How do people in Algeria live?
What is life like in Algeria? Surely you would eat couscous and lamb a lot if you lived there. You would speak Arabic and learn French in third grade at the latest. If you were born into a Berber family, your first language might also be Tamazight.
Maybe your name would be Mohamed, Amine or Ahmed – and as a girl maybe Yasmin, Amina or Sarah. The family is very important. Children who are not yet married usually still live with their parents – even if they are over 30 years old.
Because the population has grown rapidly for many years and is still doing so, there is a lack of apartments and jobs. It is especially difficult for young people to find work.
Most Algerians wear western clothing. Men, women and children in traditional clothing are more likely to be seen at festivals and celebrations. Some women wear a headscarf or a veil, others don’t.
For shopping, Algerians go to the market district, the souk, or in one of the small shops that are everywhere in the cities. There are more and more large supermarkets on the outskirts of the city centers. Payment is made in dinars.
Religion also determines everyday life. You can’t buy pork, for example, because that’s not what Muslims eat. In the cities you can see many mosques with their high minarets. During the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims are only allowed to eat after sunset.
Weddings are celebrated big in Algeria. That costs a lot of money. A traditional wedding feast lasts three days and at least one hundred guests must be invited. Many young people cannot afford that.
Eating in Algeria
What do you eat in Algeria?
Arabs, Berbers, Turks, French, Spaniards – they all brought their influence to the Algerian cuisine. One of the most important staple foods is couscous. It consists of semolina, that is, coarsely ground grain that is moistened and grated into small balls. There is couscous made from wheat, barley or millet. To cook couscous, just pour boiling water over it and then steep. This is usually done with meat and vegetables.
Meat: lamb and mutton preferred!
There is meat with almost every dish – but not pork, as Muslims do not eat that. Lamb and mutton are particularly popular, but dishes made from chicken or beef are also popular. The vegetables are potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage and aubergines.
What is Chakhchoukha?
A popular dish in Algeria is called chakhchoukha. To do this, you first cook marqa, a stew made from lamb, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas and sometimes other vegetables. This stew is then mixed with pieces of rougag, a thin flatbread. Chakhchoukha is originally a Shawia Berber dish, but today many people in Algeria eat it. The word means “to tear into small pieces”.
Even more dishes: Shakshuka and Merguez
Shakshuka is not the same as Chakhchoukha! Shakshuka is the name of a dish made from poached eggs, which are served on a sauce made from tomatoes and onions. You can find the recipe in our participation tip !
Merguez is a spicy sausage made from mutton or beef. It is spicy with chillies, cumin and garlic. Merguez is grilled. You can also eat french fries with it. Dried merguez are also used as a seasoning for tagine dishes. A tagine is a special casserole that is popular for cooking. The dishes are then also called tagines.
Here you can read how to cook in Algeria.
Children and School
School in Algeria
Children in Algeria start school at the age of six. School attendance is compulsory until the pupils are 15 years old. Classes are in Arabic. French is added in the third grade and is primarily the language of instruction for math and science. After five years in elementary school, four years in middle school follow.
After nine school years, good students can switch to a grammar school, which is called lycée here, as in France. You can choose between a general and a technical school leaving certificate. Three years later, the students can take the Abitur, the baccalauréat.
Children in Algeria
There are a lot of children in Algeria – almost 30 percent of the population are under 14 years old! In Germany it is only 13 percent. Most children also have siblings. On average there are three children in each family. Many families have little money. There are also children who work. They help with the harvest, toil in factories or work as domestic servants. Five percent of children between the ages of five and 14 do child labor. Poverty is also the main reason why many young Algerians dream of going to Europe. They hope to find a better future there and, above all, work. A hope that is often disappointed.