This article is about the capital of Algeria. For other uses, see Algiers (disambiguation).
"Algerine" redirects here. For other uses, see Algerine (disambiguation).
Clockwise: Buildings along the Mediterranean coast of Algiers, Martyrs Memorial, Notre Dame d'Afrique, Ketchaoua Mosque, Casbah, the Grand Post Office and the Ministry of Finance of Algeria
|Nickname(s): Algiers the White; Algiers the Dazzling|
Algiers (Africa)Show map of Africa
|Coordinates: 36°45′14″N3°3′32″E / 36.75389°N 3.05889°E / 36.75389; 3.05889Coordinates: 36°45′14″N3°3′32″E / 36.75389°N 3.05889°E / 36.75389; 3.05889|
|District||Sidi M'Hamed District|
|• Wali (Governor)||Abdelkader Zoukh (since 2013)|
|• City||363 km2 (140 sq mi)|
|• Metro||1,190 km2 (460 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||424 m (1,391 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||2 m (7 ft)|
|• Density||9,400/km2 (24,000/sq mi)|
|• Metro density||6,600/km2 (17,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|Area code(s)||(+213) 021|
Algiers (Arabic: الجزائر, Berber languages: ⴷⵣⴰⵢⴻ, French: Alger) is the capital and largest city of Algeria. In 2011, the city's population was estimated to be around 3,500,000. An estimate puts the population of the larger metropolitan city to be around 5,000,000. Algiers is located on the Mediterranean Sea and in the north-central portion of Algeria.
Sometimes nicknamed El-Behdja (البهجة) or alternatively Alger la Blanche ("Algiers the White") for the glistening white of its buildings as seen rising up from the sea, Algiers is situated on the west side of a bay of the Mediterranean Sea. The modern part of the city is built on the level ground by the seashore; the old part, the ancient city of the deys, climbs the steep hill behind the modern town and is crowned by the casbah or citadel, 122 metres (400 ft) above the sea. The casbah and the two quays form a triangle.
The city name is derived (via FrenchAlger and CatalanAlger) from the Arabic name الجزائر al-Jazā’ir, which translates as "The Islands", referring to the four islands which used to lie off the city's coast until becoming part of the mainland in 1525. Al-Jazā’ir is itself a truncated form of the city's older name جزائر بني مزغانة Jaza'ir Bani Mazghana, "The Islands of the Sons of Mazghana", used by early medieval geographers such as al-Idrisi and Yaqut al-Hamawi.
See also: Timeline of Algiers
A Phoenician commercial outpost called Ikosim which later developed into a small Roman town called Icosium existed on what is now the marine quarter of the city. The rue de la Marine follows the lines of what used to be a Roman street. Roman cemeteries existed near Bab-el-Oued and Bab Azoun. The city was given Latin rights by Emperor Vespasian. The bishops of Icosium are mentioned as late as the 5th century.
The present-day city was founded in 944 by Bologhine ibn Ziri, the founder of the BerberZirid–Sanhaja dynasty. He had earlier (935) built his own house and a Sanhaja center at Ashir, just south of Algiers. Although his Zirid dynasty was overthrown by Roger II of Sicily in 1148, the Zirids had already lost control of Algiers to their cousins the Hammadids in 1014. The city was wrested from the Hammadids by the Almohads in 1159, and in the 13th century came under the dominion of the Ziyanid sultans of Tlemcen. Nominally part of the sultanate of Tlemcen, Algiers had a large measure of independence under amirs of its own due to Oran being the chief seaport of the Ziyanids.
The Peñón of Algiers, an islet in front of Algiers harbour had been occupied by the Spaniards as early as 1302. Thereafter, a considerable amount of trade began to flow between Algiers and Spain. However, Algiers continued to be of comparatively little importance until after the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, many of whom sought asylum in the city. In 1510, following their occupation of Oran and other towns on the coast of Africa, the Spaniards fortified the islet of Peñon and imposed a levy intended to suppress corsair activity.
In 1516, the amir of Algiers, Selim b. Teumi, invited the corsair brothers Aruj and Hayreddin Barbarossa to expel the Spaniards. Aruj came to Algiers, ordered the assassination of Selim, and seized the town and ousted the Spanish in the Capture of Algiers (1516). Hayreddin, succeeding Aruj after the latter was killed in battle against the Spaniards in the Fall of Tlemcen (1517), was the founder of the pashaluk, which subsequently became the beylik, of Algeria. Barbarossa lost Algiers in 1524 but regained it with the Capture of Algiers (1529), and then formally invited the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to accept sovereignty over the territory and to annex Algiers to the Ottoman Empire.
Algiers from this time became the chief seat of the Barbary pirates. In October 1541 in the Algiers expedition, the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sought to capture the city, but a storm destroyed a great number of his ships, and his army of some 30,000, chiefly made up of Spaniards, was defeated by the Algerians under their Pasha, Hassan.
Formally part of the Ottoman Empire but essentially free from Ottoman control, starting in the 16th century Algiers turned to piracy and ransoming. Due to its location on the periphery of both the Ottoman and European economic spheres, and depending for its existence on a Mediterranean that was increasingly controlled by European shipping, backed by European navies, piracy became the primary economic activity. Repeated attempts were made by various nations to subdue the pirates that disturbed shipping in the western Mediterranean and engaged in slave raids as far north as Iceland. The United States fought two wars (the First and Second Barbary Wars) over Algiers' attacks on shipping.
Among the notable people held for ransom was the future Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, who was captive in Algiers almost five years, and who wrote two plays set in Algiers of the period. The primary source for knowledge of Algiers of this period, since there are no contemporary local sources, is the Topografía e historia general de Argel (1612, but written earlier), published by Diego de Haedo, but whose authorship is disputed. This work describes in detail the city, the behavior of its inhabitants, and its military defenses, with the unsuccessful hope of facilitating an attack by Spain so as to end the piracy.
A significant number of renegades lived in Algiers at the time, Christians converted voluntarily to Islam, many fleeing the law or other problems at home. Once converted to Islam, they were safe in Algiers. Many occupied positions of authority, such as Samson Rowlie, an Englishman who became Treasurer of Algiers.
The city under Ottoman control was enclosed by a wall on all sides, including along the seafront. In this wall, five gates allowed access to the city, with five roads from each gate dividing the city and meeting in front of the Ketchaoua Mosque. In 1556, a citadel was constructed at the highest point in the wall. A major road running north to south divided the city in two: The upper city (al-Gabal, or 'the mountain') which consisted of about fifty small quarters of Andalusian, Jewish, Moorish and Kabyle communities, and the lower city (al-Wata, or 'the plains') which was the administrative, military and commercial centre of the city, mostly inhabited by Turkish dignitaries and other upper-class families.
In August 1816, the city was bombarded by a British squadron under Lord Exmouth (a descendant of Thomas Pellew, taken in an Algerian slave raid in 1715), assisted by Dutch men-of-war, destroying the corsair fleet harboured in Algiers.
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.
Many Europeans settled in Algiers, and by the early 20th century they formed a majority of the city's population. During the 1930s, the architect Le Corbusier drew up plans for a complete redesign of the colonial city. Le Corbusier was highly critical of the urban style of Algiers, describing the European district as "nothing but crumbling walls and devastated nature, the whole a sullied blot". He also criticised the difference in living standards he perceived between the European and African residents of the city, describing a situation in which "the 'civilised' live like rats in holes" whereas "the 'barbarians' live in solitude, in well-being". However, these plans were ultimately ignored by the French administration.
During World War II, Algiers was the last city to be seized from the Germans by the Allies during Operation Torch.
In 1962, after a bloody independence struggle in which hundreds of thousands (estimates range between 350,000 and 1,500,000) died (mostly Algerians but also French and Pieds-Noirs) during fighting between the French Army and the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale, Algeria gained its independence, with Algiers as its capital. Since then, despite losing its entire pied-noir population, the city has expanded massively. It now has about five million inhabitants, or 10 percent of Algeria's population—and its suburbs now cover most of the surrounding Mitidja plain.
Algiers also played a pivotal role in the Algerian War (1954–1962), particularly during the Battle of Algiers when the 10th Parachute Division of the French Army, starting on January 7, 1957, and on the orders of the French Minister of Justice François Mitterrand (who authorized any means "to eliminate the insurrectionists"), led attacks against the Algerian fighters for independence. Algiers remains marked by this battle, which was characterized by merciless fighting between FLN forces which carried out a guerrilla campaign against the French military and police and pro-French Algerian soldiers, and the French Army which responded with a bloody repression, torture and blanket terrorism against the native population. The demonstrations of May 13 during the crisis of 1958 provoked the fall of the Fourth Republic in France, as well as the return of General de Gaulle to power.
Algeria achieved independence on July 5, 1962. Run by the FLN that had secured independence, Algiers became a member of Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War. In October 1988, one year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Algiers was the site of demonstrations demanding the end of the single-party system and the creation of a realdemocracy baptized the "Spring of Algier". The demonstrators were repressed by the authorities (more than 300 dead), but the movement constituted a turning point in the political history of modern Algeria. In 1989, a new constitution was adopted that put an end to the one-party rule and saw the creation of more than fifty political parties, as well as official freedom of the press.
Crisis of the 1990s
The city became the theatre of many political demonstrations of all descriptions until 1993. In 1991, a political entity dominated by religious conservatives called the Islamic Salvation Front engaged in a political test of wills with the authorities. In the 1992 elections for the Algerian National Assembly, the Islamists garnered a large amount of support in the first round, helped by a massive abstention from disillusioned Algerian voters by the turn of events. Fearing an eventual win by the Islamists, the army canceled the election process, setting off a civil war between the State and armed religious conservatives which would last for a decade.
On December 11, 2007, two car bombs exploded in Algiers. One bomb targeted two United Nations buildings and the other targeted a government building housing the Supreme Court. The death toll was at least 62, with over two hundred injured in the attacks. However, only 26 remained hospitalized the following day. As of 2008[update], it is speculated that the attack was carried out by the Al Qaida cell within the city.
Indigenous terrorist groups have been actively operating in Algeria since around 2002.
Districts of Algiers
- The Casbah (of Al Qasbah, “the Citadel”), Ier District of Algiers: called Al-Djazaïr Al Mahroussa (“Well Kept Algiers”), it is founded on the ruins of old Icosium. It is a small city which, built on a hill, goes down towards the sea, divided in two: the High city and the Low city. One finds there masonries and mosques of the 17th century; Ketchaoua mosque (built in 1794 by the Dey Baba Hassan) flanked by two minarets, mosque el Djedid (built in 1660, at the time of Turkish regency) with its large finished ovoid cupola points some and its four coupolettes, mosque El Kébir (oldest of the mosques, it was built by AlmoravidYoussef Ibn Tachfin and rebuilt later in 1794), mosque Ali Betchnin (Raïs, 1623), Dar Aziza, palate of Jénina. In the Kasbah, there are also labyrinths of lanes and houses that are very picturesque, and if one gets lost there, it is enough to go down again towards the sea to reposition oneself.
- Bab El Oued: Literally the River's Gate, the popular district which extends from the Casbah beyond "the gate of the river". It is the capital's darling and best liked borough. Famous for its square with “the three clocks” and for its “market Triplet”, it is also a district of workshops and manufacturing plants.
- Edge of sea: from 1840, the architects Pierre-August Guiauchain and Charles Frédéric Chassériau designed new buildings apart from the Casbah, town hall, law courts, buildings, theatre, palace of the Governor, and casino, to form an elegant walk bordered by arcades which is today the boulevard Che Guevara (formerly the Boulevard of the Republic).
- Kouba (will daira of Hussein-dey): Kouba is an old village which was absorbed by the expansion of the town of Algiers. Of village, Kouba quickly developed under the French colonial era then continued growing due to formidable demographic expansion that Algiers saw after the independence of Algeria in 1962. It is today a district of Algiers which is largely made up of houses, villas and buildings not exceeding five stories.
- El Harrach, a suburb of Algiers, is located about 10 kilometres (6 miles) to the east of the city.
- The communes of Hydra, Ben Aknoun, El-Biar and Bouzareah form what the inhabitants of Algiers call the heights of Algiers. These communes shelter the majority of the foreign embassies of Algiers, of many ministries and university centers, which makes it one of the administrative and policy centers of the country.
- The Didouche Mourad street is located in the 3rd district Of Algiers. It extends from the Grande Post office to the Heights of Algiers. It crosses in particular the place Audin, the Faculty of Algiers, The Crowned Heart and the park of Galland. It is bordered by smart stores and restaurants along most of its length. It is regarded as the heart of the capital.
Algiers has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classificationCsa). Its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea aids in moderating the city's temperatures. As a result, Algiers usually does not see the extreme temperatures that are experienced in the adjacent interior deserts. Algiers on average receives roughly 600 millimetres (24 in) of rain per year, the bulk of which is seen between October and April. The precipitation is very similar to coastal mediterranean Spain as opposed to the interior North African arid climate.
Snow is very rare; in 2012, the city received 10 centimetres (3.9 in), its first snowfall in eight years.
|Climate data for Algiers (Dar El Beïda international airport) 1976–2005 averages, extremes 1838–present|
|Record high °C (°F)||27.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||16.7|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.1|
|Average low °C (°F)||5.5|
|Record low °C (°F)||−3.3|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||81.4|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||11.4||10.6||9.7||9.1||7.3||2.5||1.5||2.5||5.3||8.6||11.1||12.1||91.7|
|Average relative humidity (%)||71||66||65||62||66||66||67||65||68||66||68||68||67|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||139.5||158.2||207.7||228.0||300.7||300.0||353.4||325.5||267.0||198.4||153.0||145.7||2,777.1|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||4.5||5.6||6.7||7.6||9.7||10.0||11.4||10.5||8.9||6.4||5.1||4.7||7.6|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization (average temperatures and precipitation, 1976–2005)|
|Source #2: Arab Meteorology Book (humidity and sun), Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)|
- See also: Algiers politics and administration (fr) and List of mayors of Algiers
There are many public buildings of interest, including the whole Kasbah quarter, Martyrs Square (Sahat ech-Chouhada ساحة الشهداء), the government offices (formerly the British consulate), the "Grand", "New", and Ketchaoua Mosques, the Roman Catholic cathedral of Notre Dame d'Afrique, the Bardo Museum (a former Turkish mansion), the old Bibliothèque Nationale d'Alger—a Turkish palace built in 1799–1800—and the new National Library, built in a style reminiscent of the British Library.
The main building in the Kasbah was begun in 1516 on the site of an older building, and served as the palace of the deys until the French conquest. A road has been cut through the centre of the building, the mosque turned into barracks, and the hall of audience allowed to fall into ruin. There still remain a minaret and some marble arches and columns. Traces exist of the vaults in which were stored the treasures of the dey.
The Great Mosque (Jamaa-el-Kebir الجامع الكبير) is the oldest mosque in Algiers. It was first built by Yusuf ibn Tashfin, but reconstructed many times. The pulpit (minbar منبر) bears an inscription showing that the building existed in 1097. The minaret was built by the sultan of Tlemcen, in 1324. The interior of the mosque is square and is divided into aisles by columns joined by Moorish arches.
The New Mosque (Jamaa-el-Jedid الجامع الجديد), dating from the 17th century, is in the form of a Greek cross, surmounted by a large white cupola, with four small cupolas at the corners. The minaret is 27 metres (89 ft) high. The interior resembles that of the Grand Mosque.
The church of the Holy Trinity (built in 1870) stands at the southern end of the rue d'Isly near the site of the demolished Fort Bab Azoun باب عزون. The interior is richly decorated with various coloured marbles. Many of these marbles contain memorial inscriptions relating to the British residents (voluntary and involuntary) of Algiers from the time of John Tipton, the first English consul, in 1580 (NB Some sources give 1585). One tablet records that in 1631 two Algerine pirate crews landed in Ireland, sacked Baltimore, and enslaved its inhabitants.
The Ketchaoua mosque (Djamaa Ketchaoua جامع كتشاوة), at the foot of the Casbah, was before independence in 1962 the cathedral of St Philippe, itself made in 1845 from a mosque dating from 1612. The principal entrance, reached by a flight of 23 steps, is ornamented with a portico supported by four black-veined marble columns. The roof of the nave is of Moorishplaster work. It rests on a series of arcades supported by white marble columns. Several of these columns belonged to the original mosque. In one of the chapels was a tomb containing the bones of San Geronimo. The building seems a curious blend of Moorish and Byzantine styles.
Algiers possesses a college with schools of law, medicine, science and letters. The college buildings are large and handsome. The Bardo Museum in Tunisia holds some of the ancient sculptures and mosaics discovered in Algeria, together with medals and Algerian money.
The port of Algiers is sheltered from all winds. There are two harbours, both artificial—the old or northern harbour and the southern or Agha harbour. The northern harbour covers an area of 95 hectares (235 acres). An opening in the south jetty affords an entrance into Agha harbour, constructed in Agha Bay. Agha harbour has also an independent entrance on its southern side. The inner harbour was begun in 1518 by Khair-ad-Din Barbarossa (see History, below), who, to accommodated his pirate vessels, caused the island on which was Fort Penon to be connected with the mainland by a mole. The lighthouse which occupies the site of Fort Penon was built in 1544.
Algiers was a walled city from the time of the deys until the close of the 19th century. The French, after their occupation of the city (1830), built a rampart, parapet and ditch, with two terminal forts, Bab Azoun باب عزون to the south and Bab-el-Oued اد to the north. The forts and part of the ramparts were demolished at the beginning of the 20th century, when a line of forts occupying the heights of Bouzareah بوزريعة (at an elevation of 396 metres (1,299 ft) above the sea) took their place.
Notre Dame d'Afrique, a church built (1858–1872) in a mixture of the Roman and Byzantine styles, is conspicuously situated overlooking the sea, on the shoulder of the Bouzareah hills, 3 km (2 mi) to the north of the city. Above the altar is a statue of the Virgin depicted as a black woman. The church also contains a solid silver statue of the archangel Michael, belonging to the confraternity of Neapolitan fishermen.
Villa Abd-el-Tif, former residence of the dey, was used during the French period, to accommodate French artists, chiefly painters, and winners of the Abd-el-Tif prize, among whom Maurice Boitel, for a while of two years. Nowadays, Algerian artists are back in the villa's studios.
- Notre Dame d'Afrique, accessible by one cable car, is one of the city's most outstanding monuments: located in the district of Z' will ghara, the basilica was built around 1858.
- Monument des Martyrs (Marquand E' chahid): an iconic concrete monument commemorating the Algerian war for independence. The monument was opened in 1982 on the 20th anniversary of Algeria's independence. It is fashioned in the shape of three standing palm leaves which shelter the "Eternal Flame" beneath. At the edge of each palm leaf stands a statue of a soldier, each representing a stage of Algeria's struggle.
- The El Jedid mosque at the Place des Martyrs near the port.
- Place of the Emir Abdelkader (formerly Bugeaud): in memory of the famous emir Abd El-Kader, resistant during French conquest of Algeria.
- Grand Post Office (1910, by Voinot and Tondoire): construction of the neo-Moorish type which is in full centre town of Algiers.
- The Jardin d'essai (Garden of Test; El-Hamma): situated in the east of Algiers, it extends over 80 hectares (198 acres) and contains exotic plants and gardens. It was created in 1832 by A. Hardy.
- Villa Abd-el-Hair, with the top of the Garden of test, one of the old residences of the dey, where until 1962, were placed the artists prizes winner of Price Abd-el-Hair, and in particular Maurice Boitel and Andre Hamburg.
- Riadh El-Feth (shopping centre and art gallery).
- Ketchaoua Mosque (This mosque became the Saint-Philippe cathedral during colonization before becoming again a mosque).
- National Library, is in the district of El HAMMA and was built in the 1990s.
- The Great Mosque of Algiers at the Rue de la Marine. It is the oldest mosque of Algiers and was built during the reign of the Almoravid sultan Yusuf ibn Tashfin.
- Le Bastion 23 - Palais des Rais, built in 1576 by Dey Ramdhan Pacha and located in the lower Casbah in the Bab El Oued neighborhood.
Algiers has a population of about 3,335,418(2012 estimate).
The ethnic distribution is 53% from an Arabic-speaking background, 44% from a Berber-speaking background and 3% foreign-born.
- 1940 – 300,000 people lived in Algiers.
- 1960 – 900,000 people lived in Algiers.
- 1963 – 600,000 people lived in Algiers.
Algiers is an important economic, commercial and financial center, with in particular a stock exchange with a capitalisation of 60 million euros. The city has the highest cost of living of any city in North Africa, as well as the 50th highest worldwide, as of March 2007, having gained one position compared to the previous year.
Mohamed Ben Ali El Abbar, president of the Council of Administration of the Emirate Group EMAAR, presented five "megaprojects" to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, during a ceremony which took place Saturday, July 15, within the Palace of the People of Algiers. These projects will transform the city of Algiers and its surroundings by equipping them with a retail area and restoration and leisure facilities.
The first project will concentrate on the reorganization and the development of the infrastructures of the railway station "Aga" located in the downtown area. The ultramodern station intended to accommodate more than 80.000 passengers per day, will become a center of circulation in the heart of the grid system, surrounded by commercial offices and buildings and hotels intended for travelers in transit. A shopping centre and three high-rise office buildings rising with the top of the commercial zone will accompany the project.
The second project will not relate to the bay of Algiers and aims to revitalize the sea front. The development of the 44 km (27 mi) sea front will include marinas, channels, luxury hotels, offices, apartments of great standing, luxury stores and leisure amenities. A crescent-shaped peninsula will be set up on the open sea. The project of the bay of Algiers will also comprise six small islands, of which four of round form, connected to each other by bridges and marinas and will include tourist and residential complexes.
The third project will relate to restructuring an area of Algiers, qualified by the originators of the project of "city of wellness". El Abbar indicated to the journalists that the complex would be "agreeable for all those which will want to combine tourism and well-being or tourism and relaxation". The complex will include a university, a research center and a medical centre. It should also include a hospital complex, a care centre, a hotel zone, an urban centre and a thermal spa with villas and apartments. The university will include a medical school and a school for care male nurses which will be able to accommodate 500 students. The university campus will have the possibility of seeing setting up broad ranges of buildings of research laboratories and residences.
Another project relates to technological implantation of a campus in Sidi Abdellah, 25 km (16 mi) south-east from Algiers. This 90 hectares (222 acres) site will include shopping centres, residential zones with high standard apartments and a golf course surrounded by villas and hotels. Two other residential zones, including 1.800 apartments and 40 high standard villas, will be built on the surrounding hills.
The fifth project is that of the tourist complex Colonel Abbès, which will be located 25 km (16 mi) west from Algiers. This complex will include several retail zones, meeting places, and residential zones composed of apartments and villas with views of the sea.
Currently there is another project under construction, by the name of Algiers Medina. The first step of the project is nearly complete.
A Hewlett Packard office for French-speaking countries in Africa is in Algiers.
Some 20 km (12 mi) to the west of Algiers are such seaside resorts as Sidi Fredj (ex-Sidi Ferruch), Palm Beach, Douaouda, Zéralda, and the Club of the Pines (residence of State); there are tourist complexes, Algerian and other restaurants, souvenir shops, supervised beaches, and other amenities. The city is also equipped with important hotel complexes such as the hotel Hilton, El-Aurassi or El Djazair. Algiers also has the first water park in the country. The tourism of Algiers is growing but is not as developed as that of the larger cities in Morocco or Tunisia.
This article is about the city in Algeria. For other uses, see Oran (disambiguation).
Wehran / ⵡⴻⵂⵔⴰⵏ
Top, the two Lions of Atlas (symbol of Oran), Center, 1st November Place, fort & chapel of Santa Cruz, Bey Othmane mosque, Bottom, general view
|Nickname(s): The radiant " الباهية "|
Location within AlgeriaShow map of Algeria
Oran (Africa)Show map of Africa
|Coordinates: 35°41′49″N0°37′59″W / 35.69694°N 0.63306°W / 35.69694; -0.63306Coordinates: 35°41′49″N0°37′59″W / 35.69694°N 0.63306°W / 35.69694; -0.63306|
|• Wali (Governor)||Saddek Benkada|
|• City||2,121 km2 (819 sq mi)|
|Elevation||0.9 m (3 ft)|
|Population (2008 for city proper, 2010 for metro area)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|Postal codes||31000 - 31037|
Oran (Arabic: وَهران, Wahrān; Berber language: Wehran, ⵡⴻⵂⵔⴰⵏ), is a coastal city that is located in the north-west of Algeria. It is considered the second most important city of Algeria after the capital Algiers, due to its commercial, industrial, and cultural importance. It is 432 km (268 mi) from Algiers. The total population of the city was 759,645 in 2008, while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000 making it the second largest city in Algeria.
A legend says that in 900 AD, lions still lived in the area. The last two lions were hunted on a mountain near Oran and are elsewhere referred to as "mountain lions".
The word derives from the Berber root hr, meaning lion (see also Tahert and Souk Ahras). The name is attested in multiple Berber languages, for instance as uharu and ahra. A locally popular legend tells that in the period around 900 AD, there were sightings of lions in the area. The two last lions were killed on a mountain near Oran, and it became known as La montagne des lions ("The Mountain of Lions"). Two giant lion statues stand in front of Oran's city hall, symbolizing the city.
- See also: Timeline of Oran and History of Oran (fr)
During the Roman empire, a small settlement called Unica Colonia existed in the area of current Oran, but this settlement disappeared after the Arab conquest of the Maghreb.
Present-day Oran was founded in 903 by MoorishAndalusi traders. It was captured by the Castilians under Cardinal Cisneros in 1509, and Spanish sovereignty lasted until 1708, when the city was conquered by the Ottomans. Spain recaptured the city in 1732. However, its value as a trading post had decreased greatly, so King Charles IV sold the city to the Turks in 1792. Ottoman rule lasted until 1831, when it fell to the French.
During French rule over Algeria during the 19th and 20th centuries, Oran was the capital of a département of the same name (number 92). In July 1940, the British navyshelled French warships in the port after they refused a British ultimatum to surrender; this action was taken to ensure the fleet would not fall into German hands, as the Nazis had defeated France and occupied Paris. The action increased the hatred of the Vichy regime for Britain but convinced the world that the British would fight on alone against Nazi Germany and its allies. The Vichy government held Oran during World War II until its capture by the Allies in late 1942, during Operation Torch.
Also, during French rule, Jews were encouraged to modernize and take on jobs they had not before including agriculture. Jews In the city were allowed to join the French Army starting October 24, 1870 when Algerian Jews were granted citizenship. French Jews would soon be targeted after not choosing to side with the Algerian Muslims who fought for independence against France.
Before the Algerian War, 1954–1962, Oran had one of the highest proportions of Europeans of any city in North Africa. In July 1962, after a ceasefire and accords with France, the FLN entered Oran and were shot at by a European. A mob attacked pied-noir neighborhoods and massacred thousands of Europeans in Oran; 453 have been said to have "disappeared." This triggered a larger exodus of Europeans to France, which was already underway. Shortly after the end of the war, most of the Europeans and Algerian Jews living in Oran fled to France. In less than three months, Oran lost about half its population. This population lost is similar to the Jews as many fled after siding with France in the Algerian War for Independence. As the war progressed, those who supported independence in Algeria threatened those who sided with Europe causing these people to flee.
With its location as the closest port to Spain and its prominence on the Mediterranean, Jewish refugees first immigrated to Oran to flee persecution and conversion to Christianity in Spain in 1391. This refuge brought other religious refugees that included both Jews again and Muslims in both 1492 and 1502. On October 24, 1870, with the French dominance, Algerian Jews were given French citizenship with the Cremieux Decree. Later, despite a World War II sentiment that favored acceptance, Oran still had a history marked by intolerance. There was a decrease in the Jewish population as Muslims were the only group granted citizenship protection in 1963, one year after Algerian independence.
Islamic dynasties (910–1509)
|Start year||End year||Event|
|910||1082||Oran became a perpetual object of conflict between the Umayyads of al-Andalus and the Fatimids of Kairouan.|
|1082||1145||Presence of Almoravids. In 1145, Tashfin ibn Ali perished in the outskirts of Oran while trying to flee the besieging Almohad troops, who had already captured Tlemcen, and defeated the Zenata.|
|1145||1238||Presence of Almohads. 1147 marked the beginning of a period of persecution of Oran's Jews.|
|1238||1509||Presence of the Zianides of Tlemcen and then the Marinid dynasty of Fes. The Oranians grew rich from protection by the Emir, the customs system (tariffs), trade with Marseilles, and the Italian Maritime Republics of Genoa and Venice, with whom, in 1250, Oran signed a commercial treaty for 40 years. Toward the end of the 14th century, celebrated Arab historian Ibn Khaldoun wrote, "Oran is superior to all other cities by its trade. It's a paradise for the unhappy one. Those who arrive poor in its walls, will leave it again rich." The city excelled in the export of lead, wool, skins, fine burnous, carpets, haïks, cumin, nuts, and galls, as well as black African slaves.|
Spanish period (1509–1708, 1732–1792)
Before the Spaniards, the Portuguese launched a failed expedition to capture the city in July 1501. Four years later, the Spanish took Mers-el-Kébir, located just four miles (6.4 km) to the west of the Oran. Thus began the first organized incursions against the city which, at the time, numbered 25,000 inhabitants and counted 6,000 fueros. Count Pedro Navarro, on the orders of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, finally captured the city on May 17, 1509. The occupying forces set fire to the books and archives of the town.
By 1554, the Turks had reached Algiers. The governor of Oran, Count Alcaudete, allied himself with Moroccan Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh against them. Nine years later, in 1563, Álvaro de Bazán, Marquis de Santa Cruz, built the fort of Santa-Cruz, strategically placed at the top of a mountain, l'Aïdour, more than 1,000 ft (300 m) above the sea, directly to the west of the city. Pedro Garcerán de Borja, Grand Master of the Order of Montesa, was captain of Oran when, on July 14, 1568, John of Austria (the illegitimate son of Charles I and paternal half-brother of King Philip II), led a flotilla of 33 galleys against the Algerians.
In April 1669 the Spanish governor, the Marquis of Los Vélez, expelled all the Jews who lived in Oran and Mers El Kébir sending them to be resettled in either Nice, or Livorno.
The Spanish rebuilt Santa Cruz Fort to accommodate their city governors. "The fortifications of the place were composed of thick and continuous walls of over two and a half km in circumference, surmounted by strong towers spaced between them," with a central castle or kasbah where the Spanish governor had his headquarters. Under Spanish rule, the city continued to grow, requiring enlargement of the city walls. In spite of the improved fortifications, the city was the object of repeated attacks. Notable in this regard, Moroccan Sharif Moulay Ismail tried to force his way past the defences in 1707, only to see his army decimated.
Ottoman period (1708–1732, 1792–1831)
The Spaniards occupied the city until 1708, when the Turkish Bey, Mustapha Ben Youssef (Bouchelaghem) took advantage of the War of Spanish Succession to drive them out.
In 1732, Spanish forces returned under José Carrillo de Albornoz, capturing the city from Bey Hassan in the Battle of Aïn-el-Turk. Spain maintained its hold over Oran for the next six decades.
In the night after October 8, 1790, a violent earthquake claimed more than 3,000 victims in less than seven minutes. Charles IV saw no advantage in continuing the occupation of the city, which had become increasingly expensive and perilous. He initiated discussions with the Bey of Algiers. They signed a treaty on September 12, 1792 by which the Spanish transferred the city to the Ottoman Empire. After another earthquake damaged the Spanish defences, the forces of the Ottoman ruler of Algiers, Muhammad Bey (Muhammad Ben-Othman, or Muhammad Bey "el-Kebir"), took possession of Oran on October 8 of the same year. In 1792, the Ottomans settled a Jewish community there. In 1796, the Pasha Mosque (in honour of Hassan Pasha, Dey of Algiers), was built by the Turks with ransom money paid for the release of Spanish prisoners after Spain's final departure. In 1830 the Beys moved their Algerian capital from Mascara to Oran.
French period (1831–1962)
The town of 10,000 inhabitants was still in the possession of the Ottoman Empire when a squadron under the command of captain Bourmand seized el-Kébir on December 14, 1830. The city was in a wretched state. On January 4, 1831, the French commanded by General Damrémont occupied Oran. In September 1831, General Berthezène appointed Mr. Pujol as mayor of Oran; he had been captain of cavalry in retirement and was wounded in the right hand under the Empire.
In 1832, leading a force of five thousand men, the young Emir Abd al-Qadir attacked Oran. In April 1833, commander-in-chief, General Boyer, was replaced by the baron Louis Alexis Desmichels. The city's defenders, under attack by Abd al Qadir, held their ground.
Since independence (1962)
Due to the loss of Europeans from the city, many were killed, with the rest flew back to France, the Cathedral de Sacre Coeur was converted into a public library for the city's predominantly Muslim residents, in order to make best use of the building.
Today, Oran is a major port and a commercial centre, and has three universities. The old quarter of Oran has a casbah and an 18th-century mosque. The modern section of Oran is referred to as La Ville Nouvelle and was built after 1831; this section contrasts with the older section, La Blanca.
Oran features a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classificationBSk/BSh). Oran’s climate does show influences of a Mediterranean climate; however the combination of the city's relatively high average annual temperature and relatively low annual precipitation precludes it from falling under that climate category. Oran averages 326 mm (13 in) of precipitation annually, the bulk of which falls between November and May. Summers are the warmest times of the year, with average high temperatures in the warmest month (August) approaching 32 degrees Celsius. Winters are the coolest times of the year in Oran, with high temperatures in the coolest month (January) at around 17 degrees Celsius.
|Climate data for Oran|
|Record high °C (°F)||26.4|
|Average high °C (°F)||16.6|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||10.9|
|Average low °C (°F)||5.1|
|Record low °C (°F)||−3.0|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||43.6|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||8.7||8.5||7.1||7.2||6.9||2.0||1.3||1.8||3.6||6.6||8.4||8.8||70.9|
|Average relative humidity (%)||79.5||76.5||74.0||70.0||68.0||66.2||64.7||66.5||70.2||73.9||76.3||78.6||72.03|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization (UN)|
|Source #2: climatebase.ru (extremes, humidity)|
Further information: List of earthquakes in Algeria
As Oran is located in Northern Algeria, it faces the constant threat of earthquakes that can cause damage to the city. The last major earthquake was in 1790 which killed 3,000 people. Many of the existing older buildings in the city have been reinforced and newer construction is made to withstand earthquakes from the start. While the city dates back to the 900s, the oldest remaining buildings are from the French period in the 1800s making it easier to reinforce these buildings.
See also: List of mayors of Oran
See also: Quarters of Oran
List of districts of Oran
|2||حي الإمام الهواري||Hai Imam El-Houari|
Medina Jedida (fr) or, new city in English, is a large historical and popular district. It was one of the Muslim quarters in the French colonial period. In this district, there is one of the biggest markets in the country, called Le Marché de Medina Jedida (Medina Jedida Market).
El Hamri is a large and popular district in the center of Oran, known under French rule as Lamur. The football club Mouloudia d'Oran is found there.
- Avenue of Lamur
- Street Captain-Rahou
- Sebbalet Ayada
- Place The Sahara
- Gahwat Ettoubi
- Street Staoueli
- Street Djemaa Gazouna
- Street Bougandoura
- Street Belhadri Smain
Sidi El Houari
The historical district Sidi El Houari (es) is a suburb in the north of the d'Oran city. The Saint-Louis college is there, as well as the old mosque of the Pasha dating from the 17th century. In this district the skin of Saint-Patron of the city in the name of "Sidi El Houari" rests. Other tourist curiosities: one ancient prefecture of the data base Stalingrad, the Spanish vestiges dating from the 16th century, and especially the Palate of the Bey d'Oran.
The Oranian metropolis comprises several communes.(fr)
Mers El Kébir is a municipality located in north-west of Oran, about seven km (4.3 miles) from the city centre. As its name indicates (The Great Port), it is a major port and has an important naval base, home to the Algerian Navy.
Aïn El Turk, whose name means Fountain of the Turks is also located at the North-West of Oran to 15 km (9 mi) of the center. It is a seaside town which includes several hotels and other tourist attractions.
Es Sénia, located in the south of Oran, is home to industrial parks, several university institutes (Oran-Es-Sénia University, Institut of Communication, ENSET "Higher Teacher training school," CRASC "Research center in social sciences," etc.) and the international airport.
Bir El Djir is a commune that represents the suburbs of Oran (apart from the districts). It is the future beating heart of the Oranian agglomeration. It has several buildings which are the seats of institutions as the headquarters of Sonatrach's downstream activity, the hospital Etablissement Hospitalo-universitaire "November 1st, 1954", the convention center (Palais des Congrès), University of sciences and technology (conceived by the Japanese architect Kenzō Tange), the Institute of medical sciences, the Court of Justice and the National Centre of Research in Social and Cultural Anthropology. There is as well a stadium with a capacity of 50000 places under construction.
Bir El Djir is the urban extension to the East of Oran, 8 km (5 mi) far from the city center, with a population of 118.000 inhabitants.
Misserghin is a small city in the Western extreme of the metropolis.
See also: Port of Wahran
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(April 2016)
The city had limited means of transport, which do not cover sufficiently the non-urban zones, but today it does have a tramway and ETO (Enterprise of Oranian Transport) the company acquired new and modern buses. There is an extensive network of "clandestine" taxis in the City. A project started in 2008/9 and lasted approximately two to three years, to deliver the first line of the tramway in 2010. It should comprise 31 stations, distributed on 17.7 km (11 mi) going to Es-Sénia, in the South and Sidi Maarouf in the east side, while passing by the centre town The tramway should serve Haï Sabbah, University of Sciences and Technology (USTO), the Crossroads of the Three Private clinics, the Law courts, Dar El Baïda, the Plate-Saint Michel, the Place of the 1st November, Saint-Anthony, Boulanger, Saint-Hubert, the 3rd Ring road and finally The University of Es-Sénia. The Oran Es Senia Airport, for domestic and international flights. Oran Es Senia Airport serves both, domestic and international flights, with frequent connections to the capital Algiers, served by the public airline company Air Algerie. The same company also has flights to many French cities (Marseille, Paris, Lyon, etc.) and other European and EMEA cities. The Es Senia Airport also serves passengers from most smaller towns in proximity to Oran (Sig, Mostaganem, Arzew, etc.). The airport building is a fairly limited construction and does not operate on a 24-h basis.
Oran held its first international marathon on November 10, 2005. The event, sponsored by Toyota of Algeria, attracted runners from Morocco, Libya, Spain, France, and Kenya. The marathon served to publicize the health benefits of running and to provide a novel form of public entertainment for the city's residents.
2021 Mediterranean Games
XIX Mediterranean Games will be held in Oran in 2021.
The folk music Raï ("opinion" in Arabic), had its beginnings in Oran. This genre of music was formulated by shepherds in the 1930s through Arab and European influences. This music was surrounded by controversy due to women's key role in public performances of the music, as well as the hedonistic lyrics about love and alcohol. This led to strict governmental control in the area which led to arrests, injuries, and assassinations. Many notable Raï musicians (including Cheb Hasni, Cheb Khaled, and Rachid Taha) hail from Oran. The violinist Akim el Sikameya was also born in Oran. One of Oran’s most famous emigrants is Yves Saint Laurent.
Representation in other media
- El Gallardo Español 1615 by Miguel de Cervantes and Albert Camus' novel The Plague (1947) take place in Oran.
- In the movie Casablanca (1942), the route for refugees fleeing to the Americas was Paris to Marseille, across the Mediterranean to Oran, then by train, auto or foot to Casablanca. If they acquired an exit visa, they went on to Lisbon from there.
- Paul Bowles' 1949 novel The Sheltering Sky mainly takes place in Oran.
- Part of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's Capitán Alatriste adventure novel, Corsarios de Levante (Pirates of the Levant, 2006), takes place in early 17th-century Oran. The action of the book occurs a few years after the forced expulsion of the last Moriscos (Spanish Christians of Muslim descent) from Valencia. Oran is featured as a sun-blasted North African military stronghold. Capitán Diego Alatriste finds Oran to be manned by an impoverished garrison of Spanish Christians, living alongside Muslims (some fiercely loyal to Spain), and Sephardic Jews, descendants of refugees from the 1492 expulsions from Spain.
- In the ITV drama series Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower is sent by Captain Pellew to Oran to obtain supplies, only to discover that the city was suffering from a bubonic plague epidemic.
- The heroine of Geraldine Brooks' novel, Year of Wonders, ends up in Oran after a year in a village quarantined in 1666 because of the plague.
- Joann Sfar's graphic novel The Rabbi's Cat 2 begins in Oran.
- Kamel Daoud's novel The Meursault Investigation is set in a bar in Oran.
Economy and infrastructure
- See also: Economy of Oran (fr)
Oran has become a major trading centre for the wider area, serving Arzew, the area's oil/gas port as well as Sonatrach, the country's biggest oil and gas company. Sonalgas has built a new congress centre in Oran and in 2010 the 16th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas was held in the city of Oran, which attracted around 3,000 visitors and major companies from around the world. To accommodate all visitors, new hotels are currently being constructed and floating hotels will be used in the future. With a growth in urbanization, water quality and management is being harmed in Oran; this change in water quality is affecting marine life and the state of beaches in this tourism driven city.
Oran has numerous hotels in all categories, from luxury to basic, as well as many restaurants offering Algerian specialities and other foods. Tourists will also find a variety of cinemas, arts centres, the regional theatre, an open-air theatre, the Museum, the historic city centre of Oran, the district of Sidi El Houari, the municipal gardens, Médina Djedida with its artisanal products, the cathedral, Djebel Murdjadjo, and nearby seaside resorts. International airport Es-Senia is 7.4 mi (11.9 km) from the town centre. One can also reach Oran by ferries from the ports of Marseilles, Sète, Alicante and Almería, via the national company Algérie Ferries. The Great Mosque is another attraction for tourists. The Great Mosque was built in 1796 to celebrate the end of Spanish Rule of the City.
The main museum in Oran is called Musée National Ahmend Zabana. Although often overlooked by tourists, it includes a natural history exhibit in addition to arts pieces like mosaics and portraits.Bey's Palace is another favorite spot for tourists, situated in Sidi al-Houari in the city center. It is an Ottoman era palace built of Islamic architecture, consists of harem, guard towers and stucco-painted halls.
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Algeria
Oran is twinned with: