General issues: French department 1924-1958, Democratic peoples republic 1962-Present
Country name on general issues: Algerie, Republique Algerienne
Special issues: American-British Expeditionary Force Algiers 1943, Local issues 1962
Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1924-1965, 1 Dinar = 100 Centimes 1965-Present
Population: 4 650 000 in 1900, 39 500 000 in 2015
Political history Algeria
Algeria is a country in northern Africa. From the 16th century, Algeria is part of the Ottoman Empire – and part of the Barbary or Berber Coast, renowned until the early 19th century because of the many pirates. In 1830, France conquers Algiers and ends the Ottoman rule in Algeria. In subsequent years, more cities on the Algerian coast are conquered by the French and, in 1834, the colony of Algeria is formed. Between 1834 and 1848, the French further extend French rule in Algeria to include all of the coastal region north of the Atlas Mountains. From the start of French rule, Algeria is a settler colony attracting both French and other European settlers. For this reason, the status of Algeria, in 1848, is changed from that of a colony to that of a French department – in fact three departments are formed – with equal rights as the departments in France.
The south of Algeria at the time is independent – as it was in Ottoman times. Serious advances by the French into the south are not made until after the conference of Berlin in 1885 – where the colonial powers divide the spheres of influence in Africa. At the Berlin conference, establishing effective colonial rule is made a prerequisite for continued recognition of the awarded claims. The Tuareg, in the Ahaggar Mountains, are defeated in 1902, thus bringing the Algerian Sahara under French control. The last part of Algeria to be brought under French control is the Tindouf region in 1934. A few border adjustments with Libya in 1954 define the borders of Algeria as we know them today. The south of Algeria is administered as the ‘Territoires du Sud'‘Southern Territories’ – by a military administration. It is not until 1957 that the Territoires du Sud are divided into departments with a status equal to that of the other departments.
During WWII the administration in Algeria is loyal to the Vichy regime in France, the Vichy regime collaborating with the Germans. After the successful American-British ‘Operation Torch’ aimed at gaining Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia from the Vichy regime, the administration is transferred to French authorities loyal to the Allies, these later to join the Free French Forces led by De Gaulle.
After WWII, the call for independence becomes stronger. In 1954, the ‘Front de Libération Nationale'‘National Liberation Front’ is founded. A war of independence follows, Algeria becoming an independent state in 1962. The democratic peoples republic of Algeria is established as a socialist, one party state with a government controlled economy. In 1988, political and economic reforms are introduced – a multi party system and a liberalized economy. After the first elections, however, the military take over control and a civil war ensues that will last until 2002. Since 2002, the country has stabilized.
The population of Algeria is of Berber origin – the Berbers being an ethnic group spread across Northern Africa from Morocco to Egypt. Arab influence has been strong though and, in modern times, 85% of the population can be considered to be Arab, 15% to be Berber. The population group of European origin has dwindled from 15% in 1962 to 1% now.
Algeria, in 1963, engages in a military conflict with Morocco that claims the Tindouf region. The war ends in a status quo ante bellum and negotiations lead to the formal ratification of the existing borders in 1972. Tensions with Morocco arise again in 1975 over the Western Sahara, which, until 1975, had been a Spanish colony. After the Spanish withdrawal in 1975, the Western Sahara is annexed by Morocco. The Frente Polisario engages in a war of independence supported by Algeria. The headquarters of the Polisario are in Algerian Tindouf. Although in 1991 a cease fire is agreed upon, a permanent solution for the problem has not been found until today.
Postal history Algeria
In Algeria, since 1849, the stamps of France have been used. As part of France, stamps have been issued for Algeria from 1924 until 1958. The first issues are overprints on stamps of France, definitives are issued form 1926. From 1958 until 1962, the stamps of France are again used in Algeria. The democratic peoples republic of Algeria has issued stamps from 1962 until today. The first issues are overprints on French stamps that were applied at the post offices and exist in many varieties. The overprint would read ‘EA’ or ‘Etat Algerien’ with or without bars covering the French origin of the stamps. The overprints were applied from July until November 1962 when the first definitives were issued.
A special issue are the telegraph stamps issued for use by the American and British Expeditionary Force in 1943 in Algiers. These were Algerian stamps overprinted ‘E.F.M.’ for ‘Expeditionary Force Messages’ and a new face value.