Phoenician traders settled on the Mediterranean coast in the 1st millennium B.C. As ancient Numidia, Algeria became a Roman colony, part of Mauretania Caesariensis, at the close of the Punic Wars in 145 B.C. Conquered by the Vandals about 440 A.D., it fell to virtual barbarism.

The first Arab military expeditions into the Maghrib, between 642 and 669, resulted in the spread of Islam. The Ottoman Empire took control by 1536 and Algiers served as the headquarters of the Barbary pirates for three centuries. The French occupied Algeria in 1830 to rid the region of pirates and made it part of France in 1848.

The National Liberation Front (FLN) was established in 1954. Independence movements led to the uprisings of 1954-1955, which developed into full-scale war. In 1962, French president Charles de Gaulle began peace negotiations. On July 5, 1962, Algeria was proclaimed independent. In October 1963, Ahmed Ben Bella was elected president. He was overthrown in a military coup on June 19, 1965, by Col. Houari Boumédienne. After his death, Boumédienne was succeeded by Col. Chadli Bendjedid in 1978.

Berbers rioted in 1980 when Arabic was made the country's only official language. Algeria entered a major recession after world oil prices plummeted in the 1980s. In 1988, the government instituted a multi-party system in response to public unrest.

The fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won the largest number of votes in the country's first-ever parliamentary elections in December 1991. To thwart the electoral results, the army canceled the general election, which plunged Algeria into a bloody civil war beginning in January 1992. An estimated 100,000 were massacred by Islamic terrorists.

In April 1999, Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika won the presidency. The Islamic Salvation Army disbanded in January 2000. In 2001, violence by Islamic militants rose again, and the Berber minority engaged in several protests.

In April 2004 presidential elections, Bouteflika won 85% of the vote. In October 2005, Algerians approved a referendum which granted amnesty to all Islamists and military officials involved in the country's civil war.

The nation's court passed a law banning house churches in March 2006. In addition, the officially-Muslim government would have to approve any new Christian church and regulate all places where Christians can worship.

In 2006, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) merged with al-Qa'ida to form al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb.

In April 2007, suicide bombers attacked a government building in Algiers and a police station on the outskirts of the capital. Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group struck again in December, with two suicide attacks near United Nations offices and government buildings in Algiers.

In June 2008, President Bouteflika replaced Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem with Ahmed Ouyahia, who had served twice as premier.

At least 43 people were killed in August 2008, when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a police academy in Issers. The next day, two car bombs exploded simultaneously at a military command and a hotel in Bouira, killing a dozen people.

In November 2008, Parliament approved constitutional changes that allowed President Bouteflika to run for a third term. Bouteflika won re-election in April 2009.

Parliamentary elections in May 2012 saw continued dominance by the FLN, which took 220 seats. A coalition of opposition Islamist parties won only 48 out of 463 seats.

In July 2012, Algerian Nasserdine Menni was found guilty of supplying funding for Taimour Abdulwahab to carry out a suicide attack in Stockholm

On September 3, 2012, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika named Abdelmalek Sellal as prime minister.

On January 16, 2013, Islamic militants took dozens of foreign hostages at the BP-controlled In Amenas gas field in eastern Algeria. On January 17, Algerian troops stormed the complex and attacked the kidnappers. Several hostages and militants were killed. Three Americans were among the dead.

On March 13, 2014, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal resigned in order to run the re-election campaign of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Youcef Yousfi was appointed prime minister. President Bouteflika was re-elected to a fourth term in April 2014, taking 81% of the vote.

© 2014 World Ministries International