A North African seaport and at the time of Twain's visit, a french colony. The Quaker City anchored here for five hours on October 15, 1867. Cholera was reported so no passengers went ashore.
The city's name is derived via French and Catalan Alger from the Arabic name al-Jazāʾir (الجزائر), "The Islands". This name refers to the four former islands which lay off the city's coast before becoming part of the mainland in 1525. Al-Jazāʾir is itself a truncated form of the city's older name Jazaʾir Banī Mazghanna (جزائر بني مزغانة), "The Islands of the Banu Mazghanna, Sons of Mazghana", used by early medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi and Yaqut al-Hamawi.
In antiquity, the Greeks knew the town as Ikósion (Ancient Greek: Ἰκόσιον), which was Latinized as Icosium under Roman rule. The Greeks explained the name as coming from their word for "twenty" (εἴκοσι, eíkosi), supposedly because it had been founded by 20 companions of Hercules when he visited the Atlas Mountains during his labors.
Algiers is also known as el-Behdja (البهجة, "The Joyous") or "Algiers the White" (French: Alger la Blanche) for its whitewashed buildings, seen rising from the sea.
The history of Algiers from 1830 to 1962 is bound to the larger history of Algeria and its relationship to France. On July 4, 1830, under the pretext of an affront to the French consul—whom the dey had hit with a fly-whisk when the consul said the French government was not prepared to pay its large outstanding debts to two Algerian merchants—a French army under General de Bourmont attacked the city in the 1830 invasion of Algiers. The city capitulated the following day. Algiers became the capital of French Algeria.