In 2019, Algeria had an average population density of 18
residents per km2. Only the mountain and coastal
areas in the north, which receive rainfall, are densely
populated. About 95 percent of the population is
concentrated to 12 percent of the country's area. In the
Sahara, only the oases are inhabited.
About 73 percent of the population lives in cities. The
largest cities in 2010 were Algiers (2.2 million residents),
Oran (678,300) and Constantine (460,100). In order to
counter the move of farmers to the cities, the state has
accelerated programs to strengthen the agricultural economy.
Countryaah data, the population consists mainly of Berber, the majority of
whom are Arab. A number of Bedouin groups live in the desert
areas. Among the Berber are the agricultural cabillaries
(3.3 million) in the country's northern mountainous regions,
Shawia (1.8-2 million) who support themselves as shepherds
in the Tunisian borderlands, Mozabs (256,000) living in the
Northeast and a number of groups that are found in the
deserts of the south, the most important of which are the
mainly nomadic Tuaregs (40,000) in Ahaggar.
Since the country's independence, most of the Jews who
previously existed in the cities of Algiers, Constantine and
Oran have emigrated. Groups (French, Italians, Maltese) of
European origin have also emigrated to a large extent.
The official language is Arabic. The majority of the
population (about 80%) speak various forms of Arabic gastric
dialect. Berber languages are spoken by a large minority.
As a second language, the former colonial language French
has a strong position.
Islam is state religion in Algeria. The dominant
direction (97.9%) is Sunni Islam of the Malikite rite (see
Islamic Law, Islamic Law Schools). A small minority are
Mozabites, most of whom profess a form of Islam, ibadiya,
which differs from both Sunni and Shia. by claiming that it
was founded about 60 years after Muhammad's death, but also
on some central issues of faith.
The Christians - Catholics, Protestants of various
estimations and Orthodox - make up about 0.2% of the
population. The number of Jews is estimated at less than
0.1% (2010) or just under 600 people. When Algeria became
free from France in 1962, the majority of Christians and
Jews fled (in 1962 the number of Jews in Algeria was
estimated at 230,000). A large part of the remaining
non-Muslims emigrated in the 1990s after many were subjected
to Islamist terrorist acts.
The Ministry of Religion exercises political control over
Islamist groups, including through strong regulation of
religious sermons and by mosques becoming propaganda centers
where the government's actions are praised. In 2007, a
National Commission on Religious Devotion was created
with the task of registering, approving and monitoring
non-Muslim religions. Attempts to convert Muslims have been
criminalized and Muslims who have converted to Christianity
have been sentenced to prison for practicing a religion that
is unauthorized or for insulting Islam. Algerian Christians
have difficulty practicing their religion because they do
not get their applications approved, which has led to the
closure of several unauthorized churches.
During the liberation struggle from France, the Muslim
identity of the population came to act as the unifying
national marker, as the country was not linguistically and
ethnically unified. This "national Islam" was questioned
when a religious opposition to the ruling party gradually
emerged. Inspired by other Islamic movements in the Muslim
world (Muslim Brotherhood), in connection with strong
popular demonstrations in the late 1980s, the Islamic Rescue
Front (FIS) was formed, with the goal of Algeria becoming an
The FIS had strong popular support and was proclaimed
victorious in the 1991 parliamentary elections. The
situation developed into a civil war between the military
regime, the state security forces (DRS) and various Islamist
factions. However, the reciprocal acts of violence, which
resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, declined in the early
Through violent acts in the 1990s, the more radical
direction of Islamism, represented by the GIA, lost its
appeal. After President Bouteflika's accession in 1999,
religion, even the more moderate forms of Islam, moved more
in the background as a political phenomenon. Algeria banned
parties that define themselves by invoking religion or
language. In the 2012 election, however, Islamist parties
were allowed to stand again.