Algeria is Africa's largest country and extends
from the Mediterranean to the Sahara. Oil and gas
constitute the country's economic backbone. Most of them
live on the coast, where urban development bears witness
to more than a hundred years of French rule, which ended
with a bitter war in 1954–1962. A violent conflict raged
in the 1990s, since the military put an end to an
Islamist election victory. In 2019, the military's
continued power over society brought about a popular
movement that required democratization.
Brief profiles of Algeria, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Algeria is Africa's largest surface country,
just over five times the size of Sweden. From the 100 km
long Mediterranean coast in the north it is almost 200
km to the southern border of the Sahara. It is equally
distant between the country's easternmost and
westernmost points. The contrast is dramatic between the
northern mountain regions and the deserts of the south,
which occupy over four-fifths of the land area.
There are no navigable rivers in Algeria. The longest
watercourse, Chelif, still measures just over 70 km and
flows towards the Mediterranean in the northwest.
Most of the population lives in the fertile Tell area
to the north. The best agricultural areas are found in
valleys that lead to the coast, especially the Mitidja
plain and the area around the city of Béjaia. The
coastal belt is bounded on the south by the Tell-Atlas
mountain range, which is an offshoot of the Atlas
Mountains in Morocco. Another offshoot is the Sahara
Atlas at the edge of the deserts in the south. High
plateaus are spread between the mountain ranges, which
in the south consist of salt marsh and steppe.
Earthquakes occur in the mountain areas. Sub-Saharan
Atlas takes up 150 kilometers of desert and continues
down to the border with Mali and Niger. The southern
part of the desert is scarier and more fertile than the
In the southwest lies the stone desert Tanezrouft,
which completely lacks watercourses and oases. Tademait,
a north-south limestone plateau, separates the sandy
deserts Grand erg oriental and Grand erg occidental.
"Erg" is called a desert area with large drifting dunes.
In the south-east, the landscape is characterized by a
hard-to-reach "lunar landscape" in the Hoggar (Ahaggar)
mountain range with a maximum point of almost 3,000
meters above sea level. Since 1987, the area dominated
by the massive national park status - as large as Sweden
on the surface.
On the coast there is a Mediterranean climate with
hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters. However,
temperature and precipitation can vary widely with the
height above the sea.
Almost all rain falls during the winter; in the
summer, drought often prevails for three to four months.
Then siroccon sweeps in from the Sahara's sandy expanses
- a dry, hot and dusty wind that can push the
temperature up to 45 degrees. However, the word sirocco
is rarely used; there are local names on the desert
Further south there is a desert climate with very hot
summers and cool winters. In much of the Sahara, hardly
any precipitation falls at all. The temperature in the
desert often varies greatly during the day from roast
day to chilly night.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
2 381 741 km2 (2018)
Adjacent country (s)
Morocco, Western Sahara Territory, Mauritania, Mali,
Niger, Libya, Tunisia
Capital with number of residents
Algae 3 335 000 (estimated 2012)
Other major cities
Constantine 465,000, Oran 641,000 (2012 estimate)
Mount Tahat (in Hoggar 2918 meters)
Algae 760 mm
Algiers 15 °C (Jan), 29 °C (July)
Bouteflika in hospital
Bouteflika is hospitalized in France but returns home
after two days. From an official point of view it is
silent on the matter.
Reduced powers of the intelligence service
President Bouteflika further cuts the DRS
intelligence service and relocates, among other things,
the interception power to the Ministry of Justice (see
Kravall police in the oasis town of Ghardaia strike,
in protest of low wages and brother-in-law. In Alger,
police go to the presidential palace in solidarity and
demanded to form a trade union. Several public servants
have protested, but it is unusual for the police to
openly demonstrate dissatisfaction.
Report on election fraud
Benflis submits a 270-page report describing the
election fraud he claimed occurred in the presidential
election (see April 2014). Among other
things, evidence is presented that deceased persons were
included in the electoral rolls and that men voted for
women without authorization. According to the report,
state assets have been used to drive Bouteflika's
campaign, and local authorities have been forced to
support the president.
French tourist beheaded
The 55-year-old French tourist Hervé Gourdel is
abducted by Jund al-Khilafa, a militant group with links
to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. The group
threatens to kill Gourdel unless France ceases its air
strikes against IS positions in Iraq. After a few days,
a video is released showing how Gourdel is beheaded. In
December, authorities say three Jund al-Khilafa members
who were behind the murder were killed.
Jail sentences after election protests
Twenty-six people are sentenced, some in their
absence, to between six months and two years in prison
for participating in “an armed rally” and violence
against police. They have participated in the protests
against Bouteflika's re-election.
Virus alarm after pilgrimage
The first two cases of the deadly virus are reported
in Algeria, in people returning from a pilgrimage to
Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, nearly 300 people have
died from the virus.
Proposed constitutional reform
The government presents a proposal for constitutional
reforms, which include increased power for the Prime
Minister and greater influence for the opposition.
Around 150 politicians, lawyers and human rights
activists should have received a copy of the proposal. A
13-party opposition alliance says no to participate in
talks on the reforms, and says the proposal diverts
attention from more important issues.
New government takes office
When a new government is formed, half of the 34
ministers from the previous government will return.
Seven ministers are women. Prime Minister Sellal has
tried unsuccessfully to get opposition parties to join
the government. This applies to both FFS and RCD, MSP
and the Labor Party PT.
The Prime Minister reinstated
Almost two weeks after the election, Abdelmalek
Sellal is re-elected as head of government.
Soldiers killed in Islamist attack
Fourteen soldiers are killed in the Tizi Ouzou region
east of Algiers. The military was in search of militant
Islamists and the perpetrators are suspected to belong
to the al-Qaeda group Aqim. The attack is one of the
bloodiest the military has faced in years.
Expected victory for Bouteflika in the presidential
A total of five opposition candidates are running for
president, but no one seriously poses any threat to
Bouteflika. The president wins as expected and receives
81.5 percent of the vote. In second place is Ali Benflis
with just over 12 percent. Benflis is a former FLN
member who was prime minister in 2000–2003 and
presidential candidate also in 2004. Several parties
boycott the election.
Increasing MRI crime before the election
Amnesty International reports on increasing
restrictions on freedom of expression before the
election. Critics are silenced and the state stiffens
all forms of social concern. Several foreign journalists
find it difficult to obtain a visa, and representatives
of human rights organizations such as Amnesty have long
been denied entry.
Protests against Bouteflika's candidacy
Thousands of opposition supporters demonstrate that
Bouteflika is seeking a fourth term in office.
Demonstrations of similar kind are rare in Algeria.
Demands are being made for political reform and voters
are urged to boycott the election. Both Islamists and
non-religious protesters participate in the protest
rally, and the hostility between the groups is evident.
The privately owned newspaper Le Matin protests through
a satirical image of Bouteflika as an Algerian variant
of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
The Prime Minister resigns
Abdelmalek Sellal resigns to lead Bouteflika's
re-election campaign. Youcef Yousfi is appointed new
head of government.
Parties call for election boycotts
Three opposition parties - the Cultural and
Democratic Assembly (RCD) and the two Islamist parties
MSP and Ennahda - are all calling for a boycott of the
Bouteflika stands in the election
After Prime Minister Sellal confirmed that Bouteflika
is a candidate in the election, the debate on his role
intensified. Some Algerians believe that Bouteflika is
too fragile to rule the country, others are worried that
stability would be threatened if he did not remain.
Many dead in military plane crash
77 people are killed when a military plane crashes in
northeastern Algeria. Only one survives the crash. On
board were military personnel and family members.
Benflis candidate in the election
Former Prime Minister Ali Benflis (see Modern
History) announces that he is running for president.