The Algerian war for independence broke out in 1954, when the National Liberation Army (ALN)—the military arm of the National Liberation Front (FLN)—staged guerrilla attacks on French military and communication posts and called on all Muslims to join their struggle. In 1959 De Gaulle, who was now president of France, issued a promise of independence to the colony, but the next year proceeded to send troops to restore order.Over the next four years the French sent almost half a million troops to Algeria. In 1961 leaders of the FLN met with the French government, and the following year, Algeria finally won its independence. He was head of the government and of the FLN, the country's sole political party.Anti-French sentiment had been building for some time—the first anticolonial group was formed in 1926, and another, the Algerian People's Party, in 1937—but it was not until 1945 that the independence movement really began to gain momentum.In 1947, de Gaulle refused to relinquish French hold on the colony.Inland from the coast is the High Plateau region, with an elevation of 1,300 to 4,300 feet (396 to 1,311 meters).This is mostly rocky and dry, dotted with vegetation on which cattle, sheep, and goats graze.Arabic and Berber are the languages most spoken in day-to-day life.French is being phased out, but it remains an important language in business and some scientific and technical fields, and it is taught as a second language in the schools. The flag is green and white, with a red star and crescent.
By 1881 there were 300,000 Europeans (half of them French) in an area of 2.5 million Arabs.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.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.There are also striking sandstone rock formations, red sand, and even a mountain, Mount Tahat, the highest point in Algeria, that is sometimes snow-topped. Arabic came to the country early in its history, along with Arab culture and the Muslim religion.