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Tourism is a minute force in the Algerian economy, which is overwhelmingly based on natural resources (read: fossil fuels) and agriculture, but with wise investment the country could start taking much better advantage of its other natural resources (read: natural beauty) to draw the crowds. For now though, pretty much all of Algeria is off the beaten track, so if a holiday away from the hordes is your idea of a good holiday, Algeria is a pretty safe bet.
Algeria, located as it is on the southwestern shore of the Mediterranean, a short boat trip away from Europe, has always been a contested land. The Phoenicians were the first to establish settlements in the area. They were displaced by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Berbers took over from the 10th century to the 16th century, when the Ottoman Empire extended itself into Algeria and the rest of North Africa.
France came to power during the 19th century through a bloody war in which 1.5 million Algerians were killed. Those Algerians who remained did not fare much better, as they quickly became second-class citizens to the French settlers flocking to Algeria. The offspring of European settlers in Algeria became full French citizens, while Muslim Algerians were granted no citizenship and no right to vote.
From 1954 to 1962, Algeria fought a guerrilla war for its independence. At the end of the war, the European population (known as the Pieds-Noir) fled, which left newly-independent Algeria with a heavy loss of teachers, doctors and other trained individuals. Algeria remained an unstable land throughout most of the 20th century, suffering political corruption, conflict with Morocco and a bloody civil war.
Democratic elections were resumed in 1995, and the Civil War eventually died down in 2002. Since then, Algeria has been reasonably stable and has turned its focus to economic development.
Considering that desert covers 80% of its landmass, Algeria's Arabic name, Al Jazair, may seem a little odd - Al Jazair means "the islands". The name comes from the four islands located in Algiers' harbour. It is situated in North Africa, bordered on the east by Tunisia and by Morocco on the west. Most of the country's population lives in the northern fifth of the country, especially in the cities of Algiers, Oran and Constantine. Algeria is the largest country in Africa, the Arab world, and the Mediterranean Basin. Its southern part includes a significant portion of the Sahara. To the north, the Tell Atlas form with the Saharan Atlas, further south, two parallel sets of reliefs in approaching eastbound, and between which are inserted vast plains and highlands. Both Atlas tend to merge in eastern Algeria. The vast mountain ranges of Aures and Nememcha occupy the entire northeastern Algeria and are delineated by the Tunisian border. The highest point is Mount Tahat at 3,003 metres above sea level. Algeria lies mostly between latitudes 19° and 37°N (a small area is north of 37°), and longitudes 9°W and 12°E. Most of the coastal area is hilly, sometimes even mountainous, and there are a few natural harbours. The area from the coast to the Tell Atlas is fertile. South of the Tell Atlas is a steppe landscape ending with the Saharan Atlas; farther south, there is the Sahara desert.
The Ahaggar Mountains, also known as the Hoggar, are a highland region in central Sahara, southern Algeria. They are located about 1,500 kilometres south of the capital, Algiers, and just west of Tamanghasset.
Administratively, Algeria consists of 48 provinces, or wilayas.
Bounded on the north by the Mediterranean and buffered by the Sahara in the south, Algeria affords visitors an impressive array of attractions. It's not hard to find a great beach along 1,200 kilometres of coastline, or a village or city infused with the country's rich historical and cultural heritage. Head down to the Sahara to enjoy what some consider the most beautiful desert in the world, featuring a variety of landscapes, from dunes to oases and mountains. Or wander around cities like Algiers and soak in the country's gastronomic diversity and traditional clothing and jewelry.
The Tassili n'Ajjer is a mountain range on the edge of the Sahara desert. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its astounding collection of ancient rock art: over 15,000 drawings and engravings have been found in the region. The park is also notable for its unique sandstone formations, which holds water well and has therefore fostered plant life. There are a number of endangered plant species in the park, such as the Saharan Myrtle and Saharan Cypress. Djanet is the nearest town to the park.
The Ahaggar National Park mainly contains the Ahaggar Mountain range in the southern portion of Algeria in the Sahara desert. The highest point is over 3,000 metres high and the total area is a rather rocky desert landscape which is very spectacular with the sandy Sahara in the background. Because of its somewhat milder climate there is a wide range of animals living here and even some plants grow well here.
The Kasbah of Algiers is one of the finest examples of medinas in the world with ancient alleys, mosques, palaces and traditional lifestyles. This medina is also one of the least visited and therefore is a truly magnificent experience to step back in time.
Algeria is a big country with some geographical conditions that have consequences for the local variations in climate.
The northern coastline has a Mediterranean climate wit warm, sunny and dry summers (May-September) and relatively mild winters when most of the rain falls (November-March). Temperatures in summer usually are around 30 °C, sometimes more. Winters are around 15 °C to 20 °C but can drop to just a few degrees above zero at night sometimes. Higher in the mountains (Atlas) south of this coastline, even more rain falls and in winter there is even some snow at elevation of 900 metres or higher. Summers here are also hot and sunny, but nighttime temperatures are of course somewhat lower compared to the coast. Immediately south of this, there is a small transition zone of steppe with generally hot and sunny weather, but with some more rain compared to the southern deserts.
The southern half of the country is real Sahara desert, with dry conditions throughout the year, although even here the occasional flooding can happen, especially (oddly enough) during the summer months. Temperatures in summer can reach over 50 °C during the day and average 40 °C to 45 °C from June to September, but low humidity makes it not impossible to travel around in summer. Just take precautions and travel during the early mornings and late afternoon/early evening. Nights in summer are still warm, and unlike what you sometimes here (temperatures below zero), cold nights only occur during the winter months of November to March. In the higher mountain chains in the south, like Hoggar, temperatures are somewhat lower and there is a bit more rain possible.
Houari Boumedienne Airport (ALG) is located near Algiers. Air Algerie is the national airline, flying to destinations in Algeria like Oran, Constantine, Annaba, Adrar, Ghardaïa, Hassi Messaoud, Tamanrasset, Tébessa, Tlemcen and Zarzaïtine. International airlines that fly to Algiers include Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Iberia, Alitalia and Royal Air Maroc.
The distance to the centre of Algiers is 20 kilometres and you can use the route N5 following directions of Bab Ezzouar. Taxis are available, but regular buses connect the airport to downtown Algiers as well. The Algiers Metro Line 1 will connect the airport with the centre of Algiers. This connection is planned to be completed by 2010.
There are no international train connections to and from Algeria.
As Algeria is becoming safer again, the country is getting its share of overland travellers having their own car. Still, a lot of borders are closed, including all border posts with Morocco. Although borders with Libya, Mali and Mauritania are generally open, sometimes (some of them) are closes as well and due to safety it's not advised to use border crossings with Libya and Mauritania. Mali is a little safer.
Most people cross borders to and from Algeria from Tunisia and Niger. From the first there are numerous crossings but the one near Hazoua is the one that's used most, it's between El Oued and Tozeur.
The route between Algeria and Niger is popular because it's relatively fast and safe and a great way to get from Northern Africa to sub-Sahara Africa. Apart from a sandy track in the south of Algeria, most of the route south to Algeria and to Agadez and onwards in Niger is tarmac.
You can use some public transport across the borders mentioned above, mainly with Tunisia (shared taxi's) and Niger (trucks and old 4wd vehicles). You might have to split your trip in stages as distances are vast and the trip to the border from Tamanrasset (Algeria) takes most of the day already.
Air Algerie has flights to many destinations within the country, including Algiers, Annaba, Constantine, Oran and the smaller towns in the southern Sahara desert like Tamanrasset.
Algerian railways are run by the Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires (SNTF). There are daily services in the north between Algiers and Oran, Béjaia, Skikda, Annaba and Constantine. The southern routes connect once a day from Annaba to Tebessa via Souk Ahras, from Constantine to Touggourt via Biskra (twice a day) and Mohammadia with Bechar.
Remember that driving your own car or a rental car is only possible with an Algerian guide that accompanies you. Therefore, renting a car with a driver is recommended when you are with several people to share costs. A 4wd is definately needed in the southern deserts. You need an international driving permit to drive by yourself, but still with a guide.
SNTF is the national bus company which has connections to most major towns. It is only advisable to take the buses between the major cities in the north as distances to the south are huge and safety not always garanteed.
There are ferry services between several port towns, like Algiers, Annaba, Oran and Ghazaouet.
Most nationalities require a visa, except nationals from Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Western Sahara, Seychelles, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia and Yemen.
It is best to apply for a visa at the nearest embassy or consulate as you need one before arrival in the country.
See also Money matters
Dinar (DZD) = 100 centimes.
Notes come in denominations of DZD1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins come in denominations of DZD100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 centimes.
Languages spoken in Algeria are Arabic, French and Berber. If you can speak French, you'll have no trouble but there are more and more English speakers.
See also Travel Health
Proof that you had a yellow fever vaccination is only required upon entering Algeria when you have been to an infected country within 7 days of entering the country.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Algeria. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also both hepatitis A as well as typhoid would be recommended.
If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk (travelling by bike, handling of animals, visits to caves) you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as hepatitis B are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Malaria is not widely prevalent in the country, but there are cases reported in the south. Taking malaria pills is not necessary though. Don't underestimate this tropical disease and take precautions. Buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
In 2005 Algeria agreed to a Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation which has helped make the country a far safer destination than in the past. In 2011, the country's 19-year old state-of-emergency was lifted. The government continues to pursue political reform and reconciliation.
As a result, the prospect of a safe and secure holiday in Algeria are now better than they have been for a very long time. This is especially true for the northern half of the country, where travelling around is considered safe these days although there are many roadblocks along the way. The south is best travelled in an organised group and stay away from the southern and eastern border area with countries like Mali, Niger and Libya.
There are Internet cafés in all larger towns and cities.
See also International Telephone Calls
Algeria Post offers fairly reliable though relatively slow services. Mail posted in any of the main cities along the coast takes three to four days to reach Europe; posted elsewhere, it could take much longer. Parcels sent by surface mail may take up to two months to reach Algeria. You might get better and faster deals with international couriers like DHL, TNT or UPS. Post officies are generally open from Saturday to Wednesday from 8:00am to 5:00pm and Thursday from 8:00am to 12:00pm, but the main post office in Algiers (5 boulevard Mohamed Khémisti) is open 24 hours.
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Ask bluseter a question about Algeria
wel i could make u discover the northern part of algeria ( from oran to el kala, threw kabylie and all big cities)
Ask Tourdusud a question about Algeria
We are Tour du Sud, Travel Agency based in Southern Algeria - North Africa. We are specialized in Eco-Tours, Giant Desert Tours, 4X4 raids, Offroad Tours, Folklore Festivals, Cultural Exchange and Crafts
We are specialits in offroad Tours, offering a guided tour to tourists travelling with their own vehicles.
We send them invitations to get the visa.
Once done, and the itinerary is agreed, we meet them at the frontiers. We have done this departing from Oran Port and Tunisian Taleb El Arbi.
The itinerary most of the time englobes all the Algerian desert: Djanet, Tamnarasset, Timimoune, Taghit,
El Bayadh, Ghardaia Oriental and Occidental Ergs.
This depends most of the time on the number of days to spend in Algeria desert.
Still we can meet tourists at airports with our agency 4X4 vehicles.
We also excel in Grand Algeria Cultural tours covering the Roman Era, The Turkish Period,
The French Colonialism century and Modern Algeria.
Attached is a brief summary of our activities. Please feel free to contact us for any requirement.
Yamina & Abderrahmane Slimani
Agence Tour Du Sud
Mobile lines: 002136184.108.40.206
Thuraya Mobile: 00882164444204
Ask TnT a question about Algeria
General info & GPS-waypoints
Ask anis1996 a question about Algeria
I think i can be your travel helper as I know my country well. I know also what are the best regions to visit, hotels, ... I speak also arabic, berber and other algerian dialects. So, communication is not a problem for me at all. I speak very well french and english. So, whatever you want to know, any advice, don't hesitate to contact me through the travellerspoint which is a wonderful site.
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