Algeria is the biggest country in Africa and it is bordered on the west by Morocco and Western Sahara and on the east by Tunisia and Libya. The Mediterranean Sea is to the north, and to the south are Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. The territory of today's Algeria was the home of many ancient prehistoric cultures, including Aterian and Capsian cultures. Its area has known many empires and dynasties.Arid Algeria, the tenth largest nation in the world, shares borders with Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Tunisia, and Western Sahara, with the beautiful Mediterranean Sea forming its northern border. It is the largest nation on the continent of Africa, in the Arab world, and within the Mediterranean Basin.
Archaeological evidence suggests human habitation of Algeria from as far back as 200,000 BC. Neanderthal hand axes found in Algeria have been dated to 43,000 BC. Rock paintings from 3,000 BC suggest lush farmlands spanning the nation, giving rise to the possibility of lost civilizations and the term, Green Sahara.
Most of Algeria is desert, where dry air and winds rushing over sand dunes cause temperatures to soar in the daytime before plummeting at night. Highest temperature officially recorded in Algeria peaked at 123.1°F / 50.6°C.
Rainfall is scarce, especially in the heart of the Algerian desert lands but the northern coastline, along the Mediterranean, sees a milder climate with a fairly plentiful supply of rain each year. In the rural southern regions, rain is virtually nonexistent during summer months; September through December see the most rain in the desert.
Algeria’s 37.9 million people (2013 estimate) are almost entirely of Arab-Berber ethnic descent. Ninety percent of the population lives along the coastline to the north, most of them in the cities of Algiers, Oran, and Constantine. In the desert, inhabitants cluster around oases but the nomadic life is the choice of as many as 1.5 million Algerians.
Women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners in the typical Algerian household. Seventy percent of the nation’s lawyers are women, as are 60% of its judges. Women also play a significant role in Algeria’s medical community. The nation’s per-capita GDP is estimated at $5,693 for 2012 in spite of government budget surplus in 2011 totaling $26.93 billion, which is an increase of 62.46% from the previous year.
Business and industry in Algeria are state-owned, leaving little chance for the average Algerian to prosper in a society that has seen little change in generations. The hydrocarbon industry - oil, petroleum gases, and refineries - is the predominant industry in Algeria, which brings great wealth to the state but does little for the people. The absence of most other industries leaves few job opportunities and has contributed to a high level of youth unemployment, social and gender inequalities, housing shortages, and a nation stagnant in economic, financial, and political policy.
Lack of enough clean water is a health concern in Algeria, especially in the rural and desert areas but the country is striving to “reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to improved drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015,” according to the World Bank. Algeria’s overall population is young, with 25% younger than 15, and they tend to favor policies that include immunization and preventative care rather than traditional hospital stays. Health care is provided free of charge to Algerians who cannot afford to pay.
Study in Algeria
Higher Education in Algeria
The education system in Algeria has gone through several interruptions over the last hundred years as political regime changes brought sweeping social reforms with each change of leadership. Great effort has been made since the 1970s to stabilize education in Algeria, where education is now mandatory for all children between the ages of 6 and 15 and public universities are free of charge to Algerian citizens and the literacy rate has surpassed 78%.
Today, Algeria has 26 universities in full operation plus 67 institutes of higher learning for vocational studies. Collectively there are approximately 1 million Algerian students enrolled in these education centers and about 80,000 international students. About 60% of Algeria’s university students are female and many of them take part in government and the judicial system upon graduation.
The oldest university in operation in Algeria today is the University of Algiers, which was founded in 1879 and maintains courses of study that include law, letters, medicine, and science. The remaining 25 universities and virtually all the other 67 schools were founded after Algeria claimed independence from France in 1962.
While the University of Algiers boasts the highest enrollment rate, the University of Mentouri and the University of Oran are quite popular, too. All three universities are in the northern part of the country, where the climate is most hospitable.
Most of the instruction offered in Algeria’s system of higher education is conducted in Arabic, the national language, but degree programs in medicine and science are often presented in English and French.
The predominance of the petroleum industry in Algeria makes it an ideal location to study the industry and related fields, such as geology, math, and various sciences.
The medical field is an important course of study in Algeria and the national movement to improve the health and well-being of its citizenry makes Algeria a promising place to study the effects of modernizing medicine in an ancient culture.
Algeria, like so many locales in Northern Africa, is an excellent choice for studying history and the antiquities, as well as the history of Arab culture and philosophy.
International Study Requirements
Foreign students hoping to study in Algeria must obtain a certificate issued by the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research Cooperation Division. Details are described in the Ministerial Circular No. 47, effective May 5, 1986.
Life in an Arabic culture will probably seem quite restrictive to many foreign students, especially those coming from outside the Arab world. Harsh penalties exist for actions many students from other cultures take for granted. The cautious student will want to research the secular and religious traditions, customs, laws, and philosophies of the country before relocating to Algeria.