1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Algeria

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ALGERIA (see 1.642). The figures of the 1911 census showed a total pop. for Algeria of 5,492,569, of whom 752,043 were Europeans. Of these 558,572 were French, 134,746 Spaniards, concentrated specially in the department of Oran, and 36,661 Italians, in the region of Constantine.

The administration of the country was still in 1921 in the hands of a governor-general residing at Algiers, as supreme head of all the civil services, with the exception of the non-Mussul- man services of justice, worship, public instruction, treasury and customs, which remained attached to the French ministerial department. The governor-general has to assist him a general secretary and a Government council. Since 1900 Algeria has enjoyed a large measure of budgetary autonomy. The governor- general submits a special budget to the vote of Algerian rep- resentative assemblies, or the financial delegations which were created in 1898. The delegations are divided into three sections, one of which represents colonists, another non-colonising tax- payers, and the third native Mussulmans. The budget, when voted by the financial delegations, is submitted to the French Parliament. The estimates for 1922, comprising both ordinary and extraordinary revenue and expenditure, amounted to 595,000,000 francs.

The northern portion of the territory is administered under two systems, one civil and the other military. In the civil zone the administration is that in force in France. This zone is divided into three departments, Oran, Algiers, and Constantine, with prefects, general councils and sub-prefects as in France. Each department elects two deputies and one senator to the French Parliament, only French citizens having the right to vote. The military zone is divided into three administrative regions, under the control, subject to the governor-general, of generals of division. These regions are cut up again into sectors administered by officers of the Department for Native Affairs. In accordance with the composition of the population, three methods of local administration are employed. In the " full " communes there are municipal councils, elected by the towns- people; in the " mixed " communes public services are run by an administrator, assisted by a non-elected municipal council; the " native " communes are ruled by kaids with the assistance of native advisers, who are appointed by the governor-general.

The colonization of Algeria was rendered difficult by the presence of a native population which already had its own civilization, and was nomad and warlike in its instincts. A start was made in the region of the Tell, and then the mountains and high plateau-lands were taken in hand. There has been a spon- taneous flow of Italian and Spanish immigration, and a system of land grants and other concessions have attracted large num- bers of immigrants from the south of France who have settled down well in the country. Between 1904 and 1914, 206,000 hectares of land had been settled, of which 91,200 were free grants.

Agriculture has made great strides in spite of the difficulty of irrigation. By a judicious system of barrages and canals, the tor- rential rains have been harnessed up and spread over the land. Much has been done.also to fight the locust, and to carry out a methodical policy of manuring. The results obtained have been brilliant. In the Tell wheat and wine are grown on a large scale, and indeed

Algerian wine has become a serious competitor with French wine. In 1920 Algiers exported 2,729,551 hectolitres of wine, of which 2,418,726 went to France. The crop of cereals, which fluctuates very much in consequence of the variable rainfall, gave in 1914, 185 million metric quintals; in 1915, 20 million; in 1916, 18 million; in 1917, 15 million; 1918, 30 million. Olive plantations produce about 300,000 hectolitres of oil a year. Vegetables, fruit, medicinal plants and cork are the other chief agricultural products of the Tell. Cotton is grown in the Oran and in Algiers, and great efforts have been made to increase the output of tobacco, of which over 24,000 tons were produced in 1918. On the tablelands the chief produce is alfa, which covers great areas. It is exported in very large quantities to Great Britain, where it is used in the manufacture of good quality paper. The alfa exports in 1916 were 811,997 quintals; in 1918, 118,900 quintals; and in 1920, 539,821 quintals, of the value of 121/2 million francs. Sheep form the chief stock of the country. Forests cover well over two million hectares, the Woods and Forests service alone having that area under its control. Cork trees cover over 400,000 hectares.

Mines.—The country is rich in minerals, which, however, have not been thoroughly exploited. The chief mineral resource is iron, the exports of which in 1920 amounted to 1,114,438 tons, valued at 33.879,000 francs. There are large phosphate deposits in the Con- stantine province, which exported 334,704 tons in 1920 to a value of l8j million francs. There are also copper, zinc, lead, and antimony mines. Coal deposits were discovered during the war, and the work of British and American prospectors in the Oran indicates the possibility of existence of oil fields of some size. In 1900, Algeria possessed only 1,771 m. of railway; that figure had by 1921 been brought to 2,228, and many new lines were being considered. The three chief ports handled the following traffic in 1920: Algiers, 6,264,- 735 tons; Oran, 3,975,762 tons; Bona, 1,106,362 tons. A great deal of work has been done in improving the road system of the country, and motor-ways have been built from Tuggurt to Timbuktu. An aerial postal service has also been organized.

Commerce.—The general trade in 1920 amounted to 4,342,000,000 francs, and special trade, that is to say, trade arising exclusively from the requirements and produce of the colony, amounted to 3,977,000,000 francs, of which 2,535,000,000 were imports, and 1,442,000,000 exports. Of this trade, France took respectively 1,991,862 francs, and 1,096,472 francs. These figures show a very large in- crease, the general trade in 1918 amounting only to 1,529,000,000 francs, and in 1919 to 2,287,900,000 francs. In 1913, the last normal year before the war, the figure was 1,292,000,000, of which 729,000,- ooo were imports, and 563,000,000 were exports. In judging of these figures, the drop in the value of money has to be Borne in mind.

Native rights.—The valuable help given by the native population of Algiers to France during the World War led, as it did in other parts of the French colonial empire, to a wider recognition of the political rights of the native. A law was passed, Feb. 4 1919, con- ferring French citizenship on any native of Algeria who had either served in the French army or navy, was a land-owner, farmer, or licensed trader, knew how to read and write French, or was the possessor of a French decoration. Native Mussulmans who did not receive French citizenship, are represented in all the deliberative assemblies by elected members who sit with the same rights as those enjoyed by the French members of such assemblies. With some exceptions they are admitted to public service on the same footing as French citizens. In the beginning of 1919 the special Arab taxes, which were supported by the native population alone, were done away with, and their place was taken by income and property taxes. It was proposed to form an Algerian consulting committee in Paris, in which natives would sit. (M. R.*)