Algeria is located in northern Africa. On its northern border is the Mediterranean Sea. Most Algerians live near the Mediterranean Sea. Other countries surrounding Algeria are Tunisia and Libya on the east; Niger, Mali, and Mauritania on the south; and Morocco on the west. The total area of Algeria is 919,595 square miles.
In Algeria, there are three major land regions. The Tell (Arabic for hill) is 750 miles along the Mediterranean cost. Its average temperature in summer is 77° F. and in winter, 52° F. Annual rainfall is 16" in the west area of the Tell and 27" in the east. The High Plateaus are the second major land region and are south of the Tell Atlas Mountains. They range from 1,300 to 4,300 feet above sea level. There are shallow salt pools called Chotts which form on the plateaus. The average temperature is 51° F. in summer and 41° F. in winter. The third major land region is the Algerian portion of the Sahara, which covers 90% of the country’s total area. The Sahara desert is the largest desert in the world. Algeria’s largest river is called the Chéliff. It begins in the Sahara Atlas Mountains and flows 450 miles north and west to the Mediterranean Sea.

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The economy of Algeria is based on two products: natural gas and petroleum. Its industry is both government controlled and privately owned. There are farms and small factories as well as service industries, such as hospitals, banks, and government offices. The mining in Algeria is for iron ore, lead, mercury and zinc. Even with manufacturing of construction materials, iron and steel, textiles, liquid natural gas, and refined petroleum products, thousands of Algerians work in France and other countries. Although farming in Algeria includes wheat, barley, dates, grapes, olives, potatoes, and citrus fruits, the country imports over one third of its food.
The people in Algeria consist of two different ethnic groups; namely, Arab-Berber (99%) and European (less than 1%). While the majority of the European group is French, there are also Spaniards, Italians, and Maltese people. The official language of the country is French, but the Muslim population speaks mostly Arabic.
Education in Algeria began when French colonial education was imposed on the country. The French language was taught with Arabic offered as a second language. In 1949, the French and Algerian kids were separated, and this increased Muslim enrollments. In 1963, the education system was a mess since teachers were trained hastily or hired abroad. The classrooms they used were mostly in empty French homes. So the Algerian authorities began to redesign the educational system. The reasons for doing this was to help literacy and provide free education. They made primary school enrollment a requirement and replaced French with Arabic as the language of instruction. They wanted to encourage students in the scientific and technical areas in order to benefit the Algerian industry. The World Bank loaned money to Algeria to help restructure the system; and by 1982, almost 4 million students were enrolled in the 9-year basis education system. In the city attendance was 90%. In rural areas it was 67%. Almost all the teachers were Algerian and the language was Arabic. By the 1990s, female enrollment was low because women were not expected to have jobs outside the home, and they married young. Even so, college attendance in Algiers was nearly equal between boys and girls.
Women in Algeria are still in a subordinate role. They are expected to play the role of wife and mother. Their rights to employment, politics, and independence are limited. Most of this is because an organization called Al Qiyam (starting in 1964) promoted traditional Islamic values. Even though boys are not permitted to marry until age 18, girls are permitted to marry as early as 16. Fortunately, women’s rights to higher education have improved.
The President of Algeria is elected every five years and may serve again only once. He appoints a Prime Minister, who chooses a Council of Ministers. There are two houses of government. The National People’s Assembly consists of 380 members and each are elected for five-year terms. The National Council has 144 members who serve for six-year terms. Representatives of local assemblies choose 96 of the 144 members, and the President chooses the other 48.
The earliest inhabitants of what is now Algeria were Berbers. Berbers were a tribal people of unknown origin who raised cattle and hunted game in the area. Around 1100 B.C., Phoenicians established coastline settlements, including Carthage, in what is now Tunisia. During the third to second century B.C., a Berber chief became friends with Ancient Rome, and the Algerian kingdom of Numidia was established along Algeria’s coast. Numidia became known as the “granary of Rome” because it prospered under Roman rule, and its large estates produced olive oil and grain. The Romans destroyed Carthage, however, in 146 B.C. and then made friends, or fought with, various Numidian chiefs. The Vandals controlled Algeria in the 5th century A.D., and by the 6th century the Byzantines ruled the land. In the 7th century, the Arabs took over and joined Algeria to the Muslim world. They converted Algerians to Islam.
Natural resources of Algeria include its chief products: wheat, barley, milk, potatoes, citrus fruits, grapes, dates, meat, olives, and cork. There are trees in the higher Tell area that consist of pine, cedar, and various oaks. There is sparse vegetation, and so there are few animals. The only animals that live in Algeria are jackals, hyenas and vultures, although there are some antelope, hares, gazelles, and reptiles. Camel caravans are the primary means of transportation in the Hagar Mountains, and in rural parts of Algeria, pack animals haul people and goods.
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