Antiquity to the Middle Ages
The territory of today’s Algeria was in ancient times part of the territory of Carthage, at that time the most important maritime and commercial power in the western Mediterranean. The power of the city-state was broken in three wars (the so-called Punic Wars) and Carthage in 146 BC. conquered and destroyed by Roman legions. The coastal regions of Algeria were incorporated as provinces into the Roman Empire under the names Numidia and Mauritania.
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During the 5th century AD the regions mentioned fell under the rule of the Vandals, a Germanic people who originally came from Northern Europe, for a century. It was then ruled by Byzantium until it was conquered by Arabs in the 7th century who forcibly Islamized the local Berbers. Local dynasties were in power in the centuries that followed. In 1519, the area of what is now Algeria became part of the Ottoman Empire, which the resident Moors had called for help against the attacking Spaniards. Until the early 19th century, piracy was an important source of income for the Arab-Berber sultanates of North Africa, which went down in history as barbarenque states.
The 19th century
Partly to improve the uncertain conditions in the western Mediterranean, France began to exert power-political influence on the region at the beginning of the 19th century and occupied Algiers in 1830. Against the bitter resistance of the Berbers, the country was brought under military control in the following 40 years and politically and economically annexed to the French mother country. This was followed by territorial gains beyond the Atlas Mountains until the beginning of the 20th century, Algeria became the official colony of France.
The first half of the 20th century
In the first decades of the 20th century, a resistance movement against the colonial power France formed within the framework of the Algerian national feeling. An independence movement was founded in 1925, headed by Messali Hadj. In 1943, F. Abbas demanded the autonomy of Algeria. At the same time, during the German occupation of France during the Second World War, the country was the starting point for both the French resistance movement and allied warfare in the western Mediterranean.
Struggle for independence
According to AbbreviationFinder, tensions rose after the war and in 1954 the FLN (Front de Liberation National) initiated an uprising that culminated in a seven-year war against France. The FLN first established an exile government in Cairo and then in Tunis and, during negotiations in 1958, obtained extensive concessions from the French government, which passed an autonomy law in the spirit of the insurgents. As a countermovement, this led to the establishment of the OAS, a secret organization of nationalist Algerian Frenchmen and members of the French Algerian army, which attempted to use terrorist attacks in 1961 and 1962 to oppose the upcoming independence of Algeria. After the leaders were arrested, the OAS disintegrated.
From 1962 until the first free elections
Algeria became independent in the Evian-les-Bains agreement in 1962. An estimated one million people had been killed in the brutal war waged by both sides. The first president was Ben Bella, who had already led the independence movement in 1954. Under him – first as prime minister, then from 1963 as state president – a socialist single-party state led by the FLN emerged, which on the one hand pushed industrialization in the sense of “Islamic socialism” and, on the other, relied on nationalization of the key industries. A military coup followed Ben Bella H. Boumedienne (who became President from 1977), who was inherited from Chadli Bendjedid in 1978 after bloody conflicts over Saharan territories. It implemented reforms in the late 1990s,which enabled a multi-party system. As part of the political opening, the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was also admitted in 1989, which surprisingly won the election in the first free elections in 1991.
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From 1991 to the present day
As a result, the elections were canceled, President Chadli Bendjedid resigned, and the military took over through a High State Committee under M. Boudiaf. A state of emergency was declared, the FIS was banned, the leaders of the Islamic Salvation Front were arrested and internment camps were set up. A bloody civil war broke out between the radical Islamists now operating underground and state violence, which according to international estimates cost more than 100,000 lives. A few months after taking office, Boudiaf was murdered and Ali Kafi, from 1994 L. Z¨¦roual succeeded him as chairman of the High State Committee, which was replaced by the regular parliament in 1997.
A new constitution entered into force in 1996. In 1999, after Z¨¦roual resigned, moderate Abdel Aziz Bouteflika was elected Algeria’s new president. He offered a general amnesty to disarm FIS fighters and pacify the country. The majority of FIS members laid down their arms, while two groups (GIA and AIS) split off and went on to terrorist operations.
In addition to the front line position between radical Islamists and the state leadership, another area of conflict between Berbers and Islamists came to light in 1998, when the state leadership came up to the Islamists and made Arabic the official language. Bloody riots and a general strike repeatedly occurred in Kabylei, a region largely inhabited by Berbers. In April 2002 the parliament approved a constitutional amendment: the Berber language Tamazight was introduced alongside Arabic as the national language, but does not have the status of an official language.
After his re-election in 2004, Bouteflika presented a “Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation”. It was adopted in a referendum in September 2005. The charter includes a general amnesty for both state security forces and state-armed militias and armed groups. It denies any security and militia responsibility for serious violations of human rights.
The increasing violence by Islamist terror groups continues to cause problems for the country. The terrorist organization Groupe Salafiste pour la Pr¨¦dication et le Combat (GSPC) joined Al Qaeda in early 2007. After the government found that the Salafists were barely taking advantage of the amnesty offer, they tightened their policies on the radicals. Since then, several Islamists have been killed in fighting with the army. Nevertheless, the terrorist attacks have continued since then.
In 2009 Bouteflika won the presidential election in Algeria for the third time. After riots in the first half of 2011, he tried to signal willingness to reform. Critics, however, said the passage of a number of laws was rather cosmetic.