Algeria, Al Jaza'ir , Amazigh: , Dzayer ['dzæjər]), officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is an Arabic 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 is a member of the United Nations, African Union and OPEC. It also contributed towards the creation of the Maghreb Union.
Al-jazāa’ir is itself a truncated form of the city's older name of jazāa’ir banīi mazghannāa, "the islands of (the tribe) Ait Mazghanna", used by early medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi and Yaqut al-Hamawi.
Al-Jumhuriya al-Jazairia ash-Shaabiya
Chief of state
President Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA (since April 28::SUP<TH 1999)
Roman arch of Trajan at Thamugadi (Timgad), Algeria
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.
According to historians of the Middle Ages, the Berbers were divided into two branches, from their ancestor Mazigh. The two branches, Botr and Barnès, were also divided into tribes, with each Maghreb region made up of several tribes. Several Berber dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages.
The Almohads were able to unify the Maghreb. The Berbers of the Middle Ages also contributed to the Arabization of the Maghreb.
Islamization and Berber (Amaari) dynasties
Having converted the Kutama of Kabylie to its cause, the Shia Fatimids overthrew the Rustamids, and conquered Egypt, leaving Algeria and Tunisia to their Zirid vassals. When the latter rebelled and adopted Sunnism, the Shia Fatimids sent in the Banu Hilal, a populous Arab tribe, to weaken them. This initiated the Arabization of the region. The Almoravids and Almohads, Berber dynasties from the west founded by religious reformers, brought a period of relative peace and development; however, with the Almohads' collapse, Algeria became a battleground for their three successor states, the Algerian Zayyanids, Tunisian Hafsids, and Moroccan Marinids. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Spanish Empire started attacking and subsuming a few Algerian coastal settlements.
Algeria was made part of the Ottoman Empire by Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and his brother Aruj in 1517. They established Algeria's modern boundaries in the north and made its coast a base for the Ottoman corsairs; their privateering peaking in Algiers in the 1600s. Piracy on American vessels in the Mediterranean resulted in the First (1801–1805) and Second Barbary War (1815) with the United States. The piracy acts forced people captured on the boats into slavery; alternatively when the pirates attacked coastal villages in southern and western Europe the inhabitants were forced into slavery. Barbary Pirates Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911
The Moorish ambassador of the Barbary States to the Court of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
The Barbary pirates, also sometimes called Ottoman corsairs or the Marine Jihad (ا?ل?ج?ه?ا?د? ا?ل?ب?ح?ر?ي?), 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, éSal 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 USA. 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 — ııHayreddin (Hizir) and his older brother çOru 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), ğKurtoglu (known as Curtogoli in the West), Kemal Reis, Salih Reis, Nemdil Reis and Koca Murat Reis.
Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha.
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 ñéAlmucar, 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.
Constantine, Algeria 1840
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.
- Main article: French rule in Algeria
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, éHouari Boumdienne 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.
Boumédienne died in 1978, but the rule of his successor, Chadli Bendjedid, was little more open. The state took on a strongly bureaucratic character and corruption was widespread.
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.
Massacres near Algiers, Algeria in the years of 1997 and 98 during the 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.
Elections resumed in 1995, and after 1998, the war waned. On 27 April 1999, after a series of short-term leaders representing the military, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the current president, was elected.
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.