3, but the operation partook merely of the nature of a reconnaissance, and for some time hostilities were confined to a blockade of the Ottoman coasts,' defensive steps in Egypt, and the seizure of the Shat el Arab and Basrah.
Gabes lies at the head of the shat country of Tunisia and is intimately connected with the scheme of Commandant Roudaire to create a Saharan sea by making a channel from the Mediterranean to these shats (large salt lakes below the level of the sea).
They are called by the French (with their usual inaccuracy of pronunciation and spelling) "chotts"; the word should really be the Arabic shat, an Arab term for a broad canal, an estuary or lake.
They are smooth depressed areas (in the case of the largest, the Shat el Jerid, lying a few feet below the level of the Mediterranean), which for more than half the year are expanses of dried mud covered with a thick incrustation of white or grey salt.
It would seem probable that at one time these shats (at any rate the Shat el Jerid) were an inlet of the Mediterranean, which by the elevation of a narrow strip of land on the Gulf of Gabes has been cut off from them.
On the other hand, the flora of the shat region, of the south-eastern littoral, and of the Kerkena islands opposite Sfax, is thoroughly Saharan, with a dash, as it were, in places of an African element.
Other towns of Tunisia are, on the east coast, Nabeul, pop. about 5000, the ancient Neapolis, noted for the mildness of its climate and its pottery manufactures; Hammamet with 37 00 inhabitants; Monastir (the Ruspina of the Romans), a walled town with 5600 inhabitants and a trade in cereals and oils; Mandiya or Mandia (q.v.; in ancient chronicles called the city of Africa and sometimes the capital of the country) with 8500 inhabitants, the fallen city of the Fatimites, which since the French occupation has risen from its ruins, and has a new harbour (the ancient Cothon or harbour, of Phoenician origin, cut out of the rock is nearly dry but in excellent preservation); and Gabes (Tacape of the Romans, Qabis of the Arabs) on the Syrtis, a group of small villages, with an aggregate population of 16,000, the port of the Shat country and a depot of the esparto trade.
In the high plateaus are the Shat-el-Gharbi or Western Shat, the Shat-el-Shergui or Eastern Shat, the ZarhezGharbi and the Zarhez-Shergui, the Shat-el-Hodna and a number of others.
South of the Jebel Aures is another series of salt lakes closely connected with the Shat-el-Jerid (of Tunisia).
The chief of these is the Shat Melrir.
Biskra is the capital of the Ziban (plural of Zab), a race of mixed Berber and Arab origin, whose villages extend from the southern slopes of the Aures to the Shat Melrir.
The Indian Ocean receives few large rivers, the chief being the Zambezi, the Shat-el-Arab, the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Irawadi.