Algeria

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Capital Algiers
Currency Algerian Dinar (DZD)
Population 37,100,000 (2012 estimate)
Electricity 230 V at 50 Hz (C & F plugs used)
Country code +213
Time zone CET (UTC+01)

Algeria (Arabic: الجزائر) is an Arab and Berber country in North Africa. It has a Mediterranean Sea coastline in the north. It is surrounded by Morocco to the northwest, Tunisia to the northeast, Libya to the east, Niger to the southeast, Mali to the southwest, Mauritania and Western Sahara to the west. After the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, Algeria became the largest country in Africa.

Understand[edit]

Much of recent Algerian history has been dominated by civil wars and subsequent warlordism. That said, the country is gradually restoring order and will prove an interesting — if difficult — destination. The capital Algiers is now regarded as a safe place to visit.

Electricity[edit]

Officially, 220V 50 Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko", or the compatible, but not always grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Canadian and US travelers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Algeria.

Regions[edit]

Algeria regions
Central Algeria
the metropolitan area around the capital
Northeast Algeria
the extensive mountains and high plains east of Algiers
Northwest Algeria
the mountainous coastal area west of Algiers
Saharan Atlas
the mountain range inland of the high plateaus
Saharan Algeria
the vast desert in the south of the country

Cities[edit]

  • Algiers — With nearly 3 million inhabitants, Algiers is the capital of Algeria, and the nation's political and cultural center.
  • Annaba — A town with 200,000 inhabitants in the east of the country next to the border of Tunisia.
  • Bechar — Small city in the Sahara, not far from the Moroccan border.
  • Constantine - Algeria's 3rd largest city with a canyon going down through it.
  • Oran — Algeria's 2nd largest city after Algiers, also called "second Paris" by Algerians, with many impressive buildings from colonial times.
  • Sétif — Centre of the Kabyle with quite moderate temperatures and occasional snow falls in the winter.
  • Tamanrasset — Largest town in the south and starting point for expeditions to the Sahara and the Hoggar Mountains.
  • Timimoun — A small Saharan oasis town which makes a good base for trips to the desert.

Other destinations[edit]

  • Roman ruins at Timgad outside Batna
  • El-Oued with its domed architecture & nearby Grand Erg Oriental—the Sahara's second largest dune field
  • Hippo Regius, an ancient Numidian city once an early center of Christianity with well preserved baths & forum
  • The fantastic architecture of the M'zab Valley
  • Tassili N'Ajjer

Get in[edit]

Travel Warning Visa restrictions: Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and to those who show stamps and/or visas from Israel.

Visa[edit]

Visas are required for most nationalities, with the possible exception of neighbouring countries, please contact the relevant embassy/consulate for current information. Issue of a visa can take some time (1–2 weeks).

By plane[edit]

Most major European airlines such as (Lufthansa, Air Berlin, British Airways, Air France, Iberia, Alitalia, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines) fly daily to Algiers but there are also some long-haul routes such as (Beijing, New York, Montreal, Doha)

From the United Kingdom flying via Barcelona or Madrid can be cheaper than flying direct.

From the United States the cheapest way to get into Algiers is via London (British Airways), Paris (Air France) or Frankfurt (Lufthansa).

The national airlines Air Algerie flies to many destinations in Europe especially France but also to some cities in Africa and the Middle East. All destinations served by Air Algerie from Algiers : Abijan, Alicante, Bamako, Barcelona, Brussels, Basel, Beijing, Beirut, Berlin, Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Damascus, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan, Montreal, Moscow, New York JFK, Niamey, Paris, Rome, Tripoli, Tunis.

For more information about the Algiers airport check the official site Aéroport d'Alger.

By train[edit]

The Algerian train company is named SNTF and tickets can be bought at train stations. On-line booking does not appear to be possible any more; timetables are subject to changes; the best way is to ask at the train station itself. The network in the north is dense. You can reach Algeria by train from Tunisia, although you will have to change trains at the border post. All border points with Morocco are currently closed.

If you can, try to catch the newer trains as they are more comfortable and climate-controlled.

By car[edit]

Libya "temporarily" closed its land border with Algeria on 16 December 2012. It is unclear when the border will reopen.

The realistic and most secure way to reach Algeria by car is across the Tunisian border. The Mauritanian and Malian borders present some security problems, and the Moroccan border is closed. Note that, if you want to get into Algeria from Niger or from the Tozeur border post in southern Tunisia, you'll have to contract an official guide to accompany you across the Saharan routes; otherwise, police will not allow you to get into Algeria with your car. There are no problems if you want to get into Algeria from the Tunisian border posts in the north. As of May 2012 the border to Morocco is still closed but scheduled to be reopened in July 2012.

By boat[edit]

The prices are usually more expensive than flying so if you can and have no car take a plane. Most connections are offered by Algerie Ferries.

From/to Spain:

  • Alicante to Algiers and Oran
  • Almeria to Gazhaouet
  • Barcelona to Algiers and Oran

From/to France:

  • Marseille to almost every Algerian harbor (Annaba, Skikda, Bejaia, Jijel, Algiers, Oran)

From/to Italy:

  • Napoli to Tunis & take a road for 1 hour
  • Roma (Civitavecchia) to Tunis & take a road for 1 hour

Get around[edit]

Travel Warning WARNING: While the country has come a long way since the civil war in the 1990s, there are still occasional attacks against government institutions (buildings, police forces, etc). Such attacks include suicide bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes , particularly in rural areas such as the Kabylie region of the country. Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have been known to occur.

Additionally, there is the threat of bandits and an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group (AQIM or al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb) in the south of the country. Much of their activity has been in neighbouring Mali & Niger. The situation in southern Algeria has grown worse with Islamist rebels in northern Mali resulting in a surge of Islamist and radically-minded persons flocking to the region who are easily capable of crossing the porous Saharan border into Southern Algeria. This fact became all too real when al Qaeda-backed terrorists launched an attack on an oil field in January 2013, taking dozens of Westerners hostage. Some routes in the Sahara may require vehicles to travel only in military/police-escorted convoys for safety. Absolutely no attempt should be made to travel overland to Mali or Niger! Southern Algeria should also be considered too dangerous for tourism as the conflict in Mali rages and radical Islamists flock to the region.(Updated Aug 2013)

Algeria is a huge country and travelling between major cities can take a lot of time and nerves as well, while the distances in the more populated north are not so big and a trip from the east to the west can be done in a day travelling to cities in the Sahara is more difficult since the south is barely connected with good roads, train and bus connections.

By plane[edit]

From Algiers you can reach almost every major Algerian city by plane, and it is highly recommended to take a flight when travelling longer routes and to Saharan cities. Houari Boumediene, in Algier, is the only modern airport in the country; the other airports are more like airfields and lacking infrastructure.

Air Algérie is the national carrier with many flights to almost all Algerian cities with an airport. The prices vary regarding of the length of the flown route; airfares to smaller and Sahara ci: Applicants must provide with their application an invitation from their host in Algeria and notarized at the city hall of the place of residence of the Algerian host. The Embassy will not accept invitations faxed or sent separately.

Spouses of Algerian Citizens should submit a copy of the valid Consulate Registration Card of their spouse and a sponsorship letter signed by the Algerian spouse.

Return of Passports: Applicants may pick up their passports at the Embassy or send a prepaid self-addressed envelope. The Embassy is not responsible for the lost or delays of document by the post office or other visa services.

Important:

The harbour at Oran

- Complete documentation is required. Any incomplete documentation may extend the processing time or returned to applicant at cost. - Processing of an application may be delayed, if prior agreement by Algerian authorities is required. Furthermore, the Embassy reserves the right to request additional documentation from any applicant. It is not the responsibility of the Embassy if there is any delay in the processing of the visa application. - Applicants should make travel arrangements to Algeria based on the date of entry indicated on their visa. Applicants should not arrive in Algeria before that date; they will not be allowed to enter. In case of change in travel plans, applicants must obtain a new visa.

Cities tend to be pricier than between bigger cities (such as Oran to Algier). The airline uses Houari Boumediene Airport as its hub, and almost all flights start or land there. There are seven daily flights to Oran from Algiers and five daily flights to Annaba and Costantine. Other destinations served from Algiers daily or several days weekly are Adrar, El Oued, Tebessa, Batna, Biskra, Sétif, In Ames, Tindouf, Timmoun, Tlemcen, Tamanrasset, Tiaret, Tebessa, El Goela, Ouaragla, Hassi Mesaoud, Bejaia, Ghrardaia, Tlemcen, Illizi, Djanet, Touggourt, and Béchar.

By taxi[edit]

It's usual to take a taxi to travel between near cities or in cities, the prices are pretty moderate but when travelling between bigger cities with large distances taxis are the same or more expensive as flying. Try to avoid unofficial taxis since it's very likely the driver will rip you off. Most Taxis have no taximeter so arrange a price in advance. Many drivers will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge but never pay more than 30 DA per KM regardless of what you are told. Tipping is not necessary but you can round up to the next 10 Dinars.

By car[edit]

The road network is well developed in the north, the Algerian government has made much improvements in the last years regarding road building, new highways were built to replace the already marod roads. The most important highway is the 1200 km long N1 (Route est-ouest) from Annaba to Oran, almost all bigger cities in the north are connected to this highway including Algiers.

A car is not absolutely necessary because of the well running public transportation system, but could be sometimes useful to reach more remote areas. Keep in mind that driving habits are completely different compared to western norms and that rules and prohibitive signs are more seen as guidelines, even by the police! It would be a wise decision letting a local Algerian do the driving for you in the first days to get an impression of the driving style, if this is not possible it's recommended to stay on the highways.

Do not try to reach Saharan areas with a car other than a 4x4, occasional dunes on the roads and extreme temperature changes will offer a challenge for the driver and the car.

Fuel is extremely cheap and will not cost more than 15 DA per litre.

By train[edit]

Algerian railways are operated by SNTF, currently the trains and lines are being modernised. Ten comfortable high-speed trains named Autorail were bought, currently two of them are in operation. Tickets can not be bought on-line, only at the train stations, prices are quite moderate but more expensive than buses or taxis but in return you will have more comfort and enjoy wonderful landscapes.

Main Routes :

  • Algiers to Oran, the train takes 4 hours and departs each day at 15:00 from Algiers Central Station and arrives in Oran at 19:30, 2nd Class: 1.000 DA, 1st Class: 1.500 DA.
  • Algiers to Annaba, on this route there's a only a slow and less comfortable nighttrain, departing each day at 20:45 and taking all the night for the way to Annaba. As an alternative you can catch the daytrain to Constantine and take from there a cheap taxi to Annaba.
  • Algiers to Constantine departing each day at 06:45 and arriving in Constantine at 13:30, make sure that you get a window seat because the train will take you through the scenic kabilyan mountains and wonderful landscapes, 2nd Class: 1.200 DA, 1st Class : 1.800 DA.

See[edit]

M'zab architecture

Similar to that of Libya, Algerian tourism is best known for its ancient ruins—principally those from the Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine eras. Some of the most famous include Timgad near Batna, Hippo Regius at Annaba, Djemila at Sétif, Calama at Guelma, and ruins from all three empires at Tipasa.

While better known for the Roman ruins, Algeria's greatest tourist possibilities lie in the Sahara; there simply is no other country on earth that can offer the sort of exciting and exotic adventures around the great desert. The crown jewel is the centre of Mozabite culture in the M'zab Valley. The five interconnected cities are a breathtaking architectural playground evocative of modern cubist and surrealist art. They simply must be seen in person. But the landscapes are impressive as well: the harsh, rugged Saharan Atlas mountains, the endless desert and Hoggar Mountains around the country's desert capital of Tamanrasset, the huge dune field of the Grand Erg Oriental at El-Oued, and the ancient rock carvings of Djelfa and the Saharan National Park of Tassili N'Ajjer.

The Mediterranean beaches in Algeria are woefully underdeveloped, despite excellent potential, owing to the country's poor security situation scaring off almost all tourists. But if you are in the country for a while, a bit of relaxation will at some point be in order, and there is no need to fly over to Tunisia. Oran (urban) on the Turquoise Coast, Annaba, and particularly Skikda and Ghazaouet all have nice beaches. The spot to go near Algiers is undoubtedly the resort town of Sidi Fredj.

Of Algeria's major cities, you may be surprised at just how little of interest there is to see—Algeria's more exotic locales are a much bigger draw then its modern culture (stifled by conflict and abysmal government), Islamic heritage, and colonial legacy. Algiers, the famed White City, is actually a much less touristic city than one might expect, given its central role in the country's economic, political, and cultural life. But all visitors will pass through anyway, so the Casbah—Algiers' historic seventeenth century center—is certainly worth a visit. There are a few nice, more laid-back large cities in the northwest, particularly the country's second largest city of Oran and the historic city of Tlemcen. In the northeast, Constantine is the one major city that deserves a spot on your itinerary.

Do[edit]

Travel on camels in the Sahara desert. Locations:

  • South Algeria,Tassilli-National Park

Talk[edit]

The official language is Arabic, but the Arabic spoken in the Maghreb Region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) is quite different from the Arabic spoken in other parts of the Arab World, so don't be surprised if you don't understand anything said to you even if you are competent in standard Arabic. Algerian Arabic contains many French words.

However, all Algerians who have been to school will be able to speak standard Arabic; if you don't understand someone, ask just the person to speak standard Arabic (al-arabiyya al-fus'ha). Egyptian Arabic is also widely understood because of the popularity of Egyptian cinema.

French, the colonial language, is still widely spoken, and almost every local that you meet will be bilingual in Arabic and French.

Berber is also spoken by many people in Algeria, mainly in rural areas. The largest being the Kabyle people near the capital.

Generally, only the younger generations in Algeria can understand some English, but most people are able to communicate in French.

Some common pharses in Algerian Arabic :

  • Wishrak — How are you ?
  • Mleh — Good
  • Shukran — Thank you
  • Sumuni .... — My Name is ....

Buy[edit]

Traditional Berber carpet designs

The Algerian currency is the Dinar (DZD) As of December 2010, USD1 will give you 73 Dinar. There are Coins in the order of 5 DA, DA 10, 20DA, 50DA, and 100DA and notes in the size of 100DA, 200DA, 500DA, 1000DA, 2000DA.

Money can be exchanged at Banks or Post offices. Make sure that the exchanged bills are in a good condition, people tend to be picky with accepting ripped and older bills. Be careful with other currencies than Euro or US$ it could be hard to find a bank that exchange less common currencies.

ATMs are widely available and can be found in every post office or larger bank you can withdraw Algerian Dinar with any major credit card and maestro cards. If a pin with 6 numbers is necessary just enter two zeros before your pin.

Living in Algeria is very cheap compared to western conditions for an example 300 DA will get you a full meal or bus ride from Algiers to Oran (400 km). Renting a midsized apartment will cost normally 60.000 (6 month in the advance) DA a month.

Eat[edit]

Algerian food is delicious. Note that some French dishes are variations from it.

  • Fettate (Sahara speciality, in Tamanrasset)
  • Taguella (bread of sand, a nomad speciality)
  • Couscous (steamed semolina with sauce containing meat and/or potatoes, carrots, courgette, and chick peas)
  • Buseluf (cooked lambs head)
  • Dowara (stew of stomach and intestines with courgette & chick peas)
  • Chorba (a meaty soup)
  • Rechta (hand made spaghetti, usually served with a clear chicken broth, potatoes & chick peas)
  • Chakchouka (normally, it has green peppers, onions and tomatoes; egg may be added)
  • Mechoui (charcoal grilled lamb)
  • Algerian pizza
  • Tajine (stew)

Desserts and snacks

  • Qalb El Louz (dessert containing almonds)
  • Baklawa (almond cakes drenched in honey)
  • Ktayef (a kind of baked vermicelli, filled with almonds and drenched in sugar, syrup, and honey)

Drink[edit]

Algeria produces a selection of wine (not in big volume) and also beer. Algeria was once famous for its high quality wines. The new production is also of very high quality, particularly the red wine. Locally produced beer is also of a very high standard. Algeria is a majority Muslim country, so you do not find alcohol sold everywhere, but it is not hard to find it. Wine and alcoholic drinks are sold in the few bar restaurants in the big cities, better hotels, and night clubs. Some bar/restaurants can be found in nice parks, so if you are in a nice wooded park, look for the restaurants. The fast food restaurants that are open and affordable to the public do not sell beer, and the coffee shops do not sell alcohol. If you visit Algiers or coastal cities, there are fish restaurants in almost every fishing port, the fishing is traditional and the fish sold is very fresh; usually, these restaurants sell alcohol but you have to ask (do not expect to see it, some times it is on the menu, some times not).

Finally, you can buy your own bottle of Algerian wine to take home in discrete shops that sell alcoholic drinks. It is better to buy it at the Algiers airport, though expect to pay €15 per bottle. In smaller towns, buying alcohol can be challenging; you usually find them at the edge of the towns in sketchy areas and the conditions in which the alcohol was kept is sometimes questionable. Some Muslims drink but they consider it a sin. It is in private but socially. If some one invites you into his home and does not offer alcohol, he expects you not to be drunk or smell of alcohol, and does not expect you to bring your own bottle or even discuss drinking alcohol in front of his wife and children.

Non alcoholic

  • Mediterranean juices (grenadine, orange)
  • Very sweet green tea
  • Strong coffee

Sleep[edit]

For housing, it really is not difficult, as there are luxury hotels and cheap ones throughout the country. The price of a beautiful deluxe room for a couple costs between €150 and € 250 per day, as there are rooms from €10 to €45 for low budget tourists. It should be noted that many services are available in luxury hotels, such as the cafeteria, bar, restaurant, nightclub, pool, etc.. In addition it should be noted that during the summer season from June 15 to August 31, many owners rent houses and cottages on the Mediterranean Sea from Port Say (Marsa Ben M'hidi) in El-Kala. Prices vary depending on the number of pieces, usually between 700 euros to 3000 euros per month, electricity included, but it is best to book in advance through an acquaintance or a travel agency. Also, many Algerian uses the site on the Internet ads, bids are sometimes interesting and even opportunities to be missed, but it is always best to send a loved one to visit the place before paying money to the deal. There is also the complex Meskoutine Hammam (spa, pool, etc.) which is located near a waterfall from which flows a source of hot water at 98 °C. This is the second source the hottest in the world after the geyser in Iceland. The price, depending on the number of rooms in the bungalow, varies between 1500 and 3000 AD (€15 to €30) per day.

Learn[edit]

The safest way and most friendly to learn is to get closer to a small circle of people and listen. There is also a tradition of oral transmission of knowledge. It is also good to be open to others and not to refuse what you offer: accept it willingly.

Work[edit]

Women well concealed in Saharan Algeria

Despite high unemployment, the government encourages foreign investment in different sectors. Unemployment is, however, one major problem in Algeria. In fact, it is very difficult to identify the phenomenon in the absence of a real substantive work, able to give an exact idea of the exact extent of the phenomenon. What we know, for cons, is that the informal economy and undeclared work occupies a vast majority of Algerians and spares no industry. Some sources estimate that about 40% of the part played by the informal sector in the country's economic activity, and the phenomenon has never been considered in the evaluation of the unemployment rate in Algeria.

Stay safe[edit]

Despite many western advisory warnings against traveling to Algeria, you should know that terrorism in 2005 was focused only in the following areas: Chlef, Ain Defla, Relizane, Laarba, Medea, and Collo. As of 2009, terrorist attacks are mostly directed against police offices and other government targets. Terrorism is highly active in the south of Algeria as well.

Do not travel after nightfall; travel by plane if you can, instead of by car; avoid minor roads; ask the police if you are unsure about your surroundings, and nothing unusual should happen to you. Also, you should trust only official travel advisories when it comes to personal safety when are in or travel to a foreign country.

Stay healthy[edit]

Algiers is frequently struck by power cuts, which means that refrigerated foods may go bad. Therefore, you should take extra care when eating in restaurants, as the likelihood of getting food poisoning is always there.

Mosquitoes are also a problem in Algeria, but they are just a nuisance, as malaria is not common. In urban areas, city-wide sprayings against mosquitoes are periodically carried on.

Do not expect good water quality, for drinking you should buy bottles of water.

Always use protection when traveling in Algeria.

Respect[edit]

Ramadan dates

  • 28 June – 27 July 2014 (1435 AH)
  • 18 June – 16 July 2015 (1436 AH)
  • 6 June – 5 July 2016 (1437 AH)

Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.

If you're planning to travel to Algeria during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.

As in all of North Africa, the dominant religion in Algeria is Islam, and appropriate religious prohibitions and attitudes should be in order. If visiting a mosque, for example, be sure to be dressed conservatively and remove your shoes before entering it. Alcohol policy is not the same all over the country, with some cities prohibiting bars and/or liquor stores. Keep in mind to drink only at home or in a bar; never in public.

Also, given the ongoing political strife, talking politics is not advisable.

Smoking[edit]

All cigarettes are sold freely.

Smoking in the presence of someone who is not a smoker in a public place requires his permission. If someone does not like the smoke, coughs, or asks you not to smoke, just stop and say sorry. This is what the locals do. If you are invited to someone's house, do not smoke unless the host does and after he does, you can ask for permission to smoke.

If you are in a restaurant or coffee terrace where people smoke, you can smoke, but if you are with locals who are not smokers, ask them first if it is okay. Fewer and fewer people smoke, because of a global health awareness. It is also culturally unacceptable for women to smoke, and women who do so are stigmatized.

If you are a European non smoker, you will still find it unpleasant in many public places because of smoking. Even in places where it is banned, such as the airport, the rules are often ignored.

Connect[edit]

Mobile phone connections[edit]

There are 3 main mobile services in Algeria - Mobilis, Djezzy and Nedjma. It is easy to procure a pre-paid sim card for one of these operators at any airport. Mobilis offers a pre-paid card for 200DA which includes 100DA in calling credit. There are several general stores all over the country which will sell you refill cards for these carriers. 3G services were launched on 1 December 2013.

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