Annaba’s excellent natural port and its proximity to fresh water and some very fertile farmland drew the Phoenicians here in the first place and have ensured the city’s continuing prosperity. Today, its port handles the majority of the country’s considerable mineral exports. But alongside business, Annaba has preserved its sense of history and culture. The city where St Augustine chose to live out his last years, known variously over the centuries as Hippo Regius, Hippone, Annabe, Bône and now Annaba, has a reputation for being a quiet haven, in spite of the fact that in 1992 President Mohamed Boudiaf, recently returned from 28 years in exile to head a reconciliation government, was assassinated here. Annaba saw little of the violence that scarred other cities during the ‘black years’ of the 1990s and many families moved here from Algiers and the west.
The port, the steel mills and tourism, centred around the stunning remains of nearby Hippo Regius and, in the summer, the beaches, provide the majority of work opportunities. Annaba is Algeria’s fourth largest city, with a sizeable university. Ringed by hills, close to some good beaches and with an elegant colonial-period centre, the city makes an excellent start or end point for a tour of the northeast.