BONA (Bône), a seaport of Algeria, in 36° 53' N., 7° 46' E., on a bay of the Mediterranean, chief town of an arrondissement in the department of Constantine, 220 m. by rail W. of Tunis, and 136 m. N.E. of Constantine. The town, which is situated at the foot of the wooded heights of Edugh, is surrounded with a modern rampart erected outside the old Arab wall, the compass of which was found too small for its growth. Much of the old town has been demolished, and its general character now is that of a flourishing French city. The streets are wide and well laid out, but some are very steep. Through the centre of the town runs a broad tree-lined promenade, the Cours Jérôme-Bertagna, formerly the Cours National, in which are the principal buildings - theatre, banks, hotels. At its southern end, by the quay, is a bronze statue of Thiers, and at the northern end, the cathedral of St Augustine, a large church built in quasi-Byzantine style. In it is preserved a relic supposed to be the right arm of St Augustine, brought from Pavia in 1842. The Grand Mosque, built out of ruins of the ancient Hippo, occupies one side of the chief square, the Place d'Armes. There are barracks with accommodation for 3000 men, and civil and military hospitals. The Kasbah (citadel) stands on a hill at the north-east of the town. The inner harbour, covering 25 acres, is surrounded by fine quays at which vessels drawing 22 ft. can be moored. Beyond is a spacious outer harbour, built 1857-1868 and enlarged in 1905-1907. Bona is in direct steamship communication with Marseilles, and is the centre of a large commerce, ranking after Algiers and Oran alone in Algeria. It imports general merchandise and manufactures, and exports phosphates, iron, zinc, barley, sheep, wool, cork, esparto, etc. There are manufactories of native garments, tapestry and leather. The marshes at the mouths of the Seybuse and Bujema rivers, which enter the sea to the south of Bona, have been drained by a system of canals, to the improvement of the sanitary condition of the town, which has the further advantage of an abundant water supply obtained from the Edugh hills. There are cork woods and marble quarries in the vicinity, and the valley of the Seybuse and the neighbouring plains are rich in agricultural produce. The population of the town of Bona in 1906 was 36,004, of the commune 42,934, of the arrondissement, which includes La Calle (q.v.) and 11 other communes, 77,803.
Bona is identified with the ancient Aphrodisium, the seaport of Hippo Regius or Ubbo, but it derives its name from the latter city, the ruins of which, consisting of large cisterns, now restored, and fragments of walls, are about a mile to the south of the town. In the first three centuries of the Christian era Hippo was one of the richest cities in Roman Africa; but its chief title to fame is derived from its connexion with St Augustine, who lived here as priest and bishop for thirty-five years. Hippo was captured by the Vandals under Genseric in 431, after a siege of fourteen months, during which Augustine died. Only the cathedral, together with Augustine's library and MSS., escaped the general destruction. The town Avas partially restored by Belisarius, and again sacked by the Arabs in the 7th century. On the top of the hill on which Hippo stood, a large basilica, with chancel towards the west, dedicated to St Augustine, was opened in 1900. An altar surmounted by a bronze statue of the saint has also been erected among the ruins. The place was named Hippo Regius (Royal) by the Romans because it was a favourite residence of the Numidian kings. Bona (Arabic annaba, "the city of jujube trees"), which has passed through many vicissitudes, was built by the Arabs, and was for centuries a possession of the rulers of Tunis, who built the Kasbah in 1300. From the beginning of the 14th to the middle of the 15th century it was frequented by Italians and Spaniards, and in the 16th it was held for some time by Charles V., who strengthened its citadel. Thereafter it was held in turn by Genoese, Tunisians and Algerines. From the time of Louis XIV. to the Revolution, the French Compagnie d'Afrique maintained a very active trade with the port. The town was occupied by the French for a few months in 1830 and reoccupied in 1832, when Captains Armandy and Yusuf with a small force of marines seized the Kasbah and held it for some months until help arrived. From that time the history of Bona is one of industrial development, greatly stimulated since 1883 by the discovery of the phosphate beds at Tebessa.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)