Sétif (Arabic: سطيف, formerly Latin: Sitifis Colonia or Colonia Sitifis) is a town in northeastern Algeria. It is the capital of Sétif Province and it has a population of 288,461 inhabitants as of the 2008 census. Setif is located to the east of Algiers and is the second most important Wilaya after the country's capital. It is 1,096 m (3,596 ft) above sea level, making it the second highest capital of a Wilaya in Algeria. The streets are tree-lined with a fountain and theater, giving the town a French feel.
Sétif is one of the coldest regions in Algeria. Located 300 kilometers east of Algiers, 65 km from Bordj Bou Arreridj and 132 km from Constantine
in the Hautes Plaines region south of Kabylia, the city is located 1100 meters above sea level .
Sétif is connected by rail as well as the main national highway. It is a university town located approximately 190 miles east of Algiers on the highway to Constantine.
Sétif lay in the region of the Numidian kingdom of Massaesyles. It was near Sétif that Jugurtha campaigned and lost against Marius in 105 BC. Overcome by Marius, he was taken to Rome where was executed in the prison of Tullianum. No remains of this period have been found.
Sitifis was founded by the Romans, during the reign of Nerva, as a colony for veterans. Although no buildings of this period are known, a cemetery excavated in the 1960s seems to have contained tombs from the early colony. The Romans built a circus at Sitifis, which aerial photographs show survived substantially intact until the 20th century; today only a small part of the curved end continues visible; the remainder has been destroyed or built over. As the town grew, around 297 AD, the province of Mauretania Sitifensis was established, with Sitifis as its capital. In the newly prosperous town a bath building was built, decorated with fine mosaics: its restoration in the fifth century had a cold room (frigidarium) paved with a large mosaic showing the birth of Venus. On the northwest edge of the town two great Christian basilicas were built at the end of the fourth century, decorated, again, with splendid mosaics.
Although we do not know what happened under Vandal rule, the Byzantine reconquest brought with it a major fort, of which parts are still standing.
In 647 AD (the year 27 of the Hegira), the first Muslim expedition to Africa took place. By 700 AD, the area had been conquered and converted to the Islamic faith. We know little of the early Islamic town, but by the tenth century the area outside of the fortress was once more filled with houses: on the site of the Roman baths over twelve of these were excavated, with large courtyards surrounded by long, thin, rooms. In the mid-eleventh century this development stopped abruptly, and a defensive wall was built around the city. The historian Leo Africanus reports that a major wave of destruction followed the invasion of the Banu Hillal shortly thereafter. Nothing more is known of Sétif until the ruins of the town were used by the French army, who built their own fortress on the site in 1848, using the line of the medieval city wall and the Byzantine fortress.
The massacre of Sétif:
On 8 May 1945, the day of the formal end of World War II in Europe, an uprising against the occupying French forces in Sétif and the nearby towns Guelma
and Kherrata resulted in the deaths of 104 pieds-noirs. The uprising was suppressed through what is now known as the Sétif massacre. Estimates of Algerian casualties vary widely from 2,000 to 40,000 (see Setif massacre for details).
The local economy deals both with trade and industries. The trade is mainly in grain and livestock from the surrounding region. Locally produced wheat is processed by local factories to produce semolina, couscous and noodles. Other industries are woodworking, manufacture of carpets and metal handicrafts. Zinc is extracted from nearby deposits and there are hydroelectric development to the north. It has become the commercial center of a region where textiles are made, phosphates are mined and cereals grown. A large amusement park is located in the center of the city where the city Zoo can be found.
Sétif has a Dry Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification BSk), its summers are hot and dry, whilst its winters are cool and somewhat moist.
Due to Sétif’s location on the High Plateaus at an elevation of 1,096 metres, it is one of the coldest regions during winter in Algeria. The Wilayah frequently sees an annual snowfall of up to 40 centimeters. Flash floods are rare but have recently occurred around the spring and fall seasons. The summer is fairly hot where extreme heat waves are common around the month of July where temperatures can sometimes even reach 40°C.