Traveling Luck for Algeria

Algeria is located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia.

Algeria has borders with Western Sahara for 42km, Libya for 982km, Morocco for 1559km, Mali for 1376km, Mauritania for 463km, Niger for 956km and Tunisia for 965km.

Land in Algeria is mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain.

Algerian land covers an area of 2381740 square kilometers which is slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas

As for the Algerian climate; arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer.

Algerian(s) speak Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects.

Algerian National Map

Algerian Map

Regions of Algeria

After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), has dominated politics ever since. Many Algerians in the subsequent generation were not satisfied, however, and moved to counter the FLN's centrality in Algerian politics. The surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crack down on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets. The government later allowed elections featuring pro-government and moderate religious-based parties, but did not appease the activists who progressively widened their attacks. The fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense fighting between 1992-98 and which resulted in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. However, small numbers of armed militants persist in confronting government forces and conducting ambushes and occasional attacks on villages. The army placed Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA in the presidency in 1999 in a fraudulent election but claimed neutrality in his 2004 landslide reelection victory. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA in his second term, including the ethnic minority Berbers' ongoing autonomy campaign, large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing - although significantly degraded - activities of extremist militants. Algeria must also diversify its petroleum-based economy, which has yielded a large cash reserve but which has not been used to redress Algeria's many social and infrastructure problems.


Algeria Country Profile

The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the seventh-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the second-largest gas exporter; it ranks 14th in oil reserves. Sustained high oil prices in recent years, along with macroeconomic policy reforms supported by the IMF, have helped improve Algeria's financial and macroeconomic indicators. Algeria is running substantial trade surpluses and building up record foreign exchange reserves. Real GDP has risen due to higher oil output and increased government spending. The government's continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector, however, has had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards. The population is becoming increasingly restive due to the lack of jobs and housing and frequently stages protests, which have resulted in arrests and injuries, including some deaths as government forces intervened to restore order. Structural reform within the economy, such as development of the banking sector and the construction of infrastructure, moves ahead slowly hampered by corruption and bureaucratic resistance.

Algerian natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc

second-largest country in Africa (after Sudan)

Algerian religion is Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%.

Natural hazards in Algeria include mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season.

Travel Advice on Algeria

Algeria

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary and Terrorism sections.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is a continuing threat from terrorism in Algeria.

  • On 10 December 2006 two minibuses carrying expatriate workers were targeted in a bomb and gun attack at Bouchaoui, in the western suburbs of Algiers.  One Algerian and one Lebanese national were killed.  Six foreigners, including three British citizens, were injured.  The GSPC terrorist group has claimed responsibility.  On 29 October 2006, two bomb attacks targeted police stations at Reghaia and Dergana (20kms east of Algiers).  Since May 2006, there have been a series of bomb attacks in Algeria (see the Terrorism section of this travel advice for more information).

  • You are at risk of being caught up in attacks by terrorist groups if you travel by road in certain parts of northern Algeria.

  • You should exercise particular care in Haute Kabylie, especially the area in and around Boumerdès; the area to the west of the Massif de Ouarsensis, especially around the cities of Relizane and Mascara; the area to the south of Blida, especially around the city of Medea; and in the area around the city of Tebessa near the border with Tunisia.

  • Overland travel between major cities should be avoided at night.  Sustained small-scale attacks, including bombings, illegal roadblocks, kidnapping and murder, occur in rural and remote sections of the country.

  • The GSPC terrorist group issued an explicit threat to target non-Muslims in June 2004.

  • If you are planning to travel to Algeria, you should be very careful about your personal security arrangements throughout your visit.  We recommend that long-term visitors vary their daily travel routines, changing the timings and routes of regular journeys where possible.  Developments in the region could affect the security situation.  You should check the FCO website regularly for updated advice.

  • Crimes against individuals, such as assaults and muggings, are on the increase in urban areas.  You should avoid carrying large amounts of money or valuable property.

  • We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

Most visits to Algeria are crime-free.  In certain areas of larger cities there are incidents of robbery (muggings), bag snatching, pick-pocketing and thefts of and from motor vehicles.  There have been reports of car-jackings and robberies and thefts by criminals posing as police officers outside the main cities.  You should avoid areas that you do not know, especially after dark.  Do not carry large amounts of money or valuables around with you.

Political Situation

Demonstrations, sometimes violent, over issues such as water, increases in the price of fuel and public transport, shortage of housing and jobs have been reported in many parts of Algeria over the past year.  While this unrest is not directed against foreigners, you should take care not to become caught up in a demonstration that may lead to violence.
Algerians are sensitive to developments in the Arab world.  You should follow developments in the region closely in order to identify those, which may give rise to anti-British or anti-Western feeling, particularly in respect of the situation in Iraq and violence involving Israelis and Palestinians.  You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, which could turn hostile to Westerners.

Algeria Country Profile

Local Travel

If you are travelling to Algeria you should seek the advice of your hosts about appropriate security measures.  You should arrange to be met on arrival and in Algiers and should stay at one of the main hotels that take proper security precautions.
You should not use public transport other than taxis recommended by your hotel.  Overland travel between major cities should be avoided at night, as buses and other vehicles have been attacked, sometimes at illegal vehicle checkpoints.  You should, if possible, make such journeys by air and stay in secure accommodation at your destination.  You should avoid the upper reaches of the Casbah and the bidonvilles (shanty towns) on the outskirts of Algiers and other metropolitan centres.  Business visitors without established contacts should seek advice in the first instance from the British Embassy, Algiers or the Algeria desk in UK Trade and Investment.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Local laws reflect the fact that Algeria is a Muslim country.  You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

Algeria is a predominantly Muslim country.  The weekend is Thursday and Friday.  There are, however, no restrictions on alcohol in restaurants, or in urban areas generally.  In rural areas, women would be expected to dress conservatively.
British women who are the wives or partners of Algerian citizens should be aware that any children they have together will be regarded as Algerian citizens if the father's name is on the birth certificate.  If such children are brought to Algeria and are under 18, they will only be able to leave again if the father signs an "Authorisation Paternel".
Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious criminal offences in Algeria, which carry custodial sentences.  The Algerian authorities have just announced new measures to crack down harder on drug trafficking.
Homosexuality is illegal in Algeria.  Sexual acts between persons of the same sex are regarded as outrages to public decency and are punishable by imprisonment.  Where one of the participants is a minor, penalties for the other party are increased.
Security forces have been the target of terrorist attacks in Algeria, and are highly sensitive of their own security.  You should not attempt to take photos of police or military personnel or establishments.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British nationals intending to visit Algeria must ensure they obtain a visa from the Algerian Embassy at Algerian Embassy before travelling.  The Embassy will not accept a passport with less than three months validity remaining.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Algerian Embassy in London.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance (including medical evacuation) is obtained before travelling.  Facilities at private clinics are usually more comprehensive than at government hospitals.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.
For advice on health issues in Algeria, such as vaccinations that may be required, you should speak to your GP or check the Department of Health’s website:  www.dh.gov.uk.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Over the years, parts of Algiers and the surrounding region have, on occasion, suffered severe flood damage.  Northern Algeria is also within an earthquake zone.  During the evening of 21 May 2003, a severe earthquake struck the Algiers area.  There were over 2,200 dead and more than 10,000 injured.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
The British Embassy in Algiers does not issue passports.  Before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and plenty of unused pages.  Applications for new passports are accepted in Algiers for forwarding to the UK for processing, but this may take up to six weeks.  If a courier is used, the cost will have to be borne by the applicant.
If you intend to visit Algeria, you should consult the FCO website for the latest security advice.  If you are resident in Algeria you should make your whereabouts known to the British Embassy.
You are not required to carry your passport at all times.  But you should take it with you if you are making a longer journey and plan on being away for some time.  You should keep a photocopy of it somewhere safe.  If you want to drive a car, you will need to obtain a local permit.
It is good practice to re-confirm flights to, from or within Algeria.
Money
You should not expect to be able to use ATM cards in Algeria.  Credit cards are becoming more common, but their use is still confined to a limited number of establishments in the larger cities.  Algerian Dinars should be obtained from bureaux de change at the international airports and larger hotels or from banks in the main cities.  You should not attempt to change money on the streets.  Algeria has strict foreign exchange laws and the Dinar cannot be exported.  On departure, travellers must declare their Algerian currency and produce evidence of lawful exchange.