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Country Facts About Algeria for Kids
Introduction to Algeria
Algeria is located in Northern Africa. It shares borders with Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Tunisia. It also borders the Mediterranean Sea, and a disputed area called the Western Sahara. Disputed means that the surrounding countries disagree on who should control the area.
The official name is the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. The people elect leaders to make laws. The capital city is called Algiers. The region of North African that includes Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, and Morocco is known as the Maghreb.
Algeria is a very wealthy country but many of the people are poor. Algeria produces a lot of oil, which creates wealth for the nation. But unemployment is high, especially among the young. Algeria had a civil war in the 1990s, which was very damaging to the economy. Many young Algerians immigrate to other countries to look for work. About 3 out of every 5 people live in urban areas.
Algeria has a population of approximately 35 million people. They are called Algerians and they speak a language called Arabic.
Most Algerians belong to an ethnic group called Arab-Berber. About 15 percent of the population identifies strongly with their Berber heritage. They mainly live in a mountainous area in the eastern part of the country. Many want to rule themselves, rather than be part of Algeria.
Most Algerians practice a religion called Islam. About 7 out of 10 people are literate, which means they are able to read and write.
Way of Life
Algeria is close to Europe, so Algerian cities have a mix of Western and Arabic influences. Some people wear western style clothing, while others favor traditional clothing. Cafes are very popular. Raï is a popular type of music that often deals with social problems. Soccer (football) is the most popular sport in the country.
The cuisine, or food, of Algeria is part of the Maghreb tradition. It is influenced by Arabic, Berber, Spanish and French cuisines. A type of pasta called Couscous is the national dish. Couscous is often served with lamb and chicken.
Algerian children are required to attend school until the age of 17. This is compulsory education. Most elementary age children do attend school. But only about half attend secondary or high school. Secondary school students take what are called baccalaureate examinations. Admission to universities is based on student results on the exams.
About 3 million people live in the capital city Algiers. It has an old fortress area called the Casbah. Casbah’s are areas that were built long ago to protect cities from attack. They have high walls. About 70,000 people reside in the Casbah in the city of Algiers. The area is very crowded and the buildings are rundown.
Most of the rural population works in farming. Rural people usually live in large family groups with extended family members. Houses are built using either stone or sun-dried brick. There are Berber nomads called Tuaregs. Each tribe has several extended family groups. They mainly live in the Sahara desert and herd sheep, cattle, camels, and goats. They usually live in tents.
Topography and Climate
Coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cool, rainy winters. Most of the country’s population lives along the coast. Inland areas have hot summers and cold winters. The sirocco is a strong wind that blows dust from the Sahara desert into the cities.
The Sahara desert covers most of the country. The Chelif River is the longest in the country. Crops are grown in some areas along the river. The Tell Atlas, also called the Maritime Atlas, is a mountain range that stretches from Morocco, through Algeria and into Tunisia. Most of Algeria’s farm land is in the Tell hills and valleys.
Mount Tahat, which is part of the Ahaggar mountain range located in the Sahara desert, is the tallest peak. The Ahaggar Mountains are also known as the Hoggar Mountains. The Northwestern region of Algeria is a seismic zone. This means that it is prone to earthquakes.
Hydrocarbons, like oil and natural gas, are the most important natural resources. The oil and gas industries are the largest industries in the country. Most of the nation’s export earnings come from oil and natural gas.
Agriculture is also a very important. Farming employs about 25 percent of the population. Cereal crops like wheat, oats and barley are grown in the Tell region. Algeria also exports citrus fruits. Fishing is another important export industry.
The country imports food, consumer goods and capital goods. Consumer goods are the products sold in stores. Capital goods are products used to make goods and services, like factory machines and office equipment.
The Algerian Dinar is the currency.