Algeria Flag and Fast Facts
2,381,741 square kilometers (919,595 square miles)
Arabic, French, Berber dialects
GDP per Capita
Source: National Geographic
- Djanet and Tassili N Ajjers
- Tuaregs of Djanet
- Al Jazair
- South Algeria
Djanet and Tassili N Ajjers
Djanet is a modern oasis situated in the extreme North-East part of Algeria. It has water, electricity, cellular network, Tv satellite but also a high unemployment rate. Tourism is becoming a pick in this Saharan region surrounded by a magnificient desert that has been classified world heritage of Unesco. Tassili N Ajjers includes 80 000 km2 of National Parc and the greatest open air museum. Thousands of prehistorical paintings and engravings are hidden in Tassili caves and uprise what have been desert before water and trees disappeared. Tuareg men are driving tourists with donkeys to visit the Tassili or organize camels”caravan passing through sand dunes, rock desert and blue lagoons filled with rain water. It is a fantastic way to discover touareg people, learn about survival in the desert and touch the essence of the world. The best season to visit Djanet goes from October to May.
The Tuareg are nomads living in countries bordering Sahara, including Mali, Algeria, Libya and Niger. They are camel breeders and consider camels as a wealth. Tuaregs used to be warriors and have a very complex hierarchy of social casts, including noble men, traders and former slaves. They have their own language (tamacheq) and alphabet (tinifagh) . The Tuaregs are well known as "bluemen". They embraced Islam but women are not hidden while men cover their head and face with a 5m veil, traditionally indigo blue which colors their skin. Since the early 70s they have suffered from repeated drought and governmental pressure to sedentarize. As a result, young men came to settle in towns but stayed unemployed. In the 80s, they massively entered Libya in response to General Khadafi's call for liberation and received military training and weapons. Years later, they came back to their land and started the Tuareg rebellion, which lasted until 1996. Tuaregs have wonderfully adapted themselves to new living conditions, going from camels to Toyota 4x4, learning French and guiding tourists through the desert. But they haven't forgotten about their roots and strong identity.
Tuaregs of Djanet
Algerie is located in the Maghreb’s center and is Africa’s largest country by land-size after the Sudan. It shares a border with 7 countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Mali, Niger, and Lybia. It has a population of 33 million, 90%of whom live in the North. Alegira is sub-divided into 48 wilayas (local districts), which more or less correspond to different ethnic, cultural or geographical boundaries within this vast country
Algeria’s official language is literary Arabic, mostly used in writing. In their everyday life, Algerians speak “Darja” Arabic, which is derived from several dialects and includes many French words. The country’s post-independence forced Arabization has suppressed the Berber language, which is officially recognized but was not used in schools until May, 2006. Berber is spoken by 30% of the population and varies from region to region. Its dialects include Kabyl, Chleuh or the Tamacheq spoken in the Sahara. This very ancient language has a written form called tifinagh , which is found on cave paintings in the Sahara.
Most Algerians are Muslim and of Berber descent. Arabs invaded Algeria in the 7th and 11th centuries AD, bringing their language and religion. Among the Berbers are the Chaouis of the Aurès area (Batna) ; the Kabyls in Kabylia (Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia) ; the Mozabites in Mzab (Guardaia) ; and the Tuaregs in the Sahara (Tamanrasset, Djanet).
For geographical reasons, Algeria’s South was not directly impacted by the crisis which hit Algiers. The Tuareg confederations of the Ahaggar (stretching around Tamanrasset) and the Ajjr (around Djanet) are 2000 kn from the North’s urban centers. However, the cancellation of flights to the South did have a severe economic impact for those 2 regions where tourism was highly important. Although a reliable estimate of this partly nomadic population is difficult, Algerian Tuaregs are thought to number around 100,000. the South underwent massive urbanization in the 1970’s, especially around Tamanrasset, but in spite of a socio-economic and identity crisis, Tuaregs are still working towards their future.
Algeria’s Sahara has welcome tourists since the late 1960’s. Because of their first-hand knowledge of the terrain, Tuaregs found work as guides, camel-scouts (for those who owned camels), or off-road drivers. Several families, especially in the Ahaggar, were able to continue pursuing their traditional nomadic life-style in spite of a severe drought in the last decade because one or more family member worked in the tourist industry and was thus able to support them. To cater to the tourist activity, Tuaregs have settled around Tamanrasset, Djanet and Illizi. The rest of this article was published by Temoust.