Algeria

Introduction

The last time I was in Algeria is 15 years ago. Back then it was save for me to travel in Algeria and to see the familiy of my mothers side. The reason why I chose this country is not because I identify myself with Algeria but the complete opposite. I don’t speak Arabic and I know very little about Algeria’s historical background. The reason why I chose Algeria is to find out more about the country my mother is from.
First I will outline the history of Algeria (early and recent). I will give a contemporary view of Algeria, furthermore introduce various facts on the country. The next step is to show the political environment. The Principal economic growth sector shows the potential that Algeria has if it was not restricted by the ongoing civil war.


Early history

The earliest known inhabitants of certain areas of Algeria were cattleherds and hunters living in the Al Hajjar region between 8,000 and 2,000BC. These may have been tribal Berbers. Phoenicians settled some of the coastal areas of Algeria from their north-African state of Carthage which was in modern day Tunisia.
The first Algerian kingdom was established by the Berber chieftain Massinissa during the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage which took place between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Massinissa reigned over his kingdom of Numidia from 202-148BC and his dynasty lasted until 106BC when his grandson Jugurtha became a Roman client. As part of the Roman Empire Numidia flourished, becoming known as the \'granary of Rome\'. A road system and a series of Roman garrisons which became small Roman cities were built during the Roman period.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, Roman armies were withdrawn from Algeria and in the 3rd century AD, the Donatists, a North African Christian sect which had been suppressed by the Romans, declared a short-lived independent state. Algeria was invaded by the Vandals in the 5th century who occupied the country for a hundred years before being driven out by the Emperor Justinian\'s Byzantine army.
It was Justinian\'s aim to restore the Holy Roman Empire but the spread of Islam and the Arab conquest of North Africa during the 7th century thwarted the expansion of Byzantium and permanently changed the character of North Africa.
The Arab invasion was not without resistance. The Berbers, led by a tribal high priestess named Kahina who claimed conversion to Judaism, fought the invaders but eventually surrendered to the Umayyad Khalif. The Berbers quickly embraced Islam and, in the 8th century, formed their own Islamic government. Several tribes embraced Shi\'ism and founded Shi\'a tribal kingdoms, the most powerful of which was the Rustamid Kingdom at Tahert in central Algeria which flourished during the 8th and 9th centuries.
Algeria became part of the powerful Berber empires of the Almoravids and Almohads which dominated the Magreb and Andalusia. Tlemcen became the eastern capital of the Almohads and flourished as a centre of Islam. During this period Algerian seaports like Algiers, Annaba and Bijaya thrived on trade with European markets.


The rise and fall of piracy (1400-1830)

The demise of the Almohad empire created a power vacuum which led to the rise of piracy along what became known as the Barbary Coast. Coastal cities hired corsairs to seize merchant vessels and gain an advantage in the fierce competition for trade on the high seas.
North African piracy compelled the Spanish to occupy and blockade several ports known to be pirate enclaves, including Algiers which was forced to pay tribute. This Christian occupation of North African ports forced Muslims to seek help from the Ottoman Khalif. The Barbarossas, two sibling pirates, petitioned the Ottoman Sultan for aid against the infidels. In response the Khalif sent a naval fleet which drove the Spanish out of most of the North African ports they were occupying.
In 1518 Khayrad\'din Barbarossa became the sultan\'s official representative in Algeria and Algerian corsairs dominated the Mediterranean with Ottoman protection for centuries. It was not until late in the 18th century that Europeans were able to challenge the Barbary pirates of Algeria with superior naval power and artillery. In 1815 a US naval squadron under Captain Stephen Decatur attacked Algiers and forced its governor to sign a treaty banning piracy against US ships.