Algeria – Land of Sun, Sea and Sand
The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, after Sudan. Located on the south coast of the Mediterranean Sea and looking out to the north in the direction of Italy, Algeria has a population of approximately 2.5 million and the majority of its citizens live within 100 miles of the seacoast. Algeria is divided administratively into 48 provinces, a dozen of which make up the southern 3/4 of the country in the vast Sahara desert.
The capital of Algeria is the city of Algiers. Other large cities are Oran and Constantine. Algeria is an Islamic nation and the predominant language is Arabic. The country’s original inhabitants were ethnic Berbers who settled North Africa nearly 10,000 years ago. Over the centuries, Algeria experienced many waves of invaders and colonizers. An early seafaring people called the Phoenicians built an empire centered on the city of Carthage that ruled most of what are today Algeria and Tunisia. Carthage fell to the Romans who were then succeeded by the Vandals, a Germanic tribe originally from northern Europe. In the 7th century AD, the Arab Conquest swept west across Algeria and the land was protected from further invasion until the coming of French colonizers in the early 19th century. Algeria achieved independence from France in 1962, yet French cultural influences are still strong.
The recent rise in oil prices has greatly boosted Algeria’s economy and its government is relaxing former restrictions on foreign ownership and investment. Tourism to Algeria’s temperate Mediterranean coast and to the sites of ancient Roman and Carthaginian ruins is also increasing. A vacationer to Algeria would enjoy both the land’s heady mix of cultures and the warm and sunny hospitality of her people.