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Summary: Located in Northern Africa between Morocco and Tunisia and bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Algeria battled out of French rule and reached independence in 1962, and is slowly achieving political stability through democratic elections. Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, after only Sudan, and is mostly high plateau and desert, with some mountains and a narrow, irregular coastal plain, and an economy primarily based on hydrocarbons, oil and natural gas, with slow progress on social reforms.
Time Zone: UTC+1
Languages: Arabic, French, Berber dialects
Power: 230V, 50 Hz
Currency: Algerian Dinar - Currently 1 DZD = 0.0150 USD $
Climate: Algeria has an arid to semi-arid climate, with mild and wet winters, with hot and dry summers along the coast. The weather is drier with cold winters and hot summers on the high plateau, and sirocco is a hot sand-laden wind especially common during summer months.
Algiers: Arranged with Turkish monuments, Ottoman palaces, and most importantly, the Kasbah, which looks over the rest of the city and the Mediterranean and is a UNESCO neighborhood which dates from 250 to 450 years old, Algiers also has sights like the National Museum of Antiques beside the Parc de la Liberte, and the nationally important Martyr's Monument in the southern part of the city. Of course, the beaches of the Mediterranean line the 40 mile drive to Tipaza, which is home to a great archeological park filled with ruins.
Sahara: The Sahara brings to mind images of deserts, nomads, and dunes, but as Algeria is some of the countries that opens into the landscape, there are a few other surprises. Treks can include finding hidden oases, with small like Ouargla and El Golea becoming permanent settlements around the water sources, hiking the gorges of El Kautara, or making it to the Hoggar Mountains and Tamanrasset, with a marketplace filled with handicrafts and cloths brought from neighboring saharian countries.
Safety: Although travel to Algeria is possible, it will be difficult and, at times, dangerous. Avoid traveling at night, demonstrations and large crowds, arrive by sea, if possible, and hire an escort or guard to guide you through any cross-country treks.
Cash on Hand: Credit cards and traveler's checks have limited acceptance, typically the biggest hotels and stores, and currency exchange facilities are rare, so you are best of changing money at the airport or the largest banks in Algiers. Of course, keep your money transactions inconspicuous.
Local Customs: Algerians are both gracious and generous, helping visitors warm up to a local greeting. Remove your shoes when visiting a home or mosque, and in keeping with the fundamentalist Islamic culture, conservative dress, especially for women is expected, as is respect for Muslims.
Tipping: Follow standard tipping rules for about 10% of your bill for good service.