Friday, March 8, 2013

Algeria .. 6

Algeria is the largest country in Africa, the Arab world, and the Mediterranean Basin. Its southern part includes a significant portion of the Sahara. To the north, the Tell Atlas form with the Saharan Atlas, further south, two parallel sets of reliefs in approaching eastbound, and between which are inserted vast plains and highlands. Both Atlas tend to merge in eastern Algeria. The vast mountain ranges of Aures and Nememcha, occupy the entire north eastern Algeria and are delineated by the Tunisian border. The highest point is Mount Tahat (3,003 m). Algeria lies mostly between latitudes 19° and 37°N, and longitudes 9°W and 12°E. Most of the coastal area is hilly, sometimes even mountainous, and there are a few natural harbours. The area from the coast to the Tell Atlas is fertile. Algeria is the biggest country in Africa, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 90% of its surface is covered by the Sahara desert.
In this region, midday desert temperatures can be hot year round. After sunset, however, the clear, dry air permits rapid loss of heat, and the nights are cool to chilly. Enormous daily ranges in temperature are recorded. The highest official temperature was 50.6 °C (123.1 °F) at In Salah. Rainfall is fairly plentiful along the coastal part of the Tell Atlas, ranging from 400 to 670 mm annually.
The varied vegetation of Algeria includes coastal, mountainous and grassy desert-like regions which all support a wide range of wildlife. Many of the creatures comprising the Algerian wildlife live in close proximity to civilization. The most commonly seen animals include the wild boars, jackals, and gazelles, although it is not uncommon to spot fennecs (foxes), and jerboas. Algeria also has a few panther, leopard and cheetah populations but these are seldom seen. A variety of bird species make the country an attraction for bird watchers. The forests are inhabited by boars and jackals. Barbary macaques are the sole native monkey. Snakes, monitor lizards, and numerous other reptiles can be found living among an array of rodents throughout the semi arid regions of Algeria. Many Animals are now extinguished, among which the Barbary lions and bears. In the north some of the native flora includes Macchia scrub, olive trees, oaks, cedars and other conifers. The mountain regions contain large forests of evergreens and some deciduous trees. Fig, eucalyptus, agave, and various palm trees grow in the warmer areas. The grape vine is indigenous to the coast. In the Sahara region some oases have palm trees. Acacias with wild olives are the predominant flora in the remainder of the Sahara.
Camels are used extensively; the desert also abounds with poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes, scorpions, and numerous insects.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Algeria .. 5

In December 1991 the Front Islamique du Salut, a broad coalition of Islamist groups, dominated the first of two rounds of legislative elections. Fearing the election of an Islamist Government, the authorities intervened on 11 January 1992, cancelling the elections. Bendjedid resigned and a High Council of State was installed to act as Presidency. The FIS was subsequently banned, triggering a vicious civil insurgency between its armed wing, the Armed Islamic Group, and the armed forces in which over 100,000 are thought to have died. The Armed Islamic Group declared a ceasefire in October 1997. Algeria held elections in 1999, which were won by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Bouteflika focused on restoring stability to the country following his election and announced a ‘Civil Concord’ initiative, approved in a referendum, under which many political prisoners were pardoned, and several thousand members of armed groups were granted exemption from prosecution under a limited amnesty which was in force up to 13 January 2000. The AIS disbanded and levels of insurgent violence fell rapidly. The Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC), a splinter group of the Group Islamic Armée, continued a terrorist campaign against the Government.
Following a wave of protests in the wake of popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, Algeria officially lifted its 19-year-old state of emergency on 24 February 2011. The country's Council of Ministers approved the repeal two days prior. Several pieces of legislation were enacted, dealing with political parties, the electoral code and the representation of women in elected bodies. In April 2011, Bouteflika promised further Constitutional and political reforms.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Algeria 4

Algeria's first president was the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella. Morocco's claim to portions of western Algeria led to the Sand War in 1963. Ben Bella was overthrown by his former ally and defense minister, Houari Boumédienne in 1965. Under Ben Bella, the government had already become increasingly socialist and authoritarian, and this trend continued throughout Boumédienne's government. However, Boumédienne relied much more heavily on the army, and reduced the sole legal party to a merely symbolic role. Agriculture was collectivised, and a massive industrialization drive launched. Oil extraction facilities were nationalized. This was especially beneficial to the leadership after the 1973 oil crisis. In the 1960s and 70s under President Houari Boumediene, Algeria pursued a programme of industrialisation within a state-controlled socialist economy. Boumediene’s successor, Chadli Bendjedid, introduced some liberal economic reforms and prosecuted a policy of Arabisation in Algerian society and public life. Teachers of Arabic, brought in from other Muslim countries, spread radical Islamic thought in schools and sowed the seeds of political Islamism.

The Algerian economy became increasingly dependent on oil, which led to hardship when the price collapsed during the 1980s oil glut. Economic recession caused by the crash in world oil prices resulting in social unrest during the 1980s and ultimately forced Bendjedid to bring in a multi-party system at the end of the decade. Political parties developed such as the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS), a broad coalition of Islamist groups.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Algeria 3

In 1671 the taifa rebelled, killed the agha, and placed one of its own in power. The new leader received the title of dey. After 1689 the right to select the dey passed to the divan, a council of some sixty notables at first was dominated by the ojaq, but by the 18th century it had become the dey's instrument. In 1710 the dey persuaded the sultan to recognize him and his successors as regent, replacing the pasha in that role. Although Algiers remained a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman government, ceased to have effective influence there. The dey was in effect a constitutional autocrat. The dey was elected for a life term, but in the 159 years (1671-1830) that the system survived, fourteen of the twenty-nine deys were assassinated. Despite usurpation, military coups, and occasional mob rule, the day-to-day operation of government was remarkably orderly. Although the regency patronized the tribal chieftains, it never had the unanimous allegiance of the countryside, where heavy taxation frequently provoked unrest. Autonomous tribal states were tolerated, and the regency's authority was seldom applied in the Kabylie.
The Barbary pirates preyed on Christian and other non-Islamic shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea. The pirates forced the people on the ships they captured into slavery; the pirates also attacked coastal villages in southern and Western Europe in order to enslave the inhabitants. They often made raids, called Razzias, on European coastal towns to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in places such as Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Algeria and Morocco.
In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadella (Minorca), destroyed it, slaughtered the inhabitants and took 3,000 survivors to Istanbul as slaves. Barbary pirates often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response many coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. The threat was so severe that the island of Formentera became uninhabited. Between 1609 to 1616, England lost 466 merchant ships to Barbary pirates. In the 19th century, the pirates forged affiliations with Caribbean powers, paying a "license tax" in exchange for safe harbor of their vessels. One American slave reported that the Algerians had enslaved 130 American seamen in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from 1785 to 1793.