History of Algeria, Heritage, Culture

The French Period (1830-1962)

Algeria became a colony of France shortly after French military forces invaded the country in 1830 and, for most of the succeeding 130 years, it was a fully-fledged department of the French Republic. During this period significant numbers of people emigrated from France to live in Algeria's cities; in some cases they actually outnumbered the locals and became the majority. French influence on Algeria's culture, economy and society was strong, although it was often resented by the native population who complained of favoritism, exclusion from the political process and the denial of basic rights and freedoms.

The policies of the French government alternated between benign neglect and harsh repression, tending towards the latter whenever riots and revolutions occurred (which was fairly often). Francophone culture did not trickle down from the upper levels of government and society, and the native population deeply resented the awarding of communal and confiscated land to immigrants from foreign lands.

The situation came to a head on November 1st, 1954 with the start of what is known as the Algerian War of Independence led by the FLN, or National Liberation Front. By the time the war ended with France granting of Algerian independence in 1962, many thousands had lost their lives and over a million former colonists and Algerian sympathizers had left Algeria for France. Although the war caused great devastation to Algeria, her people emerged united and dedicated to improving their land and society. Algeria became a leader of the non-aligned movement and became an inspiration to other former French colonies in Africa. French influence is still prominent in the area of literature and in government bureaucracy, but is rarely used in daily conversation.

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