Algeria is an ancient country with a history that extends back several thousand years to the time of the Phoenicians. The Romans, followed by the Germanic Vandal tribes and the Byzantines all ruled the area. When Islam grew mighty in the 8th century A.D., the Berbers of Algeria were converted to that religion and a unique civilization flourished. Some eight centuries later, Spain conquered Algiers and other cities but was driven out by Barbarossa who brought Algeria into the Turkish Ottoman Empire. From this point, piracy became an important money-making tool for the country, so much so that by 1800, the US, England, and France joined in an effort to combat piracy in the Mediterranean. Ottoman rule over the country was brought to an end by the French in 1830. In 1848, following an Islamic rebellion, France made Algeria a legal part of France. In the mid-1950s, a guerilla effort arose to oust the French led by the FLN (Front de Liberation Nationale) and in 1962, independence was declared. Immediately, about a million colonists left Algeria for France. Times have been turbulent for Algeria since independence, including close relations with the Soviet Union and a struggle between fundamentalist Islamists and the military. Since 1992, over 40,000 people have died due to civil unrest and assassinations. In 1999, elections were held; only one candidate remained in the race: Abdelazziz Bouteflika. His government reached agreement with the Islamic rebels in September 1999.

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