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Unlike its immediate neighbours Tunisia and Morocco, Algeria does not embrace tourism. If you are after boutique riads, bus tours and beach resorts, look elsewhere. But if being under the Saharan stars, roaming alone through Roman ruins and experiencing some of the most jaw dropping landscape in North Africa appeals, then Algeria may just be for you.
The second largest country (next to Sudan) on the African Continent, Algeria has the largest swathe of the Sahara within its borders. It also has the intoxicating capital of Algiers – a city many travellers consider to be the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. It has relics and great buildings from the Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and French colonial periods, plus a fascinating Berber culture that produces mesmerising textiles and ornate silversmithing. Its coastline is renowned for its beautiful light and wild beaches and Algerians, still unaffected by medium and large-scale tourism, are genuinely welcoming.Read more
Of course all these characteristics have a dark back-story. Algeria is coming out of two decades of bloody civil unrest. When the French were overthrown after the seven-year long War of Independence, they left behind a country shattered by over a century of iron-fisted rule and cultural, linguistic and religious repression. Up until very recently politics and power has been an anarchistic quagmire. In 2009, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected for a third term under the promise of continued national reconciliation between the country’s ethnic and regional groups. And although the streets of Algiers once more erupted during the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2010, Algeria is today considered to be (relatively speaking) democratic and stable.
You may hear different once you are there of course. Algerians love to talk to foreigners, and whether you are chatting to an educated urbanite from Algiers, a Berber farmer from the Kabylie region, a Tuareg nomad from the Sahara or a descendent of the pied-noirs (French settlers) no two histories will be the same. Algeria has a myriad of stories to tell; from the pirate tales of the feared Barbary Coast and Saharan folks stories to the poetic existentialism of Albert Camus, the county’s most famous writer. By adding your own, you’ll be experiencing a bewitching, often challenging and deeply rewarding destination a few hours from Europe.
Places of interest in Algeria
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