Algeria is the biggest country in Africa and it is bordered on the west by Morocco and Western Sahara and on the east by Tunisia and Libya. The Mediterranean Sea is to the north, and to the south are Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. The territory of today's Algeria was the home of many ancient prehistoric cultures, including Aterian and Capsian cultures. Its area has known many empires and dynasties.Arid Algeria, the tenth largest nation in the world, shares borders with Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Tunisia, and Western Sahara, with the beautiful Mediterranean Sea forming its northern border. It is the largest nation on the continent of Africa, in the Arab world, and within the Mediterranean Basin.
Archaeological evidence suggests human habitation of Algeria from as far back as 200,000 BC. Neanderthal hand axes found in Algeria have been dated to 43,000 BC. Rock paintings from 3,000 BC suggest lush farmlands spanning the nation, giving rise to the possibility of lost civilizations and the term, Green Sahara.
Most of Algeria is desert, where dry air and winds rushing over sand dunes cause temperatures to soar in the daytime before plummeting at night. Highest temperature officially recorded in Algeria peaked at 123.1°F / 50.6°C.
Rainfall is scarce, especially in the heart of the Algerian desert lands but the northern coastline, along the Mediterranean, sees a milder climate with a fairly plentiful supply of rain each year. In the rural southern regions, rain is virtually nonexistent during summer months; September through December see the most rain in the desert.
Algeria’s 37.9 million people (2013 estimate) are almost entirely of Arab-Berber ethnic descent. Ninety percent of the population lives along the coastline to the north, most of them in the cities of Algiers, Oran, and Constantine. In the desert, inhabitants cluster around oases but the nomadic life is the choice of as many as 1.5 million Algerians.
Women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners in the typical Algerian household. Seventy percent of the nation’s lawyers are women, as are 60% of its judges. Women also play a significant role in Algeria’s medical community. The nation’s per-capita GDP is estimated at $5,693 for 2012 in spite of government budget surplus in 2011 totaling $26.93 billion, which is an increase of 62.46% from the previous year.
Business and industry in Algeria are state-owned, leaving little chance for the average Algerian to prosper in a society that has seen little change in generations. The hydrocarbon industry - oil, petroleum gases, and refineries - is the predominant industry in Algeria, which brings great wealth to the state but does little for the people. The absence of most other industries leaves few job opportunities and has contributed to a high level of youth unemployment, social and gender inequalities, housing shortages, and a nation stagnant in economic, financial, and political policy.
Lack of enough clean water is a health concern in Algeria, especially in the rural and desert areas but the country is striving to “reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to improved drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015,” according to the World Bank. Algeria’s overall population is young, with 25% younger than 15, and they tend to favor policies that include immunization and preventative care rather than traditional hospital stays. Health care is provided free of charge to Algerians who cannot afford to pay.