Greater Middle East
Born March 2, 1937, Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA became an early activist in support of
national independence. After completing his secondary studies, he joined the National
Liberation Army (ALN) in 1956. He was given the double assignment of Inspector
General of Wilaya (Province) 5 in 1957 and 1958, and Officer in Zone 4 and Zone 7 of
Wilaya 5; then he was successively assigned to the Headquarters of “COM West,” the
HQ of the General Staff “West”, and General Staff HQ; in 1960 he was assigned to
Algeria’s southern borders to command the Mali Front.
In 1961, he secretly entered France with a mission to establish contact with earlier leaders
being detained in Aulnoy.
In 1962 he was appointed a deputy to the Constituent Assembly, and at the age of 25 he
became Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism in the first government of independent
Algeria. In 1963, he was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly, and in that same
year he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In this capacity he worked in the following areas:
Strengthening and unifying Arab ranks during the 1967 Khartoum Summit and
later during the October 1973 war;
Securing international recognition of Algeria’s borders and establishing good
relations with neighboring countries;
Successful efforts to restore Algerian control over its natural resources;
Consolidation of Third World organizations and strengthening of their unity of
action through the part he played, in particular during the Conference of G-77 and
the African Summit, both held in Algiers, and in the preparations for various
meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement;
Decolonization in Africa and throughout the world;
Recognition of Algeria as the spokesman for the Third World in its efforts to
institute a new world economic order.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika was unanimously elected Chairman of the 29th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly and of the 6th Special Session of the Assembly on
Energy and Raw Materials, of which Algeria had been one of the promoters.
Throughout this entire period he participated in thedetermination of the broad thrusts of
national policy in all fields, advocating a policy of openness within all leadership bodies.
When President Boumediene died, Abdelaziz Bouteflika gave the funeral oration as his
In 1980, he was forced into exile, which lasted more than six years.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika returned to Algeria in January 1987. In 1989 he participated in the
Congress of the FLN (National Liberation Front) and was elected a member of the
In December 1998 he announced his decision to run as an independent candidate in the
early presidential elections of April 1999.
Having been elected President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria on April
15, 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika received overwhelming support from the Algerian people
in the referendum of September 16, 1999 on the Civil Concord Law.
Since his election the President has labored to restore Algeria to the position on the
international scene that its resources and potential merit, following the eclipse brought
about by the tragedy of the past decade. In terms of domestic policy, he is working to
bring about the conditions needed to implement his program for democratization and
national renewal designed to adapt Algeria to meet changing political and economic
At the same time, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been fighting ceaselessly for Peace. Starting
in his own country, he launched the Civil Concord Law, which was overwhelmingly
backed by the Algerian people in the September 1999 referendum. This law has enabled
thousands of individuals who since 1992 had joined opposition forces operating in the
countryside to lay down their arms and return to their families. In Africa, he devoted a
great deal of attention to serving as Chairman of the 35th OAU Summit and,
subsequently, to resolving conflicts within Africa. Having been specially charged by his
African counterparts at the 36th OAU Summit in Lomé, his interventions proved decisive
in terminating armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea and resulted in the signing, in
Algiers, of the peace treaty putting an end to the war on December 12, 2000. Abdelaziz
Bouteflika was subsequently awarded the first “African Medal for Peace 2000” by a
group of African NGOs on February 12, 2001.
Since his election President Bouteflika has constantly stressed that peace and
development are based on South-South and North-South partnership as guarantees of
investment and joint prosperity.
Together with President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Mbeke of South Africa,
President Bouteflika has co-sponsored the Millennium African Renaissance Programme,
which takes the form of promoting a new vision and defining a new framework for
productive investment and trade flows with a view to incorporating Africa into the
globalization of the world economy.
In recognition of his efforts to promote business reforms within Algeria and his
determination to adapt the Algerian economy to meet the challenges of today, the Crans
Montana Forum awarded Abdelaziz Bouteflika its 1999 prize. He has also received other
Since his election two years ago as head of the Algerian nation, President Bouteflika has
devoted his particular attention to the following domestic matters: national concord,
liberalization of the economy, education reform, reform of the justice system to promote
the rule of law, and reform of the machinery and role of the State to better meet the needs
and aspirations of its citizens. Within the overall framework of these reforms, women are
being assured the role equal to that of men guaranteed them under the Constitution and
reiterated on numerous occasions in statements made by President Bouteflika.
On the multilateral level, President Bouteflika has been working tirelessly to promote
peace in Africa and throughout the world, while pursuing negotiations with the European
Union aimed at the conclusion of an association agreement, and with the World Trade
Organization (WTO) with a view to Algerian accession to that body.
Firmly believing that peace and development are inseparable, President Bouteflika is
actively seeking a reduction in the debt burden weighing down the developing countries,
particularly the very poorest of them. In all international fora he has been a constant
advocate of North-South cooperation.
Name: People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia.
Area: Total --2,381,740 sq. km. Land --2,381,740 sq. km.; water--0 sq. km. More than three times the size of Texas.
Cities: Capital --Algiers.
Terrain: Mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain. Mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mud slides.
Climate: Arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer.
Land use: Arable land --3%; permanent crops --0%, permanent pastures --13%; forests and woodland --2%.
Nationality: Noun --Algerian(s); adjective --Algerian.
Population (July 2003 est.): 32,818,500.
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 1.65%. Birth rate --21.94 births/1,000, population; death rate --5.09 deaths/1,000 population.
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%.
Religions: Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%. Languages: Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects.
Education: Literacy (definition--age 15 and over can read and write)--total population, 70%; male 78.8%, female 61% (2003 est.) Health (2003 est.): Infant mortality rate --37.74 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth --total population, 70.54 years; male 69.14 years, female 72.01 years.
Work force (2003): 9.5 million. Government --32%; agriculture --14%; construction and public works --10%; industry --13.4%; trade --14.6%, other --16%.
Unemployment rate (2003 est.): 27%.
Independence: July 5, 1962 (from France).
Constitution: November 19, 1976, effective November 22, 1976; revised November 3, 1988, February 23, 1989, and November 28, 1996. NOTE: Referendum approving the revisions of November 28, 1996 was signed into law December 7, 1996.
Branches: Legal system based on French and Islamic law; judicial review of legislative acts in ad hoc Constitutional Council composed of various public officials, including several Supreme Court justices; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Administrative divisions: 48 provinces (wilayate; singular, wilaya). Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal.
Flag: Two equal vertical bands of green (hoist side) and white; a red, five-pointed star within a red crescent centered over the two-color boundary; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam (the state religion).
National holiday: Revolution Day, November 1, 1954.
GDP (2003 est.): $64.8 billion.
GDP growth rate (2003 est.): 6.5%.
Per capita real GDP (2003 est.): $2,031.
Agriculture: Products --wheat, barley, oats, grapes, olives, citrus, fruits; sheep, cattle.
Industry: Types --petroleum, natural gas, light industries, mining, electrical, petrochemical, food processing.
Trade: Exports --$23.7 billion (f.o.b., 2003 est.): petroleum, natural gas, and petroleum products 97%. Partners (2003 est.)--Italy 20.7%, U.S .13.8%, France 13.5%, Spain 11.9%, Netherlands 8.9%, Turkey 6.8%. Imports --$12.3 billion (f.o.b., 2003 est.): capital goods, food and beverages, consumer goods. Partners (2003 est.)--France 22.5%, U.S. 9.6%, Italy 9.5%, Germany 6.5%, Spain 5.2%, Turkey 4.1%, Canada 3.1%.
Budget (2003 est.): Revenues --$18.5 billion; expenditures --$22.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $6.8 billion.
Debt (external, 2003 est.): $22 billion.
U.S. economic assistance (2003 est.): $1.0 million.
Fiscal year: Calendar year.