Algeria is an independent republic which lies on the Mediterranean coast of Africa and forms part of the North African Region. The capital city is Algiers (El Djazair). Other major cities are Constantine and Setif and the ports of Oran and Annaba.
The official language is Arabic but French is widely spoken in business and commerce. The local currency is the Algerian dinar. (US$ / Algerian D – current exchange rate).
The Algerian oil industry is the country’s lifeblood and thus the country is vulnerable to changes in demand and price fluctuations in the oil market. Its upstream oil industry is its major source of foreign exchange and the national oil company, Sonatrach, is the largest company in the country. Algeria has vast natural gas reserves which are among the largest in the world. The downstream oil industry is also well developed with 5 oil refineries. Ongoing efforts by the government aim to increase foreign investment outside of the oil sector in an attempt at diversification of the economy.
In addition to its downstream activities, Algeria also has an active chemical industry which is expanding rapidly. Another key sector in Algeria’s economy is its mining industry. The agricultural sector is restricted to the Mediterranean Coast and wine is the main export. Only one third of the country’s food requirements are produced while the rest is imported. The manufacturing sector is becoming more dominant with heavy industries remaining strong despite a shift in focus towards the lighter industries such as textiles and food, tobacco and cigarette processing.
Despite political unrest, Algeria has begun to tackle problems of high inflation and poor living standards and has withstood the problems caused by a slump in world oil prices. The private sector has been growing but the public sector continues to dominate industry, construction, public works and mines.
The transport network in Algeria is being expanded and upgraded by the government with several new railway lines under construction. Pipelines are being expanded to transport oil and gas from fields to ports.
The international time zone for Algeria is GMT and the international dialling code is +213. The principal airlines that fly to Algeria are Air Algerie and Air France. There are international airports at Algiers, Constantine and Oran as well as a number of smaller domestic airports. Most visitors to Algeria require visas except nationals of the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Andorra, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea, Libya, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic), Malta, Mauritania, Senegal, Slovenia, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) for visits up to three months.
Algeria is a member of the Arab Maghreb Union and has special trade arrangements with the European Union.
The state of health, the current immunisation status, location and the local disease situation lead to risk of contraction of hepatitis A, malaria (regional), tuberculosis, and typhoid fever in Algeria. A risk assessment is recommended prior to arrival in the country. Vaccinations and medical insurance should also be arranged in advance. Outside of the main centres in Algeria medical facilities are poor or non-existent.