Tunisia / Cities and Towns /
Town and oasis in Tunisia with 90,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), situated in the interior on a plateau, near the Chott el-Jerid. It is the capital of Gafsa governorate with 340,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate) and an area of 8,990 km².
The Roman pools of Gafsa.
Gafsa is a centre for communications in the region, and has as its economic base the export of phosphates extracted from the Chott el-Jerid, agriculture involved in the growing of fruits, dates and olives. Tourism is also of some importance. The surrounding area has some nomads.
Gafsa has good connections by rail and road, mainly with Sfax, but also with other urban centres.
Gafsa has been an important urban centre since at least 10,000 BCE. The culture here, called Capsian, would have been central in the dissemination of cultural elements to all of North Africa.
107 BCE: The Numidian town Capsa is conquered by the Romans. Most of the inhabitants are killed.
540 CE: Capsa is renamed Justiniana by Byzantine lords, after the emperor who saw to it being fortified.
668: Justiniana conquered by Uqba ibn Nafi. It is said that he took 80,000 prisoners. The inhabitants convert to Islam, but the Latin language survives at least until the 12th century.
1556: Conquered by the pirate, Dragut.
1943: Walls of Gafsa are destroyed by an explosion in the ammunition store of the Allied forces.
1980 January 27: The Gafsa Incident, where 300 Tunisian exiles coming from Libya, occupy the town in an attempt to inspire the people of Tunisia to fight against the ruling government. Over the following days, 48 people are killed in battles. Thirteen of the rebels are hanged later that spring. The reason why the rebels had picked Gafsa, was because of dissatisfaction in the region that it benefitted too little of its own contribution to Tunisian economy.