Kerkenna or kerkennah islands

Published: 08th December 2009
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Kerkennah Islands are a group of archipelago lying off the east coast of Tunisia in the Gulf of Gabes. The Kerkena Islands are low-lying being no more than 13 metres above sea level. The supreme Kerkenah islands are Kerkennah Chergui and Kerkenah Gharbi. The Kerkennah archipelago has an area of 160 km2 and a population of 14,400 (2006).||Kerkena's main town, Kerkenna Remla (on Kerkena Chergui) has a population of 2,000. The population of Kerkennah significantly decreased during the 1980s due to drought. Kerkenna were unable to provide suitable irrigation systems and, with clean water rapidly running out, many Kerkenna islanders were forced to leave for mainland Tunisia, the nearest town being Sfax.||Kerkena has a lengthy, but simple history. The natives of Tunisia and Kerkenah originally settled there, but during the spread of the Roman Empire, Kerkenah was used as a port and look-out point by the Romans, to keep note of off-shore activity. However, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Kerkenareverted to the natives. To this day, Kerkennah has been relatively untouched by modernization, and remains beautiful in its natural state.
Kerkennah is arid, as if desertification was imminent. Agriculture, therefore, is not a key industry of Kerkennah, the Kerkennah islanders rely more on a self-sufficient basis, such as owning chickens and goats for their own personal consumption. Fishing, including a lot of octopus fishing, is also a key industry of Kerkennah, where it is exported to mainland Tunisia and other nearby countries.

The archipelago of Kerkennah has to some extent hit off as a tourist ambush, though you won't find any of the crowds of Jerba. Some of the traditional architecture is preserved, but it is generally run-down and lacks the charm of the many different traditional styles elsewhere in the country.
Some travellers think that the Kerkennahs is the most enticing place on earth, tranquil and friendly. Others think that they must be completely nuts, that the Kerkennahs tip over in direction of ugly and boring.
I for my part, rank Kerkennah Islands as visually next to completely unattractive. But that may be because I am from Norway, a part of the world where islands and tranquility is found in abundance. And in a beautiful camouflage, too. Returning visitors to the Kerkennahs seem to live all the year in a busy, big town somewhere in Europe. And if Kerkennahs give them what they need, it is nobody's right to mind.
The low number of cars out here add to the quiet impression. Fishing and agronomy has seen little development, and even today, fishermen use ancient fish traps made out of palm fronds, shaped into a funnel, that ends in a trap. As the fish of Tunisia is heavenly, try to watch this process. At the Kerkennahs dream, mullet, sole, sea bass, rouget, as well as lobster and octopus are caught.
There are two main islands, plus 5 smaller ones. Taking the ferry out here, you arrive at the least developed and least visited, the Gharbi. The two main islands are connected by a causeway, dating back to Roman times. On the larger island, the Chergui, you find the tourist village of Sidi Fredj, the ruins of Borj el Hissar, the largest village Remla and the small fishing port El Attaia.
kerkennah official web site
Kerkenna or kerkennah islands
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Kerkena or kerkennah islands
Kerkenna or kerkennah islands


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