1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Algeria
ALGERIA (Algérie), a country of North Africa belonging to France, bounded N. by the Mediterranean, W. by Morocco, S. by the Sahara and E. by Tunisia. The boundaries, however, are in part not accurately determined. Algeria extends for about 650 m. along the coast, and stretches inland from 320 to 380 m., lying between 2° 10′ W. and 8° 50′ E., and 32° and 37° N. It is divided, politically, into three departments—Oran in the west, Algiers in the centre and Constantine in the east. Its area is 184,474 sq. m., exclusive of the dependent Saharan regions, which have an area of some 750,000 sq. m. (see Sahara, Tuat, &c.).
Physical Features.—The character of the Algerian coast is severe and inhospitable. The western half is bordered by a hilly rampart, broken only here and there, in the bays where the larger streams find their outlet, by flat and sandy plains. Between Dellys and Philippeville high mountains rise almost sheer from the sea, leaving only a narrow strip of beach. East of Philippeville the mountains recede from the coast, and the rampart of hills reappears. Only between Bona and La Calle is the general character of the sea-board low and sandy. Save near the towns and in the cultivated district of Kabylia, the coast is bare and uninhabited; and in spite of numerous indentations, of which the most important going from west to east are the Gulf of Oran, the Gulf of Arzeu, the Bay of Algiers, and the gulfs of Bougie, Stora and Bona, there are few good harbours. From time immemorial, indeed, this coast has had an evil reputation among mariners, quite apart from the pirates who for centuries made it the base of their depredations. A violent current, starting from the Straits of Gibraltar, rushes eastward along the shore, and, hurled back from the headlands, is deflected to the West. In summer the east wind brings dense and sudden fogs; while in winter the northerly gales blow straight into the mouths of the harbours. In these circumstances navigation is especially perilous for sailing craft. The terrors of this “savage sea and inhospitable shore,” once described by Sallust, have, however, been greatly mitigated by the introduction of steam, the improvement of the harbours, and the establishment by the French government of an excellent system of lighthouses.
Southward from the sea the country falls naturally into three divisions, clearly distinguished by their broad physical characteristics. The healthy, and on the whole fertile coast region, from 50 to 100 m. in width, is known, as in Morocco and Tunisia, as the Tell (Arabic for "hill"). It is a mountainous country intersected with rocky canons and fertile valleys, which occasionally broaden out into alluvial plains like that of the Shelif, or the Metija near Algiers, or those in the neighbourhood of Oran and Bona. Behind the Tell is a lofty table-land with an average elevation of 3000 ft., consisting of vast plains, for the most part arid or covered with esparto grass, in the depressions of which are great salt lakes and swamps (Arabic, shats) fed by streams which can find no outlet to the sea through the encircling hills. To the south this region is divided by the Great Atlas from the deserts of the Sahara, with its oases, in which the boundary of Algeria is lost.
The country is traversed by lofty ranges of the Atlas system, which run nearly parallel to the coast, and rise in places over 7000 ft. These are commonly divided into two leading chains, distinguished as the Great and Little Atlas. The Great, or Saharan Atlas contains some of the highest points in the country. The chief ranges are Ksur and Amur in the west and the Aures in the east. The peak of Shellia, the highest point in Algeria, in the Aures range, has a height of 7611 ft. In the Amur are Jebel Ksel (6594 ft.) and Tuila Makna (6561 ft.). The Little Atlas, otherwise the Tell or Maritime Atlas, lies between the sea and the Saharan Atlas, and is composed of many distinct ranges, generally of no great elevation and connected by numerous transverse chains forming extensive table-lands and elevated valleys. The principal ranges of the Little Atlas—from west to east—are the Tlemcen (5500 ft.); the Warsenis (with Kef Sidi Omar, 6500 ft.); the Titeri (4900 ft.); the Jurjura, with the peak of Lalla Kedija (7542 ft.) and Mount Babor (6447 ft.); and the Mejerda (3700 ft.), which extends into Tunisia. The Jurjura range, forming the background of the plains between Algiers and Bougie, extends through the district of Kabylia, with which for grandeur of scenery no other part of Algeria can compare. South of the Jurjura and separated from it by the valley of the Sahel, is the Biban range with a famous double pass of the same name, through which alone access is gained to the highlands beyond. The Bibans or Portes de fer (Iron Gates) consist of two defiles with stupendous walls of rock, which by erosion have assumed the most fantastic shapes. In the case of the Petite porte the walls in some places are not more than twelve feet apart. The Dahra range (see Mostaganem) overlooks the sea, and is separated from the Warsenis by the valley of the Shelif (see Atlas Mountains, Sahara and Tuat.)
The rivers are numerous but the majority are short. Most of them rise in the mountains near the coast, and rush down through deep and rocky channels.
During the rainy season they render communication between different parts of the country extremely difficult. The most important river, both from its length and volume, is the Shelif. It rises on the northern slopes of the Amur mountains and flows N.E. across the high plateau, piercing the little Atlas between the Warsenis and Titeri ranges. It then turns W. and reaches the Mediterranean at the eastern end of the Gulf of Arzeu. The Shelif, which has many tributaries, is about 430 m. long. The Seybuse (about 150 m. long), formed by the union of several small streams in the department of Constantine, runs through a fertile valley and reaches the Mediterranean near Bona. The Sahel (about 100 m. long), which contains the greatest body of water after the Shelif, rises in the department of Algiers near Aumale, and flows for the most part N.E. to its mouth near Bougie. The Kebir or Rummel—the river is known by both names—is formed by the union of several small streams south of Constantine, and flows past that town N.W. 140 m. to the sea. Among the less important rivers which empty into the Mediterranean are the Macta, the Tafna, the Harrach and the Mazafran. The Macta, but 3 m. long, enters the sea in the Gulf of Arzeu, some 25 m. W. of the mouth of the Shelif. It is formed by the Habra (140 m.) and the Sig (130 m.), which rise in the Amur mountains and flowing north unite in a marshy plain, whence issues the Macta. On the lower courses of the Habra and the Sig, barrages have been built for irrigation purposes. The Habra barrage holds 38,000,000 cubic metres; that on the Sig 18,000,000. The Tafna (about 100 m.) rises in a large cavern in the mountains south of Tlemcen and flows N.E. to the sea at Rachgun. It has many affluents; the largest, the Isser (70 m.), joins it on the east bank about 30 m. above its mouth. The Harrach (40 m.), a picturesque stream, enters the Mediterranean in the Bay of Algiers. The Mazafran (50 m.) crosses the plains S.W of Algiers, reaching the sea N. of Kolea. The Mejerda and its affluent the Mellegue, rivers of Tunisia (q.v.), have their rise in Algeria, in the mountainous country east of Constantine. None of these rivers is navigable. Besides these there are a number of streams in the interior, but they are usually dry except in the rainy season.
Algeria abounds in extensive salt lakes and marshes. Of the lakes in the northern part of the country near the coast the principal are,—the Fezara, 14 m. S.W. of Bona; Sebkha and El Melah, south of Oran; and three small lakes in the immediate vicinity of La Calle. In the high plateaus are the Shat-el-Gharbi or Western Shat, the Shat-el-Shergui or Eastern Shat, the Zarhez-Gharbi and the Zarhez-Shergui, the Shat-el-Hodna and a number of others. South of the Jebel Aures is another series of salt lakes closely connected with the Shat-el-Jerid (of Tunisia). The chief of these is the Shat Melrir. There are a number of warm mineral springs, containing principally salts of lime, used with success by both Arabs and Europeans in several kinds of disease.
One of the most remarkable groups of springs is near Guelma, in the department of Constantine. There are two principal sources. Their waters unite in one stream whose course is marked by gigantic limestone cones, some of which are 36 ft. high. The water, which is at boiling point, falls into natural basins of a creamy white colour, formed by the deposit of carbonate of lime. The springs are known to the Arabs as Hammam Meskutin (the “accursed baths”). The name and the cones are accounted for by a legend which represents that at this spot lived a sheikh who, finding his sister too beautiful to be married to anyone else, determined to espouse her himself. Whilst the marriage festivities were being celebrated the judgment of Heaven descended on the guilty pair; fire came from below; the water became hot and the sheikh and his sister were turned into stone. Within a mile of Hammam Meskutin are ferruginous and sulphureous springs.
[Geology.—The geology of Algeria has been worked out in considerable detail by French geologists. Rocks of Archean and Palaeozoic ages contribute only a small share, but there is a very complete sequence of formations from the Lias to those of recent date. An interesting and orderly petrological sequence of Tertiary igneous rocks has been determined.
Archean rocks form the cores of the ancient crystalline masses within the littoral zone from Algiers to Bona. They consist of gneiss, mica-schist, quartzites, crystalline limestones and conglomerates. Primary deposits are doubtfully represented by the detached fragments of unfossiliferous strata of Traras, Blida and east of Orleansville. Carboniferous and Permian strata are possibly represented by some black and grey micaceous shales with beds of coal in the Jurjura. At Jebel-kahar and west of Traras, Pomel attributes certain conglomerates, red sandstones and purple and green shales to the Permian. The rocks of Secondary and Tertiary ages have been profoundly affected by the Alpine movements, and are thrown into a series of complex folds, so that in numerous instances their stratigraphy is imperfectly understood. The gypsiferous and saliferous marls of Shellata, Suk Ahras and Ain Nussi have yielded Triassic fossils. Triassic rocks are considered to be present in Constantine and in the Jurjura. Rhaetic beds (Infra Lias), consisting of dolomites and siliceous limestones, have been recognized at Saida. The lower and middle divisions of the Jurassic, composed of massive limestones more or less siliceous and overlain by the marls and highly fossiliferous limestones of the Upper Lias, play an important part in the constitution of the chief mountains of the Tell. In south Oran they determine the principal axes of the mountain ranges. The Inferior Cretaceous rocks include the Neocomian and Gault (Albian and Aptian) subdivisions, and form the flanks of the mountains in the Tell. In the south the Albian subdivision of the Gault is alone represented. Rocks of Upper Cretaceous age are represented in all their stages. The Cenomanian presents two distinct facies. North of the Atlas it belongs to the European type, in the south it contains a fauna of oysters and sea-urchins belonging to the facies “africano-syrian” of Zittel. There is a continuous transition between the Senonian and Danian, proving that the Algerian region did not participate in the immersion which occurred in Provence and in the Corbieres of southern France during the Danian epoch. The Lower Eocene rocks contain the chief phosphatic deposits of Algeria, those of the Tebessa region being the best known. Certain species of nummulites, which are very common, distinguish the various subdivisions of the Eocene. The highest beds, consisting of quartzites, shales, marls and sandstones with the remains of fucoids, are found in the Jurjura and Shellata. The Oligocene period consists of a marine phase confined to the littoral zone of Kahylia, and of a continental phase occupying vast areas composed of lacustrine, alluvial, gypsiferous marls, sandstones and conglomerates. The Miocene formation obtains its greatest development in Oran and is much expanded in the Tell. At the close of the Lower Miocene period (beds with Ostrea crassissima) great modifications in the relief and limits of the Algerian formations took place. Hitherto marine conditions were confined to the littoral; in Middle Miocene times (Helvetian) the sea broke in and spread in a south-east direction in the form of long ramified fjords but did not extend as far as the Sahara. To the Pliocene period the marine deposits of the Sahel of Algiers and of the Sahel Jijelli must be attributed; also the lacustrine marls and limestone of the basin of Constantine, and the ancient alluviums of the basins and depressions which bear no relation to the existing valleys. Among the Tertiary volcanic rocks those of acid types (granites, granulites) were the first to appear and are developed latitudinally; rocks of intermediate type (dacites, andesites) characterize the Miocene and early Pliocene periods; while the basic rocks (ophites, elaeolite syenites and basalts) attained their maximum in later Pliocene and Quaternary times. Their development, feeble as compared with the acid rocks, is meridional. The Quaternary period includes an older stage containing fragments of fossils from the underlying formations; a later stage containing the bones of Hippopotamus, Elephas, Rhinoceros, Camelus, Equus; and finally the vast accumulations of sand which began to be formed in prehistoric times. The broad platforms of the hamada are covered with Quaternary deposits. (W. G.*)]
Climate.—Although Algeria enjoys a warm climate, the temperature varies considerably in different parts, according to the elevation and configuration of the country. Along the coast the weather is very mild, the thermometer rarely falling to freezing-point even in winter. The coldest month is January, the hottest August. The mean annual temperature in the coast plains is 66° F. Heavy rains prevail from December to March, and rain is not uncommon during other months also, excepting June, July, August and September, which are very hot and rainless. The average annual fall is 29 in. On the mountains and the high plateaus the winter is often very severe; snow lies for six months on the higher peaks of the Kabyle mountains. On the plateaus the temperature passes from one extreme to the other, and rain seldom falls. (For the climate of the Saharan region see Sahara.) Throughout Algeria, especially in the summer, there is a great difference between day and night temperature, notably in the inland districts. Between May and September the sirocco, or hot wind of the desert, sweeps at intervals over the country, impregnating the air with fine sand; but in general, with the exception of the vicinity of the marshes, the climate is healthy. Its salubrity has been increased by the draining of many marshes in the neighbourhood of the larger towns.
Fauna and Flora.—The fauna of Algeria resembles that of the Mediterranean system generally, though many animals once common to South Europe and North Africa—such as the lion, panther, hyena and jackal—are now extinct in Europe. Lions, formerly plentiful, have disappeared, and leopards and panthers are rare; but jackals, hyenas and Algerian apes are not uncommon. Wild boars are found in the oak forests, and brown bears in the uplands. In the south are various species of antelope and wild goat. Red deer (Cervus elaphus barbarus), which differ from the typical European species only in the fact that the second tine is absent from their antlers, a peculiarity which they share with the red deer of Spain and Corsica, are still found in the forest of Beni Saleh in the department of Constantine, but are being exterminated by forest fires and poaching Arabs. Of domestic animals the camel and sheep are the most important. The chief wealth of the Arab tribes of the plateaus consists in their immense flocks of sheep. The horses and mules of Algeria are noted; and the native cattle are an excellent stock on which to graft the better European varieties. Of birds, eagles, vultures, hawks, owls and quails are common; snipe, curlews, plovers, storks and herons frequent the marshy parts; and the ostrich the desert. Partridges and woodcocks are fairly common. Among the reptiles are various species of serpents, tortoises, turtles, lizards, &c. Locusts are common and sometimes do great damage. Scorpions are numerous in the acid regions. Algerian prawns, especially those of Bona, are large and of a delicate flavour. Of the twenty-one species of freshwater fish, five are peculiar to the country, but none is of much economic value save the barbel and eel. A species of trout is found in the streams near Collo, but in none of the other rivers.
The flora of Algeria consists of about 3000 species, of which some 450 are indigenous to the country, 100 being peculiar to the Sahara. The flora of the Tell is South European in character. The agave and prickly pear, the myrtle, the olive and the dwarf palm grow luxuriantly; and the fields are covered with narcissus, iris and other flowers of every hue. Roses, geraniums, and the like, bloom throughout the winter. The flora of the high plateaus consists chiefly of grasses, notably various kinds of alfa or esparto, and aromatic herbs. In the Saharan oases the characteristic tree is the date palm—“the king of the desert.” Over 11,000 sq. m. of the mountainous country near the coast are covered with forests of various species of oak, pine, fir, cedar, elm, ash, maple, olive, many of them of gigantic size, and other trees; and on the slopes of the mountains up to 3800 ft. above the sea the fig is common. Its fruit forms one of the staple articles of food among the Kabyles. Cork and carob trees are also very common. A magnificent conifer, the Atlantic pinsapo (Abies Pinsapo), is found on the heights round Bougie. The forests suffer great damage from fires, occasioned in part by the custom of burning up the grass every autumn, and in part by incendiarism. In 1902 alone, according to the British consular report, “at a moderate estimate the number of trees damaged or destroyed might be put down at 6,000,000.” Forestry is a state-protected industry, the government owning over 500,000 acres of forest. The chief tree which has commercial value is the cork, and the stripping of the bark is under official supervision. The first cork harvest was gathered in 1890, when 1474 cwt. were sold for £1361. Since that date the yield has been very great. Another tree of great commercial value is the soap tree (Sapindus utilis), introduced into the country in 1845 and grown extensively in low-lying lands near the coast.
Inhabitants.—Algeria had in 1906 a population of 5,231,850, consisting of a medley of European, Eastern and African races. The census showed that in addition to French settlers and their descendants (278,976) there were 117,475 Spaniards (most of whom are found in the department of Oran), 33,153 Italians (chiefly in the department of Constantine), 64,645 Jews, 6217 Maltese, and smaller communities of British, Germans, Levantines and Greeks. There were, moreover, 170,444 naturalized French citizens, mainly of Spanish and Italian origin. (These figures are exclusive of 73,799 persons counted apart, as not enjoying municipal rights. In the 73,799 the troops, French and native, are included). The total European population, in which category are reckoned the Jews, other than those of Mzab, was 680, 263. Compared with the census of 1901 the figures of 1906 showed a decrease of 14,000 French, 36,000 Spaniards and 5000 Italians, but an increase of nearly 100,000 in the foreigners naturalized. Of other races: (1) The Berbers (q.v.) constitute 75% of the entire population. The Kabyles (q.v.), a division of the Berbers, occupy chiefly the more mountainous parts of the Tell, but some live in the plains and valleys. (2) Arabs, a numerous class, are found principally in the south. (3) The so-called “Moors,”generally of mixed blood, inhabit the towns and villages near the sea-coast. (4) Negroes, originally brought from the interior and sold as slaves, are now found chiefly in the towns, where they serve as labourers and domestic servants. (5) Mzabites (q.v.) or Beni-Mzab, a distinct branch of the Berber race, are for the most part engaged in petty trade, and are distinguished by their sleeveless coats of many colours. (6) A few Tuareg (q.v.), another division of the Berbers, are among the nomads found in the Algerian Sahara. The Kabyles, Mzabites, Tuareg, Arabs and Moors all profess Mahommedanism, though it is only among the Arabs that its tenets are held in any purity. The census of 1906 gave the number of the native population at 4,447,149. There were also 28,639 non-European foreigners in the country.
The Turks, though for a considerable period the dominant race, were never very numerous in Algeria. The majority of them were repatriated by the French. The Kuluglis, descendants of Turks by native women—once a distinct race noted for their energy, bravery and pride—have almost ceased to exist as a separate people, being merged in the Moors. Jews have long been settled in Algeria. Some are supposed to have fled thither when expelled from Cyrenaica in the reign of the emperor Hadrian, and others on their banishment from Italy in 1342. The purely “African” Jew is now found only in the oases in the extreme south of the country. In the towns the “native” Jews have intermarried with later arrivals from Europe. A remarkable feast is kept annually by the Algerian Jews to commemorate the defeat by the Turks of the emperor Charles V.’s attempt to capture Algiers (1541). The Jews, who enjoyed religious freedom under the Mahommedans, believed that the success of the Spaniards would but lead to their own persecution.
Chief Towns.—The chief towns are Algiers, the capital and principal seaport, with a population (1906), including Mustapha and other suburbs, of 154,049; Oran (100,499), a western seaport and capital of the department of the same name, and Constantine (46,806), an inland town, capital of the department of Constantine. Besides Algiers and Oran the principal seaports are Bona (36,004), Mostaganem (19,528), Philippeville (16,539), Bougie (10,419), Cherchel (4733) and La Calle (2774). Inland, besides Constantine, are the important towns of Tlemcen (24,060), Sidi-bel-Abbes (24,494), Mascara (18,989) and Blida (16,866). In the Sahara are Biskra (4218), El Wad (7586), Tuggurt (2073) and Wargla (3579). All these places are separately noticed.
Nemours (1229) is a seaport near the Moroccan frontier, which formerly bore an Arabic name pregnant with its history—Jamaa-el-Ghazuat (“rendezvous of the pirates”). The surrounding country is rich in mineral wealth. Arzeu (3085) occupies a site on the western side of the gulf of the same name. It has a good harbour, is the outlet for the produce of several fertile valleys, and the starting-point of a railway which penetrates into the Sahara. This railway passes Saida (6256), 106 m. south of Arzeu, one of the capitals of Abd-el-Kader, and serves to bring down from the high plateaus their rich crops of esparto grass. Four miles S.E. of Arzeu is a Berber village, where are interesting ruins of a Roman settlement, identified by some authorities as the Portus Magnus of Pliny; other authorities claim Oran as occupying the site of Portus Magnus. In the vicinity are the famous quarries of Numidian marbles. Tenes (3176) is a seaport situated about 100 m. east of Arzeu on the site of the Phoenician town, afterwards the Roman colony, of Cartenna. Outside the town to the west is a public garden in which are several Roman tombs with inscriptions. Between Tenes and Algiers are Tipasa (q.v.) and Castiglione (1634), formerly called Bu-Ismail, both pleasant watering-places. Five miles inland west of Castiglione is Kolea (2932), a town dating from 1550 and originally peopled by Moslem refugees from Spain. It was destroyed by earthquake in 1825 and has been rebuilt largely in European style. It contains the kubba of a celebrated marabout, Sidi Embarek, who lived in the 17th century. Dellys (3275), 50 m. by sea E. of Algiers, has a small harbour sheltered from the W. and N.W. winds only. It is a walled town regularly laid out, built by the French on the site of the Roman Ruscurium, the western ramparts of which may still be seen. Jijelli (4878), on the eastern side of the Gulf of Bougie, occupies the site of the Roman colony of Igilgilis. The old town, built on a rocky peninsula, was completely destroyed by earthquake in 1856. A new town arose eastward of the former site, which is now restored as a citadel. Twenty miles by sea west of Philippeville is Collo (2258), a city of considerable importance during the Roman occupation. It was the Kollops Magnus of Ptolemy.
Twenty-three miles S.W. by rail from Algiers is Bufarik (the “hanging well”); pop. 5980. A thoroughly French town, it dates from 1835, when General Drouet d’Erlon established there an entrenched camp on a hillock in the midst of a pestilential swamp. Soon afterwards Marshal Clausel began to build a regular city, which was at first called Medina Clausel in his honour. The draining of the site and neighbourhood was a costly undertaking, and was only accomplished by the sacrifice of many lives. The town, surrounded by vast orchards and farms, is now one of the most flourishing in the country; and the most important market in the colony for the sale of cattle and agricultural produce is held there. Sixty-three miles S.W. of Algiers is Medea (4030)—supposed to stand on the site of a Roman town—finely situated on a plateau 3000 ft. above the sea. It is surrounded by a wall pierced by five gates. An ancient aqueduct is built into the eastern side of the wall. The town, which was chosen by the Turks as capital of the beylik of Titeri, is now French in character. Miliana (3991), which occupies the site of the Roman Milliana, lies about midway between Blida and Orleansville, is 2400 ft. above the sea, and is built on a plateau of the Zakkar mountains, commanding magnificent views of the valley of the Shelif. It possesses few remains of antiquity. An old Moorish minaret has been turned into a clock tower. The town, which is walled, has been rebuilt by the French. The chief streets are bordered by trees and have streams of water running down either side. Hammam R’Irha to the N.E. of Miliana, noted from the time of the Romans for its thermal springs, occupies a picturesque position 1800 ft. above the sea. Being the only place within easy distance of western Europe where patients can take with safety a course of baths during the winter months, it has become a resort of invalids. Orleansville (3510), on the extensive plain of the Shelif, 130 m. S.W. by rail from Algiers, and 132 m. N.E. from Oran, is an important military station. The basilica of St Reparatus, discovered in 1843, was allowed to be used as a public stable and has been completely destroyed. There was in it a beautiful mosaic of which, fortunately, drawings exist. From this it appears that the church was built in A.D. 324, and that St Reparatus, bishop of the diocese, was buried in it in 475. Orleansville occupies the site of the Roman Castellum Tingitanum.
Ninety miles S.W. of Bougie is Aumale (2350), a town and military post established by the French in 1846 on the site of the ancient Auzia. The Roman town was founded in the reign of Augustus, and it flourished for two centuries before it disappeared from history. Out of the materials of the ancient city the Turks built a fort, which at the time of the French occupation was itself a heap of ruins. Setif (12,261), the Sitifis Colonia of the Romans, is 50 m. S.E. of Bougie and 97 m. by rail W. of Constantine. It stands 3573 ft. above the sea, and is the junction of several great lines of communication. Its market is attended by Kabyles, Arabs of the plateaus and people from the Sahara. The town has been entirely rebuilt in the French style. Most of the Roman ruins, even those existing at the time of the French occupation (1839), have disappeared. The walls of the Roman city, restored probably by the Byzantines, have been incorporated in the French walls, which are pierced by four gates. Batna (5279), a walled town 3350 ft. above the sea, 50 m. S. of Constantine by the railway to Biskra, commands the passage of the Aures mountains by which the nomads of the Sahara were wont to enter the Tell. Its importance rests on its strategic position. On the railway between Constantine and Bona and 76 m. from the latter, is Guelma (6584), the Roman Kalama, finely situated on the right bank of the Seybuse. The French occupied the place in 1836 and built their town out of the Roman ruins. Thirty miles S.E. of Guelma is Suk Ahras (7602), a station on the railway to Tunis, identified with the Roman city Tagaste, the birthplace of St Augustine.
Towns in the Sahara.—On the southern slopes of the Great Atlas, 2437 ft. above the sea, looking out on the Saharan desert, and 200 m. in a straight line S. W. of Algiers, is the ancient town of El Aghuat (erroneously written Laghouat); pop. 5660. It formerly belonged to Morocco, by whom it was ceded to the Turks towards the close of the 17th century. It was stormed on the 4th of December 1852 by the French, who almost entirely destroyed the Arab town. The modern town contains little of interest, but is an important military station. One hundred and twelve miles S. of El Aghuat, and 36 m. W.N.W. of Wargla, is Ghardaia (pop. 7868), the capital of the Mzab country, annexed by France in 1882. This country consists of seven oases, five in close proximity and two isolated. The town of Ghardaia (in the local documents Taghardeit) is situated on a mosque-crowned hill in the middle of the Wadi Mzab, 1755 ft. above the sea. Ghardaia, which is divided by walls into three quarters, is built of limestone and the houses are in terraces one above the other. The central quarter is the home of the ruling tribe, the Beni-Mzab. The eastern quarter belongs to the Jews, of whom there are about 300 families; the western is occupied by the Medabia, Arabs from the Jebel Amur. The gardens belong exclusively to the Beni-Mzab. According to native accounts the town was founded about the middle of the 16th century. Aghrem Baba Saad, a small ruined town to the west of Ghardaia, is the fortified post in which the Beni-Mzab took refuge when the Turks under Salah Rais (about 1555) attempted unsuccessfully to subjugate the country. Next to Ghardaia the most important Mzabite town is Beni-Isguen (pop. 4916), an active trading centre. Guerrara, one of the two isolated oases, 37 m. N.E. of Ghardaia, contains a flourishing commercial town with 1912 inhabitants.
The caravan route south from Ghardaia brings the traveller, after a journey of 130 m., to the oasis and town of El Golea (pop. about 2500). The town consists of three portions—the citadel on a limestone hill, the upper and the lower town—separated by irregular plantations of date trees. The place is an important station for the caravan trade between Algeria and the countries to the south. It was occupied by the French under General Gallifet in 1873. El Golea was originally a settlement of the Zenata Berbers, by whom it was known as Taorert, and there is still a considerable Berber element in its population. The full Arab name is El Golea’a el Menia’a, or the “little fortress well defended.”
Archaeology.—Algeria is rich in prehistoric memorials of man, especially in megalithic remains, of which nearly every known kind has been found in the country. Numerous flints of palaeolithic type have been discovered, notably at Tlemcen and Kolea. Near Jelfa, in the Great Atlas, and at Mechera-Sfa (“ford of the flat stones”), a peninsula in the valley of the river Mina not far from Tiaret in the department of Oran, are vast numbers of megalithic monuments. In the Kubr-er-Rumia—“grave of the Roman lady” (Roman being used by the Arabs to designate strangers of Christian origin)—the Medrassen and the Jedars, Algeria possesses a remarkable series of sepulchral monuments. The Kubr-er-Rumia—best known by its French name, Tombeau de la Chrétienne, tradition making it the burial-place of the beautiful and unfortunate daughter of Count Julian—is near Kolea, and is known to be the tomb of the Mauretanian king Juba II. and of his wife Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, and Mark Antony. It is built on a hill 756 ft. above the sea. Resting on a lower platform, 209 ft. square, is a circular stone building surmounted by a pyramid. Originally the monument was about 130 ft. in height, but it has been wantonly damaged. Its height is now 100 ft. 8 in.: the cylindrical portion 36 ft. 6 in., the pyramid 64 ft. 2 in. The base, 198 ft. in diameter, is ornamented with 60 engaged Ionic columns. The capitals of the columns have disappeared, but their design is preserved among the drawings of James Bruce, the African traveller. In the centre of the tomb are two vaulted chambers, reached by a spiral passage or gallery 6½ ft. broad, about the same height and 489 ft. long. The sepulchral chambers are separated by a short passage, and are cut off from the gallery by stone doors made of a single slab which can be moved up and down by levers, like a portcullis. The larger of the two chambers is 14½ ft. long by 11 ft. broad and 11 ft. high. The other chamber is somewhat smaller. The tomb was early violated, probably in search of treasure. In 1555 Salah Rais, pasha of Algiers, set men to work to pull it down, but the records say that the attempt was given up because big black wasps came from under the stones and stung them to death. At the end of the 18th century Baba Mahommed tried in vain to batter down the tomb with artillery. In 1866 it was explored by order of the emperor Napoleon III., the work being carried out by Adrian Berbrugger and Oscar MacCarthy.
The Medrassen is a monument similar to the Kubr-er-Rumia, but older. It was built about 150 B.C. as the burial-place of the Numidian kings, and is situated 35 m. S.W. of Constantine. The form is that of a truncated cone, placed on a cylindrical base, 196 ft. in diameter. It is 60 ft. high. The columns encircling the cylindrical portion are stunted and much broader at the base than the top; the capitals are Doric. Many of the columns, 60 in number, have been much damaged. When the sepulchral chamber was opened in 1873 by Bauchetet, a French engineer officer, clear evidence was found that at some remote period the tomb had been rifled and an attempt made to destroy it by fire.
The Jedars (Arab. “walls” or “buildings”) are in the department of Oran. The name is given to a number of sepulchral monuments placed on hill-tops. A rectangular or square podium is in each case surmounted by a pyramid. The tombs date from the 5th to the 7th century of the Christian era, and lie in two distinct groups between Tiaret and Frenda, a distance of 35 m. Tiaret (pop. 5778), an ancient town modernized by the French, can be reached by railway from Mostaganem. Near Frenda (2063), which has largely preserved its old Berber character, are numerous dolmens and prehistoric rock sculptures.
Algeria contains many Roman remains besides those mentioned and is also rich in monuments of Saracenic art. For a description of the chief antiquities see the separate town articles, including, besides those already cited, Lambessa, Tebessa, Tipasa and Timgad.
Agriculture.—Ever since the time of the Romans Algeria has been noted for the fertility of its soil. Over two-thirds of the inhabitants are engaged in agricultural pursuits. More than 7,500,000 acres are devoted to the cultivation of cereals. The Tell is the grain-growing land. Under French rule its productiveness has been largely increased by the sinking of artesian wells in districts which only required water to make them fertile. Of the crops raised, wheat, barley and oats are the principal cereals. A great variety of vegetables and of fruits, especially the orange, is exported. A considerable amount of cotton was grown during the American Civil War, but the industry afterwards declined. In the early years of the 20th century efforts to extend the cultivation of the plant were renewed. A small amount of cotton is also grown in the southern oases. Large quantities of crin végétal (vegetable horse-hair) an excellent fibre, are made from the leaves of the dwarf palm. The olive (both for its fruit and oil) and tobacco are cultivated with great success. The soil of Algeria everywhere favours the growth of the vine. The country, in the words of an expert sent to report on the subject by the French government, “can produce an infinite variety of wines suitable to every constitution and to every caprice of taste.” The culture of the vine was early undertaken by the colonists, but it was not until vineyards in France were attacked by phylloxera that the export of wine from Algeria became considerable. Algerian vineyards were also attacked (1883) despite precautionary measures, but in the meantime the worth of their wines had been proved. In 1850 less than 2000 acres were devoted to the grape, but in 1878 this had increased to over 42,000 acres, which yielded 7,436,000 gallons of wine. Despite bad seasons and ravages of insects, cultivation extended, and in 1895 the vineyards covered 300,000 acres, the produce being 88,000,000 gallons. The area of cultivation in 1905 exceeded 400,000 acres, and in that year the amount of wine produced was 157,000,000 gallons. By that time the limits of profitable production had been reached in many parts of the country. Practically the only foreign market for Algerian wine is France, which in 1905 imported about 110,000,000 gallons.
Fishery is a flourishing but not a large industry. The fish caught are principally sardines, bonito, smelts and sprats. Fresh fish are exported to France, dried and preserved fish to Spain and Italy. Coral fisheries exist along the coast from Bona to Tunis.
Minerals.—Algeria is rich in minerals, found chiefly in the department of Constantine, where iron, lead and zinc, copper, calamine, antimony and mercury mines are worked. The most productive are those of iron and zinc. Lignite is found in the department of Algiers and petroleum in that of Oran. Immense phosphate beds were discovered near Tebessa in 1891. They yielded 313,500 tons in 1905. Phosphate beds are also worked near Setif, Guelma and Ain Beida. There are more than 300 quarries which produce, amongst other stones, onyx and beautiful white and red marbles. Algerian onyx from Ain Tekbalet was used by the Romans, and many ancient quarries have been found near Kleber in the department of Oran, some being certainly those from which the long-lost Numidian marbles were taken. Salt is collected on the margins of the shats.
Shipping and Commerce.—The carrying trade between Algeria and France is confined, by a law passed in 1889, to French bottoms. The largest port is Algiers, after which follow Oran, Philippeville and Bona. There is a considerable coasting trade. The average number of vessels entering and clearing Algerian ports each year has been, since 1900, about 4000, with a total tonnage of some 6,500,000. In the coasting trade some 12,000 small vessels are engaged.
Under French administration the commerce of Algeria has greatly developed. The total imports and exports at the time of the French occupation (1830) did not exceed £175,000. In 1850 the figures had reached £5,000,000; in 1868, £12,000,000; in 1880, £17,000,000; and in 1890, £20,000,000. From this point progress was slower and the figures varied considerably year by year. In 1905 the total value of the foreign trade was £24,500,000. About five-sixths of the trade is with or via France, into which country several Algerian goods have been admitted duty-free since 1851, and all since 1867. French goods, except sugar, have been admitted into Algeria without payment of duty since 1835. After the increase, in 1892, of the French minimum tariff, which applied to Algeria also, foreign trade greatly diminished.
The chief exports are sheep and oxen, most of which are raised in Morocco and Tunisia, and horses; animal products, such as wool and skins; wine, cereals (rye, barley, oats), vegetables, fruits (chiefly figs and grapes for the table) and seeds, esparto grass, oils and vegetable extracts (chiefly olive oil), iron ore, zinc, natural phosphates, timber, cork, crin végétal and tobacco. Of these France takes fully three-quarters. The import of wool exceeds the export. Sugar, coffee, machinery, metal work of all kinds, clothing and pottery are largely imported. Of these by far the greater part comes from France. The British imports consist chiefly of coal, cotton fabrics and machinery.
Communications.—Algeria possesses a railway system covering over 2000 m. A decree of 1857 granted to the Paris-Lyons Company the right to construct a line linking Algiers with Oran (266 m.) and Constantine (290 m.) and shorter lines joining the seaports to the trunk line, notably Philippeville to Constantine (54 m.). These lines were opened between 1862 and 1871, but it was not until 1879 that a general scheme for railway construction was adopted. A trunk line runs from the frontier of Morocco at Lalla Maghnia, 44 m. W. of Tlemçen, across the Tell to the Tunisian frontier, whence it is continued to the city of Tunis; while traverse railways connect the seaports with the trunk line and with towns to the south, the Philippeville line being continued to Biskra. From Arzeu a line goes south across the plateaus and crossing the Ksur range at a height of 4211 ft. enters the Sahara. Passing Ain Sefra and Figig (372 m. from Arzeu) the line is continued towards Tuat. The normal gauge of the railways is 4 ft. 8½ in.; a few “light lines” have a gauge of 3 ft. 3 in. Algeria is also traversed by a network of roads constructed by the French, of which the routes nationales alone are 2000 m. in length. There are complete postal and telegraphic facilities in all parts of the colony save the Saharan Territories, and cable communication with France.
Central Government.—By the Turks the country was divided into four provinces—Algiers and Titeri in the centre and south, Constantine in the east and Mascara or Oran in the west. The last three were governed by beys dependent upon the representative of the Porte resident at Algiers. The Turkish governors were in the 17th century replaced by deys (see below, History). The French rule was at first (1830) purely military. In 1834 the post of governor-general was created. Under the direction of the ministry of war that official exercised nearly all the executive power. At the same time a civil administration and consultative council were formed. The principle of unity of authority was set aside by the second republic in 1848, when many of the public services were attached to the corresponding ministries in Paris, and the departments organized on the metropolitan model by division into arrondissements and communes and by placing a prefect at their head. Under Napoleon III. the governor-generalship was abolished, a minister of Algeria and the colonies created (24th of June 1858), and the whole administration conducted from Paris. At the same time the powers of the prefects were augmented and each department given a general council. This arrangement was not of long duration. By decree of the 24th of November 1860, the ministry of Algeria and the colonies was abolished and the office of governor-general re-established with increased powers. This régime, strongly military in its type, ended with the fall of the second empire. After a brief transitional period, a decree of the 29th of March 1871 placed at the head of Algeria a civil governor-general and gave the control in Paris to the ministry of the interior. In 1876, on the initiative of General Chanzy, then governor-general, that official was accorded the right to correspond direct with all the ministers in Paris. This concession led, however, to the diminution of the authority of the governor-general, whose powers were, step by step, absorbed by the various ministries in France. It had its logical end in the system adopted in 1881 and known as the rattachement. Under this system the plan of 1848 was carried out more completely, every department of state being placed under one or other of the ministries in Paris, whilst the governor-general became little more than an ornamental personage. After lasting fifteen years the rattachement was, with the approval of the legislature, abrogated by decree dated the 31st of December 1896. The opposing principle, that of concentrating power in the hands of the governor-general, was re-affirmed, but in practice was modified by the retention of the direction from Paris of a few of the public services. The decree of 1896, which was of a provisional character, was replaced by another, dated the 23rd of August 1898, defining the powers of the governor-general under the new scheme. By a law of the 19th of December 1900, Algeria was constituted a legal personality, with power to own goods, contract loans, &c., and a decree of 1901 placed the customs department, until then directed from Paris, under the control of the governor-general, whose hands were also strengthened in various minor matters.
It will be seen that the form of government is entirely dependent on the will of France. The French chambers alone possess the legislative power, though in the absence of express legislation decrees of the head of the state have the force of law. To the legislature in Paris Algeria elects three senators and six deputies (one senator and two deputies for each department). The franchise is confined to “citizens,” in which category the native Jews are included by decree of the 24th of October 1870. The Mahommedans, who number nearly eight-ninths of the population, are not, however, “citizens” but “subjects,” and consequently have not the vote. They can, however, acquire “citizenship” at their own request, by placing themselves absolutely under the civil and political laws of France (decree of 1865, confirmed in 1870). The number of Mahommedans who avail themselves of this rule is very small; naturalizations do not exceed an average of thirty persons a year. For certain specified objects, financial and municipal, Mahommedans are, however, permitted to exercise the franchise.
The actual form of government may be summarized thus:—At the head of the administration in Algeria is a governor-general, who exercises control over all branches, civil and military, of the administration, except the services of justice, public instruction and worship (as far as concerns Europeans) and the treasury. He corresponds directly with the other Barbary states; draws up the budget, and contracts loans on behalf of the colony. The governor-general is assisted by:—
Local Government.—The departments, presided over by prefects, are divided into territoires civils and territoires du commandant. In the regions under civil administration the local organization closely resembles that of France. The country is divided into arrondissements and communes, with most of the apparatus of self-government enjoyed by the corresponding units in France. The canton (in France a judicial area) has, however, no existence in Algeria. In the territoires du commandant, which are the districts farthest from the coast, and in which the European population is small, the prefect is replaced by a high military officer, who exercises all the functions of a prefect.
The prefect of each department is assisted by a general council, consisting of members elected by the citizens and of nominated representatives of the Mahommedan population. The powers of the council correspond to those of the councils in France. Communes are of three kinds: (1) those with full powers, (2) mixed, (3) native. In those of the first kind, modelled on the French communes, the Mahommedans possess the municipal franchise. The “mixed” communes are under an administrator nominated by the governor-general and assisted by a municipal council composed of Europeans and natives. These communes are large areas, each containing several towns or villages. In the territoires du commandant the mixed commune is presided over by a military officer who fulfils the duties of mayor. Native communes are organized on the same plan as those last mentioned. It will be seen that communes do not correspond with any natural unit. The unit among the Mahommedans is the douar, a tribal division administered by a cadi. The communes with full powers have each for centre a town with a considerable European population.
By decree of the 14th of August 1905, the frontier between Saharan territory dependent on Algeria and that attached to French West Africa was laid down. The Algerian Sahara was divided into four territories, officially named Tuggurt, Ghardaia, Ain Sefra and the Saharan Oases (Tuat, Gurara and Tidikelt). The governor-general represents the territories in civil affairs; the budget is distinct from that of Algeria and an annual subvention is provided by France.
Finance.—Revenue is derived chiefly from direct taxation, customs and monopolies. The heaviest item of expenditure chargeable on the Algerian budget is on public works, posts and telegraphs and agriculture. Algeria has had a budget distinct from that of France since 1901. This budget includes all the expenses of Algeria save the cost of the army (estimated at £2,000,000 yearly) and the guarantee of interest on the railways open before 1901. Both these items are borne by France. The Algerian budget for 1906 showed revenue and expenditure balancing at £3,820,000. The country has a debt (1905), including capital, annuities and interest, of some £3,400,000.
Defence.—The military force constitutes the XIX. army corps of the French army. There are in addition a territorial army reserve and a special body of troops, largely Arab, for the defence of the Saharan territory. The troops quartered in Algeria exceed 50,000. The defence of the coast is provided by the French navy.
Land Tenure.—The colonization of Algeria by the French has been greatly hampered by the system of land tenure which they found in force. Except among the Kabyles, private property in land was unknown. Amongst the Arabs, lands were either held in common by a whole tribe, under a tenure known as the arch or sabegha, or sometimes, especially in the towns, under a modified form of freehold (melk) by the family. At the same time the boundaries of property were ill defined and difficult to determine. This system made it impossible for French immigrants to obtain land by lawful transfer. The only lands at the outset available for settlement were, in fact, the confiscated domains of the dey. The obvious solution of the difficulty was to encourage the free movement of real estate by substituting private ownership for the traditional system. Before doing this, however, it was necessary to define the limits of tribal properties already existing—a work of great difficulty—with a view to their ultimate division, and at the same time to guard against any premature traffic in the rights of Arabs in the lands about to be divided. A sénatus-consulte of 1863 laid the basis for the change in the land system by providing (1) for the delimitation of the territory of each tribe, (2) for the repartition of the territory thus delimited among newly formed tribal divisions (douars or communes), and (3) for the recognition of private ownership by the issue of title deeds for such individual or family property (melk) as already existed. The purpose of this excellent law, which would have laid firmly the basis for gradual change, was defeated by the impatience of the French colonists. At the instance of their representatives in the chambers it was abandoned in 1870, and was not revived till seventeen years later. A law was passed in 1873, and amended in 1887, legalizing the immediate conversion of tribal and family property into private freehold. The result has been disappointing. For the most part, the Arab tribes have been reluctant to avail themselves of their new powers, and where they have done so the hasty reversal of the traditions of centuries has proved demoralizing to the natives, without any sufficient equivalent in the way of healthy French colonization. The main profit has been reaped by Jewish usurers.
The state domains were exhausted by 1870, but were again replenished by the large confiscations which followed the Arab revolt of 1871. Government lands were originally given free to applicants, but with a provisional and insecure title, which made it impossible for poor colonists to borrow money on their land. This was modified by a law of 1851. But ultimately, the results not being satisfactory, the precedent of Australia was followed, and by a law of 1860 domain lands were sold publicly at a fixed price. This had the effect of attracting more and a better class of immigrants, but was none the less reversed in 1881.
In September 1904, a new scheme, intended to attract more European settlers, was adopted. The lands of the state—other than woods and forests—but especially the barren lands and brushwoods situated in the plains, were offered for colonization, to be disposed of (1) by sale at a fixed price, (2) by auction, and (3), in certain cases, by agreement. Purchasers were to be Frenchmen, or Europeans naturalized as French citizens, who had never held “colonization lands”; and they were obliged, under pain of forfeiture, either to take up residence themselves on their property within six months and to live on it and exploit it for a period of ten years, or else to place on the land another family fulfilling the same conditions. If the purchaser farmed the land himself and made satisfactory progress, the period of obligatory residence was reduced to five years. When the interests of colonization required it, free gifts of land might be made; in which case the grantee must himself exploit his concession. In no case might land acquired under this scheme be let to natives until after the expiration of ten years.
For the purpose of creating villages, land was put at the disposition of societies or individuals, who undertook to people them with immigrants fulfilling the same conditions as independent settlers. Two-thirds of the villagers were to be French immigrants, the other third Frenchmen or naturalized Frenchmen already settled in Algeria. To favour the establishment of special industries, the governor-general was given power to authorize the introduction of foreign instead of French immigrants. The societies or individuals undertaking village settlements must do so from philanthropic motives, inasmuch as within two years of the founding of a village, the land, under pain of forfeiture to the state, must be transferred gratuitously to the villagers. As will be seen, settlement on the land by Europeans is hampered by official restrictions, especially by the stringent regulations as to residence.
Justice.—Two judicial systems exist in Algeria—native and French. Native courts decide suits between Mahommedans. From the decision of the cadis appeal lies to the French courts. The French system provides, for civil cases, a court of first instance in each of the sixteen arrondissements into which the country is divided. A court of appeal sits at Algiers. There are also tribunals of commerce and justices of the peace with extensive jurisdiction. The criminal courts are organized as in France. Trial by jury has been introduced; but as natives are not allowed to act as jurymen this has often led to serious miscarriages of justice and to excessive severities.
Whilst modifications of the law require special legislation or decree, it has been legally decided that all laws in force in France before the conquest of the country (i.e. those anterior to the 22nd of July 1834) are in force in Algeria. In practice the courts allow themselves wide latitude in applying this principle.
Education.—The system of education is complicated by the co-existence of Mahommedan and Christian communities. Before the arrival of the French two kinds of instruction were given, reading and writing being taught in the ordinary schools and higher education—largely theological—in medressas (colleges), usually attached to the chief mosques. Attempts by the French to improve the education of the natives were at first marked by hesitation and long periods in which little or nothing was done. The provision for the instruction of the European and Jewish population was also inadequate. In 1883 a law was passed for the reorganization of the systems in force, and primary instruction was made compulsory for Europeans and Jews, whilst in the case of Mahommedans discretion in the establishment of schools was vested in the governor-general.
Attempts are made to assimilate the Mahommedan population by means of Franco-Arab primary and secondary schools, which supplement the purely French and purely Arab establishments of the same character. These attempts meet with little success, owing in part to racial prejudice and in part to the indifference of the Arabs to education. Few Moslems attend the secondary schools. Purely Mahommedan higher schools exist at Algiers, Tlemçen and Constantine. From these establishments the ranks of native officials are recruited. There is one secondary school for Moslem girls. The education provided for Europeans resembles in most respects that given in France. (The lycees at Algiers, Oran and Constantine are open to Mahommedans, but few take advantage of them.) Besides the government schools there are establishments conducted by clerics and laymen. The best girls' schools are generally those kept by nuns. At Algiers there is an establishment with faculties of law, medicine and pharmacy, science and letters. At Oran is a college for European girls. The scholars attending primary schools number about 150,000 (over 100,000 being Europeans and some 15,000 Jewish) and those at secondary schools about 6000. (F. R. C.)
From a geographical point of view Algeria, together with Morocco and Tunisia, from which it is separated only by artificial and purely political frontiers, forms a distinct country, Africa which it is convenient to designate by the name of Africa Minor. Both historically and geographically, Africa Minor.Africa Minor belongs much more to the Mediterranean world than to the African. All the foreign invaders who successively established their dominion over this country either crossed the Mediterranean or followed its shores. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Turks and the French, all came from the east or from the north. The history of Africa Minor is the history of all those foreigners who have successively endeavoured to exploit this land, the history of their divers civilizations struggling against an ever-renascent barbarism.
The political divisions of Africa Minor have changed many times, for, as the country has no natural centre, many towns have aspired to play the role of capital. The rivalry of these towns is intimately connected with the struggles and insurrections which have stained the land with blood. The existing division—viz. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia—dates back to the time of the Turkish dominion. It is since that time only that the expression Algeria has been in use.
At the beginning of the 16th century the native dynasties which divided Africa Minor between them—the Marinides at Fez, the Abd-el-Wahid at Tlemçen, and the Hafsides at Tunis—were without strength and without authority. Two nations, then at the height of their power,Struggle
Spain. Spain and Turkey, disputed the empire of the Mediterranean. The Spaniards took Mers-el-Kebir (1505), Oran (1509), and Bougie and Tripoli (1510). Two Turkish corsairs, Arouj and his brother, Khair-ed-Din (otherwise known as Barbarossa), at first established in the island of Jerba and afterwards at Jijelli, disputed with the Spaniards the dominion of the country. Arouj seized Algiers (1516); Khair-ed-Din, succeeding him in 1518, did homage for his conquest to the sultan at Constantinople, who named him beylerbey and sent him soldiers (1519). Then began the struggle of the Turks with Spain. In 1541 the emperor Charles V. undertook a great expedition against Algiers. He succeeded in landing, and proceeded to attack the town. But during the night of the 26th of October a violent storm destroyed a great part of his fleet. His provisions and his ammunition were lost, his army was compelled to retreat with considerable loss, and the emperor had to re-embark with the remnant of his troops. This check completely discouraged the Spaniards and assured success to the Turks. The Spanish garrisons established in the coast towns, badly paid and left without reinforcements, had difficulty in defending themselves. In the end, the only towns the Spaniards retained on the Algerian coast were Oran and Mers-el-Kebir. These two towns, taken by the Turks in 1708 and retaken by the Spaniards in 1732, were finally abandoned in 1791.
Under the Turkish dominion Algeria had originally at its head a beylerbey resident at Algiers. He controlled three beys:—the bey of Titeri in the south, the bey of the east at Constantine, and the bey of theBarbary corsairs. west who resided at Mascara and afterwards at Oran. These three beys existed till 1830. The beylerbeys were replaced in 1587 by pashas sent triennially by the Porte. But the authority of these pashas, strangers to the country, was always precarious. They found themselves, in fact, in conflict with two forces, which in principle were in their service, but which in reality held the power—the taïffe des reis, otherwise called the corporation of the corsairs (see Barbary Pirates), and the janissaries, a kind of military democracy in which each member was promoted according to seniority. In 1669 the corsairs drove out the pasha, and put into his place a dey elected by themselves. After some fruitless attempts Turkey ceased to send pashas to Algiers—where they were not allowed even to land—and thus recognized the de facto independence of this singular republic. The authority of the deys, moreover, was scarcely more solid than that of the pashas. They trembled before the janissaries, who from the 18th century elected and deposed them at their pleasure.
The relations which the European powers were able to maintain with northern Africa were at that time difficult and uncertain. Ships trading in the Mediterranean were seized by the corsairs, who pillaged the coasts of Europe, carried off their captives to Algiers, and destroyed the fishing and commercial settlements founded by the Marseillais on the shores of Africa. The Christian governments either uttered useless and impotent complaints at Constantinople, or endeavoured to negotiate directly with Algiers, as in the case of the negotiations of Sanson Napollon during the ministry of Richelieu. More rarely their patience became exhausted, and ships were sent to bombard this nest of pirates. Two naval demonstrations were made by France during the reign of Louis XIV., one by Abraham Duquesne in 1682, and the other by Marshal Jean d’Estrees in 1688, but these repressive measures were too intermittent to produce a durable effect.
In 1815 at the congress of Vienna, and in 1818 at the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, the powers endeavoured to concert measures to put an end to the Barbary piracy. Nevertheless the naval demonstrations made by Lord Exmouth in 1816, and by a combined English and French squadron in 1819, remained equally fruitless. But the result which the European powers in concert had been unable to achieve, was brought about by the accidental circumstances which led France to undertake alone an expedition against Algiers.
Some difficulties had arisen between France and the dey of Algiers with reference to the debts contracted to Bacri and Busnach, two Algerine Jews who had supplied corn to the French government under the Directory.French intervention. This question of interest would not have been sufficient in itself to bring about a rupture, but the situation became acute when the dey, Hussein, struck the French consul, Deval, on the face with his fly-flap (April 30, 1827). Thereupon the port of Algiers was blockaded. The minister of war, the duc de Clermont-Tonnerre, would have gone further, but the president of the council, the comte de Villèle, opposed the sending of an expedition, while in the Martignac ministry M. de la Ferronays, minister of foreign affairs, was bent upon negotiating. It needed a second insult—the firing on “La Provence,” a vessel carrying a flag of truce, in the harbour of Algiers (August 3, 1829)—to spur the French government to further action than an ineffectual blockade. An expedition against Algiers was then decided upon, and Marshal de Bourmont, the minister of war, himself took the command. On the 14th of June 1830 the French troops landed at Sidi-Ferruch. On the 19th of June they beat the enemy at Staoueli. On the 4th of July the fort de l’Empereur was blown up. On the 5th of July Algiers capitulated. Some days later the dey was deported, as well as the greater part of the janissaries. Those who were not married were conveyed immediately to Asia Minor; the rest had permission to remain, but in fact they left the country soon afterwards.
Meanwhile the revolution of July 1830 had broken out in France. The new government found itself very much embarrassed by the situation bequeathed by the Restoration. The more serious section in parliament were frankly opposed to the idea of conquering or of colonizing Algeria; on the other hand, popular sentiment was hostile to evacuation. The French government—fearing to displease the other powers by following up its conquest, and hampered in particular by its engagements towards England, yet conscious that the only means of putting an end to the piracy was to remain—decided provisionally in favour of that intermediate system, called restricted occupation, which consisted in occupying merely the principal seaports and awaiting events. The Algerians extricated the government from its difficulty by attacking the French troops, who were obliged to defend themselves. The natives gained some successes, and it became necessary to avenge the honour of the flag. In this gradual manner were the French led to conquer Algeria.
General Bertrand Clausel, who succeeded Marshal de Bourmont, was one of the few men who at that period dreamed of conquering and colonizing Algeria. His enthusiastic confidence knew no obstacles. If the dey had left, the three beys remained. With the feeble resources at his disposal Clausel undertook an expedition against Bu-Meyrag, the bey of Titeri, took from him Blida and Medea, dismissed him, replaced him by a successor devoted to France, and returned to Algiers after having left a garrison in Medea. Then, not having the means of directly extending the rule of France to the east or west, Clausel devised a system of protectorates. He negotiated directly with the bey of Tunis with a view to installing as beys at Oran and Constantine Tunisian princes who recognized the authority of France. But the events which were taking place in Europe made it imperative to send home a part of the army of Africa, and Medea had to be evacuated. At the same time the negotiations set on foot with the bey of Tunis were censured by the government, and General Clausel was recalled (February 1831) .
The period of uncertainty was prolonged under his successors, General Pierre Berthezène (February to December 1831); A. J. M. R. Savary, duc de Rovigo (December 1831 to March 1833), General Avizard (March to April 1833), and General Voirol (April 1833 to September 1834). The French, not yet certain whether or not they would retain Algeria, remained on the defensive. At the time they occupied only the three towns of Algiers, Bona and Oran, with their suburbs, where their situation was moreover singularly precarious. The Arabs would pillage the suburbs and run away. Sometimes they cut off supplies by ceasing to bring provisions to the market, but the French were not to be turned aside by such tactics.
At Algiers the energies of the French were devoted to protecting themselves against the incursions of the Hajutas. This was sufficient to absorb the attention of the general-in-chief, who left the guardianship of the east and west to the initiative of the generals established at Bona and Oran. At Bona, where General Monk d’Uzer was in command till 1836, things went fairly well. At once firm and conciliatory, he had been able to attach to the French cause the natives whom the cruelty of Ahmed, bey of Constantine, had alienated. The occupation of Bougie by General Camille Alphonse Trezel in October 1833 gave the French a footing at another point of this eastern province. But at Oran, where General Desmichels had succeeded General P. F. X. Boyer in the spring of 1833, their situation was much less favourable. There the French had found a redoubtable adversary in the young Abd-el-Kader, who had been proclaimed amir at Mascara in 1832.
A man of rare intelligence, a fearless horseman and an eloquent orator, Abd-el-Kader had acquired a great reputation by his piety. He reunited under his sway the tribes that had hitherto been divided, and infused a unique spirit into their resistance. For fifteen years he held the French Abd-el-
Kader.in check, treating on terms of equality with their government. Moreover, the treaty which General Desmichels had the weakness to sign with him on the 24th of February 1834 greatly improved his position. In pursuance of this treaty, French officers were to represent their country at the court of the amir; while the amir on his part was represented in the three French coast towns, Oran, Arzeu and Mostaganem, by vakils who immediately began to act as masters of the natives. Such was the situation at the period when, the French having at last resolved to keep Algeria, the ordinance of the 22nd of July 1834 laid down the bases of the political and administrative organization of the “French possessions in the north of Africa,” at the head of which was placed a governor-general. But this date (July 22, 1834), very important from a judicial point of view, is much less so from a historical point of view. The position of the first governor-general, Jean Baptiste Drouet d’Erlon (1765–1844), remained fully as precarious as that of his predecessor. During this time the power of Abd-el-Kader increased. Master of the province of Oran, he crossed the Shelif at the appeal of the natives, the people flocking to witness his progress as that of an emperor. He entered Miliana and Medea, where he installed beys of his own choice. All the western part of Algeria belonged to him. General Trezel, who had succeeded General Desmichels at Oran, resolved to march against the amir, but was defeated on the banks of the Macta (June 1835). This defeat shook public opinion. Drouet d’Erlon was recalled and replaced by Marshal Clausel.
In short, five years after the capitulation of Algiers, the French dominion extended as yet over only six coast towns. Clausel, who returned with the same colonial ambitions as in 1830, resolved to conquer the interior of the country. He marched against the amir, defeated him and entered Mascara. Then he proceeded to deliver the inhabitants of Tlemcen, who had been attacked by Abd-el-Kader, and there he left a garrison. Turning towards the east, Clausel organized at Bona the first expedition against Constantine. This failed, and the only result of it was the occupation of Guelma. Clausel was recalled and replaced by General C. M. D. Damrémont (February 1837). The task of maintaining the position of France was then divided between Thomas Robert Bugeaud (1784–1849), acting independently in the west, and Damrémont, who directed all his efforts towards the east. By the signature of the celebrated treaty of the Tafna (June 1, 1837), Bugeaud made peace with Abd-el-Kader. In return for a vague recognition of the sovereignty of France in Africa, this treaty gave up to the amir the whole of western Algeria. France reserved to herself only Oran and its environs, Mazagran, Algiers and the Metija; she gave up Tlemcen and the Titeri beylik. This was a triumph for Abd-el-Kader, who regarded the peace as but a truce which would allow him time to gain strength to resume the war under more favourable conditions.
Damrémont, on his part, directed a second expedition on Constantine. The town was taken, but Damrémont was killed (October 1837). Marshal Sylvain Charles Valée (1773–1846), who replaced him, founded Philippeville to serve as a seaport for the region of Constantine, occupied Jijelli, and at the head of the expeditionary column returned from Constantine to Algiers by the interior, passing through Setif and les Portes de fer. Abd-el-Kader maintained that the French had thus violated the treaty of the Tafna, and began the war again. For two years his power had been increasing. A whole hierarchy of khalifas, aghas and caids obeyed him. He had a regular army of 8000 infantry and 2000 cavalry, without counting 50,000 goums (bodies of Arab horsemen) brought by the khalifas. He was well furnished with war material, possessing magazines and arsenals in the heart of the Tell. He had attacked and subjugated all who were not willing to recognize his authority. Under his influence old rivalries were effaced; at his voice all the tribes joined in the holy war. On the 18th of November 1839 he sent his declaration of war to Marshal Valée, but the impatient Hajutas had already devastated the Metija. Marshal Valée marched against Abd-el-Kader, and at first gained some successes: the French occupied Cherchel, Medea and Miliana. But at the end of 1840 Valée was recalled and replaced by Bugeaud, who adopted totally different tactics. The system of Marshal Valée had been the defensive: he multiplied the fortified posts in order to draw the enemy to a spot chosen beforehand. Bugeaud resolutely adopted the offensive, reduced the weight carried by the soldiers in order to increase the mobility of his troops, and carried the war into the province of Oran, from which Abd-el-Kader drew his principal resources. One after the other, all the magazines of the amir—those at Takdempt, Boghar, Taza, Saida and Sebdu—were taken and destroyed. In the spring of 1843 the duc d’Aumale had an opportunity of surprising the smala (camp) of Abd-el-Kader near Taguin. This was a serious blow for the amir, whose determination to continue the contest was, however, as strong as ever. He took refuge in Morocco, and induced that power to declare war on the French on the pretext that they would not give up the frontier post of Lalla-Maghnia. Morocco was soon vanquished. While Francois, prince de Joinville, was bombarding Tangier and Mogador, Bugeaud gained the victory of the Isly (August 1844). Morocco signed a treaty of peace at Tangier on the 10th of September 1844.
The struggle, however, was not ended. Islam made a supreme effort in Algeria. The Dahra and the Warsenis rose at the voice of a fanatic called Bu-Maza (“the goat man”), a Khuan of the order of the Mouley-Taïeb. Elsewhere other “masters of the hour,” false Bu-Mazas, rose. Abd-el-Kader reappeared in Algeria, which he overran with a rapidity which baffled all pursuit. He beat the French at Sidi Brahim, raided the tribes of the Tell Oranais which had abandoned him, penetrated as far as the borders of the Metija, and reached the Jurjura, where he endeavoured to rouse the Kabyles. But his eloquence offended the narrow and cramped particularism of those little democratic cities, deaf to the sentiment of the common interest. From that time he played a losing game. He returned toward the west, penetrating farther and farther to the south. Badly received by the great aristocratic family of the Walid-sidi-Sheikh, he re-entered Morocco, but the emperor of that country, dreading his influence and fearing difficulties with the French, drove him out. This was the end. On the 23rd of December 1847 Abd-el-Kader surrendered to General Lamoricière in the plains of Sidi-Brahim. His adversary, Bugeaud, was there no longer. Having failed to persuade the French government to adopt his plans of military colonization, he had retired in June 1847 and had been replaced by the duc d’Aumale.
The surrender of Abd-el-Kader marks the end of the period of the conquest. It is true that Great Kabylia had to be subdued only ten years later, and that terrible insurrections still had to be quelled. But at the end of the reign of Louis Philippe the essential work was accomplished. All that remained was to complete and to secure it.
Under the second republic Algeria was governed successively by Generals L. E. Cavaignac (February to April 1848), N. A. T. Changarnier (April to September 1848), V.Charon (September 1848 to October 1850), and A. H. d’Hautpoul (October 1850 to December 1851). The policy followed French
progress.at this period consisted in assimilating Algeria to France. Important efforts were made to attract French colonists to the country, the colonization of Algeria appearing as a means towards the extinction of pauperism in the mother-country. This point of view suggested numerous projects, as chimerical as they were generous; two millions sterling (50 million francs) were expended with a view to installing Parisian unemployed workmen as colonists, but this attempt failed miserably. The most remarkable military events of this period were (1) the siege and destruction of the oasis of Zaatcha, where the inhabitants, displeased by an alteration in the tax on palms, rose at the voice of a fanatic named Bu-Zian; (2) the ineffectual campaign of Marshal Saint Arnaud in Little Kabylia, where the tribes rose at the instigation of Bu-Magla (“the mule man”) in 1851.
Marshal J. L. C. A. Randon (1795–1871), named governor-general of Algeria after the coup d’etat, had at first to repress in the south a rising of a new “master of the hour,” Mahomet ben Abdallah, the sherif of Wargla. A column seized Laghouat (El Aghuat) in December 1852. Si-Hamza, leader of the Walidsidi-Sheikh, an ally of France, indignant at the growing influence of a base-born agitator, pursued him and seized Wargla (1853). In 1854 General Desvaux entered Tuggurt. Henceforth matters remained quiet in the region of the Sahara, and Marshal Randon turned his efforts towards Kabylia. Neither the Romans nor the Turks had been able to subdue this square mountainous tract, of which Bougie, Setif, Aumale and Dellys form the four corners. But in two months (May to June 1857) Marshal Randon made himself master of it, and built in the heart of this country Fort Napoleon (now Fort National), “the thorn in the side of Kabylia,” whose batteries commanded all the Kabyle villages of the region.
In 1858 the creation of a “ministry of Algeria and of the colonies” brought about the resignation of Marshal Randon. The administrative headquarters of Algeria was then transferred from Algiers to Paris. The ministry of Algeria was entrusted first to Prince Napoleon, and afterwards to the marquis J. N. S. P. de Chasseloup-Laubat (1805–1873). But this office, created at the least prematurely, soon disappeared without causing any regrets. This ephemeral regime lasted from the 24 th of June 1858 to the 24th of November 1860. The decree of the 24th of November 1860 transferred the services from Paris back to Algiers, and re-established the functions of governor-general, which were exercised at the end of the second empire first by Marshal Pelissier, duc de Malakoff (December 1860 to September 1864) and then by Marshal MacMahon, duc de Magenta (September 1864 to July 1870). At this period the conception of the Arab kingdom was prevalent. The emperor Napoleon III., in a celebrated letter, wrote that he was as much the emperor of the Arabs as the emperor of the French. Algeria was considered as a kind of great military fief, and the officers who ruled there commonly took the side of the native chieftains against the civil population. European colonization, hampered by the ill-will of the Arab bureaux, then made little progress.
It was at this period that the great insurrection of the Walidsidi-Sheikh broke out in the Sud Oranais. This powerful family had lived up to that time on a good understanding with France; Si-Hamza, chief of the elder branch, had remained until his death (1861) a faithful ally of France. Revolt of 1864-1871.Thanks to him, the security of the southern frontier was assured. But after his death his son, Si-Sliman, imbued with anti-French sentiments, revolted in 1864 and massacred the Beaupretre column. Several years were occupied in quelling the insurrection. Compelled to guard themselves on the south against the Walid-sidi-Sheikh,the French realized how much they lost by not having the support of these great chieftains. They then accepted the services offered to them by Si-Sliman-ben-Kadour, chief of the younger branch of the Walid-sidi-Sheikh, who maintained tranquillity in the Sud Oranais during the great insurrection of Kabylia in 1871.
The causes of this insurrection were manifold, and, moreover, interdependent: the injury done to the military prestige of France by its defeats in Europe; the fall of the imperial government, in which, in the eyes of the natives, the authority of France was incarnate; and the insults offered with impunity in the streets by the civil population to the officers, who were loved and respected by the Arabs, at the same time that the decree of Adolphe Cremieux accorded to the Algerine Jews the rights of French citizens. The great native chiefs, bewildered and disquieted, thought themselves menaced. The insurrection was inevitable. Mokrani, bach-agha of the Mejana, whom the imperial government had loaded with honours, gave the signal. He had an interview with El Haddad, the sheikh of the Khuans, the religious confraternity of Sidi-Abd-er-Rahman, whose influence was great, and having secured his support in April 1871, Mokrani proclaimed the holy war. At the bidding of El Haddad the whole of Kabylia rose, and numbers of French colonists were massacred; the columns of Colonel Cérez and General F. G. Saussier had to engage in numerous fights. The death of the bach-agha at the battle of Suflat, the submission of the Sheikh El Haddad, and finally the arrest of Bu-Meyrag, brother of Mokrani, mark the declining stages of the insurrection, which was completely suppressed by August 1871. A heavy war contribution was imposed upon the rebels and their lands were sequestrated. The Beni-Manassir, who rose almost at the same time in the Dahra, were subdued soon after. Subsequently the native population of the Algerine Tell remained quiet, the massacre of the colonists at Margueritte many years later being a local and isolated movement.
Under the third republic Algeria was governed successively by Admiral L. H. de Gueydon (March 1871 to June 1873), General A. E. A. Chanzy (June 1873 to February 1879), J. P. L. Albert Grévy (March 1879 to November 1881, Tirman (November 1881 to April 1891), Jules Cambon Since 1870.(April 1891 to September 1897), Louis Lépine (September 1897 to August 1898), E. J. Laferrière (August 1898 to October 1900), Charles Jonnart (October 1900 to June 1901), A. J. P. Révoil (June 1901 to April 1903), and again Jonnart. During the first years of the new regime a keen reaction was produced against the political system of the imperial government in Africa. The civil territory was considerably enlarged at the expense of the military. An effort was made to attract French colonists to Algeria by gratuitous concessions of land. Some lands were granted in particular to natives of Alsace-Lorraine, who preferred to retain French nationality after the war. Peasants from the south of France, whose vines had been destroyed by the phylloxera, crossed the Mediterranean and established in Algeria an important vineyard. This double current of immigration notably increased the French population of North Africa. The tendency then was to treat Algeria as a piece of France. This assimilative policy attained its culminating point in the so-called decrees of rattachement (1881), in pursuance of which each ministerial department in France was made responsible for Algerine affairs which came by their nature within its jurisdiction.
After a great inquiry held in 1892 by a senatorial committee a reaction was produced in France against this excessive assimilation. The system of rattachement was in great part abandoned, and decentralization was obtained by augmenting the powers of the governor-general, and by granting to Algeria legal personality and a special budget (see above, Central Government). These reforms appear to have given satisfaction to Algerian opinion. Profoundly troubled as Algeria was in the last years of the 19th century by the anti-Semitic agitation, which occasioned frequent changes of governors, it appears to-day to have turned aside from sterile political struggles to interest itself exclusively in the economic development of the country.
The movement of expansion towards the south was continued the third republic. In 1873 General G. A. A. Gailifet entered El Golea. In 1882 the oasis of Mzab was annexed. In the Sud Oranais an insurrection, fomented by a marabout named Bu-Amama, broke out in 1881, and the insurgents massacred the European labourers engaged in the collection of alfa (or esparto) grass. But soon the French columns re-established peace, and Bu-Amama had to take refuge in Morocco. In 1883 Si-Hamza, chief of the elder branch of the Wahd-sidi-Sheikh, made his submission, and since then that family has remained devoted to France.
The attempts at penetration into the extreme south, abandoned after the massacre by Tuareg of a mission sent in 1881, under Colonel Paul Flatters, to study the question of railway communication with Senegal, were begun again in 1890, in which year the British government recognized the western Sahara as within the French sphere. Since then military stations and scientific and commercial exploration have increased. But the results of these efforts remained inconsiderable until the spring of 1900, when the French authorities decided to occupy the oases of Gurara, Tuat and Tidikelt. This being accomplished by March 1901, the conquest of the Algerine Sahara was from that time completed, and nothing any longer hindered the attempts to join Algeria and the Sudan across the Sahara. (A. Gir.)
The best general maps are those of the Carte de l’Algérie, in numerous sheets, on the scale of 1:50,000 (published by the Service géographique de l’Armée, Paris).(F. R. C.)
- The name "Great" Atlas is more correctly applied to the main range in Morocco.
- The figures given are not those of the communes, but of the towns proper, certain classes of persons (such as troops, lunatics, convicts) excluded from the municipal franchise not being counted.
- This western beylik corresponded roughly with the former sultanate of Tlemcen.