The North African country of Algeria, a former French colony, is the largest country in Africa and a gateway to the Mediterranean for the African continent. Its cultural legacy is very impressive, given its mixed history and colonial past mixed in with domestic influences.
Let’s have a look at the top interesting facts about Algeria!
1. Algerian dates are famous
Dates are a very popular snack in Algeria and are recognized worldwide as top quality. There are many large palm groves throughout the desert, where dates are grown.
The Algerian dates are known for their sweetness but also their nutritional content. They have lots of vitamins and fiber so they’re a very good snack to have in all situations.
The traditional Algerian welcome to visitors is by offering dates and milk, an interesting fact about Algeria.
2. Algeria has been a crossroads of cultures and influences
Throughout its history, Algeria has been conquered and ruled by Romans, Byzantines, the Spanish, German tribes, Turks, and the French.
During ancient times, Algeria was part of various empires such as the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire more recently. Islam became the main religion in the 7th century when Muslim Arabs captured the country. Finally, Algeria was ruled by the French from 1830 to 1962 and it was one of the biggest losses of colonial France when it gained independence.
3. It’s home to seven wonders
There are no less than seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Algeria, dating back to various rulers and empires who built them.
The ruins of the first capital of the Hammadid empire, dating from 1007 and demolished in 1152, are the first one the list, with Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad mosque which is one of the the largest in Algeria.
Next, the Roman town of Djemila (or Cuicul) has had the forum, temples and arches preserved. You can also visit the Islamic city or Kasbah of the capital, Algiers, with old mosques and Ottoman palaces. Other sites of interest are: the wondrous white M’Zab Valley fortified cities, the Roman ruins of Timgad and Tipasa, and finally the prehistoric cave art at Tassili n’Ajjer.
4. Its national animal is the Fennec fox
An interesting fact about Algeria is that the smallest fox in the world is its national animal. The small yellow desert fox has disproportionately large ears. It’s also the mascot of the football team – with football being the country’s national sport.
5. Only 12% of this huge country is populated
Algeria is the tenth largest country in the world, but it’s largely covered by the Sahara Desert, which is not suited to human settlement. Only 12% of the surface of Algeria is inhabited, mostly on the Mediterranean coast and the northern regions immediately to the south of the coast.
6. Algeria is debt free
An fun fact about Algeria is that it is one of the few countries in the world without foreign debt. This is all the more impressive by comparison to 1995, when the external debt stood at 75%.
The main source of revenue for Algeria is natural gas exports, which have helped with the debt position. However, the average Algerian lives in poverty and one in four Algerians survive on less than one dollar a day.
7. Women play important roles there
Unlike in other Islamic countries, women play important roles in Algerian society overall. They are 60% of Algeria’s judges, 60% of the student population and 70% of the country’s lawyers. Finally, women overall make a bigger contribution to the household incomes than men.
8. Algeria is a major wine exporter
Despite its desert landscape for most of its surface, Algeria was used by French colonialists for grape cultivation on a majority of its fertile land. As a result, Algeria was the largest wine producing region of France and is now a major wine exporter.
9. Their most popular gift is mint tea
One of the most popular gifts to bring when you visit someone in Algeria is the mint tea called Etzai. It’s a massive favorite, especially as Muslims don’t drink alcohol all over the country, a fun fact about Algeria. The second favorite drink in Algeria is coffee with cardamom.
10. It’s home to a Nobel Prize-winning goalkeeper
The acclaimed author Albert Camus, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957, was born in Algeria. He was also the goalkeeper of the University of Algiers football team.
11. Algerians have competed in every Summer Olympics since 1964
When it comes to sport, Algerians take it very seriously. The country has participated in every Summer edition of the Olympic Games since 1964, and they’ve won five gold medals, of which twice in the men’s and women’s 1500 meters category. Their fifth gold medal was in boxing.
12. They have UFOs
Since 1970, Algerians have been reporting UFO sightings, with the first one being reported in Algiers. Others are located across the country, in Oran, Guerrara, Oued Bakrat, Bir El Djir, Zitouna and Setif.
There are also many examples of prehistoric cave art which is believed to show aliens.
13. It’s a massive resource of oil and gas
Algeria has vast reserves of fossil fuels and exports lots of natural gas. It’s ranked 16th in the world in terms of oil reserves, and 9th for gas.
14. They spend a lot on defense
A fun fact about Algeria is that its national defense budget is the highest in Africa. They also have some of the largest military body on the continent.
15. Algeria is a bird watching haven
Despite its desert landscape for most of its surface, Algeria is a popular destination for bird watchers. It has lots of species of birds, up to 400, but only one native species – the Algerian Nuthatch.
With a history of being part of many empires and colonial France, Algeria is a land of many influences and a wealth of archaeological riches. It’s also got an interesting and varied culture, and hidden gems throughout the desert in its UNESCO sites.
I hope that this article on Algeria facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!