Africa

Algeria country profile

  • 6 May 2016
  • From the section Africa
Map of Algeria

Algeria, a gateway between Africa and Europe, has been battered by violence over the past half-century.

More than a million Algerians were killed in the fight for independence from France in 1962, and the country is emerging from a brutal internal conflict caused when elections that Islamists appeared certain to win were cancelled in 1992; a low-level Islamist insurgency still affects Algeria.

The Sahara desert covers more than four-fifths of the land. Algeria is the continent's biggest country, and is the world's 10th largest.

Oil and gas reserves were discovered there in the 1950s, but most Algerians live along the northern coast.

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FACTS

People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

Capital: Algiers

  • Population 36.5 million

  • Area 2.4 million sq km (919,595 sq miles)

  • Major languages Arabic, French, Berber

  • Major religion Islam

  • Life expectancy 72 years (men), 75 years (women)

  • Currency dinar

Getty Images

LEADER

President: Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Image copyright Getty Images

Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been in power since 1999 and gained his fourth term of office in elections in 2014, despite doing no personal campaigning and rarely appearing in public after having suffered a stroke in 2013.

He first took office when Algeria was still caught up in a savage civil war with Islamist insurgents, and is credited with curbing the conflict and restoring economic stability.

He amended the constitution in 2008 to remove the two-term limit on the presidency, effectively giving himself the option of remaining head of state for life.

MEDIA

Image copyright Getty Images

Algeria has is a lively private press but the state broadcaster avoids criticism of the government.

Recent legislation allows several privately-owned TV stations to operate from Algerian soil, but none of them are opposition-leaning.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Algeria's history:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Algerians endured a long and bitter struggle for independence

1830 - France seizes Algiers, ending Algeria's three centuries as an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire.

1939-1945 - The Collapse of France and the Anglo-American occupation of North Africa during Second World War encourages hopes for independence.

1945 - Pro-independence demonstrations in Setif. Thousands are killed in suppression of ensuing unrest.

1954-1962 - Algerian War of Independence.

1962 - Independence.

1976 - Algerian, Moroccan armies clash over Western Sahara.

1989 - New constitution removes the one-party state and moves country away from socialism to western capitalism.

1991-1999 - Civil war pitting Islamists against the government.

1999 - Abdelaziz Bouteflika becomes president, introduces national reconciliation policy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Villagers took to arming themselves during the 1990s insurrection by Islamists

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