Oran (Arabic:وهران, Wahrān; Berber: ⵡⴻⵀⵔⴰⵏ) is an important coastal city that is located in the north-west of Algeria. It is considered the second most important city after the capital Algiers, due to its commercial, industrial, and cultural importance. It is 432km (268mi) far from Algiers. The total population of the city was 759,645 in 2008 (2008), while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest city in Algeria.
The name "Wahran" (Oran in Arabic) is derived from the Berber word "uharan" (two lions).
Legend says that in 900 AD, lions still lived in the area. The last two lions were hunted on a mountain near Oran and are elsewhere referred to as "mountain lions".
During the Roman empire, a small settlement called Unica Colonia existed in the area of current Oran. but this settlement disappeared after the Arab conquest of the Maghreb.
Present-day Oran was founded in 903 by MoorishAndalusi traders. It was captured by the Castilians under Cardinal Cisneros in 1509, Spanish sovereignty lasted until 1708, when the city was conquered by the Ottomans. Spain recaptured the city in 1732. However, its value as a trading post had decreased greatly, so King Charles IV sold the city to the Turks in 1792. Ottoman rule lasted until 1831, when it fell to the French.
It is located in the northwestern part of the country. Its population is 1,584,607 and it covers a total area of 2,114km². The province is bordered to the east by the provinces of Mostaganem, to the south east by Mascara, to the south west by Sidi Bel Abbes, and to the west by Aïn Témouchent Province.
The province was formed from the former French department of Oran, which was maintained after independence and was transformed into a wilaya (province) by the ordnance of 1968. It inherited its current structure after the re-organization of 1974, when it lost its western and southern parts in favor of the creation of Sidi Bel Abbès Province.
As of 1984, the province is divided into 9 districts (daïras), which are further divided into 26 communes or municipalities.
It was only in the 1950s that the Sahara was annexed into departmentalised Algeria, which explains why the département of Oran limited itself to what is the northwest of Algeria today. However, prior to departmentalisation, the two eastern territories of the south were managed by the department of Oran.
In 1956 an administrative reform aimed at taking into account the strong demographic growth in Algeria split the province into four parts, Oran, Mostaganem, Tiaret and Tlemcen, taking place on 20 May 1957.
"Département d'Oran." Wikipédia, l'encyclopédie libre. 30 July 2006, 21:08 UTC. 18 October 2005
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