The flag of Algeria has a White color, Green color, a Red crescent and a star. The white represents peace, the green represents Islam and the crescent star not only representing Islam but the red of the crescent and star also representing the blood of those who fought for Algeria. As of right now, Algeria is the largest country in all of Africa that title used to belong to Sudan however, back in 2011 Sudan split up into two separate countries decreasing their landmass and giving that title over to Algeria.
Algeria is located in a North African region known as the Maghreb which is basically every North African country west of Egypt. Algeria is also surrounded by six other countries in the area although the Sahara people will tell you that Western Sahara is totally a separate country and it belongs to them. In the north Algeria borders the Mediterranean Sea which has played a huge crucial role in its nationalistic development and import/export economy.
Out of all the 48 provinces of Algeria over 90 percent of the entire population lives in the upper 37 provinces that border the Mediterranean Sea, the remaining 10% living in the lower provinces which take up a landmass that is about seven times the size of all the upper thirty seven provinces combined. Some of these provinces like Tindouf and illizi although huge barely even have 50,000 people in inhabiting them.
Why do so many people want to live in the north part of Algeria and not the south? If you look at a satellite map of Algeria you’ll notice that pretty much the only green part is in the north by the TELL Atlas mountain range. The reason being that this is pretty much the only region of Algeria that has a somewhat mild and wetter climate and even though this region only takes up a small slice of the entire territory of Algeria it is so crucial to these people.
Only about 3% of Algeria’s land is arable, that’s not enough for them to sustain themselves agriculturally and to this day about 45% of their food comes from imports. Pretty much everything south of the TELL Atlas mountain range is Saharan desert. If you take a close look at this region, you’ll notice communities and towns like Reggane and Adrar where they are actually kind of thriving and flourishing. The reason is because like many other people groups in the Sahara these people have mastered the art of desert agriculture. You might however see these skid marks looking things right next to the towns and might wonder what they are. Well if you look a bit little closer you will notice that those are actually date palm groves. You’d also be surprised if you look in the right place you might actually be able to find a lot of underground water sources or Oasis’s or maybe even a lake or two in the Sahara. It’s not completely devoid of water sources as many people thought.
Algeria has also completed the daunting task of building several Trans-Saharan roadways that go throughout the entire Saharan desert into their southern neighbor countries such as Niger, Mali and Mauritania. The people of this region can be very interesting. Algeria has about 37 million people or roughly a little bit more than the size of Canada. The vast majority of the Algerian people are identified as ethnically Arab Berber. The Berbers are semi-nomadic people groups who have historically occupied the region of the Maghreb for thousands of years prior to any Empire or colonial occupation or a modern day country establishment. The Berbers are fascinating people group that have their own culture, history and language and to this day about a third of Algerians speak the Berber language.
Algeria is one of the only two countries in the world that considers Berber a national language although not quite official. Morocco is the only one that makes it an official language. However, Algerians really do recognize it. Berber is so prevalent in many regions of Algeria that you shouldn’t be surprised to see trilingual signs posted up all over the place in Arabic, French and Berber. Some of the Berbers in Algeria are also Sahrawi. Who then are the Sahrawians? Sahrawians are basically people who believe that Western Sahara is theirs and it should belong to them and that it should become an independently recognized sovereign nation under their jurisdiction. After Spain left the Western Sahara in 1975, the jurisdiction of Western Sahara pretty much went into the hands of Morocco and Mauritania unfortunately there was a third party that was not too happy with that the Sahrawians. Eventually, the Polisario Front was established or the liberation movement for the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara and they fought against both Mauritania and Morocco. Eventually Mauritania backed down and Morocco somehow was able to take control of most of the major cities and resources and to this day it remains kind of under autonomous control under Morocco but the Sahrawi kind of take over the eastern part it’s complicated.
Where does Algeria comes into play in all of this Sahrawi drama? Well, Algeria kind of gives refuge to the whole Polisario Front in the very western city of Tindouf. After all the drama with Morocco and Mauritania the only place that the Sahrawi really had left to go was Algeria. When it comes to relationship, Algeria generally get along with all the other countries in the Maghreb region but when it comes to the Polisario Front thing it causes kind of tension between them and Morocco. Algeria is a strong supporter of the Sahrawi independence movement and Morocco just is not. In terms of business, Greece has always been one of their top trade partners and also they have friendly relationship with Cyprus as it supports the Cyprus side of the Cyprus reunification movement which doesn’t really jive too well with Turkey.
When it comes to France, things get a little interesting. In the early 1800s France occupied and settled in Algeria and pretty much made the country overseas dependent. Over the next century of their occupation, France greatly influenced the culture, the architecture, the cuisine and even the language. Till this day French is the de facto language of Algeria. However, as you will guess, like most countries and former European colonial empires, Algeria started to kind of fight back. After independence, the Algerians kind of realized that the French influence had really permeated into their culture so much that they kind of didn’t exactly want to completely cut off the French altogether and despite the drama and historical animosity Algerians and the French have a relatively well diplomatic relationship today
In terms of their closest pals, Algerians more or less considers Tunisia and Libya as its best friends considering that both countries support the Sahrawi independence movement and historically they’ve had a very rich and cultural similarity and resonance with each other. In conclusion, Algeria isn’t just another North African country but it’s a country that stands for things, and survives, and builds roads across the desert. You got to give it to them plus they got really good food.