A country of northwest Africa bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. The region was settled c. 2000 B.C. by Berber-speaking people and later formed a part of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Arab invaders in the seventh and eighth centuries introduced Islam and the Arabic language and culture. A French territory from 1848, Algeria gained its independence in 1962 after more than seven years of fighting. Algiers is the capital and the largest city. Population: 33,300,000.