The capital and commercial, administrative and cultural center of Algeria, Algiers is situated on the slopes of the Sahel hills and stands on a 16 km strip on the western shores of the Bay of Algiers.
A major Mediterranean seaport, Algiers enjoys a temperate climate and has become a popular winter resort.
Algiers was originally settled by the Phoenicians and in the second century BC became a Roman colony. It was destroyed in the fifth century AD but in the late tenth century was rebuilt by the Berbers.
In the sixteenth century, having been conquered several times, Algiers was proclaimed part of the Ottoman Empire and until the nineteenth century was used by the Barbary pirates, who provided a constant threat to shipping in the Mediterranean.
In 1830 a French expedition crushed the pirates and established Algiers as the base for French occupation in Algeria. During World War II Algiers was the headquarters of the Allied forces in North Africa. Since the war Algiers has been the scene of political conflict, with clashes between the National Liberation Front and the government (1954), anti-Gaullist terrorist activities against the Muslims (1958) and the coup d'etat by Colonel Houari Boumedienne (1965). Following Algeria's independence in July 1962 a large proportion of the European population left Algiers and there was considerable migration into the city from the interior.
The city is essentially divided into the old Turkish section, with its sixteenth-century Kasbah, on the higher slopes and the modern French section, which is the administrative and commercial center, on the lower slopes. The large, well equipped port, which is also an important refueling station and a haven for fishing boats, handles most of the country's trade. Industries include agricultural processing (tobacco, flour, wine and fruit) and the production of cement, chemicals, machinery, consumer goods and paper.
The discovery of petroleum and natural gas in the Sahara in 1956 has contributed to the development of Algiers and the main Algerian oil refinery is situated nearby. Algiers is connected by rail to Tunisia, Morocco and inland Algeria. Dar El Beida international airport lies 16 km east of the city. Places of interest include the National Library, which is housed in an old Moorish palace (1798), the Museum, the Great Mosque (1660), the Cathedral of Sacre Coeur, which was designed by Le Corbusier, and the University of Algiers (1909).