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Sfax

The meaning of «sfax»

Sfax (/s(ə)fæks/; Arabic: صفاقس‎, romanized: Ṣafāqis Tunisian Arabic: [sˤfɑːqɛːs] (listen)) is a city in Tunisia, located 270 km (170 mi) southeast of Tunis. The city, founded in AD 849 on the ruins of Roman Taparura, is the capital of the Sfax Governorate (about 955,421 inhabitants in 2014),[citation needed] and a Mediterranean port. Sfax has a population of 330,440 (census 2014).[1] The main industries are phosphate, olive and nut processing, fishing (largest fishing port in Tunisia) and international trade. The city is often described as Tunisia's second city, the second-most populous after the capital, Tunis.[2]

Present-day Sfax was founded in AD 849 on the site of the ancient Roman town (civitas) of Taparura. The modern city has also grown to cover some other ancient settlements, most notably Thenae in its southern suburb of Thyna.

By the end of the 10th century, Sfax had become an independent city-state. The city was conquered by Roger II of Sicily in 1148 and occupied until it was liberated in 1156 by the Almohads, and was briefly occupied by European forces again, this time by the Spanish, in the 16th century, before falling into Ottoman hands. Sfax became an integral base of the Barbary piracy, prompting an unsuccessful invasion by Venice in 1785.

Abou Yahya Abou Bekr finally re-established Hafsid unity and recaptured Kerkennah from the Christians in 1335. The peace returned to the country was only disturbed by rare episodes, the most lasting of which began with the price of Sfax by the dissident brothers, Ahmed and Abdelmalèk ben Makki.

Towards 1370, following the arrival of Caliph Abdul-Abbbas, Sfax returned under the Hafside era.

After more than three centuries which had seen the preponderance of the Hafsids be maintained, the conflict between the Turks and the Spaniards would precipitate the fall of their dynasty. In 1534, the privateer Barberousse enters Tunis, proclaims the decline of the Hafsids and effortlessly reunites the towns of the coast and among them the town of Sfax.[3]

The founder of the new dynasty, Hussein, gave the country unquestionable economic prosperity. In Sfax, the mosque is enlarged, which regains its original extent; the new mihrâb is dated 1758, the work was completed in 1783.

The ramparts were restored and two large reservoirs were built to supplement the Nasriah cisterns. In 1776, the southern suburb of the city, the Frankish quarter, was built, reserved for Jews and Christians, a major place of maritime trade, but which was also to serve as a buffer against sea attacks, which were still to be feared. The eventuality was not long in coming, the Venetians bombarding Sfax four times in the space of two years (1785–86). A large fort was built during the siege to flank Borj Ennar; it was demolished after the last war.

Around 1830, the Frankish quarter was surrounded by a wall and in 1860 the city had a post office and telegraph. In 1876, the telegraph clerk made a plan of the city and told us about a signal tower built a century earlier and of which we have lost track.[3]

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