Medjerda River

The Medjerda River (Arabic: وادي مجردة), the classical Bagrada, is a river in North Africa flowing from northeast Algeria through Tunisia before emptying into the Gulf of Tunis and Lake of Tunis. With a length of 450 km (280 mi), it is the longest river of Tunisia. It is also known as the Wadi Majardah or Mejerha (French: Oued Majardah).[1]

The Medjerda River
Medjerda river drainage basin (Map in French)
Native nameواد مجردا  (Arabic)
CountriesAlgeria and Tunisia
Physical characteristics
  locationTell Atlas, Algeria
Gulf of Tunis, Mediterranean Sea
Length460 kilometres (290 mi)
Basin size22,000 km2 (8,500 sq mi)
  average29 m3/s (1,000 cu ft/s)
a view of the river


The Medjerda River originates in the Tell Atlas, part of the Atlas Mountains, in northeastern Algeria and then flows eastwards to Tunisia, then entering the Gulf of Utica of the Mediterranean Sea. Its course has a length of 460 kilometres (290 mi). It is the most important and longest rivers in Tunisia and is dammed in several locations, being a major supplier of water to the country's wheat crops.[2]

The Gulf of Utica was formed during the postglacial transgression about 6,000 years ago. Over time, fluvial deposits from the Medjerda gradually filled up the northern part of the gulf. The succession of events during historical times has been inferred from ancient documents and archaeological evidence.

Besides morphological ground observations, aerial and satellite photographs have been used to analyze how the landscape has evolved over the past 3,000 years. The gulf's southern part was filled up in late ancient times. The sea gradually withdrew from the northern part during the Middle Ages and modern times. The Ghar el Melh lagoon is the last vestige of what used to be the Utica gulf.

Following the last big flood in 1973, the Medjerda shifted, once again, its course. It now flows through a canal originally dug to evacuate the overflow of flood waters.[3]


Historically the Medjerda is Tunisia's crucial waterway providing water to the country supply facilities, it is also vital to the people living near the river. Water from the Medjerda is used for irrigation and is pivotal to the region's agriculture.

A strategic resource, it was fought over and settled many times by the Berbers, Phoenicians, Punics, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, and the Ottomans. Several major cities were founded on or near it, including Utica, Carthage, and eventually Tunis. The former ports of Utica and Ghar el-Melh (Rusucmona or Porto Farina) were, however, eventually closed by the silting of their harbors.

See also


  1. Azedine Beschaouch, De l'Africa latino-chrétienne à l'Ifriqiya arabo-musulmane: questions de toponymie, CRAI, vol. 130, n°3, 1986, pp. 530-549
  2. "Study on Integrated Basin Management of the Medjerda River | Tunisia | Countries & Regions | JICA". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  3. Ameur Oueslati, Faouzia Charfi & Fadhel Baccar, La basse vallée de Oued Majerda et la lagune de Ghar El Melh, projet WADI