Today is Algerian Independence Day

Word of the Day – Thursday, July 5th



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Coastal city of northwest Algeria
Common clues: Algerian seaport; Mediterranean gulf; Port on the Mediterranean; North African port; “The Plague” setting
Crossword puzzle frequency: 5 times a year
Frequency in English language: 86469 / 86800
Oran – Mt Aidour

Oran (population 700,000) is a city in northwest Algeria, situated on the Mediterranean Sea coast. During French rule in Algeria Oran was the prefecture of the Oran département. It now is the capital of an Oran Province (wilaya).

[Source: The World Fact Book]

Oran was founded in the 10th century by Moorish Andalusian traders, but was captured by the Spanish under Cardinal Cisneros in 1509. Spanish sovereignty lasted until 1708, when the city was conquered by the Ottomans. Spain returned in 1732 taking the city over again. However, its value as trade post had decreased greatly, so King Charles IV sold the city to the Turkish. Ottoman rule lasted until 1831, when it fell to the French.

During the French colonial rule over Algeria, Oran was the capital of a département of the same name (number 92).

During World War II, Oran was held by Vichy France until it was captured by the Allies in late 1942, during Operation Torch.

In July 1940, the British Royal Navy shelled French warships in the port after they refused to respond to a British ultimatum designed to ensure they would not fall into German hands. The action sealed the hatred of Vichy France for Britain but convinced the world, especially the United States, of the British will to fight on alone against Nazi Germany and its allies.

Before the Algerian War of Independence, Oran had one of the highest proportions of Europeans of any city in North Africa. However, by the end of the war, most of the Europeans and Jews living in Oran had fled to France. The July 5, 1962 massacre of European civilians, four days after the Independence votation, triggered the exodus to France. In less than three months Oran lost about half its population.

In the 1960's, the city became an important business and education centre.

Today, Oran is a major port and a commercial centre, and has a university. The old quarter of Oran has a casbah and an 18th-century mosque.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Oran".