Formal name: Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria ( Al-Jumhuriya Al-Jazair Al-Democratia Al-Chaabia).
Population: 29,398,235 (1998 census); 30,500,000 (2001 est.).
Although the situation in Algeria has dramatically improved from the most difficult moments of the crisis in 1993-4 and 1997-8, a final solution to the ongoing conflict remains elusive. The state of emergency imposed in February 1992 remains in force, despite widespread criticism from Algerian and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of the exceptions to the normal process of law that it grants. Serious disturbances in the Kabylia region over the spring and summer of 2001 emphasised the tremendous gulf that continues to exist between a privileged ruling elite and the huge, disenfranchised majority of the overwhelmingly young population. The Algerian government is extremely wary of any international involvement. The movement of journalists is highly restricted, as are the activities of most international observers and NGO groups that have attempted to visit the country. The extreme difficulty of accessing reliable information and the much-remarked 'opacity' of the political process are among the most perplexing problems facing those who wish to understand this crisis.
The conflict has resulted in the deaths of between 100,000 and 150,000 people. The serious level of violence throughout the 1990s produced very significant levels of internal displacement, estimated at 200,000 by the Global IDP Project. This situation has been exacerbated by regular serious earthquakes (the most recent, in May 2003, affected Algiers and the surrounding region, killing 1,600 people and leaving almost 180,000 homeless), floods, and serious drought. Estimates of the number of people to have left the country vary from 250,000 to 450,000. UNHCR figures show that 70,000 Algerians have claimed asylum in Western Europe and North America since 1992, but the total number who have left is undoubtedly far higher. Many Algerians have been able to obtain other forms of secure status, particularly in those countries with significant Algerian communities and established ties to Algeria, most significantly France. Others have simply remained undocumented. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that over the last decade, significant groups of Algerians have become established in Eastern Europe, francophone West Africa, and the Middle East, though official statistics are not available to establish the exact size of these groups. There can be little doubt that the ongoing violence in Algeria is the most significant, if not the only factor provoking this international migration. The Algerian government is always keen to highlight the fact that it is also a significant host of refugees. Algerian government figures refer to 165,000 Saharwi and 5,000 Palestinian refugees resident in Algeria, though the size of the Saharwi refugee population is contested by international NGO groups.
- Algeria Interface http://www.algeria-interface.com/
- INCORE guide to Internet sources on conflict and ethnicity in Algeria http://www.incore.ulst.ac.uk/cds/countries/algeria.html
- CIA Factbook: Algeria http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ag.html
- Law Library of Congress Algeria guide http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/algeria.html