a country in northern africa between morocco and libya. Its capital is algiers. It was known to the romans as numidia. From 430 a.d. Until 1942 it was successively in the hands of the vandals, the eastern roman empire, the arabs, the ottoman empire, and the french, and gained independence in 1962. The country took its name from its capital, from the arabic al (the) _ jaza'ir (islands), with reference to four islands lying off the coast at algiers but joined to the mainland by 1525.