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Bizerte(bēzĕrt`), Arab. Banzart, city (1994 pop. 98,900), N Tunisia, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is an important port, strategically situated near the narrowest part of the Mediterranean. The city also has processing industries. Bizerte was founded by Phoenicians. While the French ruled Tunisia, they improved and fortified the outer harbor and deepened the channel to the Lake of Bizerte, where there are naval works and the town of Menzel Bourgiba. The White Russian fleet (1920) and the Spanish republican fleet (1939) were interned at Bizerte. It was a German base in World War II and was heavily bombed (1943) by the Allies. Tunisian insistence that France evacuate its naval installations at Bizerte led to violent confrontations in 1961; the base was turned over to Tunisia in 1963.
city in northern Tunisia, administrative center of the vilayet of Bizerte. Population, about 53,000 (1966). Industrial and transportation center and port, handling 2.4 million tons of freight in 1968; located on the Mediterranean Sea at the mouth of Lake Bizerte. Bizerte is the outer harbor for the city of Menzel-Bourguiba. There is a railroad station, an airport, an oil refinery with an annual capacity of 1 million tons, nonferrous metallurgical enterprises, and a cement industry. Since 1970 a shipyard has been under construction. Exports include iron ore, lead, cement, and olive oil and other agricultural products.
Bizerte was founded on the site of an ancient Phoenecian settlement, which later became the Roman city of Hippo Zarytus. In A.D. 698 the Arabs conquered the city, and from that time the city remained under the power of the Arab-Muslim dynasties who ruled in Tunis. (From 1535 to 1572 the city came under Spanish rule.) In the period of the French protectorate (1881–1956) Bizerte became important as the largest French naval base in North Africa. After the abolition of the protectorate over Tunisia (1956), France retained in Bizerte its naval base. In 1963, after an armed conflict between France and Tunisia in July 1961 and debates on this issue at a special session of the United Nations, the French armed forces evacuated the base in Bizerte.
G. N. UTKIN