NATIONAL CHARACTER: Algeria is a blend of Arabic, Mediterranean and African cultures and peoples. This diversity provides for a complex but dynamic society.

ETIQUETTE: In line with its diverse culture, Algeria’s customs are influenced by a variety of different traditions. Men greet each other affectionately, often holding each other’s hands for some time while asking each other about matters such as family, work and health. The exchange of two kisses on the cheeks is also common practice. Foreign men are often received with similar conviviality and a handshake should by no means be refused.

LANGUAGE: Algeria’s official language is Arabic, which includes the informal Algerian Arabic called Darja, heavily influenced by French and Tamazight, and standard Arabic, which is the formal version used in schools, government and the media. Although some neighboring countries generally understand Algerian Arabic, the differences with Middle Eastern dialects are substantial. Tamazight is equally recognized as a national language. French is rapidly losing ground although it is still considered the language of business. English and other foreign languages are not widely spoken.

BUSINESS HOURS: In order to be more in line with the international working schedule, the official workweek was changed from Saturday through Wednesday to Sunday through Thursday in September 2009. Business hours are generally from 8am to 12pm and from 1pm to 5pm. Public companies and administration offices generally work until 4.30pm. Business hours during the month of Ramadan are generally shorter.

ELECTRICITY: Algeria uses 220-V European-style two pin plugs. US- and UK-style plugs require an adapter.

DRESS CODE: The Algerian dress code varies from place to place. In urban areas of the country the mix of traditional attire and Western styles is becoming increasingly common. Traditional dress is much more common in rural areas, however, especially among females and adult men.

TIPPING: Service charges are often included on restaurant bills.