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|Location||Gulf of Gabès|
|Area||514 km2 (198 sq mi)|
|Largest settlement||Houmt Souk (pop. 74,808)|
|Population||158,941 (as of 2013 Estimate)|
|Density||309 /km2 (800 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Berber, Arabs and Black African|
Djerba (Arabic: جربة ˈʒɪrbæ), also transliterated as Jerba or Jarbah, is, at 514 square kilometres (198 sq mi), the largest island of North Africa, located in the Gulf of Gabes, off the coast of Tunisia. It had a population of 139,544 at the 2004 Census, while the latest official estimate (as at 1 July 2013) is 158,941.
The island, which was called Meninx until the third century AD, includes 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 priceless murex dye, and is cited by Pliny the Elder as second only to Tyre in this regard. A third important town was 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, Djerba was occupied by members of the Kharejite (Ibadite) sect, who claimed it as their own. The Christians of Sicily and Aragon disputed this claim with the Ibadites. Remains from this period include numerous small mosques dating from 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, whose times in power partially overlapped with those of the Lords: c. 1305–1308 Simon de Montolieu, 1308–1315 Raymond Montaner.
In 1503, the corsair (pirate) Aruj and his brother Hayreddin Barbarossa took control of the island and turned it into their main base in the western Mediterranean, thus 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 educator, 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. Soon after, he carried out an invasion and occupation of the island 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 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. From that time until 1881, Djerba belonged to the Ottoman regency of Tunis.
An archaeological field survey of Djerba, carried out between 1995 and 2000 under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, the American Academy in Rome and the Tunisian Institut National du Patrimoine, revealed over 400 archaeological sites, including many Punic and Roman villas.
Titular see of Girba
The Ancient diocese of Girba was nominally restored in 1895 as a Latin titular bishopric of the lowest (episcopal) rank.
So far, it has had the following incumbents :
- Victor Roelens, White Fathers (M. Afr.) (1895.03.30 – 1947.08.05)
- Carlos Eduardo de Sabóia Bandeira Melo, Friars Minor (O.F.M.) (1947.12.13 – 1958.04.11)
- Henryk Strakowski (1958.05.03 – 1965.05.06)
- Mariano Gaviola y Garcés (1967.05.31 – 1981.04.13) as former Bishop of Cabanatuan (Philippines) (1963.03.08 – 1967.05.31), Military Vicar of Philippines (1974.03.02 – 1981.04.13), President of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (1977 – 1984), Metropolitan Archbishop of Lipa (Philippines) (1981.04.13 – 1992.12.30)
- Jacques David (1981.07.27 – 1985.02.21)
- Paul Kim Ok-kyun (김옥균 바오로) (1985.03.09 – 2010.03.01)
- Victor Emilio Masalles Pere, Auxiliary Bishop of Santo Domingo (2010.05.08 – ...)
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 and their estimated population as at 1 July 2013, are:
Estimate 1 July 2013
|Djerba Houmet Souk||جربة حومة السوق||64,919||74,808|
|Djerba Midoun||جربة ميدون||50,459||58,575|
|Djerba Ajim||جربة أجيم||24,166||25,558|
Berber languages (called chelha) are spoken by some villages on the island, including Guellala, Iquallalen, Ajim, Sedriane, Sedouikech, Azdyuch, Mahboubine and Ouirsighen.
History of Djerba's Jewish community
This community is unique in Jewish history for its unusually high percentage of Kohanim (Hebrew; the Jewish Priestly caste), direct Patrilineal descendants of Aaron, the first Biblical high priest. Because of this, the island is known among Jews as the island of the Kohanim. One of the community's synagogues, known simply as El Ghriba synagogue, is one of the most famous synagogues in the world. This is because it has been in continuous use for over 2,000 years.  In the aftermath of World War II, the Jewish population on the island declined significantly due to emigration to Israel and France. As of 2011[update], the permanent resident community on the island numbered about 1000, but many return annually on pilgrimage.
On April 11, 2002, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a truck bomb attack close to the famous synagogue, killing 21 people (14 German tourists, 5 Tunisians and 2 French nationals). Although tourists ceased visiting Djerba for some time after this event, normal activity has since resumed.
Djerba has a mild climate and fertile soil. Its largest city is Houmt-Souk, with a population of around 65,000. Known for its beautiful beaches and dramatic sunsets, the island is a popular tourist destination, particularly with French, German and Italian tourists. 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 that, in 1977, the town of Ajim was used as the setting for the Mos Eisley exterior scenes in the first Star Wars movie.
|Climate data for Djerba|
|Record high °C (°F)||28.3
|Average high °C (°F)||15.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||12.5
|Average low °C (°F)||8.9
|Record low °C (°F)||0.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||28.5
|Average precipitation days||4||4||3||3||2||1||0||0||2||4||4||4||31|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69||67||66||66||65||66||63||65||69||68||67||70||67|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||207.7||207.2||244.9||264.0||313.1||321.0||375.1||350.3||276.0||248.0||213.0||204.6||3,224.9|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||6.7||7.4||7.9||8.8||10.1||10.7||12.1||11.3||9.2||8.0||7.1||6.6||8.8|
|16 °C (61 °F)||15 °C (59 °F)||16 °C (61 °F)||17 °C (63 °F)||19 °C (66 °F)||22 °C (72 °F)||26 °C (79 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)||22 °C (72 °F)||18 °C (64 °F)|
Historic map of Djerba by Piri Reis.
- ^ Transliteration from http://www.uconv.com/ar.htm
- Polybius; Strabo 1.2.17.
- 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.
- Teich, Shmuel (1982). The Rishonim. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications. ISBN 0-89906-452-3.
- International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Tunisia. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Hotel Meninx, Ile de Jerba - Hotel Reviews, Photos, & Rates - VirtualTourist
- Tunisian Cleric Says Jews are Apes - Middle East - News - Israel National News
- Ettinger, Yair (2011-01-17). "Sociologist Claude Sitbon, do the Jews of Tunisia have reason to be afraid? - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Tunisian bomb attack trial opens, BBC
- "Jerba Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
- "Djerba Climate and Weather Averages, Tunisia". Weather2Travel. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Djerba.|
- Girba & Federigo Fregoso
- GigaCatholic with titular see incumbent biography links
- Cursory Mos Eisley location facts – From StarWars.com
- WorldStatesmen – Tunisia