature and its historical monuments, Algeria has all it needs to attract tourists, but this sector has been deliberately ignored by central authorities.
Algeria has two national days. Independence Day on July 5, in remembrance of actual independence from France in 1962, while Revolution Day on November 1, celebrates the beginning of the fight against France in 1954.
Algeria does not perform too well on the Human Development Index where it comes in as no. 104 of the 182 states that are ranked in the world. On a scale with 1.000 as maximum, Algeria gains 0.754 points.
The currency of Algeria is the dinar (DZD), technically divided to 100 centimes, but due to its value, centimes are not used. It is today a fairly stable currency, exchanging at 73 dinars to US$1 (Apr. 2009).
Algeria's economy is weak from years of unrest and poor political leadership. With a GDP per capita at US$6,900 (2008 estimate), the country is considerably below world average. Unemployment at 13% and 23% of the population below the poverty line are comparatively less dramatic figures.
Algeria is only ranked 14 among 22 MENA countries. Algeria has a fair distribution of hospital beds, but expenses claim only 3.6% of GDP.
Algeria has an unequally developed education system. Overall the services are simple, but the country also has a few important elite institutions.
The mountains of Algeria have given shelter to several identities and cultures through the centuries, and the society is dominated by distinct Arab and Berber identities.
Languages follow ethnicity in Algeria. Arabic is the dominant language, but Berber languages are more vital here than in any other country. French still has a very important position in society, being both the language of higher learning and many aspects of culture.
Algeria is totally dominated by Sunni Islam, but there is a pocket of Ibadi Islam, and reports indicate that tens of thousands of Muslims have converted to Christianity.
Algeria has most of its population growth behind it. Today, the fertility rate is only 1.8 children per mother, which will create a fall in population, although the present growth rate is still as high as 1.3%.
Algeria's history may not ever have been in the centre of the world, but the ancient kingdom of Numidia helped change world history. Modern Algerian history is tormented and tragic at times, and the country's success in the present fighting of Islamism may be of key importance to the world.