Country Information: The capital of Algeria is Algiers and almost all of Algeria’s population is Sunni, making Islam an integral part of Algerian culture – though a extremely small Christian population lives here as well.
Because Algeria was once colonized by France, it now has a site known as Notre Dame d’Afrique in Algiers, or the Notre Dame of Africa. The church pays tribute to French influence on Algerian culture and life.
Another place in Algiers to visit is Le Jardin d’Essai du Hamma, a serene garden with French and English influences. There is a great mix of plant life and the architecture is simple yet beautiful, with statues scattered throughout the area. In general, much of Algiers is filled with French-influenced architecture, museums, and other tourist attractions.
Algeria is mostly covered by the Sahara Desert, so vast swaths of the country are uninhabited.
Jim’s Perspectives: Algeria is one of those misunderstood countries. Ask most anyone about it and odds are they’d describe it as a backwards or war-torn country, like its neighbor to the east, Libya.
However, the truth is anything but. It’s one of the most stable countries in the region, and is much more like Europe than Africa. The capital city of Algiers is more reminiscent of Dakar in Senegal, modern by African standards, than Conakry or Cotonou.
Algeria was part of the Barbary Coast, of pirate infamy. And when they attacked US trade vessels in 1815 the US declared war and destroyed these vaunted pillagers.
Algeria is the largest country in Africa, as well as one of the jewels in Northern Africa. Despite its lawless past, it’s a staunch US ally in the fight against ISIL. This is a rich country, which is why the French were so hesitant to abandon it in the 1960s (note: 500,000+ Algerians lost their lives in this revolution). Oil, large deposits of natural gas, gold, diamonds, hundreds of miles of coastline, and fresh water to irrigate almost every type of fruit and vegetable known to mankind … are just some of the resources of this rich nation. This is a breadbasket, exporting many food products to African and European countries.
In 2018, I journeyed to Tipasa, a wonderful coastal city 1.5 hours from Algiers. The Romans settled here in 100AD and Tipasa was the economic capital in this region. The ruins here are surprisingly good, despite only being half excavated. The view from the market square from the adjacent hill is spectacular. The marketplace is at the intersection of the cardo maximum (the north-south street), and intersects with the Mediterranean. Remarkable!
The architecture in Algiers in wonderful … but dilapidated … reminiscent of Havana. I would’ve loved to have seen Algiers during its heyday in the late 1800s. Overall, a wonderful place to visit.
The Aurassi Hotel, overlooking the coastline, is close to the Casbah (old town), is the best hotel in Algeria. The Sofitel is decent, but the service is mediocre.