Algerian history dates back to ancient times. The Phoenicians/Catheginians established coastal settlements. After the Punic Wars, Algeria became part of the Roman Empire. With the fall of Rome came a period of Vandal control followed by the Byzantines. The Arab military expansion of over ran Algeria and the rest of North Africa (8th century). The Arab introduced Islam. The native Berber tribes at first resisted, but were gradually Islamicized. Spain conquered Algiers and other North Africa cities (16th century), but was outsted by Barbarossa who expanded the Ottoman Empire. The distances between Constaninople and Algeria, however, meant that Ottoman control was weak. The expanding economies meant increasing commerce in the Mediterranean and lucrative targets for pirates based in Algeria and other North African ports, beginning the era of the Barbary pirates. The pirates benefitted from both the cargos and taking crews and passangers as slaves. Europeans paid tribute to protect their shipping. Finally the European powers (especially Brirain and France) and a newly independent America confronted the Barbary pirates militarily. After the Napoleonic Wars, France intervened militarily in Algeria, beginning a period of colonial rule. The French faced local resistance, comminly more Islamic than nationalistic based. France made Algeria a legal part of France (1848). World War II was the beginning of the end of French control. The fall of France to the Germans (1940) seemed to expose French weakness. Vichy was left in control of Algeria. The Allies seized Algeria as part of the Torch landings (1942). France after the War attemptec to maintain its control of Algeria. Algerian nationalists launched a guerilla campaign (1950s) which led to a particularly brutal colonial war. The Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) finally suceeded in driving out the French and declaring independence (1962). About 1 million French colonists and Algerians who had cooperated with the French emigrated back to France. The FLN for a time developed close relations with the Soviets. The FLN adopted a range of Soviet uinspired economic policies which proved to be economic disasters. The bright hope of independence resulted in wide-spread poverty and economic decline. More recently a struggle has developed between fundamentalist Islamists and the military. Thousands of people have been killed as a result of this struggle. Elections were held with just one candidate, Abdelazziz Bouteflika (1999). The Bouteflika government reached an agreement with Islamic rebels (September 1999). Some Islamic groups did not participate in the peace agreement. A more open election reelected President Bouteflika (2004). His Government continues to make progress against Islamic insurgents as well as improving the human rights situation in the country.
Archeologists have found evidence of human habitation in Algeria dating back 30,000 years. The original northwestern Africa were called the Maghrib. This is the origin of the term Maghrib, meaning wesern North Africa.
The Maghrib were the original Berber people. They were a pre-literate people and there are no written records until the arrival of Phoenicians.
Algerian history dates back to ancient times. The Phoenicians/Catheginians began establishing coastal settlements (1200 BC). The Phoenicians established the colonies of of Constantine and Annaba in eastern Algeria. The Phoenicians were a trading people and remained relatively separate from the Berbers. They did introduce agriculture. After the Punic Wars, Algeria became part of the Roman Empire. The Romans moved to establish political control beyonf coasyal ports. They created a new province known as Numidia. North Africa at the time was much more well watered and an important source of grain for Rome. Rome controlled Algeria and the rest of Noth Africa for six centuries.
The Vandals were one of the tribes which established a Germanic kingdom in an area of the former Roman Empire. Reports suggest that Gaiseric was invited to help defend North Africa by the Roman govenrnor fearing he was to be removed. Gaiseric ferried his people across the Strait of Gibraltar in boats they had built. He then led them east along the African coast. North Africa had the time was better watered than is the case today nd was a fich agrivultural province still untouched by barbarian assault. Gaiseric's Vandals pne by one seized the prosperous and largely undefended Roman cities along the coast. The graneries were full, easily feeding the Vandal army. They easily moved east and seized the rich city--Carthage (439). The Western Empire at the time was very weak. Seizing North Africa was essentially the end of the Western Empire as North Africa was the grain basket and richest area still under Roman control. The one city to resist was Hippo Regius (Hippone), now known as Annaba in Algeria. It was one of the richest cities and fully Romanized. The Bishop of Hippo, the famed but then elderly Augustine, organized the defense of the city. Augustine died during the 14-month Vandal siege. Hippo with no rescuers at hand also eventually fell to the Vandals. The Vandal conquest of Roman North Africa took nearly a decade to complete. The loss of North Africa ith its rich grain fields dealt the final blow to the Western Empire. The Vandals seized large rural estates, ruling the local Romanized popultion. They left administrative duties to the educated Roman bureaucrats. One of the ongoing problems disrupting the new Vabdal kingdom wwas relgion. The Arian Vandals terrirized the Catholic churchmen and their congregations. Gaiseric managed to limit the violence. His successors were less restrained. The Vandals openly persecuted the Roman Catholic majority. They martyred Catholic clerics providing medieval hagiographers with stirring accounts for the bravery and sanctity of the saints. The last phase of that conquest were still underway when Gaiseric turned to his next undertaking. He expanded his fleet with new faster ships which were perfect for piracy attacking Mediterranean merchant shipping. The wealth of his North African conquests and the loot from piracy enabled Gaiseric to build a sizeable fleet. Not satisfied with piracy, he began raiding Roman cities throught the Mediteranean. Emperor Valentinian III with death of Atilla was able to focus on the Vandals. He attempted to deal with them diplomatically, offering his sister in marriage to Gaiseric son. When Valentinian was assasinated, Gaiseric invaded and sacked Rome (455). Pope Leo the Great could not prevent Gaiseric from entering Rome, but did limit the bloodshead.
The Vandal raids attracted the hostility of the Eastern Empire as did the Vandals Arian faith and persucution of Catholics. The first major Byzantine offensive failed. Gaiseric died (477) and Vandal power declined under the leaders who followed. The Vandal military power, however, was on the decline. Gaiseric�s fierce warriors were gradually replaced by a new generation who grewup aminst lurury and privlige. Also without Gaiseric�s leadership, the Vandals begame less focused and organized. Coription was rife. The rise of Justinian brought plans to reconquer lost Roman territory and restore the former glories of the Empire. The Vandalsho continued to raid Italy and Mediterranean shiping became arime target. A second Byzanine campaign led by Justnian's great general Belisarius succeeded, with only a small force in a campaign completed in 4 months. [Jacobsen] Belisarius seized Carthage (533). This ended the existence of the Vandals as a nation. They had ruled North Africa as only a small ruling elite in a largely Romanized population and passed from history leaving little trace except their role in inally destroying the Western Empire. The Byzantines found it difficult, however, to maintain control so far west of their power center.
The Arab military expansion of overran Algeria and the rest of North Africa (7th century). The major empediment to the Arabs in the west was Byzantine controlled Egypt. After Egypt was conquered there was no substantial military force to impede the Arab spread west. This occurred during the life time of Muhammad ( -632). The Berbers at first resisted the Arabs, especially to the edict that both religious and political leaders could only be of Arabian descent.
The Arabs introduced Islam. The native Berber tribes at first resisted Islam, but over time were gradually Islamicized.
A second second Muslim conquest occurred (11th century). The conqueres forced the Berbers to convert. This could be avoided only by fleeing to isolated areas away from the main popultion centers.
After the Reconquista ending with the Reconquest of Grenada (1492), unified Spain began to exert itself in the western Mediterranean. King Ferdinand as King of Aragon held title to several Mediterranean possessions. The Spanish seized Algiers, Oran, and other important port cities. Internal divisions among the Algerians aided the Spanish military operations. Spain on its own could have conquered North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), but North Africa was only part of the geo-political puzzel. Spain along with their German Hapsburg counsins faced the onslaught of the powerful Ottoman Empire. They were also vying with France for control of Italy. And there was a maritime struggle with other European powers for control of colonies in the Americas as well as the lucrative maritime trade with the East.
Spain conquered Algiers and other North Africa cities (16th century), but was outsted by Barbarossa who expanded the Ottoman Empire.
The distances between Constaninople and Algeria, however, meant that Ottoman control in the Western Mediterranran was weak. The expanding economies meant increasing commerce in the Mediterranean and lucrative targets for pirates based in Algeria and other North African ports, beginning the era of the Barbary pirates. Algiers was one of the principal Barbary states. The pirates benefitted from both the cargos and taking crews and passangers as slaves. Europeans paid tribute to protect their shipping. Finally the European powers (especially Britain and France) and a newly independent America confronted the Barbary pirates militarily. Wars between the European states prevented any concerted action against Barbary piracy. The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars was only the last of the Wars which prevented concerted action. The young American Republic after the Revolution having lost the protection of the Royal Navy was forced to take action on its own leading to the Barbary Wars. After the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the Europeans were no longer willing to tolerate Barbary attacks. The steadily expanding military differential between the Europeans and Barbary states during the early-19th century were factors here.
After the Napoleonic Wars, France intervened militarily in Algeria, beginning a period of colonial rule.
The French moved against the Barbary ports in Algeria, obstensibly to force the paymentb of debts. They began with a naval blockade of Algerian ports. When the Algerians continued to resist, the French landed troops at (July 1830.)
Four years later they declared Algeria a colony, beginning a 132-year reign. The French faced local resistance, commonly more Islamic than nationalistic based. Abd al-Qadir, an Algerian freedom fighter, launched an insurgency against their colonizers (1840) which ended in defeat (1847). The French Foreign Legion was created to establish and maintain French control of Algeria. France made Algeria a legal part of France (1848). The French began immigrating in large numbers to Algeria, in an attempt by the French government to replace Algerian culture with their own. Quite a number of French settlers moved to Algeria. There were 0.3 million Europeans (half of them French) in an area of 2.5 million Arabs (1880s). People of French origin who were born in Algeria were called "pieds-noirs" (black feet). One siurce suggests that this was because the French troops stationed in Algeria wore black boots. A French reader disagrees, he says that in fact the origin of the term " Pieds noirs " was given to the French colonists because they were white people putting their feet on the Black Continent. Many of the French emigrants to Algeria were poor and saw saw economic opportunities in Algeria, including the ability to own land.
The French Fleet and naval bases in Algeria helped maintain Allied control of the Meditwrranean at the beginning of the War. World War II was the beginning of the end of French control. The fall of France to the Germans (June 1940) seemed to expose French weakness. Vichy was left in control of Algeria. After the French surrender to the Germans, the Royal Navy struck the French fleet at Oran (July 1940). vichy authorities introduced anti-Semetic policies. The Allies seized Algeria as part of the Torch landings (November 1942). The British abnd Amnericans landed at Algiers and Oran. Vichy military authorities after a brief fight agreed to a cease fire. They were soon replaced by the Free French which joined the fight against the Axis forces in North Africa. Torch and The British victory at El Alemain squeezed the Akrika Korps in Tunisia. British forces raced east from Algeria to seize Tunisia. Although a French colony, Hitler seized Tunis and Bizerte and stopped the Brirtish drive, rushed new forces into North Africa. After some bitter fighting, the Akrika Korps and German reinforcements were forced to surrender (May 1943). France after the War attempted to maintain its control of Algeria.
France was defeated by the Germans during World War II, but after 4 years of occupation, liberated by the Allies. This left France a weakened nation with the economy in shambels. After the departure of DeGualle, the country was politically unstabe; with one short lived government following another. The one constant in the steady streanm of governments was a commitment to hold on to France's colonial Empire. The Viet Cong in Viet Nam fought the Japanese and refused to accept continued French rule. This lead to the disatrous First Vietnam War. France was soon sinking a substantial portion of its national budget into a war against the Viet Cong. This was a commitment that the battered French economy could not afford. The War finally ended when the French Army capitulated at Dien Bien Phu (1953). Just as military operations in Viet Nam ended, another colonial war began to develop--in Algeria. Algerian nationalists formed the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) and launch a guerilla campaign (1950s) which led to a particularly brutal colonial war. France was prepared to compromise in Tunisia and Morocco. Algeria was another matter. One facet of the Algerian Independence struggle was the 1 million French colonists. Large numbers of Frenchmen had setteled in Algeria--the pier noir. France thus saw Algeria as an integral part of the country. Further complicating the situation was the growing feeling that political leaders had sold them out, both in 1940 and again in 1953. They saw this about to happen again. France was veeering toward civil war. DeGualle returned at this time. The pier noir felt betrayed by de Gaulle. Four Generals of the French army in North Africa rebelled. This was quelled by the Mainland forces, but Generals Salan and Jouhard formed the Organisation L'Armiee Secrete (OAS) which fought both the French Army and the FLN. The OAS orchestrated acts of terrorism on mainland polital targets. De Gaulle offered three options in a referendum: 1) Integration with France, 2) Association with France with independence, or 3) Full independence. Because of the serious resistanace by the colonists, a lot of wheeler dealing was done with the Algerian Provisional Goverment. France granted independence and some 0.9 million French settlers returning to France (1962). De Gaulle proved very tough. His prestige overted civil war. France was separated from Algeria. Algerians who had cooperated with the French also emigrated to France.
A Provisional Executive was installed at �Rocher Noir� (Boum�rdes) (April 1962). The Provisional Government administere a referendum on self-determination (July 1, 1962). The Provisional Government announced that 99.7 percent voted in favor of independence. That is a very high vote, but most of the French and Algerians associated with the French had left Aklgeria or were in the process of leaving. The Provisional Government immediately proclaimed the country's independence (July 5, 1962). The country held an election for the first constituent assembly (September 20). The People�s Democratic Republic of Algeria was proclaimed (September 25). The new Constitution was released (September 29). Algeria was admitted to the United Nations (October 8). A referendum approved the new constitution (May 8, 1963).
Independence leader Ahmed Ben Bella was elected lgeria's first president (September 15, 1963). The FLN Third Congress adopted the Charter of Algiers (April 1964). The new Government created the Council of the Revolution which was presided over by Houari Boumediene (June 19, 1965). The FLN Government like many other newly independent governments embraced socialism. An early step was the nationalization of mines (May 7, 1966). The FLN for a time developed close relations with the Soviets. The FLN adopted a range of Soviet inspired economic policies which proved to be economic disasters. The bright hope of independence gradually was lost in wide-spread poverty and economic decline. The first local elections were conducted (February 5, 1967). This included APC (boroughs) and APW (Departments). The French military completed their exit from Algeria. The French left their bases of Reggane and Bechar (May 1967). The French departed from their big bases at Mers El-kebir near Oran (February 1, 1968). This was where the British Royal Navy attacked the Fench fleet during World war II. The Algerian Government nationalized the hydrocarbon industry (February 24 1971). The assumption was that it would increase state revenue, The result was a moribund industry that opperated ineficently.
The Government declared a state of seige (June 5, 1991). Six months later the Government disolves
the People�s National Assembly (parliament) (January 04, 1992). President Chadli Ben Djedid resigned (January 12 1992). The Government created the Higher State Council (Haut Conseil de l�Etat -- HCE) under the presidency of Mohamed Boudiaf (January 14, 1992). The Government declared a state of emergency (February 2, 1992) and then a National Consultative Council (February 4). Rebels assainated the President of the Higher State Council, Mohamed Boudiaf (June 29). Ali Kafi became President of the Higher state Council (July 2). The mandate of the Higher State Council ends (January 30, 1994). Liamine Zeroual is designated Head of State. The creation of the National Council of Transition (Conseil National de Transition) (May 18, 1994).
More recently a struggle has developed between fundamentalist Islamists and the military. Thousands of people have been killed as a result of this struggle. Elections were held with just one candidate, Abdelazziz Bouteflika (1999). The Bouteflika government reached an agreement with Islamic rebels (September 1999). Some Islamic groups did not participate in the peace agreement. A more open election reelected President Bouteflika (2004). His Government continues to make progress against Islamic insurgents as well as improving the human rights situation in the country.
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