With a population of 800,000 Oran is Algeria's second largest city and one
of the country's busiest ports as well as being a major trading and
industrial centre. Products manufactured in Oran include plastics,
chemicals, wine and processed food.
The town was founded by Andalusian seamen in AD937 and flourished under
Zianid rule, developing strong trading ties with Spain, which eventually led
to Spanish occupation from 1509 to 1708 when Oran was captured by Ottoman
forces. The Spanish recaptured the city two years later but withdrew after
an earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1790.
French colonial armies occupied the city in 1831. During the last half of
the 19th century, the European influence over the city became manifest in
Nobel prize-winning novelist Albert Camus was born in Oran and used the city
as the setting for his two greatest books, The Plague and The Stranger.
French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was also born in Oran.
After independence in 1962 over 200,000 European residents abandoned Oran,
leaving it an empty shell. It took years for the city to revive, but today
Oran has regained its place as one of Algeria's most important cities.
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