In 1939, “France controlled a colonial empire…over twenty times as large as the home country, and it contained one and a half times as many inhabitants” (Costa). One such country controlled by France –and my focus for the purposes of this essay- was Algeria. From its initial occupation in 1830, France’s hegemony over Algeria spanned more than one hundred years whilst the colony’s revolt against its imperial master lasted a mere eight. Finally, on the 3rd of July 1962 Algeria gained independence from the French empire. I shall now explore how Algeria adapted to its new found status of self-determination and how France reacted to the disintegration of its once mighty empire, to demonstrate how both countries were fundamentally changed by the process of decolonisation.
Firstly, it must be clarified that decolonisation is defined- in the Oxford English Dictionary- as the withdrawal of a dominant state from a colonised country, leaving it independent; in this case the departure of France from Algeria.
The adjustment process for Algerians after securing independence was a difficult one. Costa states that until 1958 – i.e. during the course of the Algerian war - 59% of the Algerian population did not support the fight for independence. This would suggest that for a large proportion of the Algerian people independence, when it came, was unwelcome and therefore more difficult to accept and adapt to.
The first major problem Algerians were faced with was an economic one; the need for money to create trade. As part of the French empire, France had controlled trade and the economy on behalf of its colonies, including Algeria. Without access to these markets, predominantly within Europe given its geographical proximity, the Algerian government was in need of
Bibliography: Aldrich, R., Greater France: A History of French Overseas Expansion, 1996, 8: 266 – 267, Epilogue: 311 – 312. Bernstein, S., The Republic of de Gaulle, 1958-1969, 1993, p 28 Chamberlain, M Costa, D., Decolonization and French Society, 1999, URL: http://www.indyflicks.com/danielle/papers/paper06.htm Holland, R Jones, J., The French in West Africa, 2012, URL: http://courses.wcupa.edu/jones/his312/lectures/fren-occ.htm#algeria Jones, J., Algerian Independence, 2012, URL: http://courses.wcupa.edu/jones/his312/lectures/algeria.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Algeria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Algeria_(1962%E2%80%931999)