Named after its capital Algiers, the state in North Africa is the largest on the continent (after the partition of Sudan) and lies on the Mediterranean Sea. As in many other Mediterranean countries, Phoenicians and Greeks laid the foundation for Algerian viticulture. In the middle of the 7th century, the Arabs conquered North Africa. With the prohibition of alcohol now in force, viticulture came to a standstill. From 1830, the French began to conquer the country. As a result, numerous French settlers flooded into the country and also brought vines with them. This led to the resumption of the wine trade, which turned out to be an important part of the Algerian economy. The largest expansion of the vineyard area was reached in 1938 with 400,000 hectares. This was mainly simple bulk wine for blending purposes in France. After independence was gained in 1962, an export ban was imposed on France. Large areas of vineyards were converted for the cultivation of cereals and the production of table grapes was forced. Most of the vineyards became the property of cooperatives. Agriculture is only possible on a narrow strip in the north; the Algerian Sahara makes up about 85% of the land area.