Bizerte or Bizerta (Arabic: بنزرتBenzart), the classical Hippo, is a town of Bizerte Governorate in Tunisia. It is the northernmost city in Africa, located 65 km (40mil) north of the capital Tunis. It is one of the oldest known settlements in Tunisia, having been founded by settlers from the Phoenician port of Sidon around 1100 BC. It is also known as the last town to remain under French control after the rest of the country won its independence from France. The city had 142,966 inhabitants in 2014.


Bizerte City Hall in Belgique Street area
Bizerte City Hall in Belgique Street area
Bizerte is located in Tunisia
Location in Tunisia
Coordinates: 37°16′28″N 9°52′26″E / 37.27444°N 9.87389°E
Country Tunisia
GovernorateBizerte Governorate
 • TypeMayor
 • Urban
34[1] km2 (13.127 sq mi)
5[2] m (16 ft)
 • City142,966[1]
 • Density3,363/km2 (8,712/sq mi)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
Postal code
Area code(s)+216 (Tun) 72 (Bizerte)


Hippo is the latinization of a Punic[3][4] name (Punic: 𐤏𐤐𐤅‬𐤍, ʿpwn),[5] probably related to the word ûbôn, meaning "harbor".[6] To distinguish it from other places of the same name, the Greeks and Romans used several epithets. Scylax of Caryanda mentions it as Hippo Acra and Hippo Polis ("Hippo the City").[7][3] Polybius mentions it as Hippo Diarrhytus (Greek: Ἱππὼν διάρρυτος, Hippōn Diárrhytos), "Hippo Divided-by-the-Water", in reference to the town's prominent canal.[4] It also appears in Roman, Vandal, and Byzantine sources as Hippo Zarytus.[8] Its Arabic name Banzart (بنزرت) and the French and English forms derived from it all represent phonetic developments of its ancient name.[3]


Vue aérienne de Bizerte
Aerial view of Bizerte (October 2008)
Phoenician trade routes 1200 BC – 539 BC
Roman mosaic with scenes of fishing and village life (Bardo National Museum, Tunisia)

Bizerte is one of the oldest cities in Tunisia. It was founded around 1100 BC by Phoenicians from Sidon.[9][10]

Antiquity : (1100 BC to 647 AD)

Phoenician ship
Phoenician ship carved on the face of a sarcophagus. 2nd century AD.

Around 950 BC the city came under the influence of Carthage under the leadership of Queen Dido/Elissa; In 309 BC, during the Greek–Punic Wars and after the defeat of Agathocles, the city and sicily returned to Carthaginian Republic, its port is used by several Carthaginian generals in the Punic Wars as Hamilcar Barca, Mago, Hasdrubal and Hannibal.

  • In 149 BC, the first Roman raids, the city was then occupied by the Romans, under the name of Hippo Diarrhytus during the period of reign of Julius Caesar, but the new city has regained its prosperity and progress just since the reign of Augustus and it maintains maritime relations followed with Ostia and Rome, as shown by a mosaic decorating its commercial representation in the square of Forum of Corporations, and Christianity spread in the city in this period.
  • In 439 AD, Genseric, the king of the Vandals ( East Germanic tribes) and his tribes invaded the city and they used the port to accomplish their invasions of the rest of the Western Roman Empire, the city of Rome and the islands of Sardinia, Malta, Corsica and Sicily. The town is shown on the Peutinger Map from around this time.
  • From 534 AD to 642 AD, the city returned to eastern Romans under the Byzantine Empire, after a defeat of the vandals in 534, and they build the Fort of Bizerte (now the Fort of Kasba).
Old Port of Bizerte
Pilsum leaving Bizerte
The moveable bridge of the Bizerte canal

Later history

Bizerte was taken by Arabs in 647 in their first invasion, but reverted to Byzantine control until they were defeated and driven from North Africa finally in 695-98, by the troops of Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire in 1535 and then by the Turks in 1574. The city then became a corsair harbour and struggled against the French and the Venetians.

With the occupation of Tunisia in 1881, France gained control of Bizerte and built a large naval harbour in the city.

In 1924, after the French government officially recognized the Soviet Union (USSR), the western military fleet of White Russia that had been kept in the port of Bizerte was returned to the Soviet government. The ships were never moved from the port and finally were sold there as scrap metal.

In March 1939, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War, Spanish Republican Navy Commander Miguel Buiza ordered the evacuation of the bulk of the Republican fleet. Three cruisers, eight destroyers and two submarines left Cartagena harbor and reached Bizerte where they were impounded by the French authorities.[11]

During the Second World War, the German and Italian Army occupied Bizerte until Allied troops defeated them on 7 May 1943. During the fighting between the Allied forces and the German Army, many of the city inhabitants fled to the countryside or Tunis. The city had suffered significant damage during the battle.[12]

Vue aérienne de Bizerte - 1959
Aerial view of Bizerte in 1959

Due to Bizerte's strategic location on the Mediterranean, France retained control of the city and her naval base after Tunisian independence in 1956. In 1961 Tunisian forces blockaded the Area of Bizerte and demanded French withdrawal. The face off turned nasty when a French helicopter took off and drew fire. The French brought in reinforcements; when these were fired upon, France took decisive military action against the Tunisian forces. Using state of the art weapons and decisive force the French took Bizerte and Menzel Bourguiba. During the three days, 700 Tunisians died (1200 wounded); the French lost 24 dead (100 wounded).

Meetings at the UN security council, and other international pressure moved France to agreement; the French military finally abandoned Bizerte on 15 October 1963.



Bizerte is on a section of widened inlet and east-facing coast of the north coast of Tunisia, 15 kilometres from Ras ben Sakka (the northernmost point in Africa on the Mediterranean Sea), 20 kilometers northeast of the Ichkeul lake (a World Heritage Site), 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the archaeological site of Utica and 65 kilometers north of Tunis.

it has to the west coastal hills forming an outcrop of the Tell Atlas with well-conserved woods and vantage points. Its associated beaches include Sidi Salem, La Grotte, Rasenjela, and Al Rimel. It is on a section of Mediterranean climate coastline, close to Sardinia and Sicily, as opposed to coasts in the south of the country which have a year-round dry desert climate.

The city is centered on the north shore of the canal of Bizerte linking the Mediterranean Sea to a tidal lake, the Lac de Bizerte which is larger than all parts of the town combined, to the immediate south. Built-up areas are in three directions:

  • South-west along the widening canal with jetties at Pecherie and Jarrouba, the latter associated with Bizerte-Sidi Ahmed Air Base adjoining the opening of the lake and military/rescue heliport.
  • North are Sidi Salam and Corniche. They are within meters of the coast and on coast-facing slopes of the Ain Berda, a range of hills toward Cap Blanc, a small headland in the Ain Damou Plage natural conservation area.
  • Zarzouna, Menzel Jemil and Menzel Abderrahmane are on the south shore of the canal, formed by the locality of Zarzouna and the towns of Menzel Jemil and Menzel Abderrahmane, by a moveable bridge and both Menzels face the lake itself. The rest of the isthmus on which they stand is the gently rising Foret de Remel, reaching a high point east of its forest area at Cap Zebib.


The bridge leads to the motorway A4 leading to Tunis–Carthage International Airport and the capital. On the town side the P11 passes semi-rural Louata, hugs Ichkeul Lake and branches into a western route, the P7, leading directly to Tabarka on the coast next to the Algerian border. The P11 leads south-west to Béja, a governorate center, in the foothills of the Tell Atlas, forks into several roads at Bou Salem, a small town in a broad fertile plain, and climbs to Firnanah passing two high-altitude lakes and also approaching the north-west border with Algeria.


Bizerte enjoys a hot-summer mediterranean climate, with mild rainy winters and hot dry summers. The Mediterranean Sea helps moderate temperatures.[13]

Bizerte mean sea temperature[14]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
14.6 °C (58.3 °F) 14.0 °C (57.2 °F) 14.3 °C (57.7 °F) 15.1 °C (59.2 °F) 17.2 °C (63.0 °F) 19.9 °C (67.8 °F) 23.4 °C (74.1 °F) 24.9 °C (76.8 °F) 23.8 °C (74.8 °F) 21.7 °C (71.1 °F) 18.8 °C (65.8 °F) 16.2 °C (61.2 °F)


A4 motorway connecting Bizerte and Tunis

Bizerte's economy is very diverse. There are several military bases and year-round tourism. As a tourist centre the region is however not as popular as the eastern coast of Tunisia. There is manufacturing (textile, auto parts, cookware), fishing, fruits and vegetables, and wheat.


Jebel Aïn Chouna
Jebel Aïn Chouna
  • The port of Bizerte is being developed into a significant Mediterranean yachting marina that was scheduled to open in May 2012. The superyacht section of the marina will be called Goga Superyacht Marina, and will have berths for yachts of up to 110m in length. It is expected that this will give a significant boost to the local economy as the yacht owners and also the hundreds of professional crew will become year-round consumers. The service industries supplying the yachts will gradually develop and bring additional employment.[16]
  • The actor Abdelmajid Lakhal was born in Bizerte.
  • The Teapacks song "Lo haya lano klum" is about how bandleader Kobi Oz' family were expelled from Bizerte by the Nazis in 1942.

Titular see

Hippo Diarrhytus is a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1989–2002 it was held by Mgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, then by Mgr. Jose Paala Salazar, O.P. in 2002–2004 and by Mrg. Manfred Grothe]since October 14, 2004. The city and see of Hippo Diarrhytus should not be confused with those of Hippo Regius where Saint Augustine of Hippo was the bishop.

Serbian Army in Bizerte 1915-1919


Bizerta srpsko vojnicko groblje
Serbian military cemetery in Bizerte

After the Serbian army's retreat through Albania in 1915, during the World War I, part of the army was transported by the French navy to their naval base in Bizerte. Serbian soldiers, and a small number of civilians, arrived in Bizerte on three occasions. In December 1915 and early 1916, after the Albanian Golgotha, then later in 1916 after the first clashes on the Salonica Front in Greece and in the early 1917 when Serbian volunteers began to gather in Bizerte. During the entire war, the soldiers were transported to the Salonica Front while the wounded were transported back to Tunisia. It is estimated that over 60,000 Serbian soldiers passed through the camp. The training of the volunteers was organized in the camp, education of the disabled but also the cultural events. Citizens of Bizerte, French soldiers and administration were highly obliging to the Serbs, especially the Bizerte governor, admiral Émile Guépratte. He was involved in the care of the soldiers on daily basis and organized ceremonial greetings for every ship upon arrival. The last Serbian soldiers left Bizerte on 18 August 1919.[17] Admiral Guépratte directly disobeyed the order from the French High Command by which he was ordered to dislocate Serbs into the Sahara's hinterland.[18] When Guépratte visited Belgrade for the first time in 1930, he was awaited by the crowd which carried the admiral on their shoulders from the Belgrade Main railway station to the Slavija Square. The street where the admiral was carried, today bears his name (Serbian: Улица адмирала Гепрата, translit. Admiral Guépratte Street).[19]


In the Northern Africa, Serbian wounded soldiers were treated in the hospitals in Bizerte, Tunis, Sousse, Sidi Abdala, Algiers, Oran and Annaba. From December 1915 to August 1919, a total of 41,153 Serbian soldiers were treated. In Tunisian hospitals, 833 soldiers died (typhus, malaria, wounds, hunger and frostbites). In Sidi Abdala, local population helped the Serbs providing food, medicines and nurture. A total of 1,722 people died there.


The dead in Bizerte, Sous and Tunis were buried in the memorial ossuary on the Christian cemetery in Bizerte. Those who died in Sidi Abdala were interred on the joint French-Serbian military cemetery. Those two cemeteries are the largest of all in Northern Africa where Serbian soldiers were buried - a total of 24 cemeteries in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, with 3,005 buried soldiers.[18][20]

Notable residents

International relations

Sister cities

Bizerte is twinned with:

Cooperation agreement



  1. ^ a b c (in French) Mnicipalité de Bizerte Archived January 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ City Coordinates (
  3. ^ a b c Dr Mahmoud ABIDI(french) (2008-02-05). "bizerteyahasra". Archived from the original on August 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  4. ^ a b Perseus Digital Library.
  5. ^ Ghaki (2015), p. 66.
  6. ^ Brown (2013), p. 326.
  7. ^ Tunisia, Stelfair. "Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie du Nord-Est Bizerte". Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  8. ^ Hippo Zarytus(in Perseus Digital Library).
  9. ^ "Bizerte, Ya Hasra, le blog de Mahmoud ABIDI". 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  10. ^ ABIDI, M. "Bizerte, Ya Hasra, le blog de Mahmoud ABIDI". Bizerte, Ya Hasra, le blog de Mahmoud ABIDI (in French). Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  11. ^ Thomas, Hugh (2001). The Spanish Civil War. London: Penguin Books. p. 877.
  12. ^ "To Bizerte With The Ii Corps". Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  13. ^ "Climate Bizerte – Table". Climate–Data.Eu. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Klimatafel von Bizerte / Tunesien" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Appendix I: Meteorological Data" (PDF). Springer. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  16. ^ Morley Yachts (2009-07-29). "Goga Superyacht Marina". Archived from the original on 2013-06-05. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  17. ^ "Srpska vojska u Bizerti" (in Serbian). Istorijska biblioteka.
  18. ^ a b Slobodan Kljakić (16 March 2015), "Svedočanstvo o srpskim vojnicima u severnoj Africi", Politika (in Serbian)
  19. ^ Beograd - plan grada. M@gic M@p. 2006. ISBN 86-83501-53-1.
  20. ^ Ranko Pivljanin (24 May 2010). "Večna straža kraj Bizerte" (in Serbian). Blic.


  • Brown, Peter (2013), Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD, Princeton: Princeton University Press, ISBN 1400844533.
  • Ghaki, Mansour (2015), "Toponymie et Onomastique Libyques: L'Apport de l'Écriture Punique/Néopunique" (PDF), La Lingua nella Vita e la Vita della Lingua: Itinerari e Percorsi degli Studi Berberi, Studi Africanistici: Quaderni di Studi Berberi e Libico-Berberi, No. 4, Naples: Unior, pp. 65–71, ISBN 978-88-6719-125-3, ISSN 2283-5636. (in French)

External links

Coordinates: 37°16′N 9°52′E / 37.267°N 9.867°E


Aousja also spelled Ousja or Aousdja (Tunisian Arabic: عوسجة‎) is a small town and commune located in Ghar El Melh district in the Bizerte Governorate of northern Tunisia, between El Alia and Ras Jebel, 48 kilometers north of Tunis. As of 2014 it had a population of 5126 inhabitants.60% of the male population of Aousja works in the culture of potatoes, their average salary being about 180 dinars per month. Since 1998 a potato festival has been held annually in July, to the producer of the largest potato is awarded.

Furthermore, 35% of women work in the textile industry. Their salary average is about 100 dinars per month.

Bizerte-Sidi Ahmed Air Base

Bizerte-Sidi Ahmed Air Base (ICAO: DTTB) is a Tunisian Air Force base located approximately 7 km west of Menzel Abderhaman, and 9 km west-southwest of Bizerte.

Units stationed at the base are:

No. 11 SquadronJet trainer squadron, Aermacchi MB-326No. 15 SquadronFighter squadron, Northrop F-5 Tiger/TigerIINo. 21 Squadron

Transport squadron, C-130 Hercules, Let L-410 Turbolet, G-222

Bizerte Governorate

Bizerte Governorate (Arabic: ولاية بنزرت‎ Wilāyat Benzart pronounced [bɑnˈzɑrt]) is the northernmost of the 24 governorates of Tunisia. It is in northern Tunisia, approximately rectangular and having a long north coast. It covers an area of 3,750 km² including two large lakes, one coastal hence saline and one freshwater being the World Heritage Site, Ichkeul lake. Its population was 568,219 as at the 2014 census. The capital is Bizerte which stands principally on inlet between Bizerte lake and the Mediterranean. The offshore Galite Islands are part of the governorate.

Bizerte crisis

The Bizerte Crisis (French: Crise de Bizerte, Arabic: أحداث بنزرت‎ ʾAḥdāth Bīzart) occurred in July 1961 when Tunisia imposed a blockade on the French naval base at Bizerte, Tunisia, hoping to force its evacuation. The crisis culminated in a three-day battle between French and Tunisian forces that left some 630 Tunisians and 24 French dead and eventually led to France ceding the city and naval base to Tunisia in 1963.

Breguet Br.521 Bizerte

The Breguet Br.521 Bizerte was a long-range military reconnaissance flying boat built by the French aviation company Breguet.

CA Bizertin

Club Athlétique Bizertin (Arabic: النادي الرياضي البنزرتي‎) or CAB is a football club from Bizerte in Tunisia. It was founded on June 20, 1928.

CA Bizertin have won the Tunisian League four times, the Tunisian Cup three times, the Tunisian League Cup once and became the first Tunisian club to win an African trophy the CAF Cup Winners' Cup in 1988.

Dar el Koudia Airfield

Dar el Koudia Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield in Tunisia, in the vicinity of Bizerte. It was used by the United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force during the North African Campaign. The airfield was used by the 310th Bombardment Group, flying B-25 Mitchells from the field between 6 June and 5 August 1943.

Today, the location of the airfield is undetermined, as urban expansion in the Bizerte area has erased evidence of the field.

El Alia

El Alia is a town and commune in the Bizerte Governorate, Tunisia.

It was the ancient Uzalis in the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis, which became a Christian bishopric that is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees.It is not to be confused with El Alia Cemetery, which is in Algeria.

Ghar el-Melh

Ghar el-Melh (Arabic: غارالملح‎, Ghar al-Milh, "Salt Grotto"), the classical Rusucmona and Castra Delia and colonial Porto Farina, is a town and former port on the southern side of Cape Farina in Bizerte Governorate, Tunisia. It is part of Tunisia's Sahel Region.


Mateur (Tunisian Arabic: ماطر‎ Mater) is a town in northern Tunisia. It is located at around 37°2′24″N 9°39′59″E, close to the Lac Ichkeul National Park.

Menzel Abderrahmane

Menzel Abderrahmane is a town and commune in the Bizerte Governorate, Tunisia. As of 2004 it had a population of 16,824.Menzel Abderrahmane (منزل عبد الرحمان) is a town about sixty miles north of Tunis on the north shore of Lake Bizerte. It is part of the town of Bizerte which it is separated only a few kilometers.

Attached to the Governorate of Bizerte, it belongs to the delegation of Menzel Jemil and is a municipality with 16,824 inhabitants in 2004 [1].

The city was founded in the second half of the tenth century by the Umayyads. It is characterized by the economic importance of manufacturing industry employs around 40% of the workforce

Menzel Bourguiba

Menzel Bourguiba (Arabic: منزل بورقيبة‎, translit. Manzil Būrgībah, lit. 'House of Bourguiba'), formerly known as Ferryville, is a town located in the extreme north of Tunisia, about 60 km from Tunis, in the Bizerte Governorate.

Menzel Jemil

Menzel Jemil (Tunisian Arabic: منزل جميل ) is a coastal town and municipality in north-eastern Tunisia, 60 km north of the capital, Tunis. Administratively it is located in the Menzel Jemil Delegation of the Bizerte Governorate. Geographically Menzel Jemil is located on the east side of the Bizerte Lagoon and it is now considered part of the city of Bizerte metropolitan area. The municipality had 41,343 inhabitants (As of 2014 census).Menzel Jemil means "The beautiful hostel" in Arabic. Remel beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Tunisia. It is also the panoramic view of the huge Remel forest.

Menzel Jemil has an important industrial zone where foreign and local firms are installed; most of them deal with textile industry and wiring. The town also has an important military base, owing to its strategic location in the far north of Tunisia. Most of the inhabitants are farmers or working overseas.


Metline (Tunisian Arabic: الماتلين‎) is a commune and town on the Mediterranean coast, in the Bizerte Governorate of northern Tunisia. As of 2004, it had a population of 7,370. It is located approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Tunis, 28 kilometres (17 mi) southeast of Bizerte and 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) northwest of Ras Jebel. The commune of Metline occupies a peninsula extending between the mountains, the sea and the forest, with a coastline of more than 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). Cape Zebib is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the northeast. The commune was created on May 3, 1967.

Raf Raf

Raf Raf is a north eastern town and commune in the Bizerte Governorate, Tunisia. As of 2004 it had a population of 9,839.

Ras Jebel

Ras Jebel, also known as Ras el-Djebel, is a town, commune, and archaeological site on Cap Sidi in the Bizerte Governorate of Tunisia.

The name of the city refers to the summit or end of the mountain, thus evoking the end of the Atlas Mountains.


Sejnane (Tunisian Arabic: سجنان‎ Sījnān) is a town and commune in the Bizerte Governorate, Tunisia. As of 2004 it had a population of 4737.

Tinja, Tunisia

Tinja or Tindja (تينجة) is a town and commune (municipality) in the Bizerte Governorate, in northern Tunisia, on the shores of Lake Ichkeul. Its name derives from that of the ancient Roman era city of Thimida, a former bishopric which remains a Latin Catholic titular see.

Tunisian Air Force

The Tunisian Air Force (El Quwat ej-Jawiya et'Tunsia) is one of the branches of the Tunisian Armed Forces.

Climate data for Bizerte (1901–1960, extremes 1901–1992)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.0
Average high °C (°F) 15.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.3
Average low °C (°F) 7.7
Record low °C (°F) −3.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 112
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 16 13 12 9 6 4 2 3 8 11 13 16 113
Average relative humidity (%) 83 80 78 78 75 70 68 69 75 78 83 83 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 142.6 163.9 217.0 237.0 303.8 330.0 384.4 356.5 267.0 207.7 153.0 133.3 2,896.2
Mean daily sunshine hours 4.6 5.8 7.0 7.9 9.8 11.0 12.4 11.5 8.9 6.7 5.1 4.3 7.9
Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[14]
Source #2: Arab Meteorology Book (humidity and sun)[15]

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