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Mers el-Kebir
Arabic: 'al-marsā 'al-kabīr
Other spellings: Mers El Kebir; Mers-el-Kébir; Mars al-Kabir

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Mers el-Kebir

Mers el-Kebir, Algeria.
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Mers el-Kebir, Algeria.

Town and port in northwestern Algeria with 18,000 inhabitants (2009 estimate), in the Oran Province.
Distance between centre of Mers el-Kebir and Oran centre is merely 6 km, and largely Mers el-Kebir is little but Oran's port, the inhabitants of Mers el-Kebir use Oran as their urban centre.
Mers el-Kebir lies at the foot of the Mount Santon, at a natural harbour sheltered from the winds and protected by breakwaters.
It is today the naval and coast guard port for western Algeria (see / Defense).

Mers el-Kebir's history stretch back at least to Roman times.
Ca. 1100: Is made a naval arsenal for the Almohads.
Ca. 1400: Conquered by the rulers of Tlemcen.
Ca. 1492: Is made a pirate port.
1505: Conquered by the Spanish.
1792: Lost by the Spanish the Ottomans.
1830: Conquered by the French as one of the first strongholds in Algeria. Town is named Saint André de Mers-el-Kébir.
1868: A great lighthouse is built here by the French.
1940: A great battle of the World War 2 takes place here. In it the British attacked their allied French, with the aim of preventing the French fleet falling into the hands of the Germans.
1962: With the establishment of a sovereign Algerian state, the French are permitted to stay in Mers el-Kebir for 5 more years.
1968: The French withdraws entirely.

By Tore Kjeilen