Algeria, a gateway between Africa and Europe, has been battered by violence over the past half-century.
The Sahara desert covers more than four-fifths of the land. Oil and gas reserves were discovered here 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.
In the 1990s Algerian politics was dominated by the struggle involving the military and Islamist militants. In 1992 a general election won by an Islamist party was annulled, heralding a bloody civil war in which more than 150,000 people were slaughtered.
An amnesty in 1999 led many rebels to lay down their arms. Violence has largely abated, although a state of emergency remains in place.
In 2001 the government agreed to a series of demands by the minority Berbers in the kabylie, including official recognition of their language, after months of unrest involving Berber youths demanding greater cultural and political recognition.
Algeria under President Bouteflika has won praise from the West for backing the US-led "war on terror". At home, many credit him with the return of security. But some campaigners say abuses by the security forces go on and rights group Amnesty International says allegations about the torture of detainees continue to be reported.
Mr Bouteflika says he wants to tackle Algeria's economic ills, including high unemployment and a dependency on energy exports.
A veteran of the war for independence from France, Mr Bouteflika was Algeria's foreign minister for 16 years until 1979. He went into self-imposed exile for several years in the 1980s to escape corruption charges that were later dropped.
The real Power in Algeria is concentrated in the hands of the algerian's army with presidency and parliament considered as a rubber-stamping bodys.