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When the French came, they attempted to get rid of native culture, and one of the ways they did this was to impose their language on the people.

At independence, Arabic was declared the official language.

Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the French continued to expand their influence and land holdings, and by 1914 they had extended their domain to include large tracts of land that were formerly wilderness or the property of Berber tribes.

During World War I and again in World War II, Algerians were drafted to fight with the French.

Four years later they declared Algeria a colony, beginning a 132-year reign.

In 1840 Abd al-Qadir, an Algerian freedom fighter, led the Arabs in an insurgence against their colonizers, which ended in defeat in 1847.

The vast expanse contains not only sand dunes and typical desert life such as snakes, lizards, and foxes, but also oases, which grow date and citrus trees. Ethnically it is fairly homogeneous, about 80 percent Arab and 20 percent Berber. The Chaouias live in the Aurès Mountains, the M'zabites in the northern Sahara, and the Tuaregs in the desert. The original language of Algeria was Berber, which has varied dialects throughout the country.

However, as internal conflicts began to sway the Muslim stronghold in North Africa in the fifteenth century, Europeans capitalized on this, and by 1510 Spain had seized Algiers, Oran, and other important port cities. In retaliation for Algerian debts and insolence toward the European nation, they blockaded several Algerian ports, and when this did not succeed, they invaded Algiers on 5 July 1830.

While the majority of the population who are Arab (or mixed Arab and Berber) identify with the common Algerian culture, the Berber tribes, particularly in the more isolated southern mountainous and desert regions, retain more of the indigenous Berber culture and identity. It covers a total of 919,595 square miles (2,381,751 square kilometers), making it the second largest country in Africa (after Sudan), and the eleventh largest in the world.

Almost nine-tenths of this area is composed of the six Saharan provinces in the south of the country; however, 90 percent of the population, and most of the cities, are located along the fertile coastal area known as the Tell, or hill.

The Romans began making inroads into North Africa, declaring a new kingdom called Numidia. The Arabs swept across North Africa in the seventh century (during the lifetime of Muhammad, who died in 632), and again in the eleventh century.

The Berbers put up resistance, particularly to the edict that both religious and political leaders could only be Arabian.

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