||This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
|Location||Gulf of Gabès|
|Area||514 km2 (198.5 sq mi)|
|Largest city||Houmt Souk (pop. 65,000)|
|Population||139,544 (as of 2004 Census)|
|Density||271.5 /km2 (703.2 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Berber, Arabs, Jews and black African|
Djerba (Tunisian Arabic: جربة pronounced [ˈdʒɛrbæ]), also transliterated as Jerba or Jarbah, is, at 514 km², the largest island of North Africa, located in the Gulf of Gabes, off the coast of Tunisia.
Djerba has a mild climate and a well cultivated soil. Its largest city is Houmt-Souk, with a population of around 65,000. The island is a popular tourist destination, particularly with French, German and Italian tourists, and is known for its beautiful beaches and dramatic sunsets. It is one of the few remaining places in Tunisia where a Berber language is still spoken. Another factor drawing some tourists to Djerba is the 1977 location of the Mos Eisley exterior scenes in the first Star Wars movie, filmed in the town of Ajim.
Djerba is noted as a center of the Islamic sect Al-Ibadhiyah and is also noted for its Jewish minority, which has dwelt on the island for more than 2,500 years, although the Jewish population has declined due to emigration to Israel and France since 1967. The El Ghriba synagogue on Djerba is over 2,000 years old and is as such the oldest and one of the most famous in the world. It was once known as the island of the Kohanim, Hebrew for the Jewish Priestly caste, a large percentage of the community being direct Patrilineal descendants of Aaron the first high priest.
The island, called Meninx until the third century AD, included three principal towns. One of these, whose modern name is Būrgū, is found near Midoun in the center of the island. Another city, on the southeast coast of the island at Meninx, was a major producer of murex dye, cited by Pliny the Elder as second only to Tyre in this regard. A third important town was probably the ancient Haribus. The island was densely inhabited in the Roman and Byzantine periods, and probably imported much of the grain consumed by its inhabitants.
During the Middle Ages, it was occupied by members of the Kharejite sect, known as the Ibadites. The Christians of Sicily and Aragon disputed its possession with the Ibadites of the island. Remains from this period include numerous small mosques dating as early as the twelfth century, as well as two substantial forts.
The island was controlled twice by the Norman Kingdom of Sicily: in *1135–1158 and in *1284–1333. During the second of these periods it was organised as a feudal lordship, with the following Lords of Jerba: 1284–1305 Roger I, 1305–1307 and 1307–1310 Roger II (twice), 1310 Charles, 1310 Francis-Roger III; there were also royal governors, partially overlapping with the lordship terms: c. 1305–1308 Simon de Montolieu, 1308–1315 Raymond Montaner.
In 1503, the corsair Aruj and his brother Hayreddin Barbarossa took control of the island and turned it into their main base in the western Mediterranean, bringing it under Ottoman control. Spain launched a disastrous attempt to capture it in November, 1510. In 1513, after three years in exile in Rome, the Fregosi family returned to Genoa, Ottaviano was elected Doge, and his brother Federigo Fregosi (archbishop, later cardinal), having become his chief counsellor, was placed at the head of the army, and defended the republic against internal dangers (revolts of the Adorni and the Fieschi) and external dangers, notably suppression of the Barbary piracy: Cortogoli, a corsair from Tunis, blockaded the coast with a squadron, and within a few days had captured eighteen merchantmen; being given the command of the Genoese fleet, in which Andrea Doria was serving, Federigo surprised Cortogoli before Bizerta, effected a descent on the island of Djerba and returned to Genoa with great booty.
Spanish forces returned to Djerba in 1520, and this time were successful in capturing the island. It was twice occupied by Spain, from 1521 to 1524 and from 1551 to 31 July 1560; again there were governors: 1521–1524 ..., 1560 Giovanni Andrea Doria. On May 14, 1560, the Ottoman fleet under the command of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis severely defeated the Holy League of Philip II at the Battle of Djerba. Djerba belonged to the Ottoman regency of Tunis until 1881, subsequently under the French colonial protectorate, which became the modern republic of Tunisia.
An archaeological field survey of Jerba, carried out under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, the American Academy in Rome and the Tunisian Instiut National du Patrimoine between 1995 and 2000, revealed over 400 archaeological sites, including many Punic and Roman villas.
In the Ghriba synagogue bombing on April 11, 2002, a truck full of explosives was detonated close to the famous synagogue, killing 21 people (14 German tourists, 5 Tunisians and 2 Frenchmen). Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. For a time tourists ceased visiting Djerba, but normal activity has since resumed.
Administration and population 
The island comprises three of the delegations within the Tunisian Département of Médenine. Named after the three towns which form their administrative centres, these delegations (with their 2004 Census populations in brackets) are Djerba Houmt Souk (64,919), Djerba Midoun (50,459) and Djerba Ajim (24,166) – the island's population at the Census thus totalling 139,544.
Historic map of Djerba by Piri Reis.
See also 
- ^ Transliteration from http://www.uconv.com/ar.htm
- E. Fentress, A. Drine and R. Holod, eds. An Island through Time: Jerba Studies vol 1. The Punic and Roman Periods. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary series 71,2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Djerba|
- Girba & Federigo Fregoso
- Ajim on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki
- Djerba touristic and social portal
- Russian site about Djerba with pictures and maps
- Cursory Mos Eisley location facts – From StarWars.com
- WorldStatesmen – Tunisia
- fansite about star wars tunisian locations
- Djerba Tourisme : Djerba's tourism website
- Djerba's lovers association
- Djerba Travel Portal