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Algerian War

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


(1954–62). Acquired in 1830, Algeria was the most precious of France's colonies. It was the closest to metropolitan soil; it had become the object of great efforts to entrench French culture; it was administered as part of mainland France; and it was increasingly seen as economically valuable because of oil deposits, though gas eventually proved to be its greatest natural asset. An Algerian nationalist movement (see nationalism ) began to form in the 1920s and 1930s. After World War II the fourth republic failed to fulfill its initial promises about greater political participation for the majority population of muslims . In response, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN, formed in 1952) prepared an armed insurrection. This was launched on November 1, 1954, the Feast of All Saints, when the largely Catholic colonial community would be caught unawares. The colonists, numbering around 1 million in an overall population of 9 million, were of French, Spanish, Italian, and Maltese origin, and were known as pieds noirs , due to the black shoes that distinguished them from the Arabs who walked barefoot or in sandals. Politically they were generally of the right, and wanted to remain part of the empire. This was also the view of the Armée d'Afrique, the French forces stationed in Algeria, who retained a suspicion of politicians, especially after the granting of independence to Vietnam ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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