Background: 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.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia
Area land: 2,381,741 sq km
Area water: 0 sq km
Coastline: 998 km
Country name conventional long form: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Country name conventional short form: Algeria
Country name former: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Population: 34,994,937 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.2% (male 4,319,295/female 4,144,863); 15-64 years: 70.6% (male 12,455,378/female 12,242,604); 65 years and over: 5.2% (male 845,116/female 987,681) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.173% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 16.69 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 4.69 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female; total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 25.81 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 28.8 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 22.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.5 years; male: 72.78 years; female: 76.31 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.75 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1%; 0.1% note - no country specific models provided (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 18,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Algerian(s); adjective: Algerian;
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%;
Religions: Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%;
Languages: Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 69.9%; male: 79.6%; female: 60.1% (2002 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $254.7 billion (2010 est.); $244.6 billion (2009 est.); $239.4 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $159 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 4.1% (2010 est.); 2.2% (2009 est.); 2.8% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $7,400 (2010 est.); $7,200 (2009 est.); $7,100 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 8.3%; industry: 61.5%; services: 30.2% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 23% (2006 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.8%; highest 10%: 26.8% (1995);
Labor force: 9.877 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 14%; industry: 13.4%; construction and public works: 10%; trade: 14.6%; government: 32%; other: 16% (2003 est.);
Unemployment rate: 9.9% (2010 est.); 10.2% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $66.48 billion; expenditures: $85.57 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining, electrical, petrochemical, food processing;
Industrial production growth rate: 4.8% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 34.98 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 28.34 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 273 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 279 million kWh (2007 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(News agency), Algiers
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Terrorist acts in Algeria and surrounding countries spell trouble for the debt-racked European countries that depend on the region for energy supply.
Given the energy dependence of European countries on North African and Middle Eastern states, financial consequences of further upheavals in the Arab world could be global and deep.
The continued support of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws international network has been a key part of women's rights struggle.
The Algerian government has jailed several journalists critical of its president M. Abdelaziz Bouteflika.