In the second half of the 19th century, economic activity in Xàbia and the Marina Alta centred mainly on the production and export of raisins. The situation changed with the advent of the 20th century. In the early years of the new century, the Phylloxera plague spread throughout the region and the raisin sector went into crisis. At that time, part of the local population was forced to emigrate to Algeria in order to find work. There, in that region of North Africa, the men from the Marina Alta worked mainly in the fields while the women were principally employed as wet nurses and child minders.
Economic reasons were not the only motivations for emigration to Algeria. As the Spanish Civil War neared its end, hundreds of people were forced to flee to the then French colony because of their political ideas. Despite political and racial tensions, Christians and Muslims, French, Valencians and Algerians lived side by side in Algeria. This ethnic mix gave rise to a peculiar language, the patuet. This language had words referring to food, clothing and work relating to the countryside. Some of these words such as "sicató" (pruning shears) have survived to the present day thanks to the people who returned to the Marina Alta following the independence of the North African country in 1962.