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Position and climate

Djerba is situated at the southern extremity of the Gulf of Gabes in Tunisia, 9°10’ East longitude and 33°49' North latitude. It is separated from the continent by only a very narrow canal to the West and to the East at the level of the two southern points of the island. Djerba belongs to the Sirte Sea. Its proximity to North Africa conferred to it the role of crossroads between the Occident and the Mediterranean Orient. It extends to nearly 29.5 km from the North to the South and 29 km from the East to the West. Its coastline reaches 125 km. The Island covers 514 km2.
The island is attached to the continent via two accesses: one is maritime, starting from Ajim where a 2 km strait separating the island from the continent is found, and the other is terrestrial, starting from El Kantara via a road that crosses the sea and which dates back to the Roman epoch.
A part from that, the island has other accesses: these are the ports that have existed since the Antiquity to moor boats. The main ports are situated in Houmet Essoug in the North, in Ajim, in the West, and El Kantara in the South. These ports are situated at places facilitating boat manoeuvring by following the sub-marine wadis going close to the shore. Fortifications had been built to keep them under surveillance.
Its reliefs are characterized by the presence of a belt of high depths and sea banks which surround a major part of the coast thus providing it with natural immunity for centuries by preventing warships from coming close to its shores except for the southwest side where the lake Bougrara takes the shape of a basin that is sometimes 54m deep.
Nevertheless, the shores of the island are quite often flat. Concerning its terrestrial reliefs and except for the centre regions at the level of Guallela village where the altitude above sea level reaches 53m, the island is generally characterized by its flatness and the absence of massif reliefs. Djerba is characterized by a sandy soil. Gypsum-based clay there is covered by a hard and thick layer of limestone providing a hard rock called Essam which is used as a building material. In other different parts of the island, another limestone layer provides a soft rock locally called Echakhech which is rich in gypsum and is used as a building material as well. The studies that closely watched the geological evolution process witnessed by the island show that it reached its actual shape during the Quaternary following its separation from the continent.
The main physical data stress the poverty of this island. Fertile soils are not only small but also make it impossible to irrigate all of them because of the predominance of briny water. Moreover, like the neighbouring Saharan regions, precipitations do not exceed 200 mm per year. These rains are irregular and are characterized by a great imbalance between the seasons and the years. However, despite the fact that the water table is rather abundant, it remains briny in a major part of the island. Fresh water is only found in the North-east of the island.
Djerba is exposed to winds blowing from the northern and southern sectors during the months of November, December, January, and February, while winds blowing from the eastern and north-eastern sectors prevail during the remaining of the year. At the end of spring and during summer the island is exposed to sirocco, locally called Echhili. The island is also characterized by high humidity levels and mild temperatures during the whole year with a mean of 20.1 degrees Celsius. The year is divided into two periods: a hot period lasting from May till September and during which the temperature does not go down beyond 20 degrees Celsius, and a less hot period from November till April and during which the mean temperature rarely exceeds 19 degrees Celsius.

 
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