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by Vincent Battesti

The governorate of Tozeur (ولاية توزر), created on 21 June 1956, is one of Tunisia’s 24 governorates. It is located in the south-west of the country, on the Algerian-Tunisian border, and covers an area of 4,719 km² (2.9% of the country’s surface area). It has a population of 100,3001, making it the least populated governorate in Tunisia. Its capital is Tozeur.

The climate is desert-like: the average temperature is 23°C and rainfall varies between 0.7 and 10.7 millimetres depending on the delegation.

Administratively, it is divided into 5 delegations, 5 municipalities, 4 rural councils and 36 imadas.

Delegation Population in 2004 / inhabitants
Degache / 26 596
Hazoua / 4 162
Nefta / 20 544
Tameghza / 6 362
Tozeur / 39 862
Sources: National Statistics Institute, 2004 census

The governorate of Tozeur has a working population of 30,000, divided between agriculture (26.1%), services (25.6%), administration (22.8%), construction and public works (15.3%) and industry (7.6%).

Agriculture is still the main activity in the region (in competition with tourism). The only crops grown are irrigated and almost exclusively palm groves (apart from a few geothermal greenhouses). There are 7,750 hectares of palm groves in the region, half of which are old groves (in Degache, Tozeur, Nefta, and El-Hamma, which probably date back to ancient times) and half are modern groves (the first of which were created by French settlers in the 20th century). The palm groves, which are mainly old, are home to market garden crops (658 hectares) and tree crops (the fruit of which is mainly for home consumption). The governorate is best known for its date palms and its production of one date cultivar, the deglet noor (there are around 250 other different cultivars grown in the region).

The region is currently experiencing spectacular growth in Saharan tourism: Tozeur has a diversified tourist infrastructure with a variety of accommodation units (38 hotel units with a capacity of 5,440 beds), leisure facilities (golf course, museums, palm grove). However, the vast majority of visitors are single overnight stays on tourist circuits, which use Tozeur and the region only as a stopover. In 2008, the average number of overnight stays per tourist was 1.34 (down since 1996, calculations from Tozeur Tourism Department).


The governorate is changing. My most recent missions in the region in November 2008 and July-August 2011 were an opportunity to note many changes, in the landscape, in the regional sociology, in the discourse of some and others...

Tozeur seems to be the city most affected by the changes of the last ten years, no doubt because of its status as regional capital ( governorate headquarters).

 Two images to compare:

One photograph from the early 20th century, another from the early 21st century. The title “medina” (see the title of the second photo, which reflects a local custom - aimed at tourists) to refer to one of the old districts of Tozeur (that of Aouled el-Hawadif) is quite recent, dating back only a few years.

Tozeur - Maison arabe
Carte postale, début XXe s. À Tozeur, quartier Al-Hawadif, région du Jérid (Tunisie)
Tozeur - Medina’s entrance
Source: originally posted to Flickr. Date: le 2006-08-09 à 12:30:03, par: Véronique Debord

 Other images of what Tozeur was like at the beginning of the 20th century:

Tozeur, la grande place, au fond le désert
Carte postale écrite sur le dos, 1937, Éd Jules H. Fall B.
Tozeur, Le “Splendid Hôtel”
Carte postale, Éd. Daniel Delboy
Tozeur, Une rue arabe
Carte postale. N. D.