Algeria is the second largest country in Africa after Sudan. It became independent in 1962 after more than 130 years of French colonial rule and a bitter liberation struggle. In cooperation with the small churches in the country and the Algerian government, the WCC, CIMADE and other ecumenical agencies founded in 1962 the Christian Committee for Service in Algeria. After a period of emergency relief, the CCSA developed a vast reafforestation programme. By 1965, more than 22 million fruit and timber trees had been planted and another 50 million seedlings were handed over to the government. Ever since independence, the National Liberation Front (FLN) has dominated politics in Algeria, although a surprising first round electoral success of the fundamentalist Islamic National Front (FIS) in 1991 spurred the army to intervene, to prevent the Islamists from forming a government. Since then Algeria has struggled through a continuous low level civil conflict between Islamic activists and the secular state apparatus. This terrorism has had a profound impact among the Algerian population, of whom nearly 100,000 were killed before the FIS's armed wing was disbanded in January 2000. In 2005 the population voted in favour of a referendum on national reconciliation. While progress towards peace is slowly being made, better living conditions for the people and democratization continue to be Alge-ria's greatest challenge.