The Port of Annaba lies at the mouth of the Wadi Seybouse in northeastern Algeria near the border with Tunisia. Algeria’s fourth largest city and an important industrial center, it is located on a natural harbor in Annaba Province. Known for its wonderful beaches and family-oriented nightlife, most of the city’s tourists come from Italy and France.
The Port of Annaba is the main exporter of minerals for Algeria. It is ringed by forests, rich farm land, and mines. It is also an important trading and fishing port with road and rail connections to Algiers and other northeastern Algerian cities. The Port of Annaba’s main industries include aluminum works, an iron and steel complex, automobile and rail shops, and a fertilizer plant. In 2002, over 258 thousand people called the Port of Annaba home.
People have lived in the region around Annaba for many years. Archaeological evidence suggests inhabitants as early as 200,000 BC, where the artifacts reveal great skill at making tools. Other tools indicated human habitation around 100,000 BC, and advanced flake tools from the Stone Age have been found. Other tools dating from around 85,000 BC were found south of Annaba at the Bir el Ater site. Phoenicians probably founded the village in the 12th Century BC.
The Port of Annaba has long been a busy point for water-based trade and commerce. Romans occupied the area they called Hippo Regius in the 1st and 2nd Centuries BC, which became the home of the kings of Numidia after the Punic Wars. In the Christian era, it became a philosophical and religious center, being the bishopric of St. Augustineat the turn of the 5th Century AD. The Port of Annaba was destroyed by Vandals in 431 and conquered by the Byzantine Empire in 533. At the end of the 7th Century, it fell to the Arabs.
Long a refuge for pirates, the Port of Annaba remained a village for centuries until it was captured by the French in 1832. The French called it Bone, and it was home to more European colonists than most cities in Africa. The French installed the early port as a place for the movement of mineral and agricultural goods from surrounding country. In 1870, they dedicated 80 hectares to the port, installing quays of 590 meters on the north and south piers. About 1885, a new 47-hectare harbor was constructed by dredging and new quays appeared.
In 1962, Algeria won its independence from France, and they undertook expansions and improvements to the port. New stations were added to handle coal imports and iron and steel exports, and a new fishing port was opened. In 1997, a new general-purpose terminal for roll-on/roll-off cargo and containers was opened.
Today, the Port of Annaba’s old town is near the city center, with narrow winding streets and early French houses. Also in the old town are the 11th Century Mosque of Sidi Bou Merouan (built with columns from Roman ruins) and the 1787 Mosque of Salah Bey. The modern city has grown up since 1970 on both sides of the main road.