This Northern country has a narrow coastal plain and a large expanse of the Sahara desert. The hottest temperatures on the Earth's surface have been recorded in Algeria. Algeria was once a central territory of the Roman Empire through the 16th century when it became part of the Ottoman Empire. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the country had a brief period of independence before France launched a war in 1830 to colonize the land. France suppressed Algerian resistance, making it a French colony. While France modernized Algeria's agricultural and commercial economies, they also sewed ethnic resentment through the creation of an elite class with only a few Algerians allowed in; this led to a massive nationalist movement and war for independence that lasted from 1954-1962. Algeria achieved independence in 1962. In the 21st century, Algeria has one of the largest economies in Africa. Algeria has a population of 34 million, 99% of which are Sunni Muslims. The government structure of Algeria is a Republic; it's major exports are oil gas. Since independence, Algeria rebuilt the education system, notably replaced French-language education with Arabic, which is the language of instruction for all children between the ages 6 -15.