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The buildings facing the sea. Algiers, Algeria.
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The buildings facing the sea. Photo: msmornington.

Algiers, Algeria.

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Algiers, Algeria.
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French building in Algiers. Photo: jaysen naidoo.

Algiers, Algeria.
Algiers, Algeria.

Algiers, Algeria.
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The busy port of Algiers, Algeria.
Algiers, Algeria.

Martyrs' Monument at the Central Military Museum in Algiers, Algeria.
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Martyrs' Monument at the Central Military Museum in Algiers. Photo:  US Army Africa

Narrow streets of the kasbah, Algiers, Algeria.
Palace of the Dey in the kasbah of Algiers, Algeria.

Renovated mansion in the kasbah of Algiers, Algeria.
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Renovated mansion in the kasbah of Algiers.

Mosque in the Kasbah, Algiers, Algeria.
Mosque near Martyrs' place, Algiers, Algeria.

Algiers, Algeria.
Algiers, Algeria from the late 19th century.

Capital of Algeria with 2.9 million inhabitants (2003 estimate), and the largest and most important city of the country. Algiers is located on the Mediterranean Sea, in the north-central part of the country, in from a cluster of islets that now have been turned into a part of the port.
Algiers has the status of province with an area of 273 km².
In French it is nicknamed Alger la Blanche, "Algiers the White".

Economy and Commucations
Algiers is the administrative centre of Algeria, and is also the country's main harbour, serving both as a shipping center and a principal Mediterranean refueling station.
Activities of Algiers consist in both governmental and private administration, and national and international trade. The main export products are grain, iron, phosphates, wines, citrus fruits and vegetables, as well as oil from central Algeria. The main industries are oil refining, petrochemicals, metal working and foodstuffs.
Algiers has the best connections to any other urban centre in the country, both because of its importance but also because it is well-located in the northern centre. There are a number of highways and roads running out of it, as well as a southern (connecting with the western lines) and an eastern-bound railway. Constantine lies 430 km east, and Oran 440 km west. Algiers has a major international airport, and a ferry connection with Marseilles in France.

City layout
The city is divided into three parts. First there is the lower part, the French areas, which were erected after the demolition of the traditional quarters, when the French put up their new administrative centre. The French parts are made up of high French style buildings, with wide boulevards, theatres, cathedrals, museums, an opera and several institutions for higher learning.
Secondly, the upper part, the old, which is known as the kasbah, and has over the recent decades turned into almost a slum, with some of the worst living conditions in North Africa. The kasbah was built in the early 16th century as an Ottoman fort and a palace for the local ruler, the dey.
The third part is made up of the large suburbs surrounding the city, which date to the post-colonial period. These suburbs now cover most of the surrounding Metidja plain.
Among Algiers mosques, the Grand Mosque is the oldest, dating back to early 11th century, but its minaret is more than 300 years younger. The mosque called the New Mosque is from the 17th century and interestingly shaped as a Greek cross.
Algiers also has a selection of churches, of which the Holy Trinity from 1870 is the most noteworthy. The Ketchaoua mosque was used as a cathedral from 1845 until 1612, and dates back to early 17th century. The Roman Catholic cathedral of Notre Dame d'Afrique was finished in 1872 and mixes Roman and Byzantine styles.
The University of Algiers was founded in 1879. There are also other institutions of higher education.

1200 BCE: Phoenician trade port is set up in the Bay of Algiers. The post is called Icosium, or Ikosim.
146 BCE: Algiers becomes part of the Roman empire, following the Punic Wars, but is not the most important city in what today is Algeria. This position is held by Caesarea (Cherchell).
429 CE: Algiers comes under control of the Vandals.
6th century: Algiers becomes part of the Byzantine empire.
650: Algiers comes under Arab control.
950: The present Algiers is founded by the Berber ruler Bologhin Ibn Ziri, the founder of the Zirid Dynasty. The name is changed into al-Jazā'ir, which is the name it still holds, and from which 'Algiers' is derived. From this time on, Algiers becomes a very important city.
1159: Algiers is occupied by the Almohads.
1235: Algiers is captured by the Hafsid king, Abu Zakarya of Tunis.
1302: The islet in front of Algiers, named Penon, is occupied by the Spanish. Penon becomes the centre of considerable trade between Algiers and Spain.
14th century: Algiers comes for a short period of time under control of the Merenids.
Early 15th century: Hafsids recapture Algiers.
1511: The Spanish take back control of Penon, and it becomes a threat to the city.
1516 Algiers calls for the help of Aruj, the first Barbarossa, and a long battle to drive the Spanish away from Algiers begins.
1518: Algiers declares itself part of the Ottoman Empire, and has the Spanish driven out.
1529: The Spanish are driven off Penon, and Algiers is from now on in the hands of pirates. Subsequently, Algiers becomes the capital of what was known as Barbary Coast. A well protected harbour is constructed.
17th century: Algiers becomes independent of the Ottomans, and piracy continues.
1815: US navy forces the governor of Algiers to end attacks on US vessels.
1816: Dutch and British navies destroy the Algerian fleet, but piracy continues.
1830 June 14: In retaliation for Algerian attacks on trade vessels, France attacks Algiers. This marks the beginning of 132 years of French control.
July 5: The governor of Algiers capitulates to the French forces. The colonial period starts.
1942: Algiers becomes headquarters of the Allied forces of North Africa.
1943: The Free French government under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle puts up its headquarters in Algiers.
1957: January: Algiers becomes the centre of activity in the Algerian war of Independence.
1962: Algiers becomes the capital of free Algeria. Most of the French inhabitants leave Algiers.

By Tore Kjeilen