Algiers, (French: Alger; Arabic: al Jazair), Algeria, the nation's capital and largest city. It lies on the slopes of the Sahel Hills and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, resembling a huge amphitheater fronting on the water. Algiers is often called Algiers the White because of its many white buildings. Warehouses and modern office buildings line the waterfront. Wide boulevards lead from the business section past numerous parks and gardens to residential areas in the hills above. The Casbah, built as a fortress in the 16th century, was once the residence of the Turkish deys (rulers). It is in the original Muslim quarter, whose narrow, winding streets are crowded with houses and shops.
Algiers is a major seaport and Algeria's commercial, financial, and industrial center. Port activities are a mainstay of the city's economy. Among the products of its factories are motor vehicles, machinery, electrical supplies, chemicals, and textiles. The city is served by several railways and many highways. Its airport handles domestic and international flights.
The University of Algiers and Boumedienne University of Science and Technology are the chief institutions of higher learning. The National Library, the National Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Museum of Antiquities are leading cultural institutions.
Algiers was founded as a Phoenician colony, perhaps as early as 1200 B.C., and later became a Carthaginian and then a Roman settlement, both known as Icosium. After the fall of Rome in the fifth century A.D., Algiers was taken in turn by Vandal, Byzantine, and Arab conquerors and eventually ceased to exist as a city. It was reestablished in the 10th century by Muslim Berbers. Many of the Moors expelled from Spain in 1492 settled in Algiers. In the 16th century, under the Ottoman Turks, Algiers became a pirate stronghold and one of the chief cities of Barbary. In 1830 the French seized Algiers and put an end to piracy.
Algiers was made the national capital in 1962, when Algeria gained independence from France.