The Port of Bizerte lies on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in northern Tunisia on an 8-9 kilometer channel linking Lake Bizerte with the sea. The Port of Bizerte is 66 kilometers north-northwest of Tunis and just 15 kilometers from Africa's northernmost point at Cap Blanc, about 125 nautical miles east of Sicily and 110 nautical miles south of Sardinia. In 2004, over 114 thousand people called the Port of Bizerte home.
The economy of the Port of Bizerte is diverse, with several military bases and tourism throughout the year. Local manufacturers produce cookware, textiles, and auto parts. Other industries include fishing and agriculture. The area around the Port of Bizerte is well-known for its wonderful scenery, lush forests, and great beaches. Currently, the Port of Bizerte is being developed as a yachting marina for Mediterranean super-yachts.
Phoenicians from Tyre founded the Port of Bizerte in about 1000 BC, making it the oldest town in Tunisia. A small harbor for the Phoenicians, the Port of Bizerte was taken over by Carthage during the Punic Wars. The Romans then occupied the city, calling it Hyppo Diarrhytus or Zarrytus.
The Arabs conquered the Port of Bizerte in 647, giving it its modern name. In 1535, the Port of Bizerte was occupied by the Spanish, and they held it until 1572. In 1574, the Turks overran the Port of Bizerte. After that, it was a harbor and stronghold for privateers.
In 1878, the Treaty of Berlin gave control of the Port of Bizerte to France. The French built a large naval base there in 1881. In 1895, the French finished the canal that links Lake Bizerte with the Mediterranean Sea, making the lake a good anchorage for ships. The canal also changed the city's layout. The new town began to grow up around the canal and its outlet to the Mediterranean, away from the old town and its an ancient wall.
For many years, the western fleet of White Russia was anchored in the Port of Bizerte. In 1924 when the French government recognized the Soviet Union, they transferred ownership of the fleet back to Russia. However, the ships never left the port, and they were finally sold as scrap.
The Port of Bizerte was an important city during World War II because forces there could control the Straits of Sicily. The Port of Bizerte was occupied by Germany in 1942. The Allies retook the city in 1943.
Because the Port of Bizerte is in a desirable strategic location, France controlled the city even after Tunisia's independence in 1956. The Tunisian Army and Navy blockaded the Port of Bizerte in 1961 and then attacked the French. The battle ended with 700 Tunisian dead, including civilian volunteers, and 24 French dead. The French finally left the Port of Bizerte in late 1963.
Today, the Port of Bizerte is a modern seaport, a free-trade zone, and regional trade center. It is also a popular beach resort. Its exports include fish, iron ore, phosphates, and cereals. The Port of Bizerte's main industry is oil refining, although there are also some fish canneries.
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