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Algeria is a densely populated country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It has many landscapes such as snowy mountains, ocean coast, and arid desert. Oil is a key part of the economy, and Algeria is a member of OPEC and the UN. Many ancient peoples have passed through, including Ottomans, Byzantines, Romans, and Vandals. Berbers, Tuaregs, Kabyles, and Chaoui are remaining tribal cultures. The French held Algeria from 1848 until national independence in 1962. Arabic is the official language, but there are also many speakers of French and varied Berber languages. Fun activities including trekking in the desert and sleeping in a Tuareg tent, going to the Casbah and overlooking Citadel in Algiers, checking out Ottoman palaces and mosques, visiting archaeological ruins, or looking at art in various museums. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, ra├» music and soccer are popular diversions. There are entire preserved Roman towns such is Timgad, an old French penitentiary called Lamb├¿se-Tazoult, and the M'Zab Valley, a limestone valley with a large urbanized oasis. There are many ways to get to and around Algeria. Flights from Paris and various African cities are frequent, and boats go to and from Marseille, France and Alicante, Spain. Roads are well-developed for Africa, and there are trains. Grains like couscous predominate in the Algerian diet. Other traditional foods include chorba soup, tagines of meat and/or vegetables cooked in a clay pot, savory pastries called boureks (and many varieties of sweet ones), stuffed vegetables like grape leaves known as dolma, and the stew of beans, vegetables and meats on semolina bread known as chakhchouka. Algeria also produces dates, olive oil, and harissa, a red chili paste which should not be missed by anyone who enjoys some spice.