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Algeria:
Geography

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Background
Definition
After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), has dominated politics ever since. Many Algerians in the subsequent generation were not satisfied, however, and moved to counter the FLN's centrality in Algerian politics. The surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets. The government later allowed elections featuring pro-government and moderate religious-based parties, but did not appease the activists who progressively widened their attacks. The fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense fighting between 1992-98 and which resulted in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. However, small numbers of armed militants persist in confronting government forces and conducting ambushes and occasional attacks on villages. The army placed Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA in the presidency in 1999 in a fraudulent election but claimed neutrality in his 2004 landslide reelection victory. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA in his second term, including the ethnic minority Berbers' ongoing autonomy campaign, large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants. The 2006 merger of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) with al-Qaida (followed by a name change to al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb) signaled an increase in bombings, including high-profile, mass-casualty suicide attacks targeted against the Algerian government and Western interests. Algeria must also diversify its petroleum-based economy, which has yielded a large cash reserve but which has not been used to redress Algeria's many social and infrastructure problems.
Location
Definition
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia
Geographic coordinates
Definition
28 00 N, 3 00 E
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 2,381,740 sq km
land: 2,381,740 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 6,343 km
border countries: Libya 982 km, Mali 1,376 km, Mauritania 463 km, Morocco 1,559 km, Niger 956 km, Tunisia 965 km, Western Sahara 42 km
Coastline
Definition
998 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 32-52 nm
Climate
Definition
arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer
Terrain
Definition
mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Chott Melrhir -40 m
highest point: Tahat 3,003 m
Natural resources
Definition
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 3.17%
permanent crops: 0.28%
other: 96.55% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
5,690 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
14.3 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 6.07 cu km/yr (22%/13%/65%)
per capita: 185 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season
Environment - current issues
Definition
soil erosion from overgrazing and other poor farming practices; desertification; dumping of raw sewage, petroleum refining wastes, and other industrial effluents is leading to the pollution of rivers and coastal waters; Mediterranean Sea, in particular, becoming polluted from oil wastes, soil erosion, and fertilizer runoff; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
second-largest country in Africa (after Sudan)


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