192-PART GUIDE TO THE WORLD-PART 3: ALGERIA

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The Independent Travel
OFFICIAL NAME

The Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria.

POPULATION

About 30 million.

SIZE COMPARED WITH BELGIUM

Eighty times larger.

ENVIRONMENT

About 85 per cent of the country is desert and plateau. In the north there are two mountain ranges, the Tell Atlas and Saharan Atlas; the Tell Atlas is green and forested and receives large amounts of rain.

BEST MONUMENT

The town of Tlemcen, in the west of the country, was founded in the 11th century as the Almoravid capital of Algeria. To this day, it retains a fabulous walled citadel, a huge collection of Islamic buildings, narrow market streets and traditional craftsmens' stalls.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN

Zinedine Zidane, the French World Cup hero, is not an Algerian citizen but he was born to Algerian parents.

NATIONAL DISH

Along with neighbouring Moroccans, most Algerians' favourite food is couscous with stewed mutton and boiled vegetables in a rich tomato sauce.

BEST MOMENT IN HISTORY

Independence from France was finally achieved in 1962.

WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY

Until independence, the seven-year war against the French colonial armies cost at least one million Algerian lives.

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY

Given the current troubles, an armed guard.

HOW NOT TO BEHAVE

If you can help it, do not enter the country at all. If you are already there, leave.

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