Considered as a French province, Algeria was departmentalised on 9 December 1848. Three civil zones (départements) replaced the three beyliks into which the Ottoman former rulers had divided the territory. The easternmost of the three original Algerian departments was called Constantine. For over a century the town of Annaba, known at that time as Bône (and in classical times as Hippo), was a sub-prefecture in the département of Constantine: this changed in 1955.
On 7 August 1955 the eastern extremity of the former département of Constantine was split off and became the separate département of Bône. This administrative reorganisation was a response to the rapid population increase experienced across the territory, especially during the preceding decade.
The new coastal département of Bône covered an area of 25,367 km²: a population of 730,594 was recorded. The department comprised five sub-prefectures: these were La Calle, Clairfontaine, Guelma, Souk Ahras and Tébessa. A final but temporary change took place between 17 March 1958 and 7 November 1959, during which time the Tébessa sub-prefectures was transferred to the département of Batna.
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