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Algeria

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North Africa : Algeria
Revision as of 22:58, 5 December 2012 by 82.242.193.251 (Talk)

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Travel Warning WARNING: While the country has come a long way since the civil war in the 1990s, there are still occasional attacks against government institutions (buildings, police forces, etc). Such attacks include bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes , particularly in rural areas such as the Kabylie region of the country. Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have been known to occur.

Additionally, there is the threat of bandits and an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group (AQIM) in the south of the country. Much of their activity has been in neighboring Mali & Niger. In the fall of 2011, a few European aid workers were kidnapped by AQIM and held captive in Mali until July 2012. Tamanrasset is safe to visit due to police & military presence, but you should not attempt to travel in the Sahara desert without a local guide taking adequate caution. Some routes in the Sahara may require vehicles to travel only in military/police-escorted convoys for safety.Absolutely no attempt should be made to travel overland to Mali or Niger! (Updated July 2012)

Location
[[File:LocationAlgeria.png|250px|frameless]]
Flag
[[File:Ag-flag.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Algiers
Government Republic
Currency Dinar (Algerian Dinar)
Area total: 2,381,741 km2
water: 0 km2
land: 2,381,741 km2
Population 37,100,000 (2012 estimate)
Language Arabic (Official), Berber, French, and English (widely understood by eduacated)
Electricity 220V/50Hz
Country code +213
Time Zone CET

Algeria (Arabic: الجزائر al-Jazā’ir) ,[1], is an Arab and Berber country in North Africa. It has a Mediterranean Sea coastline in the north. It is surrounded by Morocco to the northwest, Tunisia to the northeast, Libya to the east, Niger to the southeast, Mali to the southwest, Mauritania and Western Sahara to the west. After the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, Algeria became the largest country in Africa.

Regions

Algeria regions
Central Algeria
the metropolitan area around the capital
Northeast Algeria
the extensive mountains and high plains east of Algiers
Northwest Algeria
the mountainous coastal area west of Algiers
Saharan Atlas
the mountain range inland of the high plateaus
Saharan Algeria
the vast desert in the south of the country

Cities

  • Algiers — With nearly 3 Million inhabitants Algiers is the Capital but also political and cultural centre of Algeria. Beautiful mix of white-washed French buildings, narrow streets of the UNESCO listed Casbah, beautiful parks and the magic Bay of Algiers.
  • Annaba — A town with 200.000 inhabitants located in the east of the country next to the border of Tunisia. Annaba enjoys nice colonial building, a very nice church on a hill built for Saint-Augustin and amazing beaches.
  • Batna — A modern city in teh Aures region, in the East of Algeria. Near can be found Timgad, one of the most beautiful Roman ruins in the world, but also the Ghoufi Canyons.
  • Bechar — Small city in the Sahara, not far away from the moroccan border.
  • Constantine — An impressive city in the East, full of history and traditions, on huge and dramatic cliffs and crossed by various bridges.
  • Oran — Biggest City after Algiers also called second Paris by Algerians, with many impressive buildings from the colonial time. Oran is the city of partying and leisure with its beaches and nightclubs and the worldwide famous Raï music.
  • Sétif — South of Kabylia with quite moderate temperatures and occasional snow falls in the winter. Near can be found Djemila, a beautiful ancient Roman city.
  • Tamanrasset — Largest town in the South and starting point for expeditions to the Sahara and the Hoggar mountains
  • Bejaia — Second largest city in Kabylia, with an amazing coastline, gorgeous beaches and nice architecture, a castle can be visited on the Gourara mountain.
  • Ghardaia — A UNESCO listed city where the desert starts with its marvellous Mzab architecture and its art.
  • Tipaza — A very nice city next to Algiers with beautiful beaches and Roman ruins next to the sea.
  • Mostaganem — A very touristy city next to Oran, known in the whole country for its culture and its numerous and very nice beaches.
  • Tlemcen — A sophisticated city full of history, the most Moorish city of Algeria with its mosques and Muslim architecture.

Other destinations

  • Roman ruins at Timgad outside Batna
  • El-Oued with its domed architecture & nearby Grand Erg Oriental—the Sahara's second largest dune field
  • Hippo Regius, an ancient Numidian city once an early center of Christianity with well preserved baths & forum
  • The fantasy architecture of the M'zab Valley
  • Tassili N'Ajjer


Much of recent Algerian history has been dominated by civil wars and subsequent warlordism. That said, the country is gradually restoring order and will prove an interesting — if difficult — destination.

Get in

Visa

Visa instructions

For inquiries about visa application status, please contact the visa office from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 11:00AM


  • Please read carefully the instructions before filling out the application forms. Answer all the questions on the application form and fill out all the sections of the form. For example, if your parents are deceased, give their full names. Do not leave the section blank or write simply “Deceased”.
  • Both forms must bear the original signature of the applicant.
  • Please note that old visa forms will not be accepted to apply for a visa. Use only the new application forms. Any application submitted using an old form will be rejected.
  • The applications must be filled on screen only. No hand written will be accepted [2]

Visa requirements

1. Remember to submit your passport when you apply for a visa and please attach two recent passport pictures (glued or stapled) to the two forms, one on each form. The passport must be valid at least 06 months after the date of entry to Algeria.

2. A non-refundable money-order (individual) made payable to the order of the Embassy of Algeria in the amount of $135 for US citizens. All other nationals must check with the Visa Section for the applicable requirements and fees.

3. Business Visa applicants must include a letter on official letterhead from their employer stating the purpose of their trip, and the full names and addresses of their contacts in Algeria. Applicants must submit with their application an invitation letter from the Algerian company they intend to visit.

4. Work Visa applicants must submit with their visa application an employment authorization delivered by the Algerian Ministry of Labor. The Embassy will not accept any authorization faxed or mailed separately.

5. Tourism Visa applicants must submit an itinerary of their airline travel and a confirmed Hotel reservation in Algeria.

6. Family / Guest Visa: Applicants must provide with their application an invitation from their host in Algeria and notarized at the city hall of the place of residence of the Algerian host. The Embassy will not accept invitations faxed or sent separately.

Spouses of Algerian Citizens should submit a copy of the valid Consulate Registration Card of their spouse and a sponsorship letter signed by the Algerian spouse.

Return of Passports: Applicants may pick up their passports at the Embassy or send a prepaid self-addressed envelope. The Embassy is not responsible for the lost or delays of document by the post office or other visa services.

Important:

The harbor at Oran

- Complete documentation is required. Any incomplete documentation may extend the processing time or returned to applicant at cost. - Processing of an application may be delayed, if prior agreement by Algerian authorities is required. Furthermore, the Embassy reserves the right to request additional documentation from any applicant. It is not the responsibility of the Embassy if there is any delay in the processing of the visa application. - Applicants should make travel arrangements to Algeria based on the date of entry indicated on their visa. Applicants should not arrive in Algeria before that date; they will not be allowed to enter. In case of change in travel plans, applicants must obtain a new visa.

Citizen of the following states can travel visa free : Ecuador, Guinea, Haiti, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Montenegro, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen.

Citizen of the following states can obtain a visa on arrival : Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Zambia, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda.

By plane

Most major European airlines such as (Lufthansa, Air Berlin, British Airways, Air France, Iberia, Alitalia, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines) fly daily to Algiers but there are also some long-haul routes such as (Beijing, New York, Montreal, Doha)

From the United Kingdom flying via Barcelona or Madrid can be cheaper than flying direct.

From the United States the cheapest way to get into Algiers is via London (British Airways), Paris (Air France) or Frankfurt (Lufthansa).

The national airlines Air Algerie flies to many destinations in Europe especially France but also to some cities in Africa and the Middle East. All destinations served by Air Algerie from Algiers : Abijan, Alicante, Bamako, Barcelona, Brussels, Basel, Beijing, Beirut, Berlin, Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Damascus, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan, Montreal, Moscow, New York JFK, Niamey, Paris, Rome, Tripoli, Tunis.

For more information about the Algiers airport check the official site Aéroport d'Alger.

By train

The Algerian train company is named SNTF [3], tickets can be bought at the Train stations, unfortunately the website hasn't been updated since 2008 and online booking is not possible anymore, time tables are subject to change ; the best way is to ask for information at the train station itself. The network in the north is dense. You can reach Algeria by train from Tunisia, although you will have to change the train at the border post. All border points with Morocco are currently closed.

If you can try to catch the newer trains they are more comfortable and climate-controlled.

By car

The realistic and most secure way to reach Algeria by car is across the Tunisian border. The Mauritanian and Malian borders present some security problems, and the Moroccan border is closed. Note that, if you want to get into Algeria from Niger or from the Tozeur border post in southern Tunisia, you'll have to contract an official guide to accompany you across the Saharan routes; otherwise, police will not allow you to get into Algeria with your car. There are no problems if you want to get into Algeria from the Tunisian border posts in the north. As of May 2012 the border to Morocco is still closed but scheduled to be reopened in July 2012.

By boat

The prices are usually more expensive than flying so if you can and have no car take a plane. Most connections are offered by Algerie Ferries [4].

From/to Spain:

  • Alicante to Algiers and Oran
  • Almeria to Gazhaouet
  • Barcelona to Algiers and Oran

From/to France:

  • Marseille to almost every Algerian harbor (Annaba, Skikda, Bejaia, Jijel, Algiers, Oran)

From/to Italy:

  • Napoli to Tunis & take a road for 1 hour
  • Roma (Civitavecchia) to Tunis & take a road for 1 hour

Get around

Algeria is a huge country and travelling between major cities can take a lot of time and nerves as well, while the distances in the more populated north are not so big and a trip from the east to the west can be done in a day travelling to cities in the Sahara is more difficult since the south is barely connected with good roads, train and bus connections.

By plane

From Algiers you can reach almost every major Algerian city by plane, and it is highly recommended to take a flight when travelling longer routes and to Saharan cities. Houari Boumediene, in Algiers, is the only modern airport in the country; the other airports are more like airfields and lacking infrastructure.

Air Algérie [5] is the national carrier with many flights to almost all Algerian cities with an airport. The prices vary regarding of the length of the flown route; airfares to smaller and Sahara cities tend to be pricier than between bigger cities (such as Oran to Algier). The airline uses Houari Boumediene Airport as its hub, and almost all flights start or land there. There are seven daily flights to Oran from Algiers and five daily flights to Annaba and Costantine. Other destinations served from Algiers daily or several days weekly are Adrar, El Oued, Tebessa, Batna, Biskra, Sétif, In Ames, Tindouf, Timmoun, Tlemcen, Tamanrasset, Tiaret, Tebessa, El Goela, Ouaragla, Hassi Mesaoud, Bejaia, Ghrardaia, Tlemcen, Illizi, Djanet, Touggourt, and Béchar.

By taxi

It's usual to take a taxi to travel between near cities or in cities, the prices are pretty moderate but when travelling between bigger cities with large distances taxis are the same or more expensive as flying. Try to avoid unoffical taxis since it's very likely the driver will rip you off. Most Taxis have no taxmeter so arrange a price in advance. Many drivers will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge but never pay more than 30 DA per KM regardless of what you are told. Tipping is not nessecary but you can round up to the next 10 Dinars.


By car

The road network is well developed in the north, the Algeriean goverment has made much improvements in the last years regarding road building, new highways were built to replace the already marod roads. The most important highway is the 1200 km long N1 (Route est-ouest) from Annaba to Oran, almost all bigger cities in the north are connected to this highway including Algiers.

A car is not absolutely necessary because of the well running public transportation system, but could be sometimes useful to reach more remote areas. Keep in mind that driving habits are completly different compared to western norms and that rules and prohibitive signs are more seen as guidelines, even by the police! It would be a wise decision letting a local algerian do the driving for you in the first days to get an impression of the driving style, if this is not possible it's recommended to stay on the highways.

Do not try to reach saharan areas with another car than a 4x4, occasional dunes on the roads and extreme temperature changes will offer a challenge for the driver and the car.

Fuel is extremely cheap and will not cost more than 15 DA per liter.

By train

The Algerian Railways are operated by SNTF [6], currently the trains and lines are being modernised. Ten comfortable highspeed trains named Autorail were bought, currently two of them are in operation. Tickets can not be bought online, only at the train stations, prices are quite moderate but more expensive than buses or taxis but in return you will have more comfort and enjoy wonderful landscapes.

Main Routes :

  • Algiers to Oran , the train takes 4 hours and departs each day at 15:00 from Algiers Central Station and arrives in Oran at 19:30, 2nd Class: 1.000 DA, 1st Class: 1.500 DA.
  • Algiers to Annaba, on this route there's a only a slow and less comfortable nighttrain, departing each day at 20:45 and taking all the night for the way to Annaba. As an alternative you can catch the daytrain to Constantine and take from there a cheap taxi to Annaba.
  • Algiers to Constantine departing each day at 06:45 and arriving in Constantine at 13:30, make sure that you get a window seat because the train will take you through the scenic kabilyan mountains and wonderful landscapes, 2nd Class: 1.200 DA, 1st Class : 1.800 DA.

See

M'zab architecture

Similar to that of Libya, Algerian tourism is best known for its ancient ruins—principally those from the Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine eras. Some of the most famous include Timgad near Batna, Hippo Regius at Annaba, Djemila at Sétif, Calama at Guelma, and ruins from all three empires at Tipasa.

While better known for the Roman ruins, Algeria's greatest tourist possibilities lie in the Sahara; there simply is no other country on earth that can offer the sort of exciting and exotic adventures around the great desert. The crown jewel is the center of Mozabite culture in the M'zab Valley. The five interconnected cities are a breathaking architectural playground evocative of modern cubist and surrealist art. They simply must be seen in person. But the landscapes are impressive as well: the harsh, rugged Saharan Atlas mountains, the endless desert and Hoggar Mountains around the country's desert capital of Tamanrasset, the huge dunefield of Grand Erg Oriental at El-Oued, and the ancient rock carvings of Djelfa and the Saharan National Park of Tassili N'Ajjer.

The Mediterranean beaches in Algeria are woefully underdeveloped, despite excellent potential, owing to the country's poor security situation scaring off almost all tourists. But if you are in the country for a while, a bit of relaxation will at some point be in order, and there is no need to fly over to Tunisia. Oran (urban) on the Turquoise Coast, Annaba, and particularly Skikda and Ghazaouet all have nice beaches. The spot to go near Algiers is undoubtedly the resort town of Sidi Fredj.

Of Algeria's major cities, you may be surprised at the number of things to see. Algiers is a big, beautiful, thriving Mediterranean city with great architecture, ranging from French colonial superbe buildings (like the "Grande Poste", a mix of French and Arab architecture) to the ancient area of the Casbah. Oran is a wonderful and dynamic city in the West of Algeria with a lively feeling, very good seafood restaurants, beaches, museums, nightclubs, mosques, churches, castles... Annaba, Skikda, Mostaganem, Cherchell, Tipaza and Bejaia are other beautifuls coastal cities where great architecture meets the magic blue of the sea.

Constantine is an incredible city with awesome buildings built on huge cliffs, the whole city is crossed by bridges, overlooking the Rhummel river and the countryside.

Tlemcen is a jewel in the Western part of Algeria, next to the Moroccan border. It is a former capital of the Maghreb region and enjoys numerous amazing Moorish buildings such as mosques but Tlemcen is also a city of art with handicraft, Arabo-Andalu music and traditions. The "Lalla Setti" plateau overlooks the city and can be reached by a brand new cable car, there can be found parks, restaurants, woods, fountains, a splendid hotel and an incredible view on the city and its surroundings.

Do

Travel on camels in the Sahara desert. Locations:

  • South Algeria,Tassilli-National Park

Talk

The official language is Arabic, but the Arabic spoken in the Maghreb Region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) is quite different from the Arabic spoken in other parts of the Arab World, so don't be surprised if you don't understand anything said to you even if you are competent in standard Arabic. Algerian Arabic contains many French words.

However, all Algerians who have been to school will be able to speak standard Arabic; if you don't understand someone, ask just the person to speak standard Arabic (al-arabiyya al-fus'ha). Egyptian Arabic is also widely understood because of the popularity of Egyptian cinema.

French, the colonial language, is still widely spoken, and almost every local that you meet will be bilingual in Arabic and French.

Berber is also spoken by many people in Algeria, mainly in rural areas. The largest being the Kabyle people near the capital.

Generally, only the younger generations in Algeria can understand some English, but most people are able to communicate in French.

Some common pharses in Algerian Arabic :

  • Wishrak — How are you ?
  • Mleh — Good
  • Shukran — Thank you
  • Sumuni .... — My Name is ....
  • Salam alaikum — Hello (Reply is alaikum salam)
  • Besslama — Good Bye
  • Sabah al khair — Good Morning (Reply is Sabah al noor)
  • Masah al khair — Good afternoon / evening (Reply is Masah al noor)

Buy

The Algerian currency is the Dinar (DZD) As of Dec 2010, 1 US $ will give you 73 Dinar. There are Coins in the order of 5 DA, DA 10, 20DA, 50DA, and 100DA and notes in the size of 100DA, 200DA, 500DA, 1000DA, 2000DA.

Money can be exchanged at Banks or Post offices. Make sure that the exchanged bills are in a good condition, people tend to be picky with accepting ripped and older bills. Be careful with other currencies than Euro or US$ it could be hard to find a bank that exchange less common currencies.

ATMs are widely available and can be found in every post office or larger bank you can withdraw Algerian Dinar with any major credit card and maestro cards. If a pin with 6 numbers is necessary just enter two zeros before your pin.

Living in Algeria is very cheap compared to western conditions for an example 300 DA will get you a full meal or bus ride from Algiers to Oran (400km). Renting a midsized apartment will cost normally 60.000 (6 month in the advance) DA a month.

Eat

Algerian food is delicious. Note that some french dishes are variations from it.

  • Fettate (Sahara specialty, in Tamanrasset)
  • Taguella (bread of sand, a nomad specialty)
  • Couscous (steamed semolina with sauce containing meat and/or potatoes, carrots, courgette, and chick peas)
  • Buseluf (cooked lambs head)
  • Dowara (stew of stomach and intestines with courgette & chick peas)
  • Chorba (a meaty soup)
  • Rechta (hand made spaghetti, usually served with a clear chicken broth, potatoes & chick peas)
  • Chakchouka (normally, it has green peppers, onions and tomatoes; egg may be added)
  • Mechoui (charcoal grilled lamb)
  • Algerian pizza
  • Tajine (stew)
  • Mediterranean juices (grenadine, orange); very sweet green tea, and strong coffee.
  • Qalb El Louz (dessert containing almonds)
  • Baklawa (almond cakes drenched in honey)
  • Ktayef (a kind of baked vermicelli, filled with almonds and drenched in sugar, syrup, and honey)

Drink

Algeria produces a selection of wine (not in big volume in more) and also beer. However, Algeria is a Muslim country, and you do not find alcohol sold everywhere, you have to know where to find it. Wine and alcoholic drinks are sold in the few bar restaurants in the big cities, high end hotels, and night clubs. Some bar restaurants can be found in nice parks, so if you are in a nice wooded park, look for the restaurants. The fast food restaurants open and affordable to the public do not sell beer, and the coffee shops do not sell alcohol. If you visit Algiers or coastal cities, there are fish restaurants in almost every fishing port, the fishing is traditional and the fish sold is very fresh; usually, these restaurants sell alcohol but you have to ask (do not expect to see it, some times it is on the menu, some times not). Finally, you can buy your own bottle of Algerian wine to take home in discrete shops that sell alcoholic drinks. It is better to buy it at the Algiers airport. In smaller towns, buying alcohol can be challenging; you usually find them at the edge of the towns in sketchy areas and the conditions in which the alcohol was kept is sometimes questionable. Some Muslims drink but they consider it a sin. It is in private but socially. If some one invites you into his home and does not offer alcohol, he expects you not to be drunk or smell of alcohol, and does not expect you to bring your own bottle or even discuss drinking alcohol in front of his wife and kids.

Smoke

All cigarettes are sold freely. Smoking in the presence of someone who is not a smoker in a public place requires his permission, if someone does not like the smoke, cough or ask you not to smoke, just stop and say sorry. This is what the locals do. If you are invited to someone's house do not smoke unless the host does and after he does, you can ask for permission to smoke (is it okay if I smoke in here?) If you are in a restaurant or coffee terrace where people smoke, you can smoke, if you are with locals who are not smokers, ask them first if it is okay. Less and less people smoke, it is because of a global health awareness not because of religion. Women smoking, not many, social and not religiously, smoking women are stigmatized by the society.

Sleep

For housing, it really is not difficult, as there are luxury hotels and cheap ones throughout the country. The price of a beautiful deluxe room for a couple costs between € 150 and € 250 per day, as there are rooms from € 10 to € 45 for low budget tourists. It should be noted that many services are available in luxury hotels, such as the cafeteria, bar, restaurant, nightclub, pool, etc.. In addition it should be noted that during the summer season from June 15 to August 31, many owners rent houses and cottages on the Mediterranean Sea from Port Say (Marsa Ben M'hidi) in El-Kala. Prices vary depending on the number of pieces, usually between 700 euros to 3000 euros per month, electricity included, but it is best to book in advance through an acquaintance or a travel agency. Also, many Algerian uses the site on the Internet ads, bids are sometimes interesting and even opportunities to be missed, but it is always best to send a loved one to visit the place before paying money to the deal. There is also the complex Meskoutine Hammam (spa, pool, etc.) which is located near a waterfall from which flows a source of hot water at 98 ° C. This is the second source the hottest in the world after the geyser in Iceland. The price, depending on the number of rooms in the bungalow, varies between 1500 and 3000 AD (15 to € 30) per day.

Learn

The safest way and most friendly to learn is to get closer to a small circle of people and listen. There is also a tradition of oral transmission of knowledge. It is also good to be open to others and not to refuse what you offer: accept it willingly.

Work

Despite high unemployment, the government encourages foreign investment in different sectors. Unemployment is, however, one major problem in Algeria. In fact, it is very difficult to identify the phenomenon in the absence of a real substantive work, able to give an exact idea of the exact extent of the phenomenon. What we know, for cons, is that the informal economy and undeclared work occupies a vast majority of Algerians and spares no industry. Some sources estimate that about 40% of the part played by the informal sector in the country's economic activity, and the phenomenon has never been considered in the evaluation of the unemployment rate in Algeria.

Stay safe

Despite many western advisory warnings against traveling to Algeria, you should know that terrorism in 2005 was focused only in the following areas: Chlef, Ain Defla, Relizane, Laarba, Medea, and Collo. As of 2009, terrorist attacks are mostly directed against police offices and other government targets. Terrorism is highly active in the south of Algeria as well.

Do not travel after nightfall; travel by plane if you can, instead of by car; avoid minor roads; ask the police if you are unsure about your surroundings, and nothing unusual should happen to you. Also, you should trust only official travel advisories when it comes to personal safety when are in or travel to a foreign country.

Stay healthy

Algiers is frequently struck by power cuts, which means that refrigerated foods may go bad. Therefore, you should take extra care when eating in restaurants, as the likelihood of getting food poisoning is always there.

Mosquitoes are also a problem in Algeria, but they are just a nuisance, as malaria is not common. In urban areas, city-wide sprayings against mosquitoes are periodically carried on.

Do not expect good water quality, for drinking you should buy bottles of water.

Always use protection when traveling in Algeria.

Respect

As in all of North Africa, the dominant religion in Algeria is Islam, and appropriate religious prohibitions and attitudes should be in order. If visiting a mosque, for example, be sure to be dressed conservatively and remove your shoes before entering it. Alcohol policy is not the same all over the country, with some cities prohibiting bars and/or liquor stores. Keep in mind to drink only at home or in a bar; never in public.

Also, given the ongoing political strife, talking politics is not advisable.


Emergency phone numbers

Police: 17 or 1548

Civil protection (Medical emergency and fire department): 14

National Gendarmerie (Espacially outside cities): 1055

Support for children : 3033

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