Introduction of Oran
Commercial port on the Gulf of Oran of the Mediterranean Sea, 225 mi W of Algiers. Settled in prehistoric times, it was built up in the 10th century by Moorish traders from Andalusia. By the 15th century it was flourishing. Much of its prosperity was due to piracy, however, and in 1509 Spain took it from the Moors in a fierce battle and held it for two centuries. After earthquakes, famine, and disease had decimated it c. 1790, the Bey of Mascara established his capital there. France occupied it and made it a naval base in 1831, and it became an important economic center. Held by Vichy France during World War II, it was taken by the Allies on November 10, 1942, at the beginning of the North African campaign. In the 1950s most of its European inhabitants left because of the violent activities of French terrorists and Algerian nationalists.