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Biskra, Algeria

City and oasis in north-eastern Algeria with 190,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), at the northern edge of the Sahara. Biskra is the centre of the Zab group of oases located in the depression between the Aurès Mountains and the Tell Atlas Mountains.
It is the capital of Biskra province with 650,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate) and an area of 20,986 km².
The economy is mainly based on large scale agriculture, which is made possible with water collected in the Wadi Biskra Dam, and distributed by irrigation. The main product is dates, of which the high-quality Deglet Nur is grown in the Tolga oasis 40 km to the west. Other important products include wheat and barley, figs, pomegranates, apricots and olives. National tourism is also of importance to Biskra, due to its nice winter climate and sulfur springs, which are used both for recreation and the treatment of rheumatism and skin diseases.
Biskra is well-connected with other urban centres in Algeria, with road, rail and a national airport. Batna lies 120 km northeast and El Oued 230 km southeast.
Biskra is nice city with broad, tree-lined streets and many public gardens.

The area was the site of the Roman military post of Vescera.
9th century: The area is conquered by the Muslims.
12th century: The Zab gains partial independence, and Biskra serves as capital.
13th century: Falls to the Hafsid dynasty.
1552: Conquered by the Ottomans.
1844: The French conquer Biskra and establish a garrison here.
1849: A fort, named Saint-Germain, is built on the site of the former kasbah. It is finished 2 years later.
1969: Great floods destroy much of the Zab oasis.

By Tore Kjeilen