Algeria, Africa

Travel Africa
by Paul-W

Algeria formally the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is a country in northward Africa, and the second largest country on the African continent, Sudan being the largest. It is bordered by Tunisia in the northeast, Libya inside the east, Niger in the southeast, Mali and Mauritania in the southwest, and Morocco as well as a few kilometers of its annexed province, Western Sahara, in the west. Constitutionally, it is defined as an Islamic, Arab, and Amazigh (Berber) area.

The name Algeria is inferred from the name of the city of Algiers, caused by the Arabic word al-jaza’ir, which translates as the islands, bringing up to the four islands which one lay off that city’s coast until getting part of the mainland in 1525; al-jaza’ir is itself short for the older name jaza’ir bani mazghanna, “the islands of (the tribe) Bani Mazghanna”, used by early medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi and Yaqut al-Hamawi.

Modern Algerian literature, divide between Arabic and French, has been powerfully influenced by the country’s late history. Famous novelists of the 20th century admit Mohammed Dib, Albert Camus, and Kateb Yacine, while Assia Djebar is wide translated. Important novelists of the 1980s included Rachid Mimouni, later vice-president of Amnesty International, and Tahar Djaout, murdered by an Islamist group in 1993 for his secularist views. As early as Roman times, Apuleius, born within Mdaourouch, was native to what would become Algeria.

Inside school of thought and the humanities, Malek Bennabi and Frantz Fanon are noted for their ideas on decolonization, while Augustine of Hippo was born inside Tagaste (about 60 miles from the present day city of Annaba), and Ibn Khaldun, though born within Tunis, wrote the Muqaddima whilst staying within Algeria.

The Algerian musical genre best known overseas is rai, a pop-flavored, opinionated take on folk music, featuring international stars such as Khaled and Cheb Mami. However, in Algeria itself the older, highly verbal chaabi style remains more popular, with such stars as El Hadj El Anka or Dahmane El Harrachi, whilst the tuneful melodies of Kabyle music, represented by Idir, Ait Menguellet, or Lounes Matoub, have a widely audience. For more definitive tastes, Andalusi music, brought caused by Al-Andalus by Morisco refugees, is kept in many senior coastal towns. In painting, Mohammed Khadda and M’Hamed Issiakhem are notable in recent days.


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