Last updated on September 9th, 2017
Algeria is the largest country in Africa and has a beautiful setting on the coast of the Mediterranean ocean with its pleasant year round climate. With an ancient history and fairly recent independence after years of war, there is much to interest visitors here. With these 53 interesting facts about Algeria, let’s uncover more about its culture, economy, history, people and more…
Facts about Algerian culture and customs
#1. Algeria is commonly called the country of cherries and dates. This refers to the various types of weather found here; a mild climate in the north and a dry, hot one in the Saharan south. Algerian dates are known to be some of the best on earth. Visitors are traditionally greeted by being offered dates and milk.
#2. The official name of Algeria is the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and its National Holiday is also known as Revolution Day, honoring the day the final bid for independence began on the first of November decades ago.
#3. Algeria’s official language is Arabic. The people speak Arabic, Berber (called Tamazight and Amazigh) or French. Algerian Arabic (called darja) is spoken by well over half the population as well. Although English is not commonly spoken, it is taught in Algerian schools.
#4. Algeria’s official religion is Islam and it is illegal to proselytize (advocate or promote) to the people about any other religion. The legal system is based on the French court system and Sharia law.
#5. Even though Western clothing is common, mostly in urban areas, traditional Muslim clothing is also common. In areas under Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) control, people wear some form of traditional garb, particularly the women. It is considered proper to be dressed conservatively in public and modest clothing is worn by all Algerians. The militant Islamists demand that women be veiled and they are more than willing to enforce their orders.
#6. The national animal of Algeria is the Fennec fox and their national football team (soccer) is named after the animal: “Les Fennecs”. Football (soccer) is Algeria’s national sport. The fennec is a small desert fox with disproportionately large ears.
#7. Hospitality is important among the Algerian people. It is a blend of Arabic customs with French Gallic traditions. Everyone is cordial to strangers and friends alike. In a small gathering, it is polite to greet each person individually, beginning with the elders. Handshakes are common but using your fingers to point at objects or people is considered rude. Never use the left hand separately: when handing someone something, do it with the right hand or both hands.
#8. In this male dominant society, sex roles are clearly defined. (Nevertheless, some women do fill important positions in public and private professions.) Fathers handle family finances while mothers take care of the children and the home. Men often meet at coffeehouses to play games like chess, checkers, and dominoes. The women tend to socialize in each others’ homes.
#9. Close friends and relatives visit each other frequently and don’t have to have an invitation or let each other know first. Others are expected to make advance plans. When visiting someone socially, it is customary to bring the host a small gift.
#10. Speech in conversations that is too direct and frank is considered impolite. Key attributes of the Algerian national character are courtesy and formality.
Related: 53 Interesting Morocco facts
About economy and people of Algeria
#11. All but two percent of Algeria’s exports are fossil fuels. Petroleum and natural gas make up 98 percent of the country’s exports. The country’s crude oil reserves are the 16th largest in the world with 12,200 million barrels of oil reserves (at the start of 2017). Algeria is also Africa’s largest oat market.
#12. Algebra owes no money to other countries; it has no external debt. Unfortunately, one in every four of its citizens lives on less than a dollar a day. Many Algerians are poor. This situation is made worse by the fact that Algeria has North Africa’s highest cost of living. The national currency is the Algerian Dinar.
#13. Only about three percent of the country’s land is cultivated, far too little for feeding their population self-sufficiently. As a result, malnutrition is one of the nation’s principal health problems. Five percent of Algeria’s population is undernourished, according to the World Bank.
#14. Free national health care was introduced by the government in 1974 and helps pay for those who are sick and injured. Nearly all of the people living in urban areas have access to adequate sanitation. In rural areas 80 percent of the population does.
#15. Algeria’s literacy rate is 80 percent; more men can read than women. Women have traditionally been discouraged from attending school to stay home with their mothers. French is the instructional language at school. English is taught as well.
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