Algeria

Officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria (also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria), is a country in the Maghreb. In terms of land area, it is the largest country on the Mediterranean Sea, the largest in the Arab world and second-largest on the African continent after Sudan, and the 11th-largest country in the world. It will become the largest African country once the secession of Southern Sudan from Sudan takes place on 9 July 2011.

Algeria is bordered in the northeast by Tunisia, in the east by Libya, in the west by Morocco, in the southwest by Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Mali, in the southeast by Niger, and in the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Its size is almost 2,400,000 square kilometers (926,645 sq mi), and it has an estimated population of 35.7 million (2010). The capital of Algeria is Algiers.

Algeria is a member of the Arab League, United Nations, African Union, and OPEC. It is also a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union.

After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria’s primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was established in 1954 as part of the struggle for independence and has largely dominated politics since. The Government of Algeria in 1988 instituted a multi-party system in response to public unrest, but the surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets, and fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense violence between 1992-98 resulting in over 100,000 deaths – many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s, and FIS’s armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, with the backing of the military, won the presidency in 1999 in an election widely viewed as fraudulent, was reelected to a second term in 2004, and overwhelmingly won a third term in 2009 after the government amended the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA, including large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants. The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 2006 merged with al-Qai’da to form al-Qai’da in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, which has launched an ongoing series of kidnappings and bombings targeting the Algerian Government and Western interests.

The flage:

two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and white; a red, five-pointed star within a red crescent centered over the two-color boundary; the colors represent Islam (green), purity and peace (white), and liberty (red); the crescent and star are also Islamic symbols, but the crescent is more closed than those of other Muslim countries because the Algerians believe the long crescent horns bring happiness

Capital: Algiers

Official language: Arabic

Currency: Algerian dinar

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