Abdelaziz Bouteflika won the presidency in 1999 polls, promising to end the violence that exploded after the cancellation of the 1992 parliamentary election which an Islamic party was set to win.
Since then he secured landslide election victories in 2004 and again 2009.
After having amended the constitution to remove the two-term limit on the presidency in November 2008, Bouteflika has effectively allowed himself to remain head of state for life - changes criticised as a setback for democratic reform.
As in many Arabic-speaking countries, the government faced calls for democratic change in 2011, but protests did not reach the scale seen elsewhere. Nonetheless President Bouteflika announced a programme of constitutional change to avert pressure for more radical reform.
On first taking office in 1999 he promised to restore national harmony and to end years of bloodshed. He released thousands of Muslim militants and won backing for a civil concord in 1999 that offered an amnesty to armed militants.
Many of the rebels accepted and violence declined. Voters backed a second amnesty for the remaining militants, laid out in the president's "charter for peace and reconciliation", in a 2005 referendum.
Algeria under President Bouteflika has won praise from the West for backing the US-led "war on terror". At home, many credited him with a return of some security, though attacks by Islamist militants have increased again since 2006.
Mr Bouteflika has overcome years of isolation for Algeria, but his state-orientated economic policies have failed to wean the economy off reliance on oil and gas.
A veteran of the war of independence from France, Mr Bouteflika was foreign minister for 16 years until 1979. He went into self-imposed exile for several years in the 1980s to escape corruption charges that were later dropped.
Power is concentrated in the presidency, with parliament considered a rubber-stamp body. Mr Bouteflika is widely credited with easing the military back into barracks after their domination of government during the 1992-2011 state of emergency.
Rumours about the president's health abound and he is frequently absent from public view for weeks or months.
In April 2013, he was flown to Paris to be treated for a mini-stroke, disappearing from public view until June, when he was shown looking frail on state TV.