This video is part of a series of 19 animated maps.

View series: Europe's colonial expansion, 1820-1939

An example of an animated map

The Conquest of Algeria

This map is part of a series of 19 animated maps showing the history of Europe's colonial expansion, 1820-1939.

Prior to French colonization, the territory of Al Jazaïr, under Ottoman Regency, was made up of several geographical areas extending from the Mediterranean coastline to the immense Sahara desert.

Linked by their common Islamic faith, the Berber and Arab populations also shared a tendency for rebellion and anti-Turkish sentiments, both of which greatly weakened the power of the Ottoman Sultanate.

For reasons of internal political prestige, the French King, Charles X decided to send a military expedition in 1830. Landing at Sidi Ferruch, the armed intervention force fought a few short, but violent, battles and forced the Dey to surrender and deliver the city to France before going into exile.

The July Monarchy inherited the Algerian territory on coming to power and strengthened its hold by establishing control over the ports and their hinterland. A royal ordinance issued in July 1834 gathered these scattered areas into a colony under military occupation and the authority of a Governor General.

Abd-al-Qadir took the leadership of the Jihad. After defeating a French military column at La Macta in 1835, he negotiated the treaty of La Tafna which recognized his control of the provinces of Oran and Titteri. The same year, the French captured Constantine and decided to remain, although with a limited occupation force.

War broke out again in 1839, while the territory occupied by France was officially named Algeria.

In 1841, Governor General Bugeaud launched a merciless campaign with a series of scorched earth manoeuvres, raids, and massacres. Abd-al-Qadir was forced to retreat to the High Atlas where his caravan was captured in 1843.

Taking refuge in Morocco, the emir was forced to leave in 1845 and, after avoiding capture for a long time, finally surrendered to the French army.

In 1848, the Second Republic incorporated Algeria into French national territory and created three civil administrative “departments”. Nonetheless, the campaign to capture Kabylie and the Djurdjura Mountains began in 1849 but was not completed until 1857 and rebellions raged from the Oran Province to Constantine until 1865.

At the same time, the army’s advance southwards into the Sahara was fraught with difficulties.

In 1870, under pressure from French settlers calling for autonomy for Algeria, the Third Republic replaced the Arab Offices of Military Administration by a civil administration which was more acceptable to the colonial population.

In 1871, taking advantage of France’s defeat at the hands of Prussia, a widespread insurrection led by Mohammed el Moqrani broke out in the East and lasted several months.

The retaliation was violent, with the population paying a high price: the country was laid to waste and the Muslim population weakened by famines and epidemics.

With the conquest of the “Southern Territories”, the colonization of Algeria was considered complete. Its territory reached to the northern borders of French West Africa soon after 1900.