Provinces of Algeria

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Update 15 to the GEC, the successor to the FIPS standard, is dated 2014-03-31. It changes the spelling of one province from Tamanghasset to Tamanrasset. On 2014-10-29, ISO 3166-2 made the same spelling change. It appears that the -r- spelling is now more prevalent in English (and French).

Country overview: 

Short nameALGERIA
ISO codeDZ
LanguageArabic (ar)
Time zone+1


At the beginning of the 20th century, Algeria was a French colony. The borders, except near the Mediterranean coast, were ill-defined. The administrative division into departments and territories was based on French practice. During much of the colonial period, Algerian departments had a legal status which was supposedly equal to that of the European departments of France. Algeria became independent in 1962. Since then, it has re-organized twice. After the most recent change, in 1984, the new subdivisions were called wilayas. The southern border has been clearly defined, but the southern parts of the Tunisian and Moroccan borders are still in dispute.

When Algeria was under French administration, the official division names were in French. With independence, Arabic was made the national language. Many place names were changed. However, the French language has continued to occupy an important position as a lingua franca, and place names have continued to be written in the Roman alphabet using French phonetics. In 2002-02, a constitutional amendment recognized Tamazigh (the written language of the largest Berber group) as a national language.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: al-Jumhuriya al-Jazairiya ad-Dimuqratiya ash-Shabiya (formal)
  2. Danish: Algeriet
  3. Dutch: Algerije, Democratische Volksrepubliek Algerije (formal)
  4. English: Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria (formal)
  5. Finnish: Algeria
  6. French: Algérie f, République f algérienne démocratique et populaire (formal)
  7. German: Algerien n, Algier n (obsolete)
  8. Icelandic: Alsír
  9. Italian: Algeria f
  10. Norwegian: Den demokratiske folkerepublikk Algerie (formal) (Bokmål), Den demokratiske folkerepublikken Algerie (formal) (Nynorsk), Algerie
  11. Portuguese: Argélia, República f Popular Democrática da Argélia f (formal)
  12. Russian: Алжирия, Алжирская Народная Демократическая Республика (formal)
  13. Spanish: Argelia f, República f Argelina Democrática y Popular (formal)
  14. Swedish: Algeriet
  15. Turkish: Cezayir Demokratik Halk Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Arabic al-Jazairiya from capital city Algiers, which comes from Arabic al-jaza`ir: the islands, for four islands in the harbor (now connected to the mainland by jetties)

Primary subdivisions: 

Algeria is divided into 48 wilayat (provinces; sing. wilaya).

Aïn DeflaDZ.AD44AG35766,0134,2601,645
Aïn TémouchentDZ.AT46AG36371,2392,6301,015
Bordj Bou ArréridjDZ.BB34AG39628,4753,9201,514
El BayadhDZ.EB32AG42228,62470,53927,235
El OuedDZ.EO39AG43647,54880,00031,000
El TarfDZ.ET36AG44408,4142,9981,158
Oum el BouaghiDZ.OB04AG29621,6127,6382,949
Sidi Bel AbbèsDZ.SB22AG30604,7449,1513,533
Souk AhrasDZ.SA41AG52438,1274,3601,683
Tizi OuzouDZ.TO15AG141,127,6072,9931,156
48 provinces34,080,0302,381,741919,595
  • Status: These divisions are wilayat (provinces).
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Province codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a
    global context, prefix "DZ-" to the code (ex: DZ-31 represents
    Oran). Codes also appear at the right side of vehicle plates.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 2008-04-16 census (source [7]).
  • Area (km.²): Sources [1], [5]
  • Capitals: all have the same name as their province.

Postal codes: 

Algeria uses five-digit postal codes. The first two digits are the same as the two-digit ISO province code.

Further subdivisions:

See the Municipalities of Algeria page.

The provinces are subdivided into 160 dayrat (sub-prefectures), and further into 1,541 municipalities. Under French administration, the country was divided into départements (departments), which were subdivided into arrondissements, which in turn were subdivided into communes. (I use "commune" to translate the French "commune," and "municipality" to translate the Arabic "baladiyah," but they're essentially the same thing.)

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Algeria lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Adrar: Tamashek adrar: mountain
  2. Alger: Arabic al-jaza`ir: the islands, for four islands in the harbor
  3. Annaba: corruption of Arabic madinat al-`unnab: city of the jujube tree
  4. Béchar: after Wadi Bashshar, possibly from Arabic bashar: to bring good news (i.e., finding water)
  5. Béjaïa: ethnic name, possibly from Arabic baqaya: survivors
  6. Constantine: rebuilt in 311 by Roman emperor Constantine the Great
  7. El Oued: = the Wadi (intermittent stream)
  8. Oran: Arabic Wahran (name of a Berber chief)
  9. Sétif: ancient Sitifi, possibly from Berber sedif: black
  10. Sidi Bel Abbès: Arabic Saydi Bal-`Abbas (a person's honorific and name)
  11. Skikda: Arabic corruption of Latin Rusicade, from Punic ruš: cape
  12. Tizi-Ouzou: Berber tizi: mountain pass, uzzu: prickly furze
  13. Tlemcen: Arabic tilimsan: place of the rushes

Change history: 

  1. 1831-12-01: By ordinance, Algeria was divided into civil and military territory. Generally speaking, the civil territories were in the north along the coast, while the military territories were in the Sahara region.
  2. 1845-04-24: By ordinance, Algeria was divided into three provinces. Their names were Alger (English: Algiers), Constantine, and Oran, after their capitals. Each province was further subdivided into three territories.
  3. 1848-12-09: By French presidential decree, the civil territory in each province was elevated to a department of the same name, with a status nominally equal to the departments of European France. The departments were subdivided into arrondissements, communes, and districts (civilian commisariats). The military territory was divided into three provinces, with external capitals Alger, Constantine, and Oran. The provinces later became divisions. They were further divided into subdivisions, which in turn were divided into cercles (circles). The subdivisions were to the military territories as the arrondissements were to the civil territories, and the cercles were on a par with the districts.
  4. 1870-10-24: By decree No. 134, the departments united the civil and military territories, strengthening the equivalence between arrondissements and subdivisions. There were five or six subdivisions. As time went by, the civil territories grew at the expense of the military territories. Certain parts of the military territory were organized as annexes. An annex was the area dominated by a fort, and was part of a cercle.
  5. 1900: According to Jean-Jacques Sudre, in 1900, mentioning only "clearly definable entities", Algeria was divided into the entities shown in this table (dep = department, div = division, arr = arrondissement, sub = subdivision).
Alger depAlger arr
Médéa arr
Miliana arr
Orléansville arr
Tizi-Ouzou arr
Alger divLaghouat subEl Goléah *, Laghouat *
Médéa subBoghar, Bou Saada, Djelfa *
Constantine depBatna arr
Bône arr
Bougie arr
Constantine arr
Guelma arr
Philippeville arr
Sétif arr
Constantine divBatna subBiskra *, Khenchela, Tebessa, Touggourt *
Sétif sub(none)
Oran depMascara arr
Mostaganem arr
Oran arr
Sidi Bel Abbès arr
Tlemcen arr
Oran divAïn Sefra subAïn Sefra *, Geryville *, Mecheria *, Saïda
Mascara subTiaret
Tlemcen subMaghnia
  1. 1902-12-24: Parts of the military territories - the cercles marked with an asterisk (*) above, with minor alterations - were consolidated into a unit called Territoires du Sud. As a result, Algeria was divided into three departments and one territory. The departments were divided into arrondissements, as shown below.
Alger912,240,9112,765,8983,103,20554,861Alger, Aumale, Blida, Médéa, Miliana, Orléansville, Tizi-Ouzou
Constantine932,727,7663,108,1653,424,21787,578Batna, Bône, Bougie, Constantine, Guelma, Philippeville, Sétif
Oran921,623,3561,990,7292,178,83567,262Mascara, Mostaganem, Oran, Sidi Bel Abbès, Tiaret, Tlemcen
Territoires du Sud94642,651816,993822,4131,981,750 
  • No.: Department code, assigned in 1951.
  • Pop-1936: Source [8].
  • Pop-1948: 1948-10-31 census (source [9]).
  • Pop-1954: 1954-10-31 census (source [9]).
  1. 1905-08-14: Territoires du Sud organized into four territories: Aïn Sefra, Ghardaia, Oasis (no capital), and Touggourt.
  2. 1955-08-07: Bône department formed by taking the eastern arrondissements of Constantine department: Bône and Guelma. Twelve new arrondissements created, making a total of 32.
  3. 1956-06-28: The three northern departments of 1955 were restored and given the status of igamies. (An igamie is the jurisdiction of an igame, which is an acronym for inspecteur général de l'administration en mission extraordinaire = administrative inspector general on special mission.) Each igamie was subdivided into four new departments. For details, see the table below. The departments were further subdivided into arrondissements.
  4. 1957-01-10: The four territories joined a union called Organisation commune des régions sahariennes = Common Organization of Saharan Regions.
  5. 1957-05-20: Thirty-four new arrondissements were created.
  6. 1957-07-01: New department codes assigned to the thirteen departments.
  7. 1957-08-07: Territoires du Sud (formerly department no. 9T) split into two departments. The western part, Aïn Sefra territory, became Saoura department; the eastern part, Ghardaïa, Oasis, and Touggourt territories, became Oasis department. (Details provided by Huang Qingqi.)
  8. 1958-03-17: Saïda department created by taking parts of Oran, Saoura, and Tiaret departments. Aumale (department no. 9N) department created by taking Aumale, Bou-Saâdaa, Ouled-Djellal, and Tablata arrondissements from Médéa department. Bougie (9P) department created by taking Djidjelli arrondissement from Constantine department and Akbou, Bougie, Kerrata, Lafayette, and Sidi-Aïch arrondissements from Sétif department. Barika arrondissement transferred from Batna department to Sétif. Tébessa arrondissement transferred from Bône to Batna.
  9. 1959-11-07: Aumale and Bougie departments abolished and restored to their original departments, except that Ouled-Djellal arrondissement from Aumale department merged with Barika arrondissement of Sétif department to become Barika arrondissement of Batna department. Tébessa arrondissement restored from Batna to Bône. Le Telagh arrondissement transferred from Saïda to Oran. This table shows the resulting subdivision of Algeria. Note: total area has changed since 1902, because of border adjustments in desert areas.
DepartmentNo.FIPSIgamiePopulationArea 1Area 2Capital
Oasis8AAG08 421,4451,301,5611,297,050Ouargla
Orléansville9HAG05Alger693,65612,26112,257El Asnam
Saoura8BAG11 166,124779,797789,660Colomb-Béchar
15 departments10,784,3092,381,7452,381,743
  • No.: Department code, assigned in 1957-1958.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-3, a U.S. government standard.
  • Igamie: Igamie to which the department belonged.
  • Population: 1960 census.
  • Area 1: Area (km.²) as shown in the 1977-78 edition of the Statesman's Year-Book.
  • Area 2: Area (km.²) as shown in the Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1964 edition.
  • Capital: Department capital. Names of capitals are the same as their departments,
    except for the southern territories of Oasis and Saoura. Where differences between
    the department name and the capital name appear in the table, one of the names is
    older, newer, or in a different language.
  1. 1960-12-03: Six new arrondissements created in Oasis department; two new arrondissements created in Saoura department.
  2. 1962-07-01: Algeria became independent from France.
  3. ~1962: Name of Bône department changed to Annaba.
  4. 1964: Name of Orléansville department changed to El Asnam.
  5. 1974-06: Fifteen departments reorganized to form thirty-one. The resulting division was as shown below. New FIPS codes were assigned to those departments whose names had changed.
Adrar142,046422,498AG16Oasis, Saoura
Biskra544,798109,728AG19Oasis, Batna
Blida909,9303,704AG20Alger, El Asnam
Bouira385,4524,517AG21Médéa, Tizi-Ouzou
Djelfa330,40622,905AG22Batna, Médéa, Oasis, Tiaret
El Asnam885,2008,677AG05El Asnam
Jijel506,4883,704AG24Constantine, Sétif
Laghouat307,977112,052AG25Oasis, Tiaret
Mascara435,7765,846AG26Mostaganem, Oran
M'Sila438,31719,825AG27Batna, Médéa, Sétif
Oum el Bouaghi400,1828,123AG29Constantine
Saïda373,366106,777AG10Oran, Saïda, Saoura
Sidi Bel Abbès531,68411,648AG30Oran
Tébessa372,47916,575AG33Annaba, Batna
Tiaret619,82623,456AG13El Asnam, Tiaret
Tlemcen596,6779,284AG15Oran, Tlemcen
31 departments17,421,9902,381,742
  • Population: 1978 estimates (source [6]).
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • Formerly: Former departments which contributed territory to the
    new department.
  • Capitals: have the same name as their department.
  1. 1980: Name of El Asnam department and its capital changed to Ech Chéliff, later spelled Chlef.
  2. 1983-12-15: Thirty-one departments re-organized to form 48 provinces (as shown in the first table). The new provinces were predominantly formed by taking the old departments as they were, or by splitting them into two provinces. Aïn Defla split from Chlef; Aïn Témouchent split from Sidi Bel Abbès; Bordj Bou Arréridj split from Sétif; Boumerdès formed from parts of Alger and Tizi Ouzou; El Bayadh split from Saïda; El Oued split from Biskra; El Tarf formed from parts of Annaba and Guelma; Ghardaïa split from Laghouat; Illizi split from Ouargla; Khenchela formed from parts of Oum el Bouaghi and Tébessa; Mila formed from parts of Constantine, Jijel, Oum el Bouaghi, and Sétif; Naama split from Saïda; Relizane split from Mostaganem; Souk Ahras split from Guelma; Tindouf split from Béchar; Tipaza split from Blida; Tissemsilt formed from parts of Alger and Tiaret.

Other names of subdivisions: 

The boundaries of subdivisions have changed, although the names may have stayed the same. Since the subdivision name is usually the same as the name of its capital, the easiest way to track the changes is to consider them as city names. Also note that diacritical marks may be different, depending on the method of transliteration used.

  1. Adrar: Duperré (obsolete)
  2. Alger: Algeri (Italian); Algiers (English); Algier (Danish, German); al-Jazair, al-Djazair, El Djazaïr (Arabic); Argel (Portuguese, Spanish); Dzayer, Djezaïr (variant); Алжир (Russian)
  3. Annaba: Anaba (Portuguese, Spanish); Bona (Portuguese-obsolete, Spanish-obsolete); Bône (obsolete)
  4. Béchar: Colomb-Béchar (obsolete)
  5. Béjaïa: Bougie, Bedjaya (French); Bidjaia (variant); Bugia (Italian); Bujia (Portuguese-obsolete)
  6. Biskra: Beskra (variant)
  7. Blida: El Boulaïda, al-Boulaida (variant)
  8. Bordj Bou Arréridj: Bordj Bou Ariridj, Borj Bou Arreridj (variant)
  9. Boumerdès: Boumerdas (variant)
  10. Chlef: El Asnam, Orléansville (obsolete); Chelif, Ech Cheliff (variant)
  11. Constantine: Constantina (Portuguese, Spanish); Costatina (Italian); Qoussantina, Qacentina (Arabic)
  12. Djelfa: El Djelfa (variant)
  13. El Bayadh: El Bayad, El Beyyadh (variant); Géryville (obsolete)
  14. El Oued: El Ouadi, El Wad (variant)
  15. El Tarf: Et Tarf (variant)
  16. Ghardaïa: Ghardaya (variant)
  17. Illizi: Polignac, Fort Polignac (obsolete); Ilizi (variant)
  18. Jijel: Djidjel (variant); Djidjelli (obsolete)
  19. Khenchela: Khenchla (variant)
  20. Mascara: Mouaskar (variant)
  21. Médéa: El Mediyya, Lemdiyya (variant)
  22. Mostaganem: Mestghanem (variant)
  23. Msila: M'Sila (variant)
  24. Oasis: Oásis Saharianos (Portuguese); Oasis Sahariennes (variant); Saharan Oases (English)
  25. Oran: Orán (Spanish); Orano (Italian); Orão (Portuguese); Ouahran, Ouahrane, Wahran (variant)
  26. Ouargla: Wargla (variant)
  27. Oum el Bouaghi: Oum el Bouagui (variant); Canrobert (obsolete)
  28. Relizane: Ghelizane, Ghilizane (variant)
  29. Saoura: La Saoura (variant)
  30. Sétif: Stif (variant)
  31. Skikda: Philippeville (obsolete); Skidda (variant)
  32. Souk Ahras: Souq Ahras (variant)
  33. Tamanrasset: Tamanghasset, Tamenghasset, Tamenghest (variant); Fort Laperrine (obsolete)
  34. Tébessa: Tbessa (variant)
  35. Tiaret: Tihert (variant)
  36. Tissemsilt: Vialar (obsolete)
  37. Tlemcen: Tilimsene, Tlemsane, Tilimsen (variant); Tremecém (Portuguese-obsolete)

Population history:

Aïn Defla536,205660,342766,013
Aïn Témouchent271,454327,331371,239
Bordj Bou Arréridj429,009555,402628,475
El Bayadh155,494168,789228,624
El Oued379,512504,401647,548
El Tarf276,836352,588408,414
Oum el Bouaghi402,683519,170621,612
Sidi Bel Abbès444,047525,632604,744
Souk Ahras298,236367,455438,127
Tizi Ouzou931,5011,108,7081,127,607


Note: in the 1998 census data, the sum of the province populations is 2 less than the reported total for Algeria.


  1. [1] Quid 1993, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris, 1992.
  2. [2] Masson, Jean-Louis. Provinces, Départements, Régions. Paris: Éditions Fernand Lanore, 1984.
  3. [3] Fifth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names, Vol. II, United Nations, New York, 1991.
  4. [4] The American Oxford Atlas. Oxford University Press, New York, 1951.
  5. [5] Journal Officiel de la République Algérienne , dated 2002-07-10 (retrieved 2004-11-20). In most cases, the areas given in Quid (source [1]) seemed more plausible than the ones given here, but I already knew that the area of Tindouf province according to Quid was much too small, so I used the figure from here. Curiously, this source seems to have a compensating error in the area of neighboring Béchar province.
  6. [6] The Statesman's Year-Book 1981-82. John Paxton, ed. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1981. There was a census on 1977-01-12, returning a population of 17,273,000, according to this source.
  7. [7] "Population résidente par age, par sexe et par wilaya", pdf file downloaded from Office National des Statistiques  by clicking on "Population" and then under "Population résidente par sexe et par commune" (retrieved 2013-04-16).
  8. [8] Webster's Geographical Dictionary. G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, MA, 1957.
  9. [9] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1957 edition.
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