The fighting left an estimated 150,000 people dead. The violence slowed after 1999, but tensions remained. Algeria has also been rocked by suicide bombings by Islamist militants

Algeria's economy has seen some improvements. It first adopted a socialist model of development, but since the 1980s, has moved toward a market economy. Its oil and gas resources have helped the country economically. Still, like many developing countries it faces the problems of high unemployment, widespread poverty, and corruption.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (or Congo), once ruled by Belgium, covers about a million square miles of central Africa. It has rich resources, including vast tropic rainforests, plantations, and great mineral wealth, especially the copper and diamonds.

Belgium was eager to keep control of Congo's resources, such as the copper and diamonds of the Katanga province. Fearing a struggle like the French war in Algeria, Belgium suddenly rushed Congo to independence in 1960. But the new nation had no preparation for self-government and no sense of unity. More than 100 political parties sprang up, representing diverse regional and ethnic groups.

Katanga rebelled against Congo shortly after independence. The country's first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, appealed for Soviet help. This led the United States to back Lumumba's rival, Colonel Joseph Mobutu, later known as Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu captured Lumumba, who was soon executed. The United Nations ended the Katanga rebellion in 1963.

For 32 years, Mobutu imposed a harsh, corrupt dictatorship on Congo. Mobutu survived in power in part because his strong anti-communism won favor in the West during the Cold War. Rebels finally forced Mobutu from power in 1997. After his removal, rival leaders again battled to control Congo's government and mineral riches.

Congo's first free elections in 41 years brought Joseph Kabila to power in 2006. Kabila faced immense challenges. He had to ease ethnic tensions, protect Congo's mineral resources, reduce corruption, and heal a country deeply scarred by decades of war.


Located in West Africa, Nigeria has the continent's largest population. Its people belong to more than 250 ethnic groups, speak many languages, and practice different religions. The dominant groups are the mainly Christian Ibo (EE boh) and Yoruba (YOH roo buh) in the south, and the Muslim Hausa (HOW suh) in the north.

Photo of a group African men in suits walking with a central man whose hand is raised, smiling.

Patrice Lumumba was newly independent Congo's first prime minister. Here, Lumumba waves to a crowd after receiving a 41-2 vote of confidence from the Congolese senate in September 1960.

After gaining independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria experienced frequent military coups. Military leaders ruled with an iron hand but failed to improve Nigeria's government or its economy. Since 1999, Nigeria has had elected civilian governments.

Ethnic and religious divisions have threatened to tear Nigeria apart. In 1966, the Ibo people in the oil-rich south rebelled and set up the independent Republic of Biafra. A brutal civil war led to famine and a huge death toll. After three years, Nigeria crushed the rebels and reunited the country. More recently, Islamists in the north have imposed Sharia law in several areas, causing many Christians to flee. A separatist group, Boko Haram, has launched terrorist attacks throughout the country.

Nigeria has rich oil resources, which has brought benefits as well as disadvantages. When oil prices are high, the country reaps great profits that can be invested in development. But falling oil prices has caused problems and cutbacks in spending. Also oil wealth has contributed to corruption. In the oil-producing Niger Delta region, local people were bitter about the environmental damage caused by oil drilling and the huge profits going to foreign oil companies. Armed groups have attacked pipelines and held foreign oil workers for ransom.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments