/al jearz"/, n.
1. a seaport in and the capital of Algeria, in the N part. 1,839,000.
2. one of the former Barbary States in N Africa: now modern Algeria.

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Arabic Al-Jazāʾir French Alger

City (pop., 1998: 1,519,570), chief seaport and capital of Algeria.

Located along the Bay of Algiers and first settled by Phoenicians, it was later ruled by the Romans. It was destroyed by the Vandals in the 5th century AD but revived under a Berber dynasty in the 10th century. When the Spanish threatened it in the early 16th century, the local emir appealed to the Ottoman corsair Barbarossa, who expelled the Spanish and placed Algiers under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Algiers became the major base for the Barbary Coast pirates for 300 years; their activities were finally curtailed in 1818 by an American force led by Stephen Decatur. The French took the city in 1830 and made it headquarters for their African colonial empire. In World War II (1939–45), it became the Allied headquarters in northern Africa and for a time the provisional capital of France. In the 1950s it was the focal point in the drive for Algeria's independence; after independence, Algiers grew as the country's political, economic, and cultural centre.

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French  Alger , Arabic  Al-Jazaʾir 
 capital and chief seaport of Algeria. It is the political, economic, and cultural centre of the country.

      Algiers is built on the slopes of the Sahel Hills, which parallel the coast, and it extends for 10 miles (16 km) along the Bay of Algiers. The city faces east and north and forms a large amphitheatre of dazzling white buildings that dominate the harbour and the bay. The city takes its name (Arabic: “The Island”) from several small islands that formerly existed in the bay, all but one of which have been connected to the shore or obliterated by harbour works. Pop. (2004 est.) 1,790,700.

      Algiers was founded by the Phoenicians as one of their numerous North African colonies. It was known to the Carthaginians and the Romans as Icosium. The town was destroyed by the Vandals in the 5th century AD. It was revived under a Berber (Amazigh) dynasty in the 10th century as a centre of commerce in the Mediterranean. In the early 16th century many of the Moors expelled from Spain sought asylum in Algiers. Some of them began making piratical attacks on Spanish seaborne commerce, and in response Spain in 1514 fortified the offshore island of Peñon in the Bay of Algiers. The emir of Algiers appealed to two Turkish corsairs to expel the Spaniards from the Peñon, and one of the corsairs, Barbarossa (Khayr al-Dīn), seized Algiers in 1529, expelled the Spaniards, and placed Algiers under the authority of the Ottoman sultan. Barbarossa's efforts turned Algiers into the major base of the Barbary pirates (Barbary pirate) for the next 300 years.

      The European powers made repeated vain attempts to quell the pirates, including naval expeditions by the Holy Roman emperor Charles V in 1541 and by the British, Dutch, and Americans in the early 19th century. Piracy based in Algiers continued, though much weakened, until the French captured the city in 1830. The French made Algiers a military and administrative headquarters for their colonial empire in North and West Africa.

      During World War II Algiers became the headquarters of Allied forces in North Africa and for a time the provisional capital of France. In the 1950s, when the Algerian uprising against France began, the capital city was a focal point in the struggle. After 1962, when Algeria became independent, many far-reaching changes were made to the city as the new government set out to create a modern socialist society out of a less-developed colonial one. A large portion of the city's European population left in the decades following Algerian independence.

      The Algiers region has experienced numerous natural disasters throughout its history. Some of the more recent instances include a flood in 2001 that killed more than 700 people and an earthquake in 2003 that caused much destruction and took several thousand lives.

Contemporary city
 The old Turkish, or Muslim, section of Algiers is built on the upper slopes of the hills and has preserved much of its architectural character of high, blank-walled houses and narrow, winding streets. The Muslim section is dominated by the fortress of the Kasbah (Qaṣbah), designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992; it was the residence of the last two Turkish deys, or governors, of Algiers. A prominent building in the Muslim section is the Ketchaoua Mosque, which prior to 1962 was the Cathedral of St. Philip (constructed 1845–60). The French section of Algiers grew along the lower slopes of the hills, closer to the harbour. This section has numerous public squares and wide boulevards.

      Situated in the modern city centre are the University of Algiers (1879) and numerous foreign embassies and a few skyscrapers. Other sites include the modern building of the National Library, the old palace of the archbishop (formerly the palace of the dey), and the Winter Palace (formerly the palace of the French governor-general). Algiers has continued to grow to the south, with new suburbs being created to house the population overflow from the city centre. It remains chiefly a port for the import of raw materials, industrial goods, and general supplies as well as an administrative and financial centre. The main exports are wine, early vegetables and oranges, iron ore, and phosphates. Algiers-Houari Boumedienne International Airport is in Dar el-Beïda, east of the city.

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Universalium. 2010.

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