192-PART GUIDE TO THE WORLD-PART 3: ALGERIA
Sunday 07 March 1999
The Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria.
About 30 million.
SIZE COMPARED WITH BELGIUM
Eighty times larger.
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.
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.
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.
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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