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HomeCountriesNorth Africa › Algeria

Algeria Country AET Profile

About Algeria

Algeria has eight universities, including two universities of science and technology; the total enrollment at all institutions of higher education exceeds 160,000. The University of Algiers (1879) has faculties of law, medicine, science, and liberal arts. Seven of the universities and nearly all of the 20 or so specialized colleges have been founded since independence.

Although almost 25% of the population is engaged in agriculture (including subsistence farming), only 3% of Algeria's land is cultivated. The soil is poor and subject to erosion, and the water supply is generally irregular and insufficient; about one-quarter of northern Algeria is completely unproductive. Agriculture contributed 10% to GDP in 2001, down from 13% in 1999.

The country's aridity, however, renders more than four-fifths of the land uncultivable, and most of the remaining agricultural land is suitable only for pasture. The rest is tilled or devoted to vineyards and orchards. Winter grains—wheat, barley, and oats—are grown on the largest area of arable land in the drier High Plateau, notably around Constantine, and in the Sersou Plateau to the west. Also in the west, esparto grass grows naturally on the region's steppe plains. Tobacco, olives, and dates are important crops, as are sorghum, millet, corn (maize), rye, and rice. The climate is not well suited to extensive stock raising, but there are many scattered herds of cattle, goats, and sheep, and stock raising contributes significantly to the traditional sector of agriculture.

Irregular precipitation has long been a threat to agriculture, but dam construction and irrigation projects have added some stability to crop production. At independence Algeria possessed some 20 sizable dams. An active and ongoing construction program nearly doubled that number by the late 1980s, adding substantially to the country's total irrigated acreage. Despite such efforts, the nation's meagre water resources are under increasing pressure to meet its urban-industrial demands as well.

Algeria's scant forests have relegated only minor importance to timber production in the country's economy, although some cork from the cork oak forests in the higher elevations of the Tell Atlas is processed domestically. Forest area has decreased rapidly since the 1950s through logging operations, forest fires, and urban encroachment, adding to the country's serious problem of soil erosion. However, the Algerian government aims at preserving and expanding the remaining woodlands.

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Institutions in Algeria

Reports on Algeria
Algeria - Current Student Enrolment and Academic Staffing



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