The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria is the largest country in Africa and the tenth largest in the world. It is a semi-presidential republic made up of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes. The incumbent Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika assumed power in 1999. Algeria is considered both a regional and middle power, and has oil reserves that are second largest in Africa and 16th largest in the world. The nation also has the 9th largest gas reserves in the world. Algeria supplies a vast amount of oil and gas to the European market. It is a member of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the Arab League. The Algerian parliament consists of two chambers: the Council of the Nation (upper house) and the People's National Assembly (lower house).
France was engaged in trade with Algeria until 1830, when they decided to invade and control trade routes to Europe. Immediately after the French invasion, slave trade and piracy came to a stop. The invasion took longer than the French had anticipated and resulted in significant bloodshed. Violence and diseases ravaged the local population, decreasing their numbers by one-third in just 40 years. By 1875 the French had seized control of the Algerian territory, and between 1830 and 1875 about 825,000 Algerians had died. French policies centered on civilizing Algeria. The colonialists influenced the Berbers and Kabyles cultures, and within a short period the natives were speaking the French language. As a consequence, they received favors including better treatment from the French government. From 1848 until 1962, France administered the Algerian region bordering the Mediterranean as a département of France. Algeria became a recognized protectorate of France and Europeans immigrants began migrating to the country. Between 1825 and 1887, 50,000 French citizens emigrated to Algeria. Immigrants took over the communal land that had been confiscated by the government and introduced modern agricultural equipment and techniques that doubled the country's food production.
By about the late 19th century, one-fifth of Algeria’s population were Europeans. The French government aimed to completely assimilate the country and make it a province of France by 1900. However, the native population heavily resisted the cultural and religious occupation, including the use of French as the official language. The Islamic population was dissatisfied with the colonial system and began demanding political autonomy from France. In May 1945 an armed resistance against the French began but was quickly suppressed in the Sétif and Guelma massacre. Tension between the French and native Algerians reached a breaking point in 1954, which ultimately resulted in the Algerian War.
The Algerian War
The Algerian War began on November 1, 1954, and was fought between France and the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). The war is believed to have resulted in the deaths of between 30,000 and 150,000 Harkis and French collaborators, although historians Alistair Horne Raymond Aron claim it resulted in 700,000 deaths and displacement of 2 million more. The FNL destroyed government and French property, engaged in guerrilla warfare against French forces, and launched attacks in France. The war ended after the signing of the Evian agreements in March 1962 and a self-determination referendum on 5 July 1962, giving Algeria its independence from France.