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Africa’s second-largest country, Algeria won independence from France in 1962. Today, national reconciliation is key to recovery from a conflict launched by Islamic extremists in 1992.
Geography: 85% of the country lies within the Sahara Desert. Fertile coastal region with plains and hills rises from the southeast to the Atlas Mountains.
Climate: Coastal areas are warm and temperate, with most rainfall during the mild winters. The south is very hot, with negligible rainfall.
People and Society: Algerians are predominantly Arab, under 30 years of age, and urban. Most indigenous Berbers consider the mountainous Kabylia region in the north-east to be their homeland. They have been granted greater ethnic rights in recent years. The Sahara sustains just 500,000 people, mainly oil workers and Tuareg nomads with goat and camel herds, who move between the irrigated oases.
The Economy: Oil and natural gas exports. Political turmoil has led to exodus of skilled foreign labour. Limited agriculture.
Insight: The world’s highest dunes are located in the deserts of east central Algeria
Official Name: People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
Date of Formation: 1962
Population: 34.9 million
Total Area: 919,590 sq. miles (2,381,740 sq. km)
Density: 38 people per sq. mile
Languages: Arabic*, Tamazight, French
Religions: Sunni Muslim 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
Ethnic Mix: Arab 75%, Berber 24%, European and Jewish 1%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Algerian dinar = 100 centimes