- This is an island located off the southeastern Tunisian coast in the Gulf of Gabes. It has a population of 110,000, and its area is 510 square kilometers. Some historical sources have identified it with the land of the lotus eaters in Homer's Odyssey. Its settlement dates back to the Phoenician and Roman periods. Jerba's isolated location made it an ideal refuge for Khariji Berbers as well as Jews. Political and social discrimination against Berbers by the Umayyad dynasty (661-750) and to a lesser degree by their successors, the Abbasid dynasty (758-1258), prompted revolts inspired by Khariji ideology as early as the 740s. The last Khariji rebellion occurred in the 11th century against the Zirids.Jerba's economy, which had been historically based on agriculture and fishing activities, has, after independence in 1956, given way to tourism. Light industries produce pottery, jewelry, and cloth. The largest city is Houmt-Souq, with a population of about 25,000, and it is also home to the Jewish and Christian communities. The secondlargest city is El May, with 15,000 people. Ajim, with 5,000 residents on the southern coast, is the main port city.Although the population of the island is mainly Sunni Muslim, there still exists a Khariji community in the village of Guellala. Despite subsequent centuries of Berber and Arab coexistence, Berber language and culture have persisted in Tunisia. Actually, the first ethnolinguistic evidence of the Berbers is associated with Capsian culture, found in modern Tunisia. Estimates of the Tunisia's Berber population are around 250,000, although this number is highly suspect because of the state's continuous political and social discrimination against Berbers. Most Berbers in Tunisia live in Jerba, Matmata, and east of Gafsa, Tataouine, and Tozeur.See also Kharijism.
Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . Hsain Ilahiane. 2014.