The Port of Algiers (El-Jazair in Arabic) is the capital and main seaport of Algeria in northern Africa. Built on the slopes of the Sahel Hills, Port of Algiers stretches for ten miles along the Bay of Algiers. The Port of Algiers is located about half-way between the Port of Dellys to the east and the Port of Cherchell to the west on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Its name comes from the Arabic word al-jaza'ir, meaning "the islands." In 2004, almost 1.8 million people lived in the Port of Algiers.
The Port of Algiers is the most important seaport in North Africa, and it is an important economic, financial, and commercial center for Algeria. Despite this, the Port of Algiers has one of the highest costs of living in Africa. The city continues to grow, with new suburbs that provide housing city center's burgeoning population. The Port of Algiers imports mostly raw materials, industrial products, and supplies. It exports wine, oranges, vegetables, phosphates, and iron ore.
The Port of Algiers was founded as a colony by the Phoenicians, who established small ports every 40-60 kilometers apart due to the dangers of nighttime navigation of the many reefs. The Phoenicians built a commercial outpost at the site of the modern Port of Algiers, calling it Ikosim. The Romans and Carthaginians knew the Port of Algiers as Icosium. The Port of Algiers's modern Rue de la Marine follows what was once a Roman street.
Destroyed by the Vandals in the 5th Century AD, Buluggin ibn Ziri, founder of the Berber Zirid-Senhaja dynasty, restored it and founded the present Port of Algiers in 944 AD as a Mediterranean commercial center. Roger II of Sicily drove out the remaining Zirids, who had lost control of the Port of Algiers, in 1148. The Almohades then occupied the Port of Algiers in 1159. The Abd-el-Wadid sultans of Tlemcen gained control of the area in the 13th Century. Under their rule, its position as a chief seaport and political center made the Port of Algiers relatively independent.
In the 14th Century, Spaniards occupied the islet of Penon, stimulating trade between the Port of Algiers and Spain. However, before the Moors were driven out of Spain, the port remained small and unimportant. In the early 16th Century, Spain expelled Moors who sought asylum in Algiers and began pirating Spanish ships.
In response, the Spanish fortified the Bay of Algiers' islet of Penon. The emir of Algiers sought help from two Turkish corsairs, the Barbarossa brothers, to drive the Spanish from Penon. In 1529, one of the Barbarossa brothers expelled Spain from the island. He also brought the Port of Algiers under the rule of the Ottomans. During this period, the first construction of a modern port began, with a pier and a shelter for ships in heavy weather.
This action transformed the Port of Algiers into a major base for the following 300 years from which the famous Barbary pirates operated and upon which the local economy depended. European countries tried many times to put down the pirates. But Algiers-based piracy continued until 1830 when the French conquered the city, making the Port of Algiers its headquarters for their colonial empire in Africa.
When the French invaded the area in 1830, the Port of Algiers covered a surface area of three hectares. The port basin included a northern pier and southern pier. By 1865, the Port of Algiers also contained two dry docks, parks, and a railway.
The Port of Algiers' Agha Basin was finished in 1914. Between 1914 and 1940, the Mustapha basin was constructed. Algiers was the Allies' headquarters during World War II and became, for a brief time, the capital of France. After the war, Algiers began to revolt against France's control, costing over 1.5 million Algerian lives. The Port of Algiers was a central point for the struggle.
The harbor station for the Port of Algiers' El Djasair wharf opened in 1953, and the Skikda wharf was built in the early 1960s. Algeria won independence in 1962, and the country embarked on an effort to transform the former colony into a modern socialist state. In the late 1980s, the wet dock of Calvi was added, and the Port of Algiers gained six new roll-on/roll-off ramps.
The older Turkish-Muslim section on the upper slopes of the Port of Algiers has maintained much of its architectural integrity, with high blank-walled houses and narrow streets that are dominated by the fortress of the Kasbah, which UNESCO designated a World Heritage site in 1992. The Port of Algiers gained a new 17.5-hectare container terminal with capacity for over 250 TEUs of containerized cargo.
In 2007, the Port of Algiers was striving to regain its position as an important African and Mediterranean center. The city's new openness to the outside world has brought foreign investment, and many infrastructure projects have been undertaken. But growth has outstripped efforts to provide a modern environment, and the Economist Intelligence Unit's quality of life survey ranked Algiers at the bottom of 132 capitals. Further, 2007 brought contradictory events to the Port of Algiers. It was named the "capital of Arab culture," but it was also the site of several bombing attacks and much violence.