Algeria and its Mixed Language ProfileThe Arabic language has been Algeria’s official language since 1963 and today it’s spoken by approximately 81% of the Algerian population. All official documents are printed in Arabic, and people from non-Arabic households are taught the Arabic language in schools.Since the year 2002, Berber has become recognised as one of Algeria’s national languages, which is appropriate because 99% of the population of Algeria speak either Arabic or Berber – or both. The French language, though, has no official status in Algeria, even though it was introduced during French colonial times and is still taught in schools, used in higher education and in government.
It’s estimated that approximately 20% of Algeria’s population can read and write French, with even more understanding the language.Arabic in Algeria is quite different to the Arabic language commonly used in other parts of the world because it’s been greatly influenced by the French, Turkish and Berber languages. It has a substantially changed vocabulary and a simplified vowel system; with many new words and others borrowed from different languages. You’ll find very distinct variations of the Arabic language throughout various parts of Algeria. With the Berber language, even though there are many dialects, they’re still grouped under the same name.In the past, the Turkish and Phoenician languages were used in Algeria, however both these languages are no longer used in Algeria. There are of course some other African languages existing in Algeria, but these account for just a small portion of the Algerian population. Should you be planning on visiting Algeria you may find it useful if you can speak the French language, because there will be many French-speaking locals for you to communicate with.
* Algerian Culture Algerians are of mixed ancestry, mainly of Berber or Arab origins, but also with descendents of Europeans (such as the French or Spanish) and Sub-Saharan Africans. Skin, hair and eye colour vary greatly.Nine out of ten people live along the northern coastal region, where the major towns and cities are situated. In the Saharan regions of the south, some communities remain nomadic or semi-nomadic, such as the Tuaregs and Gnawa.Most people speak a North African dialect of Arabic known as darja. But education and the written language are in classical Arabic. Many Algerians also use French, the language of the country’s coloniser.
However, younger generations tend to be less fluent in French, since schooling is in Arabic.Around a fifth of the population speaks Berber as their mother tongue. This is not an official language of the country, although Berber groups – such as the Kabylie, Aures, M’Zab and Hoggar – would like it to be.
Rather than learning Arabic, many Berbers prefer to use French as their choice of second language.The vast majority of Algerians are Sunni Muslims, though in some places, there are minority groups of Christians. A rise in fundamental Islamic groups within Algeria caused serious conflict in the past and there is debate among many Algerians about the place of religion.Some of the population practice very traditional versions of Islam, where women wear hijab dress, covering everything except the face and hands, and men leave beards untrimmed.
Other Algerians prefer a more moderate religious approach and Western-style dress is common.In certain places, such as Ghardaia, Islamic dress codes are enforced in public.Algerian culture has been experiencing something of a revival, with traditional forms of dance and music (such as Chaabi) becoming more widely taken up once again.Local instruments such as the oud (a stringed lute-like instrument) and maqrunah (an Arabic wind instrument which can be fitted with a pouch, similar to a bag-pipe) provide unique regional sounds.Music is also influenced by global trends. Rap-style Rai modern form of Algerian songs with a message and is popular among younger generations.
Traditional arts and crafts, such as rug-making, pottery, embroidery and jewellery-making, are practised across Algeria, though certain regions are known for particular items, such as the carpets of Ghardaia and the silver jewellery and swords of the Berber and Tuareg regions.* Religion in AlgeriaIslam is the official religion in Algeria and is practiced by the majority of the country’s inhabitants. Sunni Islam or Muslim religion permeates Algeria in practically every aspect of life. Whilst not all followers are orthodox, Islam gives Algeria its cultural and social identity and its principles govern much of the nations ethics and behavior. Whilst Islam is the dominant religion in Algeria, there are small numbers of Christians, Jews, atheists and others.
Following the revolution, various groups have tried to influence Algeria into becoming an Islamic Arab socialist state. A ministry has been set up in the Algerian government to take care of religious affairs. Whilst Islamic awareness is promoted in Algeria, religious tolerance is high in the country. People of all religions are afforded the right to worship and are respected. Muslims gather for religious worship at mosques throughout the country.
The Imam of the mosque holds the sermons every Friday as well as taking the lead in weddings and funerals. Imam’s are often approached when followers of Islam are seeking advice or guidance. A Superior Islamic Council has been established in Algeria to encourage Muslims in the country to understand Islamic teachings as well as to consider the impact of religion on society.Islam plays a large political role in Algeria and three views can be identified. The first is the Islamist view, where Islam is regarded as all-embracing and must be part of every aspect of life, both private and public. The second is the secular view, where Islam is seen as a guideline allowing certain deviations.
The third is the traditional view, perceived in the elderly and rural communities.Roman Catholicism is the largest church of Christendom in Algeria and upholds the leadership of the Pope. There are four dioceses in Algeria and one archdiocese. During French rule there were more than one million Roman Catholics in Algeria. After independence these numbers dwindled as many left the country. Today they number only in the lower thousands.With Islam as the most widely practiced religion in Algeria, visitors need to be aware of what is culturally acceptable.
If you enter a mosque it is important to remove your shoes and women should always be dressed modestly. By understanding a few basic rules of etiquette and Islamic beliefs you will avoid offending anyone.* Implications for International Business in AlgeriaWith an increasingly liberalized economy, Algeria is beginning to attract more and more foreign investors, through Foreign direct investments, which are beginning to expand in new areas, much different from the traditional ones: hydrocarbons, telecommunications, tourism, Industry, Construction (building, civil works and hydraulic), water and environment, agriculture and food farming, renewable energy.Algeria has already carried out several projects and there are a lot of them that are under way; despite the situation Algeria keeps on attracting an increasing number of foreign direct investments, because they are getting better and better.
The final payment of the investment projects of 2014, analysed by the Agenzia Nazionale per lo Sviluppo degli Investimenti (National Agency for the Development of the Investments) shows a dramatic and dynamic development of investments, as well as a market that is beginning to draw attention on itself.There have been 9904 investment projects in 2014, a number that has increased with time, for an amount of 2.192 million DA (Algerian dinar), about 20 billion euros.
In 2013, there were 8.895 projects for a counter value of 1.716 million DA, which created almost 151.000 job vacancies.
The development of the indicators shows a progressive and constant development of the investments on a national level, and more and more appealing markets. The opportunities development and the market shares to gain, the different partners, the effective efforts to promote business, the assessment of the potential make Algeria a highly appealing country for the foreign business community and network.Since 2001, 2014 has been the best year in terms of investments, date of application of the disposition that regulates the development of the investments, number of projects, capital invested and potential in creating jobs. This kind of investments development is also found in the region of the plateaux and in the South: in fact, 2.166 of the projects that have been presented have developed in those two regions.The projects of investment are mostly concentrated in the provinces, with a high concentration of economic activities; 6.514 projects have been realized in the northern regions last year, for an amount of 1.
286 billion DA: they should create 109.275 job vacancies. The incentives and the specific support dedicated to the investments in the Highlands and in the South have led to a crescent interest in both regions, as the development plans produced by ANDI about them.
The measures taken about these regions must continue and get stronger, in order to contribute to medium and long term development, in line with the stated objectives for the regional balance for the country’s economic and social development.The measures taken through various reforms, all aimed to improve the entrepreneurial context, is starting to earn the investors’ trust, as demonstrate the more than 1.000 billion DA reinvested in this field. This trust has been confirmed also by some other investments, especially the “entrepreneurial start-ups”, whose number has reached 5.650 projects, almost 57% of what was declared.As regards the dimensions of the companies, small and medium enterprises that tend to move towards industry, especially industrial processing chains, have carried on most of the projects that have started in 2014.The industrial sectors are food production sector, chemical and plastic industry, wood and paper industry, textile and leather industry and finally glass industry.The government provides with big funding for the great projects in the water, energy and telecommunication management.These results get registered, following the governmental effort to improve Algerian economy in many ways, such as: developing business and entrepreneurship, supporting manufacturing activities helping them recovering through several incentives, especially in the land managing sector, simplifying access to loans and incentives for investment.