City and capital of the department of Constantine in northeast Algeria; population (2008 est) 465,100. It lies 320 km/200 mi south of the capital, Algiers. Products include carpets and leather and woollen goods. The oldest city in Algeria, it was the capital of the Roman province of Numidia, but declined and was ruined, then restored in 313 by Constantine the Great, whose name it bears. It was subsequently ruled by Vandals, Arabs, and Turks and was captured by the French in 1837.
The city is situated 655 m/2,149 ft above sea level, on an isolated chalk rock, around which the River Rhumel flows through a deep ravine. Constantine consists of a European quarter and an old Arab quarter, which has preserved much of its original character. There are local saddlers and shoemakers. The city has railway links with Algiers, Biskra, Annaba, Skikda (the port of Constantine), and Tunis. There is an international airport, and the university was founded in 1969.
History Originally called Cirta, Constantine was a city of the Massylii, the easternmost tribe of Numidia, and the capital of the Numidian chief Syphax and of the king of the Massylii Massinissa and his successors. In the Jugurthine War (111–106 BC), Adherbal (the ruler of eastern Numidia, as designated by the Romans) was besieged here by the Numidian king Jugurtha, and the town was compelled to surrender. It was destroyed in AD 311, but was rebuilt by Constantine the Great in 313 and renamed after him; it was later taken by the Arabs in 710, and by the French in 1837.
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