Entrance of the Kebili town
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Kebili (Arabic: قبلي Qibillī pronounced [ˈɡbɪl.liː], French: Kébili) is a town in the south Tunisia and one of the main cities in Nefzaoua. It is located at around , south of the Chott el-Jerid. It is the capital of the Kebili Governorate.
Kebili is one of the oldest Oasis in Tunisia and North Africa. Kebili holds the earliest hard evidence of human habitation in Tunisia (found near the town) and dates back about 200,000 years. Kebili, as many others Tunisian towns, entered under the control of Roman Empire after the Punic Wars.
The Kebili population is diverse compared to other Tunisian governorates. There are three main race/ethnic groups:
- Arabs: They came to Kebili in early days of Islamic Conquest. Most came from the Southern Arabian Peninsula (known today as Saudi Arabia and Yemen). They still hold the names of their ancestor's tribes.
- Berbers: They are the native inhabitants of Tunisia and North Africa. They are now almost completely integrated with other racial groups.
- Black Africans: They came to the city when it was a famous slavery trade center. See economy for more information.
Language and Religion
Arabic is the dominant language in the region. The everyday Arabic differs from literal Arabic to varying degrees. The most noticeable difference is in the pronunciation of the letter Qäf; it is pronounced Gä. See also Tunisian Arabic. Some villages conjugate verbs with the Arabic second person plural, feminine: You-(all) - ('antunna) أنتن and the third person plural: feminine They - (hunna) هُنّ, which are rarely used in Tunisia. Bedouin vocabulary and expressions are less used by new generations. Islam is the dominant religion. Kebili, as many other Tunisian towns, holds a great number of Soofiat Maqams (Saleheen).
The Kebilian economy has seen diverse orientations through its history. Kebili was one the main hubs of the African slavery trade to satisfy European needs at that time. Slaves were taken to Europe through the port of Gabès. Nowadays, Kebili relies heavily on agriculture and tourism.
The main agricultural product in the region is dates, or deglets. Kebili produce a very high quality date, exported around the world and contributing significantly to the local and national economy.
Beginning with national independence, the government of Tunisia has encouraged tourism projects and resorts in the Saharan region. Of these Douz, south of Kebili, is the most famous Saharian destination of Tunisia (known as the Sahara Gate).