Algeria falls into two main geographical areas, the northern region and the much larger Saharan or southern region. The northern region, which is part of the Maghreb, is made up of four parallel east-west zones: a narrow lowland strip (interspersed with mountains) along the country's 600-mi (970-km) Mediterranean coastline; the Tell Atlas Mts. (highest point: c.7,570 ft/2,310 m), which have a Mediterranean climate and abundant fertile soil; the sparsely populated, semiarid Plateau of the Chotts (average elevation c.3,500 ft/1,070 m), containing a number of shallow salt lakes (chotts) and supporting mainly sheep and goat herders; and the Saharan Atlas Mts., a broken series of mountain ranges and massifs (highest point: 7,638 ft/2,330 m), also a semiarid area and used chiefly for pasturing livestock. The Chéliff River, which flows into the Mediterranean, is the largest of the country's few permanent streams. N Algeria is subject to earthquakes, which, as in 1954, 1980, and 2003, may be devastating, killing and injuring thousands.
The arid and very sparsely populated Saharan region has an average elevation of c.1,500 ft (460 m), but reaches greater heights in the Ahaggar Mts. in the south, where Algeria's loftiest point, Mt. Tahat (9,850 ft/3,002 m), is located. Most of the region is covered with gravel or rocks, with little vegetation; there are also large areas of sand dunes in the north (the Great Western Erg) and east (the Great Eastern Erg). Important oases include Touggourt, Biskra, Chenachane, In Zize, and Tin Rerhoh.
In addition to the capital, major cities include Annaba, Blida, Constantine, Mostaganem, Oran, Sétif, Sidi-bel-Abbès, Skikda, and Tlemcen. Berbers once constituted the chief ethnic group in Algeria, but have been largely assimilated into Arab culture. The Berbers, beginning in the late 7th cent. A.D., adopted the Arabic language and Islam from the small number of Arabs who settled in the country. Today those of Arab-Berber descent make up some 99% of the population. Arabic is the main language, although about 15% of the population still speaks a Berber language. These inhabitants live mostly in the mountainous regions of the north, but also include the nomadic Tuareg of the Sahara. Relations between Arabic-speaking and Berber-speaking Algerians have long been marked by tension. Arabic was made the sole national language in 1980, but that policy was reversed in 2002, when Tamazight, a Berber tongue, was also recognized as a national language. French is widely spoken, and about 1% of the Algerian population is of European descent (before independence Europeans accounted for some 10%). Almost all Algerians are adherents of the Sunni Muslim faith, the state religion.
About 15% of Algeria's workers are engaged in farming; agriculture contributes less to the country's GDP than either mining or manufacturing. The state plays a leading role in planning the economy and owns many important industrial concerns, including the mining and financial sectors. Since the late 1990s, there has been some privatization and openness to foreign investment.
Farming is concentrated in the fertile valleys and basins of the north and in the oases of the Sahara. The principal crops are wheat, barley, oats, wine grapes, olives, citrus, figs, and dates. Algeria is also an important producer of cork. Large numbers of sheep, poultry, goats, and cattle are raised, and there is a small fishing industry.
Petroleum and natural gas, found principally in the E Sahara, are Algeria's most important mineral resources and its leading exports. Production was decreased in the 1980s in order to delay the depletion of resources but rose again in the late 1990s. There are oil pipelines to the seaports of Arzew and Bejaïa in Algeria and As Sukhayrah in Tunisia. In 1993, a gas pipeline was laid between Hassi R'Mel (Algeria's main gas producing field) and Seville, Spain. Other minerals extracted in significant quantities include iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, and zinc. The country's leading industries include food and beverage processing, (notably olive oil and wine), petrochemicals, and light manufacturing. Algeria's limited rail and road networks serve mainly the northern region.
In recent years the annual earnings from Algeria's exports have been substantially higher than the cost of its imports. The chief imports are machinery, food and beverages, and consumer goods. The principal exports besides petroleum and natural gas are wine and agricultural goods (especially fruit). Algeria's main trade partners are France, the United States, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Since independence, there has been large-scale emigration to France by Algerian job seekers, who contribute substantial cash remittances to the country's economy.
Algeria is governed under the constitution of 1976 as amended. The executive branch is headed by the president, who is popularly elected for a five-year term and may be reelected. The bicameral parliament consists of the 389-seat National People's Assembly, whose members are elected by popular vote to five-year terms, and the 144-seat Council of Nations, whose members are appointed by the president (one third) or elected by indirect vote and serve six-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 48 provinces.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of Algeria were Berber-speaking peoples who by the 2d millennium B.C. were living in small village-based political units. In the 9th cent. B.C., Carthage was founded in modern-day Tunisia, and Carthaginians eventually established trading posts at Annaba, Skikda, and Algiers. Coastal Algeria was known as Numidia and was usually divided into two kingdoms, both of which were strongly influenced by Carthage. The kingdoms of Numidia were united by King Masinissa (c.238-149 B.C.).
In 146 B.C., Rome destroyed Carthage, and by 106 B.C., after defeating King Jugurtha of Numidia, it held coastal Algeria. The Romans also gained control of the Tell Atlas region and part of the Plateau of the Chotts; the rest of present-day Algeria remained under Berber rulers and was outside Roman rule. Under Rome, the cities were built up and impressive public works (including roads and aqueducts) were constructed. Much grain was shipped from Algeria to Rome. By the Christian era, Algeria (divided into Numidia and Mauritania Caesariensis) was an integral, albeit relatively unimportant, part of the Roman Empire. One of its most famous citizens was St. Augustine (354-430), who was bishop of Hippo (now Annaba) and a leading opponent of Donatism (which was in part a Berber protest against Roman rule).
By the 5th cent. Roman civilization in Algeria had been eroded by incursions of Berbers, and the destruction wreaked by the Vandals (who passed through Algeria on their way to Tunisia) in 430-431 marked the end of effective Roman control. Algeria again came under the control of numerous small indigenous political units. In the early 6th cent. a temporary veneer of unity and order was forged by the Byzantine Empire, which conquered parts of the North African coast including the region E of Algiers. In the late 7th and early 8th cent. Muslim Arabs conquered Algeria and ousted the Byzantines. Although few Arabs settled in the region, they had a profound influence as most of the Berbers quickly became Muslims and gradually absorbed the Arabic language and culture. In addition, the Arabs intermarried with the Berbers.
A number of small Muslim states rose and fell in Algeria, but generally the eastern part of the country came under the influence of dynasties centered in Tunisia (notably the Aghlabid of Kairouan) and the western part was controlled by states centered in Morocco (notably the Almoravids and Almohads). Also, in the 8th and 9th cent. Tlemcen was the center of the Muslim Kharajite sect, and in the early 10th cent. the Fatimid dynasty began its major rise from a base in NE Algeria. In the late 15th cent. Spain expelled the Muslims from its soil and soon thereafter captured the coastal cities of Algeria. Algerians appealed to Turkish pirates (especially the Barbarossa brothers) for help, and, with the aid of the Ottoman Empire, they ended Spanish control by the mid-16th cent. Algeria then came under Ottoman rule.
The country was at first governed by officials sent from Constantinople, but in 1671 the dey (ruler) of Algiers, chosen by local civilian, military, and pirate leaders to govern for life and virtually independent of the Ottoman Empire, became head of Algeria. The country was divided into three provinces (Constantine, Titteri, and Mascara), each governed by a bey. The power of the Ottomans, and later of the deys, did not extend much beyond the Tell Atlas. The coast was a stronghold of pirates (see Barbary States) who preyed on Mediterranean shipping. Privateering reached a high point in the 16th and 17th cent. and declined thereafter; there was a temporary increase during the Napoleonic Wars (early 19th cent.). A large percentage of the dey's revenues came from pirates. Considerable trade with Europe also was conducted from Algerian ports; the chief exports were wheat, fruit, and woven goods. The country was in addition a center of the slave trade, most of the slaves being persons captured by pirates.Algeria in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
In an effort to discourage privateering from Algerian ports, a British fleet bombarded Algiers in 1816. By this time the dey's power was greatly circumscribed by the three beys and by independent-minded Berber groups, and he effectively controlled only a small part of the coastal region. In the 1820s a minor dispute with the French resulted in Charles X of France imposing a naval blockade of Algeria and then, in June, 1830, invading the country. The dey capitulated in July, 1830, but most of the country resisted.
In 1834 the French renewed their drive to occupy Algeria and in 1837 they took Constantine, the last major city to retain its independence. However, the Berber leader Abd al-Kader, whose power was centered in the hinterland of Oran, held out against the French until 1847, when Gen. T. R. Bugeaud de la Piconnerie led a major military campaign against him. Colonization by Europeans (half of whom were French and the rest mainly Spanish, Italian, and Maltese) began c.1840 and accelerated after 1848, when Algeria was declared French territory. By 1880 persons of European descent numbered about 375,000, and they controlled most of the better farmland. However, France continued to face isolated (but occasionally fierce) resistance, mainly in Kabylia (see Kabyles) and the Sahara region, until 1910.
In 1900 the country was given administrative and financial autonomy and placed under a governor-general, whose advisers were mainly European. By this time the colonists had started large-scale agricultural and industrial enterprises (introducing, among other things, wine and tobacco production) and had built roads, railroads, schools, and hospitals. The cities in particular were modernized. These improvements were intended for the Europeans' own use, and the Muslims benefited little from them, being left with scant political or economic power and with few legal rights. Although the official French policy in Algeria was to encourage the Muslims to adapt to European ways as preparation for full citizenship, very little was done to implement this policy, and there was virtually no mixing between the European and Muslim populations.
After World War I two types of protest groups were started by the Muslims. One movement called for a fully independent, Muslim-controlled Algeria; an early exponent was Messali Hadj, who in 1924 founded the Star of North Africa movement (later called, successively, the Party of the Algerian People and the Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties, or MTLD). The other faction sought assimilation with France and the equality of Muslims and Europeans in Algeria; its chief exponent was Ferhat Abbas, who, however, after several rebuffs by the French, was calling for Algerian autonomy by the mid-1940s and advocated complete independence by the early 1950s.
In World War II, Algeria at first came under the Vichy regime but later became (1942) Allied headquarters in North Africa; it also served for a time as the seat of Charles de Gaulle's Free French government. In 1945, a spontaneous nationalist uprising in Sétif resulted in the killing of more than 100 Europeans; the French responded by a sweeping crackdown during which at least 1,500 Muslims (estimates have run as high as 45,000) were killed. In 1947 the French national assembly passed the Statute of Algeria, under which the Muslims were to be given some additional political power. Most of the statute's provisions were not implemented, however, and the colonists (in partnership with the French government) continued to control Algerian affairs.
A radical group of Muslims seceded in 1954 from Messali's MTLD, formed the National Liberation Front (FLN; its military arm was called the National Liberation Army or ALN), and attacked police posts and other government offices in the Batna-Constantine region. In the following months the revolt gradually spread to other parts of the country. The MTLD was reorganized into the Algerian Nationalist Movement, which, led by Messali, unsuccessfully competed with—and at times fought against—the FLN.
In 1955, the FLN carried out more extensive attacks on the colonists (especially in the Skikda area), and the French responded with severe reprisals. By 1956 the FLN had the support of virtually all Algerian nationalists except Messali, controlled much of the countryside, and was organizing frequent attacks in the cities (especially Algiers). In 1957 the French successfully put down the resistance, and the FLN was forced to concentrate on guerrilla activities in the rural areas; the French also constructed electrified barriers along Algeria's borders with Morocco and Tunisia in order to reduce the infiltration of men and matériel. By this time, about 500,000 French troops were stationed in Algeria.
In 1958 there were demonstrations in Algeria by colonists and elements of the French army who feared that the government in France might negotiate a settlement with the Muslims that would undermine the Europeans' position; an ensuing political crisis in France resulted in the return to power of de Gaulle and the establishment of the Fifth French Republic. Fighting continued, and in 1959 the FLN established at Tunis the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA), with Ferhat Abbas as prime minister.
By 1960, de Gaulle had come to recognize the inevitability of some form of Algerian independence; the main problem concerned the future status of the almost one million European colonists, many of whom had been born in Algeria. Sensing the direction of French policy, the colonists and army (both of whom aimed for the full integration of Algeria with France) staged major protests in 1960 and 1961, but both were put down by de Gaulle. In mid-1961, Ferhat Abbas resigned as prime minister of the GPRA and was replaced by Ben Yusuf Ben Khedda. Shortly thereafter, negotiations with the French government began, and in Mar., 1962, an agreement was signed. The accord provided for an end to the fighting and for Algerian independence after a transition period.
The people of France overwhelmingly approved the agreement in a referendum held in early Apr., 1962, but members of the French army in Algeria, banded together in the Secret Army Organization (OAS), launched an armed campaign against Muslims in an attempt to prevent the implementation of the accord. In late April, however, their leader, Gen. Raoul Salan, was captured, and by late June the army revolt had been ended. Already in April colonists had begun to leave Algeria in large numbers; by October only about 250,000 remained, and most of them soon left as well. As a result of the more than seven years' fighting at least 100,000 Muslim and 10,000 French soldiers had been killed; in addition, many thousands of Muslim civilians and a much smaller number of colonists lost their lives.Algeria after Independence
On July 1, 1962, the people of Algeria voted almost unanimously for independence in a referendum, and on July 3, France recognized Algeria's sovereignty. As a result of the fighting and of the exodus of colonists, the Algerian economy lay in ruins. Ben Khedda, the moderate leader of the GPRA, formed the initial Algerian government, but in Sept., 1962, he was replaced as prime minister by Ahmed Ben Bella, a leftist radical who had the support of the ALN (led by Houari Boumedienne). A constituent assembly chosen in late 1962 established a strong presidential government, and in Sept., 1963, Ben Bella was elected president. Ben Bella, who increasingly concentrated power in his hands, followed a left-wing domestic policy that included the confiscation of European-held farms and the nationalization of various parts of the economy. From 1963 to 1965 the Socialist Forces Front, a Berber group that had fought against French rule, mounted a rebellion against the new Arab-dominated Algerian government.
In 1965, Ben Bella was deposed in a bloodless coup by Boumedienne, his defense minister, who suspended the constitution and established a ruling revolutionary council, of which he became president. At first Boumedienne faced resistance from students and regional groups, but by the end of 1968 he had a secure hold on power. Algeria gave strong vocal support to the Arabs in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 and also contributed soldiers and matériel. After an initial slowdown Boumedienne increased the pace of state involvement in the economy. In 1971 he nationalized (with compensation) French oil and natural gas companies in Algeria, and by 1972 output had reached record levels. Price rises for petroleum and natural gas in 1973-74 resulted in considerably higher export earnings.
Boumedienne died in 1978 and was succeeded as head of the republic by FLN leader Colonel Chadli Bendjedid. Berbers rioted in 1980 over legislation making Arabic the only official language, and in the same year a massive earthquake struck NW Algeria, killing an estimated 4,500 people. The 1986 collapse of world oil prices plunged the country into a severe recession. Riots in 1988 led to a series of constitutional reforms in 1989 that legalized opposition parties and guaranteed workers the right to strike; at the same time, government control was established over the media.
Civil unrest resulting from a rise in Islamic fundamentalism led to the postponement of national elections set for June, 1991. When first-round elections were held in December, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) took a commanding lead and was poised to win power. But in early 1992, Bendjedid resigned under pressure, and the military canceled the second round of elections. FIS activists were arrested and jailed, and their party banned. Islamic militants responded with a campaign of violence. An interim military council took power, with former independence leader Mohammed Boudiaf as president; he was assassinated in June, 1992, and succeeded by Ali Kalfa.
In Jan., 1994, Gen. Liamine Zéroual was appointed president. Under Zéroual, limited efforts at negotiations with the Islamic opposition were followed by a renewed crackdown. Zéroual won the Nov., 1995, presidential elections, which were boycotted by Islamic militants. Fighting continued, and he resigned early in 1999. Presidential elections held in Apr., 1999, were won by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the candidate of the military oligarchy; all the opposition candidates had withdrawn before the vote, claiming ballot-rigging.
The Islamic Salvation Army, the armed wing of the outlawed FIS, renounced its armed struggle in June, 1999; its members were to be granted amnesty (approved in a referendum in September) and invited to join government forces in fighting other radical guerrillas still waging war against the state. In Jan., 2000, President Bouteflika granted a blanket pardon to the Islamic Salvation Army forces, and the government announced that 80% of all the Islamic guerrillas had surrendered under the amnesty. Violence has diminished since then, but attacks do continue to occur. It is estimated that as many as 150,000 people were killed in the violence and repression that began in 1992.
The easing of the fighting has brought such issues as government corruption and widespread poverty and unemployment (estimated at 30%) to the fore. In addition, in 2001 there were large demonstrations and clashes with police by Berbers, who remained deeply unhappy about Arabic's status as the sole national language, a policy that was reversed the following year. Berber protests also sparked demonstrations against the country's stagnant economy by non-Berber Algerians. Parliamentary elections in May, 2002, were boycotted by a number of major opposition parties and many voters, and the FLN won more than half the seats.
French president Jacques Chirac made a state visit to Algeria in Mar., 2003; it was the first such visit since Algerian independence. Two months later a strong earthquake devastated many towns east of the capital, killing more than 2,200 people. The ineffective official response to the disaster led to public outrage and widespread criticism of the government. Late in 2003, tensions between the president and Ali Benflis, the FLN party leader and a former prime minister, led to a split in the government and within the party. Bouteflika was returned to office in Apr., 2004, in an election that observers called Algeria's fairest to date, but the vote for Bouteflika (83%) led Benflis, his main opponent, to accuse the government of massive fraud.
In 2005 the government reached an agreement with Berber leaders that promised economic aid and greater recognition of the Berber language and culture, but many of the details were not finalized. Voters approved a government national reconciliation plan that would provide amnesty for many Islamic insurgents and government security forces and compensate the families of persons killed in the insurgency. The plan, which was criticized by human-rights groups for absolving government forces of their involvement in extrajudicial killings, came into effect in 2006. At the same time, Algeria's remaining Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas, while largely confined to more remote mountain and desert regions, continued to mount attacks against the government and have sought to expand their influence through training non-Algerian Islamists and recruiting fighters for non-Algerian conflicts from among Muslims in Europe and elsewhere outside Algeria. The main fundamentalist guerrilla group also officially aligned itself with Al Qaeda, and in Dec., 2007, mounted bombings against government and UN buildings in Algiers. Bombings, some of them significant, and other attacks continued into 2009.
The May, 2007, parliamentary elections were won by the FLN-led governing coalition, whose three parties secured nearly two thirds of the seats. Turnout was light, however, with a little more than a third of the voters going to the polls, and some parties boycotted or were banned from the campaign. In Nov., 2008, parliament ended presidential term limits, enabling Bouteflika to run for a third term in 2009. In Apr., 2009, the president was reelected with 90% of the vote; although the election was boycotted by some opposition parties, the goverment said there was a 74% turnout.
See H. D. Nelson, ed., Algeria (4th ed. 1983); M. Bennoune, The Making of Contemporary Algeria, 1830-1987 (1988); F. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth (tr. 1988); J. Ruedy, Modern Algeria (1991); A. Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (1977, repr. 2006).
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Algeria (Arabic الجزائر, Al Jaza'ir ælʤæˈzæːʔir, Amazigh: ⴷⵥⴰⵢⴻⵔ, Dzayer [ˈdzæjər]), officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country located in North Africa. It is the largest country of the Mediterranean sea, the second largest on the African continent and the eleventh-largest country in the world in terms of land area. It is bordered by Tunisia in the northeast, Libya in the east, Niger in the southeast, Mali and Mauritania in the southwest, a few kilometers of the Western Sahara in the west, Morocco in the northwest, and the Mediterranean Sea in the north.
Algeria has been inhabited by Berbers since at least 10,000 BC, after 1000 BC, the Carthaginians began establishing settlements along the coast. The Berbers seized the opportunity offered by the Punic Wars to become independent of Carthage, and Berber kingdoms began to emerge, most notably Numidia. In 200 BC, however, they were once again taken over, this time by the Roman Republic. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, Berbers became independent again in many areas, while the Vandals took control over other parts, where they remained until expelled by the generals of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I. The Byzantine Empire then retained a precarious grip on the east of the country until the coming of the Arabs in the eighth century.
The Almohads were able to unify the Maghreb. The Berbers of the Middle Ages also contributed to the Arabization of the Maghreb.
In his Muqiddimah/Prolegomena, Ibn Khaldun sheds light on the Arab immigration into the Maghreb: "at the end of the eighth [fourteenth] century-the situation in the Maghrib, as we can observe, has taken a turn and changed entirely. The Berbers, the original population of the Maghrib, have been replaced by an influx of Arabs, (that began in) the fifth [eleventh] century. The Arabs outnumbered and overpowered the Berbers, stripped them of most of their lands, and (also) obtained a share of those that remained in their possession as, in the middle of the eighth [fourteenth] century, civilization both in the East and the West was visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish.
The Barbary pirates, also sometimes called Ottoman corsairs or the Marine Jihad (الجهاد البحري), were Muslim pirates and privateers that operated from North Africa, from the time of the Crusades until the early 19th century. Based in North African ports such as Tunis in Tunisia, Tripoli in Libya, Algiers in Algeria, Salé and other ports in Morocco, they preyed on Christian and other non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea. Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa known as the Barbary Coast (a medieval term for the Maghreb after its Berber inhabitants), but their predation was said to extend throughout the Mediterranean, south along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard, and into the North Atlantic as far north as Iceland and the United States. They often made raids, called Razzias, on European coastal towns to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in places such as Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Algeria and Morocco. According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages in Italy, Spain and Portugal, and from farther places like France or England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia and even Iceland, India, Southeast Asia and North America.
The impact of these attacks was devastating – France, England, and Spain each lost thousands of ships, and long stretches of coast in Spain and Italy were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants. Pirate raids discouraged settlement along the coast until the 19th century.
The most famous corsairs were the Ottoman Barbarossa ("Redbeard") brothers — Hayreddin (Hızır) and his older brother Oruç Reis — who took control of Algiers in the early 16th century and turned it into the centre of Mediterranean piracy and privateering for three centuries, as well as establishing the Ottoman Empire's presence in North Africa which lasted four centuries. Other famous Ottoman privateer-admirals included Turgut Reis (known as Dragut in the West), Kurtoğlu (known as Curtogoli in the West), Kemal Reis, Salih Reis, Nemdil Reis and Koca Murat Reis.
In 1544, Hayreddin captured the island of Ischia, taking 4,000 prisoners, and enslaved some 9,000 inhabitants of Lipari, almost the entire population. In 1551, Turgut Reis enslaved the entire population of the Maltese island Gozo, between 5,000 and 6,000, sending them to Libya. In 1554, pirates sacked Vieste in southern Italy and took an estimated 7,000 slaves. In 1555, Turgut Reis sacked Bastia, Corsica, taking 6000 prisoners. In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadella (Minorca), destroyed it, slaughtered the inhabitants and took 3,000 survivors to Istanbul as slaves. In 1563, Turgut Reis landed on the shores of the province of Granada, Spain, and captured coastal settlements in the area, such as Almuñécar, along with 4,000 prisoners. Barbary pirates often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response many coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. The threat was so severe that the island of Formentera became uninhabited.
From 1609 to 1616, England lost 466 merchant ships to Barbary pirates. In the 19th century, Barbary pirates would capture ships and enslave the crew. Latterly American ships were attacked. During this period, the pirates forged affiliations with Caribbean powers, paying a "license tax" in exchange for safe harbor of their vessels. One American slave reported that the Algerians had enslaved 130 American seamen in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from 1785 to 1793.
On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded Algiers in 1830. The conquest of Algeria by the French was long and particularly violent, and it resulted in the disappearance of about a third of the Algerian population. France was responsible for the extermination of 1 million Algerians. According to Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison, the French pursued a policy of extermination against the Algerians.
The French conquest of Algeria was slow due to intense resistance from such people as Emir Abdelkader, Ahmed Bey and Fatma N'Soumer. Indeed, the conquest was not technically complete until the early 1900s when the last Tuareg were conquered.
Meanwhile, however, the French made Algeria an integral part of France, a status that would end only with the collapse of the Fourth Republic in 1958. Tens of thousands of settlers from France, Spain, Italy, and Malta moved in to farm the Algerian coastal plain and occupied significant parts of Algeria's cities. These settlers benefited from the French government's confiscation of communal land, and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land. Algeria's social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted, while land confiscation uprooted much of the population.
Starting from the end of the nineteenth century, people of European descent in Algeria (or natives like Spanish people in Oran), as well as the native Algerian Jews (typically Sephardic in origin), became full French citizens. After Algeria's 1962 independence, they were called Pieds-Noirs; ("Pieds Noirs" meaning "black feet", referring to the black shoes the Europeans wore on their feet). In contrast, the vast majority of Muslim Algerians (even veterans of the French army) received neither French citizenship nor the right to vote.
In 1954, the National Liberation Front (FLN) launched the Algerian War of Independence which was a guerrilla campaign. By the end of the war, newly elected President Charles de Gaulle, understanding that the age of empire was ending, held a plebiscite, offering Algerians three options. In a famous speech (4 June 1958 in Algiers) de Gaulle proclaimed in front of a vast crowd of Pieds-Noirs "Je vous ai compris" (I understood you). Most Pieds-noirs then believed that de Gaulle meant that Algeria would remain French. The poll resulted in a landslide vote for complete independence from France. Over one million people, 10% of the population, then fled the country for France and in just a few months in mid-1962. These included most of the 1,025,000 Pieds-Noirs, as well as 81,000 Harkis (pro-French Algerians serving in the French Army). In the days proceeding the bloody conflict, a group of Algerian Rebels opened fire on a marketplace in Oran killing numerous innocent civilians, mostly women.
Algeria's first president was the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella. He was overthrown by his former ally and defence minister, Houari Boumédienne in 1965. Under Ben Bella the government had already become increasingly socialist and authoritarian, and this trend continued throughout Boumédienne's government. However, Boumédienne relied much more heavily on the army, and reduced the sole legal party to a merely symbolic role. Agriculture was collectivised, and a massive industrialization drive launched. Oil extraction facilities were nationalized. This was especially beneficial to the leadership after the 1973 oil crisis. However, the Algerian economy became increasingly dependent on oil which led to hardship when the price collapsed during the 1980s oil glut.
In foreign policy, while Algeria shares much of its history and cultural heritage with neighbouring Morocco, the two countries have had somewhat hostile relations with each other ever since Algeria's independence. Reasons for this include Morocco's disputed claim to portions of western Algeria (which led to the Sand War in 1963), Algeria's support for the Polisario Front for its right to self-determination, and Algeria's hosting of Sahrawi refugees within its borders in the city of Tindouf.
Within Algeria, dissent was rarely tolerated, and the state's control over the media and the outlawing of political parties other than the FLN was cemented in the repressive constitution of 1976.
The modernization drive brought considerable demographic changes to Algeria. Village traditions underwent significant change as urbanization increased. New industries emerged, agricultural employment was substantially reduced. Education was extended nationwide, raising the literacy rate from less than 10% to over 60%. There was a dramatic increase in the fertility rate to 7–8 children per mother.
Therefore by 1980, there was a very youthful population and a housing crisis. The new generation struggled to relate to the cultural obsession with the war years and two conflicting protest movements developed: communists, including Berber identity movements; and Islamic 'intégristes'. Both groups protested against one-party rule but also clashed with each other in universities and on the streets during the 1980s. Mass protests from both camps in Autumn 1988 forced Bendjedid to concede the end of one-party rule. Elections were planned to happen in 1991. In December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front won the first round of the country's first multi-party elections. The military then intervened and cancelled the second round. It forced then-president Bendjedid to resign and banned all political parties based on religion (including the Islamic Salvation Front). A political conflict ensued, leading Algeria into the violent Algerian Civil War.
More than 160,000 people were killed between 17 January 1992 and June 2002. Most of the deaths were between militants and government troops, but a great number of civilians were also killed. The question of who was responsible for these deaths was controversial at the time amongst academic observers; many were claimed by the Armed Islamic Group. Though many of these massacres were carried out by Islamic extremists, the Algerian regime also used the army and foreign mercenaries to conduct attacks on men, women and children and then proceeded to blame the attacks upon various Islamic groups within the country.
By 2002, the main guerrilla groups had either been destroyed or surrendered, taking advantage of an amnesty program, though sporadic fighting continued in some areas (See Islamic insurgency in Algeria (2002–present)).
The issue of Amazigh language and identity increased in significance, particularly after the extensive Kabyle protests of 2001 and the near-total boycott of local elections in Kabylie.The government responded with concessions including naming of Tamazight (Berber) as a national language and teaching it in schools.
Much of Algeria is now recovering and developing into an emerging economy. The high prices of oil and gas are being used by the new government to improve the country's infrastructure and especially improve industry and agricultural land. Recently, overseas investment in Algeria has increased.
In the Tell Atlas, temperatures in summer average between 21 and 24 °C and in winter drop to 10 to 12 °C. Winters are not particularly cold, but the humidity level is high. In eastern Algeria, the average temperatures are somewhat lower, and on the steppes of the High Atlas plateaux, winter temperatures are only a few degrees above freezing. A prominent feature of the climate in this region is the sirocco, a dusty, choking south wind blowing off the desert, sometimes at gale force. This wind also occasionally reaches into the coastal Tell.
In Algeria, only a relatively small corner of the torrid Sahara lies across the Tropic of Cancer in the torrid zone. In this region even in winter, midday desert temperatures can be very hot. After sunset, however, the clear, dry air permits rapid loss of heat, and the nights are cool to chilly. Enormous daily ranges in temperature are recorded.
The highest temperature recorded in Tiguentour is 145.4°F (60.5°C) and is probably the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Algeria under standard conditions.
Rainfall is fairly abundant along the coastal part of the Tell Atlas, ranging from 400 to 670 mm annually, the amount of precipitation increasing from west to east. Precipitation is heaviest in the northern part of eastern Algeria, where it reaches as much as 1000 mm in some years. Farther inland, the rainfall is less plentiful. Prevailing winds that are easterly and north-easterly in summer change to westerly and northerly in winter and carry with them a general increase in precipitation from September through December, a decrease in the late winter and spring months, and a near absence of rainfall during the summer months. Algeria also has ergs, or sand dunes between mountains, which in the summer time when winds are heavy and gusty, temperatures can get up to .
The head of state is the President of Algeria, who is elected to a five year term and is constitutionally limited to two terms. Algeria has universal suffrage at 18 years of age. The President is the head of the Council of Ministers and of the High Security Council. He appoints the Prime Minister who is also the head of government. The Prime Minister appoints the Council of Ministers.
The Algerian parliament is bicameral, consisting of a lower chamber, the National People's Assembly (APN), with 380 members; and an upper chamber, the Council Of Nation, with 144 members. The APN is elected every five years.
Under the 1976 constitution (as modified 1979, and amended in 1988, 1989, and 1996) Algeria is a multi-party state. All parties must be approved by the Ministry of the Interior. To date, Algeria has had more than 40 legal political parties. According to the constitution, no political association may be formed if it is "based on differences in religion, language, race, gender or region."
The military of Algeria consists of the National Popular Army (ANP), the Algerian National Navy (MRA), and the Algerian Air Force (QJJ), plus the Territorial Air Defense Force. It is the direct successor of the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN), the armed wing of the nationalist National Liberation Front, which fought French colonial occupation during the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62). The commander-in-chief of the military is the president, who is also Minister of National Defense. Total personnel includes 147,000 active, 150,000 reserve, and 187,000 paramilitary staff (2008 estimate). Service in the military is compulsory for men aged 19–30, for a total of eighteen months (six training and twelve in civil projects). The total military expenditure in 2006 was estimated variously at 2.7% of GDP (3,096 million), or 3.3% of GDP.
Algeria is a leading military power in North Africa and has its force oriented toward its western (Morocco) and eastern (Libya) borders. Its primary military supplier has been the former Soviet Union, which has sold various types of sophisticated equipment under military trade agreements, and the People's Republic of China. Algeria has attempted, in recent years, to diversify its sources of military material. Military forces are supplemented by a 45,000-member gendarmerie or rural police force under the control of the president and 30,000-member Sûreté nationale or Metropolitan police force under the Ministry of the Interior.
In 2007, the Algerian Air Force signed a deal with Russia to purchase 49 MiG-29SMT and 6 MiG-29UBT at an estimated $1.5 Billion. They also agreed to return old airplanes purchased from the Former USSR. Russia is also building 2 636-type diesel submarines for Algeria.
Algeria is divided into 48 provinces (wilayas), 553 districts (daïras) and 1,541 municipalities (communes, baladiyahs). Each province, district, and municipality is named after its seat, which is mostly also the largest city.
According to the Algerian constitution, a province is a territorial collectivity enjoying some economic freedom. The People's Provincial Assembly is the political entity governing a province, which has a "president", who is elected by the members of the assembly. They are in turn elected on universal suffrage every five years. The "Wali" (Prefect or governor) directs each province. This person is chosen by the Algerian President to handle the PPA's decisions.
The administrative divisions have changed several times since independence. When introducing new provinces, the numbers of old provinces are kept, hence the non-alphabetical order. With their official numbers, currently (since 1983) they are:
4 Oum el-Bouaghi
15 Tizi Ouzou
22 Sidi Bel Abbes
32 El Bayadh
34 Bordj Bou Arréridj
36 El Tarf
39 El Oued
41 Souk Ahras
44 Aïn Defla
46 Aïn Témouchent
Algeria’s financial and economic indicators improved during the mid-1990s, in part because of policy reforms supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and debt rescheduling from the Paris Club. Algeria’s finances in 2000 and 2001 benefited from an increase in oil prices and the government’s tight fiscal policy, leading to a large increase in the trade surplus, record highs in foreign exchange reserves, and reduction in foreign debt. The government's continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector have had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards, however. In 2001, the government signed an Association Treaty with the European Union that will eventually lower tariffs and increase trade. In March 2006, Russia agreed to erase $4.74 billion of Algeria's Soviet-era debt during a visit by President Vladimir Putin to the country, the first by a Russian leader in half a century. In return, president Bouteflika agreed to buy $7.5 billion worth of combat planes, air-defense systems and other arms from Russia, according to the head of Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
Algeria also decided in 2006 to pay off its full $8bn (£4.3bn) debt to the Paris Club group of rich creditor nations before schedule. This will reduce the Algerian foreign debt to less than $5bn in the end of 2006. The Paris Club said the move reflected Algeria's economic recovery in recent years.
A considerable amount of cotton was grown at the time of the United States' Civil War, but the industry declined afterwards. In the early years of the twentieth century efforts to extend the cultivation of the plant were renewed. A small amount of cotton is also grown in the southern oases. Large quantities of a vegetable that resembles horsehair, an excellent fibre, are made from the leaves of the dwarf palm. The olive (both for its fruit and oil) and tobacco are cultivated with great success.
More than 7,500,000 acres (30,000 km²) are devoted to the cultivation of cereal grains. The Tell is the grain-growing land. During the time of French rule its productivity was increased substantially by the sinking of artesian wells in districts which only required water to make them fertile. Of the crops raised, wheat, barley and oats are the principal cereals. A great variety of vegetables and fruits, especially citrus products, are exported. Algeria also exports figs, dates, esparto grass, and cork. It is the largest oat market in Africa.
Algeria is known for Bertolli's olive oil spread, although the spread has an Italian background.
The population of Algeria is 33,333,216 (July 2007 est.). About 70% of Algerians live in the northern, coastal area; the minority who inhabit the Sahara are mainly concentrated in oases, although some 1.5 million remain nomadic or partly nomadic. Almost 30% of Algerians are under 15. Algeria has the fourth lowest fertility rate in the Greater Middle East after Cyprus, Tunisia, and Turkey.
97% of the population is classified ethnically as either Arab or Berber. and religiously as Sunni Muslim, the few non-Sunni Muslims are mainly Ibadis, representing 1.3%, from the M'Zab valley. (See also Islam in Algeria.) A mostly foreign Roman Catholic community of about 45,000 people exists, along with about 350,000 Protestant Christians, and some 500 Jewish. The Jewish community of Algeria, which once constituted 2% of the total population, has substantially decreased due to emigration, mostly to France and Israel.
Europeans account for less than 1% of the population, inhabiting almost exclusively the largest metropolitan areas. However, during the colonial period there was a large (15.2% in 1962) European population, consisting primarily of French people, in addition to Spaniards in the west of the country, Italians and Maltese in the east, and other Europeans in smaller numbers. Known as pieds-noirs, European colonists were concentrated on the coast and formed a majority of the population of cities like Bône, Oran, Sidi Bel Abbès, and Algiers. Almost all of this population left during or immediately after the country's independence from France.
Housing and medicine continue to be pressing problems in Algeria. Failing infrastructure and the continued influx of people from rural to urban areas has overtaxed both systems. According to the UNDP, Algeria has one of the world's highest per housing unit occupancy rates for housing, and government officials have publicly stated that the country has an immediate shortfall of 1.5 million housing units.
Women make up 70 percent of Algeria’s lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. Women dominate medicine. Increasingly, women are contributing more to household income than men. Sixty percent of university students are women, according to university researchers.
The Berbers (or Imazighen), who form a small minority, speak one of the various dialects of Tamazight as opposed to Arabic. Arabic remains Algeria's only official language, although Tamazight has recently been recognized as a national language alongside it.
The language issue is politically sensitive, particularly for the Berber minority, which has been disadvantaged by state-sanctioned Arabization. Language politics and Arabization have partly been a reaction to the fact that 130 years of French colonization had left both the state bureaucracy and much of the educated upper class completely Francophone, as well as being motivated by the Arab nationalism promoted by successive Algerian governments.
French is still the most widely studied foreign language in the country, and many Algerians speak it fluently, though it is usually not spoken in daily circumstances. Since independence, the government has pursued a policy of linguistic Arabization of education and bureaucracy, with some success, although many university courses continue to be taught in French. Recently, schools have started to incorporate French into the curriculum as early as children start to learn Arabic. French is also used in media and commerce.
Education is officially compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. In the year 1997, there was an outstanding amount of teachers and students in primary schools.
In Algeria there are 10 universities, 7 colleges, and 5 institutes for higher learning. The University of Algiers (founded in 1909), which is located in the capital of Algeria, Algiers has about 267,142 students. The Algerian school system is structured into Basic, General Secondary, and Technical Secondary levels: Basic: Ecole fondamentale (Fundamental School)
Length of program: 10 years
Age range: age 6 to 15 old
Certificate/diploma awarded: Brevet d'Enseignement Moyen B.E.M. General Secondary: Lycée d'Enseignement général (School of General Teaching), lycées polyvalents (General-Purpose School)
Length of program: 3 years
Age range: age 15 to 18
Certificate/diploma awarded: Baccalauréat de l'Enseignement secondaire (Bachelor's Degree of Secondary School) Technical Secondary: Lycées d'Enseignement technique (Technical School)
Length of program: 3 years
Certificate/diploma awarded: Baccalauréat technique (Technical Bachelor's Degree)
Modern Algerian literature, split between Arabic and French, has been strongly influenced by the country's recent history. Famous novelists of the twentieth century include Mohammed Dib, Albert Camus, and Kateb Yacine, while Assia Djebar is widely translated. Among the important novelists of the 1980s were Rachid Mimouni, later vice-president of Amnesty International, and Tahar Djaout, murdered by an Islamist group in 1993 for his secularist views. In philosophy and the humanities, Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, was born in El Biar in Algiers; Malek Bennabi and Frantz Fanon are noted for their thoughts on decolonization; Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste (modern-day Souk Ahras); and Ibn Khaldun, though born in Tunis, wrote the Muqaddima while staying in Algeria. Algerian culture has been strongly influenced by Islam, the main religion. The works of the Sanusi family in pre-colonial times, and of Emir Abdelkader and Sheikh Ben Badis in colonial times, are widely noted. The Latin author Apuleius was born in Madaurus (Mdaourouch), in what later became Algeria.
The Algerian musical genre best known abroad is raï, a pop-flavored, opinionated take on folk music, featuring international stars such as Khaled and Cheb Mami. In Algeria itself the style of raï remains the most popular, but the older generation still prefer Shaabi, while the tuneful melodies of Kabyle music, exemplified by Idir, Ait Menguellet, or Lounès Matoub, have a wide audience. For more classical tastes, Andalusi music, brought from Al-Andalus by Morisco refugees, is preserved in many older coastal towns. For a more modern style, the English-born and of Algerian descent, Potent C, is gradually becoming a success for younger generations. Encompassing a mixture of folk, raï, and British hip hop it is a highly collective and universal genre.
Faudel also brings a new europop like sound to Algeria, though a lot of his song are sung in French. Other musicians and singers come out of Algeria as well. Popular music and Rap are becoming more popular in the country and are being song in written less in French and more in Algerian Arabic.
Although “raï". . is welcomed and praised as a glowing cultural emblem for Algeria, there was time when raï’s come across critical cultural and political conflicts with Islamic and government policies and practices, post-independence. Thus the distribution and expression of raï music became very difficult. However, “then the government abruptly reversed its position in mid-1985. In part this was due to the lobbying of a former liberation army officer turned pop music impresario, Colonel Snoussi, who hoped to profit from raï if it could be mainstreamed.” In addition, given both nations’ relations, Algerian government was pleased with the music’s growing popularity in France. Although the music is widely accepted on the political level, it still faces severe conflict with the practice of Islamic faith in Algeria.
Sports, especially football are very big in Algeria. Baseball is also rising as a major sport in the country, especially the younger generation. Ice Hockey is popular in Algeria too Josef Boumedienne is a famous Algerian hockey player.
The most popular sport in the country is football. Since and before the upset in Gijon, Spain at El Molinon by Lakhdar Belloumi of the Algerian national football team defeating West German in 1982. But because of conflicts, and the poor conditions in Algerian through the 1990s and continuing in some areas of the country today many athletes have left Algeria for countries they could earn more and rise higher in, usually France. Retired football great Zinedine Zidane as well as young prodigies Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri are all second generation Algerian immigrants.
A lot of the sports events in the Algerian capital of Algiers happen in the 20 August 1955 stadium, which holds only about 15,000 people. This stadium is used usually for soccer games.