Algeria is located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia. Inland it shares borders with the Western Sahara, Mauritania and Mali in the southwest, Niger in the southeast and Libya in the east. Algeria covers a total area of 2,381,741 km2 and is the second largest country in Africa, after Sudan, and the eleventh largest country in the world. The Sahara desert makes up more than 80 per cent of the country. The northern portion between the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, known as the Maghreb, is a region of the Atlas mountain ranges with intervening valleys and plateaus. The lower Tell Atlas forms the coastal hinterland and the larger sub-parallel Saharan Atlas runs further south. These ranges coalesce further east in the Aurés Mountains. Plateaus between the Tell and Saharan Atlas average 1100-1300 m ASL in the west and drop to 400 m in the east. The Algerian portion of the Sahara is a region of great diversity. Immense areas of sand dunes or ergs occupy about one-quarter of the territory. Much of the remainder comprises rocky platforms and almost the entire southeastern quarter is taken up by the Ahaggar and Tassili-n-Ajjer highlands which rise to over 2,000 m. Mount Tahat in the Ahaggar Mountains, at 3,003 m is the highest peak in Algeria. The population of Algeria was 34,178,188 with a growth rate of 1.196% (2009). The more fertile Tell region is inhabited by more than 90% of the population. The GDP (PPP) in 2008 was estimated at US$236.3 billion with a real growth rate of 3.5%.
Geologically, Algeria is divided into three contrasting tectono-stratigraphic domains: the West African Craton, consisting of Precambrian granitic basementand surrounding Neoproterozoic mobile belts, outcrops in the south and west of the country. The limit of the Craton is broadly defined by the Tuareg Shieldwhich comprises the Hoggar, Adrar des Iforas and Air sub-shields affected by Pan African tectono-thermal events. In the north a series of folded and thrust-bound strata belonging to the younger Alpine Chain extend over the entire length of the Maghreb region.
The oil and gas sectors have dominated Algeria’s natural resource industry. However, Algeria’s government is making renewed efforts to attract investment in the poorly developed mining sector. Hydrocarbons are the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 22% of GDP, and over 94% of export earnings. Oil and gas fields are located in anticlines, faulted anticlines or domes; the productive reservoirs are in Cambro-Ordovician, basal Triassic, Devonian and Carboniferous sandstones and the sealing beds comprise Triassic evaporite sequences and Carboniferous- Devonian shales. Major source rocks were organic-rich Silurian shales. Algeria was Africa’s leading producer of natural gas (41.5%) and was ranked sixth worldwide accounting for 2.86 per cent of total output. It is the fifth largest gas exporter (est. 59.67 billion m3 in 2008) and is ranked ninth in the world (2.5%) for proven reserves (est. 4.502 trillion m3 at the yearend 2008). Algeria is also the second largest producer of helium accounting for 11.6 per cent of world output. It has 21 per cent of the total world identified resources of helium. Algeria’s oil production in 2008 has decreased by only 0.6 per cent but the country had slipped in the rankings from second to the fourth largest producer in Africa (17.4%) and 15th in the world (2.2%). The country has proven crude petroleum reserves of 1.66 billion tonnes, equivalent to about 1 per cent of the world total.