Tunisia / Cities and Towns /
City in Tunisia with 130,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate). Situated along the Mediterranean Sea, in the northeastern part of the country, it is the largest city of the Tunisian northern coast. Bizerte lies in between the sea and the Bay of Sebra or Lake Bizerte. It is the capital of Bizerte governorate with 540,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate) and an area of 3,685 km².
The economic base for Bizerte is today the oil refinery. Other important minerals include phosphates and iron. Other activities are the production of olives and olive oil, fishing, fish products and flour. Tourism has also come to play an important role along the many beaches to the north of the city.
Bizerte has good road and rail connections with other urban centres, and lies only 80 km northwest of the capital, Tunis. There is also an airport.
Bizerte is a charming city, with a well-planned modern urban centre and with an old town and harbour which belongs to the most picturesque sites in all of the African Mediterranean coast.
1st millennium BCE: Founded by the Phoenicians from Tyre as a trade and military outpost, and named Hippo Diarrythus. The Phonicians would dig a canal from Lake Bizerte.
310: Captured by Agathocles of Syracuse.
2nd century: Becomes a Roman colony following the fall of Carthage.
661 CE: Conquered by the Arab Muslims, and named Bizerte.
9th century: Bizerte is rebuilt by the command of the Aghlabids.
1535: Occupied by the Spanish.
1572: Pirates take control over Bizerte, and turn it into one of their strongholds.
1610: Youssef Dey takes control of Bizerte, and piracy continues.
1881: Together with most of Tunisia, comes Bizerte under French control, and becomes an important military centre, controlling both the northern and eastern coast of Tunisia.
1895: The French complete a new canal between Lake Bizerte and the sea. This turns the area into an ideal naval port and arsenal, with Sidi Abdallah (later Menzel Bourguiba) as the military centre. New quarters of Bizerte are added to the canal's outlet.
1942 November: Germans take control over Bizerte.
1943 May 7: Allied troops capture Bizerte from the Germans.
1956: Tunisia gains its independence, but Bizerte stays under French control, due to the importance of the military base.
1961: The entrance to the French naval base is blocked by the Tunisian navy. Many military clashes follow, killing more than 1,000 Tunisians.
1963 October 15: The French abandon Bizerte, and the town is annexed to the rest of Tunisia.
The naval base is closed by the Tunisian authorities.
1964: Oil refining starts near the city.