25 interesting facts about Algeria

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From a giant desert engulfing four-fifths of the country to the world’s smallest fox, these are the most interesting facts about Algeria.

interesting facts about algeria Arch of Timgad
Fascinating facts about Algeria include its UNESCO Sites (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
Capital city: Algiers
Population: 42,972,878
Area: 2,381,740 sq km
Major languages: Arabic, Berber, French
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)

Interesting facts about Algeria

1. Algeria is the largest country in Africa and the 10th largest in the world.
(Source: Britanica)

2. Due to the country’s size, the Algerian population is thinly spread. 91% of the population lives along the Mediterranean coast on just 12% of the country’s total landmass.
(Source: Algerian Office National des Statistiques)

3. The Sahara desert makes up more than four-fifths of the country’s area. The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world (excluding Arctic and Antarctica).
(Source: Britannica)


4. From the 16th century, Algeria was an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire until France seized Algiers in 1830.
(Source: BBC News)

5. Algeria finally gained full independence in 1962 after the brutal Algerian War of Independence, fought from 1954 to 1962.
(Source: BBC News)

6. The number of fatalities differs: French historians estimate that around 400,000 Algerians were killed, while the Algerian government claim more than one million died.
(Source: BBC News)

7. Algeria also fought a fierce civil war throughout the 1990s between Islamists and the military government. Known as the ‘dirty war’ it left around 200,000 Algerians dead which included approximately 15,000 who were forcibly ‘disappeared’.
(Source: Aljazeera)

8. Famous Algerian people include two Nobel Prize winners. Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957 and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.
(Source: The Nobel Prize)


9. Algeria’s national animal is the fennec fox. The fennec is the world’s smallest fox but has large ears measuring up to 6 inches (15.24cm).
(Sources: National Geographic, BBC Sport)

facts-about-Algeria-fennec-fox
Interesting facts about Algeria include the world’s smallest fox (Shutterstock)

10. Algeria is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most famous of which is Timgad, a Roman city dating to around AD 100.
(Source: UNESCO)

11. The US army used to import camels from Algeria until the 1870s. The army sent a sailing ship called the USS Supply to bring camels to the USA from the modern-day countries of Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey.
(Source: Smithsonian)

12. Algeria actually enjoys a surprisingly varied climate despite being largely covered by the Sahara Desert. In some areas, the country receives almost no rain (less than 25.4mm per year), while in others it sees up to 760mm per year – more than London. Likewise, temperatures can range from -6°C to over 40°C.
(Source: The Guardian)

13. Algeria has even seen snowfall in recent years. In 2018, snow fell on the Sahara Desert for the third time in 40 years covering dunes in a layer of snow up to 40cm deep.
(Source: Independent)


14. In 2019, Algeria became only the second African country to be officially recognized as malaria-free, following Mauritius in 1973.
(Source: World Health Organisation)

15. Known as ‘Combat taa lkbech’ in the local Algerian Arabic dialect, sheep fighting is an illegal sport in Algeria where sheep are trained to battle each other to death.
(Source: The Guardian)

16. Algeria has won the Africa Cup of Nations football championship twice. First in 1990 and then again in 2019. They were also runners up once in 1980.
(Sources: Britannica, The Guardian)

Algiers' buildings are one of  facts about Algeria
The whitewashed buildings of Algiers (Shutterstock)

17. The Djamaa El Djazair mosque in Algeria has the world’s tallest minaret. The mosque with its 265m-high minaret was completed in 2019.
(Source: The Guardian)

18. The critically endangered Saharan cheetah can be found in Algeria. In 2008 there were thought to be just 250 left in total, with the largest population being in Algeria.
(Source: New Scientist)


19. Ancient stone tools discovered in Algeria suggest that our understanding of how our human ancestors lived around 2.6 million years ago may be wrong. The 2018 discovery suggests that the first humans either expanded more rapidly from East African than previously thought or humans emerged simultaneously across Africa.
(Source: Science Magazine)

20. The French Foreign Legion used to be based in Algeria at the North African headquarters near Oran. However, in 1962 the legion headquarters was transferred to Aubagne in France.
(Source: New York Times, Britannica)

21. Around 99% of Algerians are Muslim – predominantly Sunni.
(Source: Britannica)

22. Following widespread cheating in school exams in 2016, the Algerian government took the extraordinary step in 2018 to block the internet. Mobile and fixed internet connections were cut for more than two hours across the entire country as children sat their tests.
(Source: The Times)

23. Algerians frequently invite visitors and friends to drink tea with them. In a cafe, it’s acceptable to have just one cup with a host, but in someone’s house, three cups is considered customary.
(Source: Lonely Planet)


24. The country’s capital city, Algiers, is known as ‘Alger la Blanche’ (Algiers the White) because of its whitewashed buildings.
(Source: The Guardian)

25. Algeria is a huge fossil fuel exporter. The country’s shipping of petroleum, natural gas and ammonia account for over 95% of its total exports.
(Source: OEC)