Algeria, country in northwest Africa; bordered by Mauritania, Morocco, and Western Sahara in the west, the Mediterranean Sea in the north, Tunisia and Libya in the east, and Niger and Mali in the south.
Land and climate
The Atlas Mountains divide the large country (919,590 sq mi/2,381,741 sq km) into the coastal region (Tell), the steppe, and the desert. Some 75% of the Algerians live in the narrow fertile coastal area.
Algeria's population is predominantly Arab and 99% follows the Sunni denomination of Islam. Berbers are an important minority. More than half of the population is literate. Most Algerians still live on their land, and farms yield citrus fruits, grapes, grain, and vegetables.
Algeria is an important oil-producing countries and a primary exporter of liquified natural gas. However, the economy is burdened with high levels of debt repayment.
The Phoenicians settled North Africa around 1200 B.C. The area belonged to Carthage, then to Rome, and in 201 B.C. became the Roman province of Numidia. Subsequently, Algeria was conquered by Vandals, Byzantines, and Arabs. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, Algeria was home to the Barbary pirates and the slave trade. The French took colonized Algeria (1830–1909), governing until the nationalist revolt (1954–62) led by the National Liberation Front (FLN), in which at least 100,000 Muslims and 10,000 French soldiers died. Algeria became independent on July 3, 1962. In the 1990s Algeria had to deal with severe economic problems. This situation was aggravated by the continuous assaults made by fundamentalist Muslims, in which about half a million civilians lost their lives.