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Gafsa is located in Tunisia
Location in Tunisia
Country Tunisia
Governorate Gafsa
Population (2004)
 • Total 84,676
Time zone CET (UTC1)

Gafsa (Literary Arabic: قفصة Qafṣah ; Tunisian Arabic: ‎ Qafṣa , southern accent: Gafṣa ), originally called Capsa in Latin, is the capital of Gafsa Governorate of Tunisia. It lends its Latin name to the Mesolithic Capsian culture. With a population of 84,676, it is the 9th-largest Tunisian city.


  • Overview 1
  • Ancient history 2
  • Bishopric 3
  • Recent history 4
  • Transport 5
  • Sport 6
  • Media 7
  • International relations 8
    • Twin towns — Sister cities 8.1
  • Climate 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Gafsa is the capital of the southwest of Tunisia and is both a historical oasis and home to the mining industry of Tunisia. The city had 84,676 inhabitants at the 2004 census.[1] The city lies 369 km (229 mi) by road southwest of Tunis. Its geographical coordinates are .

Ancient history

Capsa in Roman times was near the "limes romanus" called Fossatum Africae

Findings at prehistoric sites in the area suggest a thriving Mesolithic civilization dating back more than 15,000 years.

The city of Capsa belonged to King Jugurtha, who deposited his treasures there. It was captured by Gaius Marius in 106 BC and destroyed, but later became a Roman colonia,[2] and was an important city of Roman Africa near the Fossatum Africae.

The Vandals conquered the Roman city and ruled it until the death of Genseric (477). The Berbers then occupied it, making it the capital of a Romano-berber kingdom until subjected to Byzantium under Justinian I (527-565). He made Capsa the capital of the province of Byzacena. The Duke of Byzacena resided there. In 540, the Byzantine governor general Solomon built a new city wall, naming the city Justiniana Capsa.[2]

The Arab Oqba Ibn Nafi conquered Gafsa in 688, in spite of resistance from the Berbers.[3] After the Arab conquest, Capsa started to lose importance, replaced by Muslim-founded Kairouan.

Historians such as Camps and Laverde consider Gafsa the place in North Africa where African Romance last survived, until the 13th century, as a spoken language.

Al Yacoubi reports that this time its inhabitants were considered Romanized Berber and Al-Idrissi says they continued to speak an African Latin and part of them remained faithful to the Christian religion.Gafsa ASM


Extant documents give the names of a few of the bishops of Capsa.[4][5][6]

In the 3rd century, Donatulus took part in the council that Saint Cyprian convoked in Carthage in 256 to discuss the problem of the lapsi.

In the 4th century, at the council of Carthage of 349, Fortunatianus of Capsa was present, mentioned as the first among the bishops of Byzacena. A Donatist bishop of Capsa called Quintasius was at the council held at Cabarsussi in 393 by a breakaway group of Donatists led by Maximianus.

In the 5th century, at the joint Conference of Carthage in 411 attended by Catholics and Donatists, Gams and Morcelli say Capsa was represented by the Donatist Donatianus, and that it had no Catholic bishop.[5][6] According to the more recent Mesnage, Donatianus was instead the Donatist bishop of Capsus in Numidia, and Capsa in Byzacena was represented by the Catholic Fortunatus and the Donatist Celer, whom the earlier sources attributed to Capsus.[4] All three sources agree in attributing to Capsa the Vindemialis who was one of the Catholic bishops whom Huneric summoned to Carthage in 484 and then exiled. However, the latest editions of the Roman Martyrology, which commemorates Vindemialis on 2 May, call him bishop of Capsus in Numidia.[7]

Capsa still had resident bishops at the end of the 9th century, being mentioned in a Notitia Episcopatuum of Leo VI the Wise (886–912).[4]

No longer a residential bishopric, Capsa is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[8]

Recent history

Phosphate mines were discovered as early as 1886, and Gafsa today is home to one of the largest mines of phosphate in the world.

In the Second World War, Gafsa suffered heavy bombardment from both the German and Italian side and the Allies. Part of its Kasbah was destroyed.

On 27 January 1980, a group of dissidents armed and trained by Libya occupied the city to contest the regime of Habib Bourguiba. 48 people were killed in the battles.

The Gafsa region has had an active political voice throughout its history, and various events there have shaped its political developments in the various phases of modern Tunisia.

In January 2011 Gafsa was the centre of a spontaneous popular uprising against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The government was swift and brutal in attempting to suppress the uprising, but this movement is credited with sowing the first seeds of the revolution that removed Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power and ignited the Arab Spring in the rest of North Africa and the Middle East.

Recently a lake appeared from nowhere.[9][10]


Gafsa – Ksar International Airport is located in the city.


El Kawafel Sportives de Gafsa (Arabic: القوافل الرياضية بقفصة, often referred to as EGSG) is the main football club of Gafsa.


Radio Stations : Radio Gafsa (Governmental) | Frequencies : 87.8 FM, 93.5 FM and 91.8 FM, Mines FM or Sawt Elmanajem (Private) | Frequencies : 90.9 FM

and other Government and Private Tunisian Radios Broadcast in Gafsa as Shems FM, RTCI, Youth Radio, Culture Radio, Zitouna, and the National Radio.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Gafsa is twinned with:


Climate data for Gafsa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 14
Average low °C (°F) 4
Precipitation mm (inches) 18
Source: Weatherbase [12]

See also


  1. ^ Recensement de 2004 (Institut national de la statistique)
  2. ^ a b Siméon Vailhé, "Capsa" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1908)
  3. ^ History of Gafsa (in French)
  4. ^ a b c L'Afrique chrétienneJ. Mesnage, , Paris 1912, pp. 69-70
  5. ^ a b Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 464
  6. ^ a b Stefano Antonio Morcelli, Africa christiana, Volume I, Brescia 1816, pp. 118–119
  7. ^ Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 978-88-269-7210-3)
  8. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 838
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Vacca, Maria Luisa. "Comune di Napoli -Gemellaggi" [Naples - Twin Towns]. Comune di Napoli (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2013-06-22. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  12. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Gafsa, Tunisia". Weatherbase. 2011.  Retrieved on November 24, 2011.

External links

  • Gafsa - The Historical Oasis
  • History of Roman Capsa (in Italian)
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