Algeria Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Algeria Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

The Algerian People’s Democratic Republic (ADLR) is a semi-presidential constitutional republic where power rests on three pillars – the president, the army and the security services, collectively referred to as the “pouvoir”. A special role is played by clans of importers, whose interests largely shape economic policy legislation. The president is also the minister of defense and this department also plays a central role due to the size of the budget, which is up to 25% of the total national budget, and the complex geostrategic location of the country. The imaginary second man in the ADLR is thus the Chief of the General Staff. Persistent rejection of economic reforms, and even more persistent printing of Algerian dinars in conjunction with the extravagant spending of dollar reserves briefly characterize Algeria’s economic policy since 2014. For five years, the currency law was thus violated, which does allow the Algerian government to artificially supply money into circulation, but only in the amount of 10% of the annual income from the tax system, and moreover on the condition that the difference is made up the following year. The inactivity of the Algerian parliament, which should have stood in opposition to the expansionary monetary policy in the interest of the country’s economic security, only confirms the weakness or perhaps even the absence of “democracy”, which, after all, has never reached the lowest ranks in a global comparison (EIU, 2020) 134/176). However, spending policy beyond the country’s means was typical for Algeria long before. The post-war period of the 1990s conveniently coincided with a relative increase in the price of oil, which was and still is the strongest commodity in the country. Bouteflika’s regime thus conveniently ensured social peace and harmony with generous subsidies – subsidized bread prices, regional flights and social housing. Thus, he consolidated his power, which, however, gradually ceased to enjoy general popularity. In February 2019, public dissatisfaction materialized in regular demonstrations of the Hirak people’s movement, which brought about his withdrawal from the candidacy for the 5th mandate. The political vacuum was interrupted by the election of Abdelmadjid Tebboun as president in December 2019, who is thus trying to renegotiate a social agreement between the state and citizens, despite the pandemic crisis that immediately broke out. The 2020 amendment to the constitution for the so-called new Algeria was supposed to limit the powers of the president and move the regime towards a parliamentary republic, where a bicameral parliament (the National Assembly and the Council of the Nation) has always functioned, but they lack a fundamental power, namely the ability to express no confidence in the government. The government consists of 30 departments, which often manage the agenda in other countries delegated to national agency level. The emergence of new ministries and government posts in 2020 reflects a change in strategic direction – the Ministry of Energy Transition, the Ministry for Micro-enterprises, Start-ups and the Knowledge Economy, deputy members of the government for incubators, and for start-ups at the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, or a deputy member government for hospital reform at the Ministry of Health. Following the National People’s Assembly (ANP) elections on 12 June 2021, on 7 July 2021, President Tebboune announced the composition of the new government headed by Aïmen Benabderrahmane. The current composition of the government is available on the website Office of the Government. Check cancermatters to learn more about Algeria political system.

Foreign policy of the country

Algeria’s geostrategic position puts the country in a difficult situation, where it (in)directly faces several crises: Libyan, Malian, the cyclical conflict over the Western Sahara and alternately strained relations with Morocco. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the key area for Algeria is the security and protection of one of the longest borders on the continent. Quite logically, Algeria has the largest army budget and the 2nd strongest army in Africa (or the 26th strongest army in the world). The basic axioms of Algeria’s foreign policy include state sovereignty and the right to self-determination, and skepticism towards foreign interventions (armed, political and economic). These axioms were dominantly shaped by the historical experience of the longest and probably bloodiest war of independence won against the French in 1962. The still unresolved past conditions the ambivalent relationship with France, for which Algeria is the most important trading partner in Africa, and where it pays for the largest European investor. On the other hand, up to 7 million Algerians live in France today and it is also the destination of the brain drain phenomenon, e.g. 7,000 Algerian doctors in Paris alone. Nevertheless, Algeria refuses to join the International Organization of La Francophonie and demands a historic Algerian-French settlement. Relations with France significantly improved after the election of E. Macron as president and especially his declaration that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Germany, Spain and Italy are other important partners who see Algeria primarily as an economic partner and implement cultural or academic cooperation on the margins. Despite many years of efforts in relation to the Association Agreement, the EU is perceived by the Algerian government as the culprit of the economic crisis. Although 60% of DZ exports flow to the EU (and this has been the case continuously for the past 20 years – 95% consists of oil and natural gas), the EU is accused of insufficient facilitation of Algerian exports to the EU, or its diversification, which, of course, runs into demanding quality requirements, a number of phytosanitary criteria, etc. From the point of view of mutual reduction of customs barriers, the agreement is doing promisingly, however, entry into the free trade zone was postponed and the ADLR continues to apply a number of trade barriers, which lead the EU to activate Art..100 on international arbitration. Algeria is provided with European development and humanitarian aid, in 2020 it responded flexibly to needs in the health sector with material aid in the amount of EUR 43 million, the development program focuses on the energy transition, digitization and management of public finances. In relation to Mali, Algeria is the guarantor of peace (Accord d’Alger 2015), which was supposed to stabilize the conflict between the central government and the political-military units in the north of the country. Bilateral relations are active at the political level, the Algerian company Sonatrach is also exploring mining at the Taoudenni deposit. In general, Algeria sees a potential outlet for its exports in sub-Saharan countries. With Morocco, Algeria has a long-standing dispute over the Western Sahara, which it perceives as the last bastion of colonialism, for which reason it also hosts refugees in Tindouf, and the so-called Sahraoui are the only foreigners to whom refugee status is granted. Despite skepticism about the Arab Spring, Algeria has maintained good relations with Tunisia, defined by brisk trade under a preferential regime in its favor. Relations with China are above standard, its presence manifests itself mainly in the economic sphere and, together with South Sudan, Algeria has the greatest economic influence on the continent. This is evidenced by generous donations in the form of the construction of the Opera House in the capital. Then there are the already profitable projects of the 3rd largest mosque in the world, transport and port infrastructure. There is also more talk about the possibility of opening a Confucius Institute. Russia is the largest exporter of heavy military equipment to Algeria. During the COVID pandemic, Russia also offered to license the production of the Sputnik vaccine. Since 2016, the countries have been conducting a strategic dialogue. It is approaching militarily with the USA, and it is perceived as a partner in the fight against terrorism. Since 2017, Algeria has been gradually focusing on economic diplomacy – an emphasis on liaison activities at the highest level. Check prozipcodes for Algeria defense and foreign policy.

Population

Population: 4 million

Average annual population growth over the last 5 years: 2.1%

With a population of around 4 million, Algeria is the 33rd most populous country in the world. At the same time, it is the 10th largest country in the world and the largest country on the African continent. Algeria is also characterized by a low population density – around 18/km2. The capital city of Algiers has a population of less than 2 million, while its wider metropolitan area has up to million – making it the most densely populated place in the country. In the past, the country was ruled by Arab-Berber tribes, the vast majority of whom stayed in the northern coastal region and in oases in the desert. To this day, up to million nomads and semi-nomads can be found in the country. Algeria is a typical young society where 1 person out of 4 has not reached the age of 15. The median age is 28.5 years. Gender inequality in favor of women in some professions is also a typical feature (e.g. 70% of lawyers and 60% of university students are women.). Algeria is home to 96,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom are migrants from Western Sahara. Apart from them, 35,000 Chinese workers also stay in the country and 165,000 refugees from Western Sahara live in refugee camps near the Moroccan border. The 600,000 to 2 million Algerian Turks, direct descendants of janissaries known as kouloughi, account for a significant portion of the ethnically diverse demographic. The largest diaspora of Algerians lives in France and numbers around 2 million Algerians. Around 11 million Algerians are estimated to be literate in the French language, making Algeria the second largest francophone country in the world. The average life expectancy for men is 75/80 years, for women 80/85 years. Mortality under 5 years of age is very low by African standards and amounts to 1-2%. The urbanization process is constantly intensifying, even by the conditions of the region, the rate of urbanization thus exceeds 70%.

Demographic composition: 50.6% men, 49.4% women

Age breakdown: 28.4% under 14 years of age, 63.1% aged 15-59, 8.5% aged 60 and over

Ethnic composition: 70-75% Arab, 20-25% Berber, 5-10% Bedouin and others

Religious composition: 99.0% Muslim (Sunni), 1.0% Christian, Jewish and other