Algeria has undergone profound economic change since its independence. In 1962, agriculture dominated the economy, and Algeria was able to supply most of its own food. The chief exports were wine and citrus fruits. Since the 1960s, the economy has shifted towards industry, particularly the extraction and processing of oil and gas. Algeria is one of the main oil- and gas-producing countries in Africa and a member of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). The agricultural sector still produces grains, fruits, vegetables and tobacco, but Algeria must now import much of its food.

Algeria's economic growth has been slow in recent years, however, because of low international petroleum and gas prices, heavy foreign debt, and civil strife. Unemployment is high and many people live in poverty. During the war of independence, the forested areas in the north of Algeria were badly damaged. However, since the 1960s, Algeria has undertaken reforestation programs to ensure a supply of wood in the future. Now the country is a leading producer of cork. The fishing industry harvests sardines, anchovies, tuna and shellfish. The mining industry, which is largely controlled by the government, produces iron, zinc, lead, mercury and coal.

   Did you know?

Because the holy day for Muslims is Friday, the business week in Algeria is different from that in Canada. Many business are open between Saturday and Wednesday, and closed on Thursday and Friday.

More than 45% of the workforce is employed in the service sector. This sector includes those who work in the large government bureaucracy, as well as workers in financial services, telecommunications, and the media. Publishing and broadcasting are controlled by the government. Algeria invested in the tourist industry in the 1980s and built hotels and resorts along the Mediterranean, but the civil war and continuing unrest have deterred tourism.

Although Algerian women may attend university and work outside the home, only about 7% of the work force is made up of women. Most are employed as teachers, doctors, nurses and technicians.

   Did you know?

The people of the Souf region in eastern Algeria are able to grow dates and other fruits in the desert. They dig deep pits in the sand and plant date palms and other fruit trees at the bottom. The roots of the trees are able to reach down to water deep in the earth.