Algerian culture is a fascinating mix of African and Arab characteristics with a strong French influence. Islam is a dominant force in this conservative nation, so expats coming from more liberal societies may take some time to adjust. Some initial culture shock in Algeria can be expected.
Language barrier in Algeria
The main languages of Algeria are Arabic and Berber. French is also widely spoken and it heavily influences the local dialect of Arabic spoken in Algeria. English is becoming more popular, but expats wanting to fully integrate into Algerian society should make an effort to learn Arabic or French.
Religion in Algeria
Islam is Algeria’s main religion and dominates virtually all aspects of life in the country. Other religions are tolerated in Algeria, but it’s still an Islamic nation and expats should always show respect for the local customs and laws. Discussing religious issues should be avoided.
Algerian dress is conservative. Women, in particular, should cover their shoulders and legs at all times when out in public. Public displays of affection are considered improper in Algeria, and unmarried cohabitation is also frowned upon.
Food and drink in Algeria
Algerian food is typically Arabic, with French and African influences. It generally revolves around rice, fresh fruit and vegetables. Lamb and fish are popular proteins, with typical dishes including mechoui, spicy lamb roasted over a fire, and makroudh, a pastry stuffed with dates or almonds and dipped in honey. Couscous is also popular and is often served with meat, vegetables and spices.
Expats will find some international cuisine available in Algiers, with a few Italian, French and Indian restaurants available. As an Islamic nation, pork is not eaten in Algeria and won’t be available in restaurants or shops.
Alcohol is also not always easily available. There are a few shops that sell alcohol in the main cities or towns but they tend to be discrete and hard to find. That said, most upscale establishments do serve alcohol but may not have it displayed on the menu.