Algeria, a gateway between Africa and Europe, has been battered by violence over the past half-century.
More than a million Algerians were killed in the fight for independence from France in 1962, and the country has recently emerged from a brutal internal conflict that followed scrapped elections in 1992.
The Sahara desert covers more than four-fifths of the land. Oil and gas reserves were discovered there in the 1950s, but most Algerians live along the northern coast. The country supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe and energy exports are the backbone of the economy.
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