Algeria forms part of the region that its early Arab conquerors called the "Island of the West" (Jazirat Al Maghrib)- the land between the "Sea of sand" (the Sahara) and the Mediterranean Sea. Algerians share a common language, religion, and cultural heritage with their Maghribi neighbors and, in large measure, a common history as well. Like other countries of North Africa, Algeria's population is divided between the original Berber inhabitants and the Arab conquerors who settled there in the seventh century .
During the 132 years of French rule, the country's traditional lifestyle underwent massive changes as the culture was subjected to French domination. Since the eight-year "war of liberation" ended in 1962, Algeria has been an independent nation determined to forge once again a common identity for its mixed population. The principal unifying force in this search for a national identity has been Islam, shared by the great majority of Algerians.
Introduction of the Cultures of the World: Algeria, by Falaq Kagda, Marshall Cavendish, Benchmark Books, New York; 2nd edition , 1997.