On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded and captured Algiers in 1830. The conquest of Algeria by the French was long and resulted in considerable bloodshed. A combination of violence and disease epidemics caused the indigenous Algerian population to decline by nearly one-third from 1830 to 1872.
The population of Algeria, which stood at about 1.5 million in 1830, reached nearly 11 million in 1960. French policy was predicated on "civilizing" the country, although its literacy rate of 50% in 1830, according to some Algerian historians, exceeded that of France. Algeria's social fabric suffered during the occupation: literacy plummeted. During this period, a small but influential French-speaking indigenous elite was formed, made up of Berbers mostly from Kabyles.
In the French policy of "divide to reign," its government favored the Kabyles. About 80% of Indigenous Schools were constructed for Kabyles.
From 1848 until independence, France administered the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria as an integral part and département of the nation. One of France's longest-held overseas territories, Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, who became known as colons and later, as pieds-noirs. Between 1825 and 1847, 50,000 French people emigrated to Algeria.[page needed] These settlers benefited from the French government's confiscation of communal land from tribal peoples, and the application of modern agricultural techniques that increased the amount of arable land.
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