Considered as an integral piece of French territory, Algeria was departmentalised on 9 December 1848, and thereby was administratively structured in the same way as metropolitan France. 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 Batna, was a sub-prefecture in the département of Constantine: this changed in 1957.
On 20 May 1957 the Batna sub-prefecture was split off and became a separate département. This administrative reorganisation was undertaken in response to the rapid population increase experienced across the territory, especially during the preceding decade. The new département of Batna was located directly to the south of the newly created département of Sétif and the newly diminished département of Constantine.
The 1957 departmental reorganisation was marked by a change in the "suffix" number appearing on automobile license plates and in other places that used the same code. Until 1957, as part of the département of Constantine, Batna was identified by the department number "93": after 1957 the département of Batna became department number "9B". (In 1968, under a law enacted in 1964, the number "93" would be reallocated to a new département comprising the northern suburbs of Paris.)
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