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Algiers (ăljērzˈ), Arab. Al-Jaza'Ir, Fr. Alger (älzhāˈ), city (2021 pop. 2,809,158), capital of Algeria, N Algeria, on the Bay of Algiers of the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the leading ports of North Africa (wine, citrus fruit, iron ore, cork, and cereals are the major exports), as well as a commercial center. Industries include metallurgy, oil refining, automotive construction, machine-building, and the production of chemicals, tobacco, paper, and cement.

Founded by the Phoenicians and called Icosium by the Romans, the city disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire. Many of the Moors expelled from Spain in 1492 settled in Algiers. In 1511 the Spanish occupied an island in the city's harbor, but they were driven out when Barbarossa captured Algiers for the Turks. Algiers then became a base for the Muslim fleet that preyed upon Christian commerce in the Mediterranean (see Barbary States). Under the Ottoman Empire, the city's population reached 100,000. The ruling Turkish official in Algeria, the dey of Algiers, made himself virtually independent of Constantinople in the 18th and 19th cent. As European navies repeatedly attacked Algiers, the city's prosperity, which was based on piracy, declined. When French forces captured the port in 1830, Algiers had less than 40,000 inhabitants.

Algiers became headquarters for the Allied forces in North Africa in World War II, as well as for Charles de Gaulle's provisional French government. An anti-French uprising in the city in 1954 provided a major spark in the Algerian armed struggle for independence. In May, 1958, Algiers was the principal scene of a revolt by European colonists and the French army that ended the Fourth French Republic and returned de Gaulle to power. During the final months before Algeria won independence (1962), bombings by the French terrorist Organization of the Secret Army (OAS) damaged industrial and communications facilities in Algiers. Many of the city's European residents left in the wake of Algerian independence. In 1973 a major conference of nonaligned nations was held there.

The city is divided into the newer, French-built sector, with wide boulevards and modern administrative and commercial buildings, and the original Muslim quarter, with narrow streets, numerous mosques, and the 16th cent. casbah (fortress), which was once the residence of the Turkish deys. Other points of interest in Algiers include the observatory, botanical gardens, the national library and museum, the Great Mosque, the Basilica of Notre Dame, and the Cathedral of Sacré Coeur, which was designed by Le Corbusier. The Univ. of Algiers dates back to 1909. Algiers has expanded to the south as a result of suburban growth.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



city, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria and administrative center of the department of Algiers. Population, 943,100 (with suburbs; 1966 census). Algiers is a large port on the Mediterranean Sea with a freight turnover of 4.7 million tons, including imports of 3.1 million tons in 1965. A highway and railroad junction, it has the international airport Dar el Beida. It is the country’s chief economic and cultural center. Most highly developed are the metalworking industry, including automobile assembly and agricultural machine building, and the food processing (wine, oil and butter, tobacco, and flour), chemical, petroleum refining, cement, pulp and paper, and textile industries. The city has a university, the National Library, and museums of fine arts, antiquities, ethnology, and African arts.

Algiers was founded in the tenth century on the ruins of the small Roman port Icosium. Through the early 16th century, the city was successively part of the Fatimid, Al-moravid, Almohad, and Ziyanid states. In the 16th century it became the center of the north African state established by Khair-ed-Din Barbarossa, which was nominally dependent on the Ottoman Empire. In 1830 the French conquered Algiers, turning it into the administrative center for the colony of Algeria. During World War II (1939–45), Algiers was the headquarters of the Allied command of the Mediterranean Sea. During the national democratic revolution in Algeria, Algiers was one of the centers of the underground patriotic movement. Since 1962, Algiers has been the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria.

The city is shaped like an amphitheater on the western shore of the Bay of Algiers at the foot of and on the slopes of hills. It has many gardens and parks. Among the monuments which have survived are the Casbah (from Turkish times), the Great Mosque (1096) with its minaret (1323), the mosque and tomb Sidi Abd-el-Rahman (1611), the mosque Djami-al-Djedid (or the Fishermen’s Mosque, 1660), and others. In the new, Èuropean-type city, which expanded mainly to the south of the old city, are the Government House (1930; architects, J. Guiochen and the Perret brothers) and the 22–story residential building Aero Habitat (P. Bourlier, L. Miguel, and others), the 75–m-high residential building Lafayette House (M. Solivères and A. Cazalet), and the Radio and Television Building (P. Tournon and M. Joli)—all from the 1950’s. Construction of new housing blocks has been in progress since 1962.


Stolitsy stran mira. Moscow, 1965.
Esquer, G. Alger et sa région. Paris-Grenoble, 1957.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the capital of Algeria, an ancient port on the Mediterranean; until 1830 a centre of piracy. Pop.: 3 260 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005