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Algeria is Africa's second largest country, bordering the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and extending through the Sahara Desert in the south.

Algeria gained independence from French rule in 1962 after fighting through much of the previous decade, at the cost of more than a million Algerian lives.

Conflict between government and Islamist rebel forces brought further violence to Algeria through the 1990's.

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City street, Algiers

While unrest and violence gradually lessened in intensity through the first years of the 21st Century, tensions rose again, with some protests, in Algeria during the 'Arab Spring' of 2011 which brought dramatic changes and revolutions to other countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Algeria's economy is part agricultural (engaging around a quarter of the population), and part industrial. Algeria ranks in the top 10 in the world for natural gas and top 20 for oil reserves.

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Algeria map

Area (size): 919,590 square miles (almost 10 times bigger than the UK) Capital City: Algiers.

Population: 34.5 million, majority Arab-Berber & Bedouin; minority European (<1%).

Languages: Arabic (official), Berber languages (Tamazight), French.

Religion: Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%; Christian & Jewish 1%. 

Christians in Algeria

Opposition to the gospel in Algeria has been intense through over 150 years of missionary effort.

Since independence, the Algerian government has sought to establish an Islamist state. While there are officially-recognised Protestant and Catholic Churches, proselytism is not allowed. Life for individual believers can be isolated and difficult, if not dangerous.

Yet there are recent signs of the growth of local churches, facilitated in part by a gradual opening of Algeria in other areas of life, such as trade with and travel between western economies, and communications technologies.

This slight opening up makes careful efforts to train and strengthen local Christian leaders increasingly strategic.