country profile - ALGERIA
Background: After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was established in 1954 as part of the struggle for independence and has largely dominated politics since. The Government of Algeria in 1988 instituted a multi-party system in response to public unrest, but the surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting led the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets. Fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense violence from 1992-98, resulting in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s, and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000.
Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, with the backing of the military, won the presidency in 1999 in an election widely viewed as fraudulent. He was reelected to a second term in 2004 and overwhelmingly won a third term in 2009, after the government amended the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA, including large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants.
The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 2006 merged with al-Qa'ida to form al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, which has launched an ongoing series of kidnappings and bombings targeting the Algerian Government and Western interests. The government in 2011 introduced some political reforms in response to the Arab Spring, including lifting the 19-year-old state of emergency restrictions and increasing women's quotas for elected assemblies. Parliamentary elections in May 2012 and municipal and provincial elections in November 2012 saw continued dominance by the FLN, with Islamist opposition parties performing poorly. Political protest activity in the country remained low in 2013, but small, sometimes violent socioeconomic demonstrations by disparate groups continued to be a common occurrence. Parliament in 2014 is expected to revise the constitution.
geography  
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia
Area: total: 2,381,741 sq km
land: 2,381,741 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 6,734 km
border countries (7): Libya 989 km, Mali 1,359 km, Mauritania 460 km, Morocco 1,900 km, Niger 951 km, Tunisia 1,034 km, Western Sahara 41 km
Coastline: 998 km
Climate: arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc
people  
Population: 39,542,166 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.75% (male 5,820,027/female 5,547,573)
15-24 years: 16.64% (male 3,368,415/female 3,213,185)
25-54 years: 42.84% (male 8,569,397/female 8,369,078)
55-64 years: 6.42% (male 1,289,595/female 1,248,385)
65 years and over: 5.35% (male 977,744/female 1,138,767) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 27.5 years
male: 27.2 years
female: 27.8 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.84% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 23.67 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 4.31 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -0.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
note: almost all Algerians are Berber in origin, not Arab; the minority who identify themselves as Berber live mostly in the mountainous region of Kabylie east of Algiers; the Berbers are also Muslim but identify with their Berber rather than Arab cultural heritage; Berbers have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy; the government is unlikely to grant autonomy but has offered to begin sponsoring teaching Berber language in schools
Religions: Muslim (official; predominantly Sunni) 99%, other (includes Christian and Jewish) <1% (2012 est.)
Languages: Arabic (official), French (lingua franca), Berber dialects: Kabylie Berber (Tamazight), Chaouia Berber (Tachawit), Mzab Berber, Tuareg Berber (Tamahaq)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 80.2%
male: 87.2%
female: 73.1% (2015 est.)
government  
Country name: conventional long form: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
conventional short form: Algeria
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Jaza'iriyah ad Dimuqratiyah ash Sha'biyah
local short form: Al Jaza'ir
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Algiers
geographic coordinates: 36 45 N, 3 03 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 48 provinces (wilayat, singular - wilaya); Adrar, Ain Defla, Ain Temouchent, Alger, Annaba, Batna, Bechar, Bejaia, Biskra, Blida, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Bouira, Boumerdes, Chlef, Constantine, Djelfa, El Bayadh, El Oued, El Tarf, Ghardaia, Guelma, Illizi, Jijel, Khenchela, Laghouat, Mascara, Medea, Mila, Mostaganem, M'Sila, Naama, Oran, Ouargla, Oum el Bouaghi, Relizane, Saida, Setif, Sidi Bel Abbes, Skikda, Souk Ahras, Tamanghasset, Tebessa, Tiaret, Tindouf, Tipaza, Tissemsilt, Tizi Ouzou, Tlemcen
Independence: 5 July 1962 (from France)
National holiday: Revolution Day, 1 November (1954)
Legal system: mixed legal system of French civil law and Islamic law; judicial review of legislative acts in ad hoc Constitutional Council composed of various public officials including several Supreme Court justices
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA (since 28 April 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Abdelmalek SELLAL (since 28 April 2014)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in two rounds if needed for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 17 April 2014 (next to be held in April 2019); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA reelected president for a fourth term; percent of vote - Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA (FLN) 81.5%, Ali BENFLIS (FLN) 12.2%, Abdelaziz BELAID (Future Front) 3.4%, other 2.9%
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Council of the Nation (144 seats; one-third of members appointed by the president, two-thirds indirectly elected by simple majority vote by an electoral college composed of local council members; members serve 6-year terms with one-half of the membership renewed every 3 years) and the National People's Assembly (462 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: Council of the Nation - last held on 29 December 2012 (next to be held in December 2017); National People's Assembly - last held on 10 May 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: Council of the Nation election of 29 December 2009 - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; National People's Assembly election of 10 May 2012 - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FLN 221, RND 70, AAV 47, FFS 21, PT 17, FNA 9, El Adala 7, MPA 6, PFJ 5, FC 4, PNSD 4, other 32, independent 19
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of 150 judges organized into 4 divisions: civil and commercial; social security and labor; criminal; and administrative; Constitutional Council (consists of 9 members including the court president); note - Algeria's judicial system does not include sharia courts
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the High Council of Magistracy, an administrative body presided over by the president of the republic, and includes the republic vice-president and several members; judge tenure NA; Constitutional Council members - 3 appointed by the president of the republic, 2 each by the 2 houses of the Parliament, 1 by the Supreme Court, and 1 by the Council of State; Council president and members appointed for single 6-year terms with half the membership renewed every 3 years
subordinate courts: appellate or wilaya courts; first instance or daira tribunals
Political parties and leaders: Algerian National Front or FNA [Moussa TOUATI]
Algerian Popular Movement or MPA [Amara BENYOUNES]
Algerian Rally [Ali ZAGHDOUD]
Algeria's Hope Rally or TAJ [Amar GHOUL]
Dignity or El Karama [Mohamed BENHAMOU]
Front for Change or FC [Abdelmadjid MENASRA]
Front for Justice and Development or El Adala [Abdallah DJABALLAH]
Future Front or El Mostakbel [Abdelaziz BELAID]
Green Algeria Alliance or AAV (includes Movement for National Reform, Islamic Renaissance Movement, and Movement of the Society of Peace or Hamas)
Islamic Renaissance Movement or EnNahda Movement [Mohamed DHOUIBI]
Movement of the Society of Peace or MSP [Abderrazak MOKRI]
National Democratic Rally (Rassemblement National Democratique) or RND [Bensalah ABDELKADER]
National Liberation Front or FLN [Amar SAIDANI]
National Party for Solidarity and Development or PNSD
National Reform Movement or Islah [Djahid YOUNSI] (see Green Algeria Alliance)
New Dawn Party or PFJ
New Generation or Jil Jadid [Soufiane DJILALI]
New Light Party [Bedreddine BELBAZ]
Oath of 1954 or Ahd 54 [Ali Fawzi REBAINE]
Party of Justice and Liberty [Mohammed SAID]
Rally for Culture and Democracy or RCD [Mohcine BELABBAS]
Socialist Forces Front or FFS [Mustafa BOUCHACHI]
Workers Party or PT [Louisa HANOUNE]
note: a law banning political parties based on religion was enacted in March 1997
Political pressure groups and leaders: Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights or LADDH [Noureddine BENISSAD]; SOS Disparus [Nacera DUTOUR]; Youth Action Rally or RAJ
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, BIS, CAEU, CD, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Flag description: two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and white; a red, five-pointed star within a red crescent centered over the two-color boundary; the colors represent Islam (green), purity and peace (white), and liberty (red); the crescent and star are also Islamic symbols, but the crescent is more closed than those of other Muslim countries because the Algerians believe the long crescent horns bring happiness
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 3.1 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 8 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 37.3 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 96 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: privatization of Algeria's telecommunications sector began in 2000; three mobile cellular licenses have been issued and, in 2005, a consortium led by Egypt's Orascom Telecom won a 15-year license to build and operate a fixed-line network in Algeria; the license will allow Orascom to develop high-speed data and other specialized services and contribute to meeting the large unfulfilled demand for basic residential telephony; Internet broadband services began in 2003
domestic: a limited network of fixed lines with a teledensity of less than 10 telephones per 100 persons has been offset by the rapid increase in mobile-cellular subscribership; in 2011, mobile-cellular teledensity was roughly 100 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 213; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-4 fiber-optic submarine cable system that provides links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; microwave radio relay to Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia; coaxial cable to Morocco and Tunisia; participant in Medarabtel; satellite earth stations - 51 (Intelsat, Intersputnik, and Arabsat) (2011)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 25, FM 1, shortwave 8 (1999)
Television broadcast stations: 46 (plus 216 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code: .dz
Internet hosts: 510 (2009)
Internet users: 6.5 million (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 157 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 64
over 3,047 m: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 1 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 93
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 39
under 914 m: 34 (2013)
Heliports: 3 (2013)
Pipelines: condensate 2,600 km; gas 16,415 km; liquid petroleum gas 3,447 km; oil 7,036 km; refined products 144 km (2013)
Railways: total: 3,973 km
standard gauge: 2,888 km 1.432-m gauge (283 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,085 km 1.055-m gauge (2014)
Roadways: total: 113,655 km
paved: 87,605 km (includes 645 km of expressways)
unpaved: 26,050 km (2010)
Merchant marine: total: 38
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 8, chemical tanker 3, liquefied gas 11, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 4, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 15 (UK, 15) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Algiers, Annaba, Arzew, Bejaia, Djendjene, Jijel, Mostaganem, Oran, Skikda
LNG terminal(s) (export): Arzew, Bethioua, Skikida
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: Algeria and many other states reject Moroccan administration of Western Sahara; the Polisario Front, exiled in Algeria, represents the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic; Algeria's border with Morocco remains an irritant to bilateral relations, each nation accusing the other of harboring militants and arms smuggling; dormant disputes include Libyan claims of about 32,000 sq km still reflected on its maps of southeastern Algeria and the National Liberation Front's (FLN) assertions of a claim to Chirac Pastures in southeastern Morocco
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 90,000 (Western Saharan Sahrawi, mostly living in Algerian-sponsored camps in the southwestern Algerian town of Tindouf) (2014)
IDPs: undetermined (civil war during 1990s) (2013)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Algeria is a transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination and source country for women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and, to a lesser extent, men subjected to forced labor; criminal networks, sometimes extending to sub-Saharan Africa and to Europe, are involved in human smuggling and trafficking in Algeria; sub-Saharan adults enter Algeria voluntarily but illegally, often with the aid of smugglers, for onward travel to Europe, but some of the women are forced into prostitution, domestic service, and begging; some sub-Saharan men, mostly from Mali, are forced into domestic servitude; some Algerian women and children are also forced into prostitution domestically
tier rating: Tier 3 - Algeria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so: some officials denied human trafficking despite evidence; no efforts were made to investigate, prosecute, or convict perpetrators of human trafficking or forced labor; victim identification remained weak, and no system existed to provide victims with protection and assistance; no anti-trafficking public awareness or educational campaigns were conducted (2014)
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html