Expats can expect some initial culture shock in Algeria. Algerian culture is a fascinating mix of African and Arab characteristics, with a strong French influence. Islam significantly influences the nation's customs, so expats from different cultural backgrounds may need time to adapt.
Language barrier in Algeria
The main languages of Algeria are Arabic and Berber. French is also widely spoken, heavily influencing the local dialect of Arabic spoken in Algeria. English is becoming more popular, but expats wanting to integrate into Algerian society fully should try to learn Arabic or French.
Religion in Algeria
Islam is Algeria's main religion and informs virtually all aspects of life in the country. While other religions are accepted in Algeria, Islam is the predominant faith, and expats should remain respectful of local customs and laws. Discussing religious issues should be avoided.
Algerian dress is traditionally modest. Women, in particular, should cover their shoulders and legs when out in public. Public displays of affection are generally discouraged in Algeria, and unmarried cohabitation is not widely accepted.
Food and drink in Algeria
Algerian food is typically Arabic, with French and African influences. Algerian cuisine largely features rice, fresh fruit and vegetables. Lamb and fish are well-loved proteins, with popular 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 a favourite 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. In accordance with Islamic dietary restrictions, pork is not commonly consumed in Algeria and is largely unavailable in restaurants or shops.
Alcohol is also not always easy to find. A few shops sell alcohol in the main cities or towns, but they tend to be discrete and hard to find. That said, many high-end establishments offer alcohol, although it may not be explicitly listed on the menu.