Algeria, large, predominantly Muslim country of North Africa. From the Mediterranean coast, along which most of its people live, Algeria extends southward deep into the heart of the Sahara, a forbidding desert where Earth’s hottest surface temperatures have been recorded and which constitutes more than four-fifths of the country’s area. The Sahara and its extreme climate dominate the country. The contemporary Algerian novelist Assia Djebar has highlighted the environs, calling her country “a dream of sand.” History, language, customs, and an Islamic heritage make Algeria an integral part of the Maghreb and the larger Arab world, but the country also …(100 of 17906 words)
Algeria’s indigenous Berber people has been under foreign rule for much of the last 3000 years. The Phoenicians (1000 BC) and the Romans (200 BC) were the most important of these. With the incursion of Muslim Arabs in the 7th-8th century into the region, Islamic influence came to the Berbers and almost a millenium of domination by Arab dynasties.
In the beginning of the 16th century the region was placed under protection of the Ottoman Sultan of Istanbul, followed by reigns of Ottoman beys, pachas, and aghas, brought to an end with the beginning of the French colonization in 1830.
The French occupation condemned Algeria’s population to economic, social and political inferiority and caused an armed resistance lasting for decades. After a century of rule by France, Algeria became independent in 1962 and Arabic became official language – with a little help of Quran teachers from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Since then le pouvoir (“the power”), an elite of business leaders and generals behind a democratic façade has run Algeria.
Excavations in Algeria have indicated that Homo erectus resided there between 500,000 and 700,000 years ago. Phoenician traders settled on the Mediterranean coast in the 1st millennium B.C. As ancient Numidia, Algeria became a Roman colony, part of what was called Mauretania Caesariensis, at the close of the Punic Wars (145 B.C.). Conquered by the Vandals about A.D. 440, it fell from a high state of civilization to virtual barbarism, from which it partly recovered after an invasion by Arabs about 650. Christian during its Roman period, the indigenous Berbers were then converted to Islam. Falling under the control of the Ottoman Empire by 1536, Algiers served for three centuries as the headquarters of the Barbary pirates. Ostensibly to rid the region of the pirates, the French occupied Algeria in 1830 and made it a part of France in 1848.
Algerian independence movements led to the uprisings of 1954?1955, which developed into full-scale war. In 1962, French president Charles de Gaulle began the peace negotiations, and on July 5, 1962, Algeria was proclaimed independent. In Oct. 1963, Ahmed Ben Bella was elected president, and the country became Socialist. He began to nationalize foreign holdings and aroused opposition. He was overthrown in a military coup on June 19, 1965, by Col. Houari Boumdienne, who suspended the constitution and sought to restore economic stability. After his death, Boumdienne was succeeded by Col. Chadli Bendjedid in 1978. Berbers rioted in 1980 when Arabic was made the country’s only official language. Algeria entered a major recession after world oil prices plummeted in the 1980s.