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Quick, what’s Africa’s largest country? If you said Congo, Libya, or South Africa, well, yes, they’re certainly up there, but the answer is Libya’s (plus Morocco’s and Tunisia’s) next-door neighbor Algeria – bigger than Alaska plus California put together, or nearly three times the size of the British Isles. It shares many allures in common with Morocco and Tunisia, but although it has been a major trading partner for Europe (especially in petrol and natural gas), touristically it has flown very low under the radar for decades because of years of civil strife as well as shortsightedly putting all its eggs in the energy basket) – and to this day remains still largely a business rather than leisure destination.
But thanks to the drop in petrol prices, the régime is finally becoming more interested in encouraging tourism, and at least these days, things are calmer overall, though several parts of the country farthest from the capital, Algiers, are still largely no-go (including some of the iconic Sahara landscapes of the far south, for example around Tamanrasset; for more detail, see end of post). That still leaves a tremendous amount – the capital, the country’s other major cities, and their surrounding areas – as visitable and fascinating (for regions to avoid, see below), as long as you employ common-sense precautions and stay away from dark and/or isolated spots at night.