The name Algeria is derived from the name of the country's oldest continuous settlement and modern capital, Algiers, a strategically located port city with access to both Europe and the Middle East.
Despite efforts by the government to contain the desert by planting rows of pine trees, it continues to expand northward. The largest of these are the Kabyles, who live in the Kabylia Mountains east of Algiers.
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.
The climate is desert like, although the coast does receive rain in the winter.
Only 3 percent of the land is arable, this along the Mediterranean.