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town located in east-central Tunisia. It is an important port and commercial centre that originated as the Phoenician settlement of Hadrumetum. Used by Hannibal as his base during the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE), Sousse changed its allegiance during the Third Punic War (149-146 BCE) and consequently gained the status of a free town. It declined under Arab control but was revived by the Aghlabid rulers of Kairouan (Al-Qayrawan) in the 9th century, whose port it remained until the invasions of the Bedouin Arabs in the 11th century. Sousse was reestablished as a prominent port under the French protectorate (1881-1955); during World War II, the town and its port were seriously damaged.