Algeria, in northern Africa, had been colonized by the French in 1834.
The Algerian economy was heavily dominated by French colonists who gathered in the capital of Algiers. They owned vineyards, citrus estates, banks, and oil resources.
- The Arab and Berber Muslim majority in Algeria were not citizens under French rule because they would not renounce Islam.
- By the early 1950s, there was growing nationalist unrest and organized resistance movements.
- One of these, the FLN (Front de Liberation Nationale), founded in 1954, launched coordinated attacks on public buildings, military and police posts, and communication installations.
- A steady rise in guerrilla action by the FLN over the next two years led to France sending in 400,000 troops. Terrorist acts (kidnappings, bombings) became part of the FLN strategy, which led French troops into counterterrorist acts against the civilian population in the countryside.
- By 1956, war spread to the cities.
- Cafes, schools, and shops became targets.
- Algiers, the capital, became the site of bloody repression by the French armies.
- In the end, the white settlers and army officers tried to take over all of Algeria for themselves, in opposition to the French government's growing desire to let elections decide Algeria's fate.