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.
A fourth day of aerial bombardment by Israeli aircraft is now being backed up now by ground forces making their deepest incursion into Gaza since 2005.
The chief negotiator for the Palestinians says any hope for the peace talks now lies buried in the rubble of Gaza.
More than 80 people - women and children among them - have been killed over the past four days, and international condemnation remains muted.
Nour Odeh has been following the day's developments.
A Wonderful Nasheed (( Vocal Song )) By Ahmed Abu-Khater ,, It's Called Ummi (( My Mother )) ,, And It Is A MUST Watch ..
The Translation :
I Will Come Back Mother Kissing Your Luscious Head
Divulging My Longing To You And Sipping Your Right Hand's Essence
Nuzzling My Cheek In Your Feet's Soil
Watering The Ground With My Joyful Tears
How Many Nights You Were Sleepless Working To Get Me Sleeping Like A Kid
And How Many Times You Were Thirsty But You Worked To Water Me With All Tenderness
And I Will Never Forget Your Rainy Eyes When I Was Sick
And Your Restless Eye Scared Of Any Danger May Happen To Me
And What About Our Farewell In That Dawn ,, What A Hard Dawn It Was
No Heart Can Ever Describe The Abandonment That You Faced By Me
Then You Said Something I Couldn't Forget Up Until Now :
It's Impossible That You Will Find Warmer Arms Than Mine
Oh My (( Life's Joy )) The Creator Of The Universe Commanded Me To Be Loyal To You
Your Content Is The Secret Of My Good Fortune And Your Love Is My Faith's Sparkle
Don't Be Sad Mother ,, Here Am I ,, I Came To You With Teary Eyes
Don't Be Sad Mother ,, There Will Be No Separation From Now On mm Until The Separation Of Death
Sorry For The Bad English :) ..
Yusuf (Cat Stevens) performs "Peace Train" at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway - 11 december 2006.
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