SOUSSE

Tunisia

Sousse is an important tourist resort. It has a Mediterranean climate, with the seaside location moderating the climate, making it an all-season resort with hot, dry summers and warm, mild wet winters. The fine sandy beaches are backed by orchards and olive groves.

Info Sousse

introduction

Sousse or Soussa is a city in Tunisia, capital of the Sousse Governorate. Located 140 kilometres (87 miles) south of the capital Tunis, the city has 271,428 inhabitants (2014). Sousse is in the central-east of the country, on the Gulf of Hammamet, which is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The name may be of Berber origin: similar names are found in Libya and in the south of Morocco (Bilād al-Sūs). Its economy is based on transport equipment, processed food, olive oil, textiles and tourism. It is home to the Université de Sousse.

Sousse is an important tourist resort. It has a Mediterranean climate, with the seaside location moderating the climate, making it an all-season resort with hot, dry summers and warm, mild wet winters. The fine sandy beaches are backed by orchards and olive groves.

Only 20 km (12 mi) from Monastir and Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport, hotel complexes with a capacity of 40,000 beds extend 20 km (12 mi) from the old city (Medina) north along the seafront to Port El Kantaoui. Some 1,200,000 visitors come every year to enjoy its hotels and restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, beaches and sports facilities.

On June 26th 2015 a lone gunman, later identified as Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi opened fire on tourists sunbathing on a beach near Riu Imperial Marhaba and Soviva hotel killing 38 and wounding 39 before being shot dead by the police.

info
POPULATION : City: 271.428    /    Metro: 674.971
FOUNDED : 
TIME ZONE : CET (UTC+1)    /    Summer: CET (UTC+1)
LANGUAGE : Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
RELIGION : Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
AREA :
ELEVATION :
COORDINATES : 35°50′N 10°38′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.58
 Female: 50.42
ETHNIC :Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
AREA CODE : 3
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE :  +216 3
WEBSITE : Official Website

Tourism

Sousse is an important tourist resort. It has a hot semi-arid climate, with the seaside location moderating the climate, making it an all-season resort with hot, dry summers and warm, mild wet winters. The fine sandy beaches are backed by orchards and olive groves.

Only 20 km (12 mi) from Monastir and Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport, hotel complexes with a capacity of 40,000 beds extend 20 km (12 mi) from the old city (Medina) north along the seafront to Port El Kantaoui. Some 1,200,000 visitors come every year to enjoy its hotels and restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, beaches and sports facilities.

Sousse is considered to be a popular tourist destination, especially due to its nightlife and vibrating nightclubs that will keep your head banging until the early hours. Well-known nightclubs are Bora Bora, Living, Rediguana, Platinium, the saloon.. Well known festivals fairground..The top producers and DJs in dance come and play at the various clubs. The season traditionally begins at the start of June and finishes on the first weekend of October with the Closing Parties.

Sousse is one of the older cities in Tunisia, possessing an authentic medina, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist destination, particularly with Russians, Serbs, Croats, British, Germans and East European people. Located on the coast, it has good beaches and a clear turquoise sea.

History

The Phoenicians founded Hadrumetum in the 11th century BC.


Roman and Vandal eras

The city allied itself with Rome during the Punic Wars, thereby escaping damage or ruin and entered a relatively peaceful 700-year period under the Pax Romana. Livy wrote that Hadrumetum was the landing place of the Roman army under Scipio Africanus in the second Punic War. Roman usurper Clodius Albinus was born in Hadrumetum.

As part of Bonifacius's revolt againstConstantinople, the Vandals were invited in and they took Hadrumetum in 434 AD and renamed the town Hunerikopolis. During the Vandalic WarJustinian retook the town in 534 and restored its Roman name.


Arab conquest

In the 7th century AD Arab-Islamic armies conquered what is now Tunisia and rapidly spread Arab culture across what had been a thoroughly Romanized and Christianized landscape. The Arabs seized the city, which in the aftermath of Rome's fall was but a remnant of its former self. They renamed the city Sûsa and within a few decades elevated it to the status of the main seaport of theAghlabid Dynasty. When the Aghlabids invaded Sicily in 827, Sûsa was their main staging ground.

After the Byzantine city of Melite (modern Mdina, Malta) was captured by the Aghlabids in 870, marble from its churches was used to build the castle of Sousse.


European pushback

In the centuries that followed, as Europe gained technological ascendancy and began pushing back at Islam, Sûsa was briefly occupied by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th century, was later more thoroughly occupied by the Spanish, and in the 18th century was the target of bombardments by the Venetians and the French. The French called the city Sousse.


Today

Despite the turmoil around it, Sousse's character had retained the solidly Arabian look and feel it had assumed in the centuries after Islam's wars of conquest. Today it is considered one of the best examples of seaward-facing fortifications built by the Arabs. Its ribat, a soaring structure that combined the purposes of a minaret and a watch tower, is in outstanding condition and draws visitors from around the world.

Sousse was the site of Chess interzonal in 1967 which was made famous when American Grandmaster Bobby Fischer withdrew from the tournament even though he was in first place at the time.

These days, Sousse, with a population of about 200,000, retains a medieval heart of narrow, twisted streets, a kasbah and medina, its ribat fortress and long wall on the Mediterranean. Surrounding it is a modern city of long, straight roads and more widely spaced buildings.


Historical names

Through history Sousse has come under the rule of 5 major cultures. Each of those cultures gave a new or modified name to the town. Each of those names may appear in various forms. From oldest to newest some of these names and forms of spelling/transliteration are:

  • Hadrumetum OR Hadrumete (Punic)
  • Colonia Concordia Ulpia Trajana Augusta Frugifera Hadrumetina OR Hadrumetum OR Hadrumentum (Roman)
  • Hunericopolis OR Hunerikopolis (Vandal)
  • Justiniana OR Justinianopolis OR Iustinianopolis (Byzantine)
  • Susa (Berber), Sūsa (Arabic), Sousa OR Sousse (French)

Climate

Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot semi-arid(BSh) bordering with hot-summer Mediterranean (Csa).

The highest recorded temperature was 48 °C (118 °F) on August 28, 2007, while the lowest recorded temperature was 0 °C (32 °F) on December 27, 1993

ClimateJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
 
Daily highs (°C)15.816.317.820.223.427.130.731.530.225.620.816.7
Nightly lows (°C)77.28.91114.117.820.620.919.916.311.58.1
Precipitation (mm)434835281592735443553
             

Source: Climate-Data.org


Sousse mean sea temperature

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
16°C (61°F)15°C (59°F)15°C (59°F)16°C (61°F)18°C (64°F)21°C (70°F)24°C (75°F)26°C (79°F)25°C (77°F)23°C (73°F)21°C (70°F)18°C (64°F)

Economy

Sousse is the third largest city of the country after Tunis and Sfax.

Although Sousse is associated with olive oil manufacture and has other industries, tourism predominates today. An olive grove stretching over more than 2,500 square kilometres (965 sq mi), constitutes one of its main riches since Antiquity. A busy port, open to the town centre and adds a touch of liveliness to its activity.

Prices in Sousse

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter$0.55
Tomatoes1 kg$0.45
Cheese0.5 kg$8.40
Apples1 kg$1.40
Oranges1 kg$0.75
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$4.00
Coca-Cola2 liters$0.95
Bread1 piece$0.30
Water1.5 l$0.30

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2$
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$19.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$38.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$2.90
Water0.33 l$0.25
Cappuccino1 cup$0.75
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$0.96
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$
Coca-Cola0.33 l$0.48
Coctail drink1 drink$

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets$9.00
Gym1 month$28.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$
Theatar2 tickets$
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.06
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$2.80

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack$2.00
Tampons32 pieces$
Deodorant50 ml.$
Shampoo400 ml.$
Toilet paper4 rolls$0.95
Toothpaste1 tube$

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$63.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$37.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$70.00
Leather shoes1$58.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter$0.78
TaxiStart$0.25
Taxi1 km$0.45
Local Transport1 ticket$0.27

Tourist (Backpacker)  

29 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

78 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plain

The most convenient airport is Monastir which is to the south on the coast, 20 minutes away and frequently used by holiday charter flights; another option is the Enfidha Airport which is located in the outskirts of the city; however it is still easily accessible with numerous train and shared taxi options.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

Sousse is on the main line from Tunis in the north down to Sfax and Monastir to the south. Because it is located in the centre of the railway network it is well placed to reach most of the rest of the network, even as far south as Gabes on the coast and Tozeur on the edge of the Sahara . Example fares from Tunis to Sousse are 12/10/6 dinars in Grand/1st/2nd class. Tunisisan railways are mainly for goods traffic with passenger traffic taking something of a back seat so don't expect to find yourself rattling along at 100 mph; 50 to 60 mph is more likely and the standard of the rolling stock (carriages) can be poor. That said rail services are generally reliable and above all are very cheap, even for the top class (Grand Classe Confort). They can be an excellent way to get about the country, just don't expect Pullman style travel. The national railway company, the S.N.C.F.T. has a workable website that includes timetables and fares  although you will need some rudimentary french to navigate it as the english language option was "under construction" at the time of writing. Wikipedia has an article on Tunisian railways  which includes a map showing network coverage.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

Buses (car) connect the city with most other parts of Tunisia. Additionally, there is alouage (shared-taxi) service covering the entire country. The far bus station (Gare Routiere) is located in some distance to the west of the Medina at the Souk El Ahad ("Camel Market") - the City bus station is located next to the Medina in the town center). Prices are slightly lower than those of second class train tickets, but many buses do not have air conditioning.

Transportation - Get In

By Car

Highway A1 connects Sousse with Tunis. A toll applies for using the highway. Additionally, Sousse is crossed by National Road 1 (RN1), connecting the city with the south of the country, and Libya. Roads are in very good condition. Additionally, a car ferry connects Sousse with Trapani in Italy once a week i the summer months.

Transportation - Get In

By boat

Car ferries and express boats connect Sousse with Trapani (only in the summer months, once a week for cars and passengers) and Mazara del Vallo via Pantelleria 3 times a week, only for passengers. It takes up to 7-8 hours to Trapani and 5 hours to Mazara del Vallo. Private boats and yachts can use the marina at Port El Kantaoui (a resort about 12 km north of Sousse).


Transportation - Get Around

Taxis in Sousse have a bad reputation and the best advice is to agree a price before getting in and ensure that the price is not 'per person'. If you are unsure of what a reasonable price should be ask at your hotel reception. The taxis do have meters, but the drivers are often reluctant to use them; be firm and insist it is reset to the 0,310 Dinar (0.31 Dinar/310 Millim ) "Standing Charge" at the start of your journey. One favourite trick is to leave the previous fare on the meter so that it will be added to your fare before you even set off. ALWAYS check that the meter has been reset BEFORE setting off and that it is on the correct setting for the time of day. Between 9 PM and 5 AM rates are higher than daytime rates at 0,510 Dinar/km. However, many drivers have altered their meters, and use "special rates" for tourists. A typical daytime fare between Sousse and Kantaoui, with a proper meter, is about 4,100 Dinar, but, in most cases, with a "special rate" on the meter, the fare will be about 7 Dinar. You can, however, agree the fare before getting in the taxi. Expect to pay about 5,000 to 6,000 Dinar if you do. Taxis are yellow, and have a taxi license sticker on the windshield.

Shared taxis (Collection taxis, Louages) are large cars or minibuses/people carriers which start their journey when they are full. Well used by the locals, expect to pay 10% of the price of a taxi. Shared taxis can take you further than regular taxis, connecting the city with most bigger towns in Tunisia. Shared taxis for destinations in the same or a closely adjacent city (eg. Hergla, Chott Mariem) are also yellow with a blue stripe on the middle of the taxi. Shared taxis between cities (far connections) are white with a red stripe. In Sousse, there are also white taxis with red, black, blue and yellow stripes serving destinations in the greater Sousse area (eg. Akouda, Hammam-Sousse,Kantaoui, Chott Mariem). They leave from the "Station Louage" which is best reached by normal taxi (see above).

Tuk-Tuk's and Mini-trains can get you a fun ride to Port El Kantaoui, which is about 12 km away. They are open, shared transports and start their journey when they're full (or almost). Expect to pay 2 dinars per journey at the first and 2,5 at the latter. Tuk-tuks are bright purple.

Horse-drawn carriages provide another option for a fun ride to Port El Kantaoui at no more than double the price of a taxi (if you bargain).

Hotels

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Hotels

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Beaches in Sousse

Sousse beaches are one of the most popular places for tourists, given the crystal clear blue waters and fine sand. Many of the beaches are places where families can enjoy a nice picnic. Here are a few recommendations for you.


Main Boujaffar Beachfront

As you walk along the long stretch of white sand along Boujaffar Beach, you will also find high-rise hotel buildings alongside. Everyone here gets to enjoy the clear blue waters and white sand at this beach. This beach is a great place to enjoy a picnic with your children.


The Promenade

The Promenade has a long stretch of white sand and the beach is great for sunbathing. You might want to just ignore to locals going around selling all sorts of items, or you might even want to see what they sell and pick up something. Nevertheless, it has a great view and access to the clear blue sea where you can soak in, and not to mention, the nightlife that comes alive in the evening. You can have an extended beach party from morning to night at this beach.


The Coralia Club Palm Beach

This is a private beach where you will find peace and serenity when you bathe under the sun. This beach is by the Coralia Club Palm. If you have had enough sun getting a tan and are well-rested, you can spend your energy by enjoying the water sports like scuba diving, kayaking, water skiing or sea fishing that is available at or near the beach.


Occidental Allegro Abou Sofiane

This beach in Hamman Sousse, it is undoubtedly one of the best beaches ever discovered in Tunisia. It has long stretches of fine white sand and the clean crystal clear waters are sure to entice you to take a dip. This beach is perfect for families vacationing with kids because the crystal clear waters are shallow and not dangerous for children.


Hammam Beach

Hammam Beach is perfect for wandering around and getting your feet wet because the water may not be cool enough to dive into and the water is a bit cold here. You can still enjoy a nice picnic with your family. If you are staying at a hotel, you can ask the hotel to pack a picnic basket for you to enjoy with your family, or you can also pick up some food at the restaurants nearby.

Shopping

Don't expect to have language issues as merchants speak almost anything common (French, English, Spanish, German...) - you can mix all languages if you want.

  • Medina including the souk located in the center of the city. The old section of the city containing the local bazaar, expect to haggle or barter.
  • Soula Centre just outside the souk has fixed prices, it is useful to establish values before bargaining in the souk (of course there is no fun).

Everything is pretty cheap, but merchants won't hesitate to quote outrageous prices, so haggling is necessary. Take it all light-heartedly though and have fun whilst haggling. Obviously, there is a large quantity of counterfeit designer goods available in the Medina.

Don't waste your and their time if you don't intend to buy anything and if you are only interested in taking a look, make it clear from the beginning. Say nicely and with a smile that you are not interested or that you don't have any money left. However don't feel obliged to buy if you can't agree a price.

Don't keep thinking about the price after you buy something. Think on the good deal that you have made and the price that you would've paid in your home country.

Restaurants

You can have a nice meal for around 10 dinars or less (depends on the place), but prices are generally low. For this you don't have to negotiate prices.


Budget

Restaurant du Peuple. Next to Hotel de Paris. Good couscous, comes with salad starter, and watermelon and tea at the end. COunt about 10 dinar per person.


Mid-range

Restaurant Libo; excellent fish restaurant by the port, opposite the 'pirate' ships. TND 15 for a spiced and grilled fish fresh from the port, a reasonable TND 2.1 for a beer.

Coffe & Drink

Drinking tap water is generally not harmful - some people and almost all tourists prefer, though, to use the bottled water that you can find everywhere (very cheap, for around 0,200-0,400 TND for 1/2 liter, 0,300-0,650 for 1.5 liter). Non-carbonated (non-sparkling) water is the most popular, and is called "mineral water". Carbonated water is available as well, but you must specifically ask for water with gas (eau avec gaz) or Garci (the most popular brand).

Expect to find a Coke for around 0,800 to 1,5 TND (depends if in a supermarket or hotel).

The favorite beverage of the locals is tea, with many tea based specialties being available at the many cafes and restaurants around town. A favorite amongst locals is the au menthe (tea with mint leaves and sugar) and the aux ammandes (tea with crushed almonds and almond essence). Most locals will drink it while smoking from the chicha (the local name for a hookah). Expect to be offered tea while buying things of relatively high value (over 60-70 dinar) from shops in the souk.

Being a city in a Muslim country, alcohol may be rather hard to find and quite expensive, because of little demand. Some cafes and stores will sell wine and beer, since many locals also drink these beverages. Expect to pay 2-3 dinar for a 0.3 bottle of local beer (invariably Celtia brand), and 2-12 dinar for a bottle of local wine in a store (double in a bar). Hard alcohol is very hard to find and extremely expensive (more expensive than even in the Nordic Countries), since most locals avoid it. Your best bets are hotel bars (3-6 dinar for 50 ml of vodka or gin) and Magasin General supermarkets (state owned stores, the only ones authorized to sell hard liquor - one is located on 7 November avenue, near the Sousse Palace hotel). A bottle of gin or whiskey is about 80-120 dinar. No alcohol is sold on Fridays.

Sights & Landmarks

All of Sousse's main sights are located within the labyrinthine medina in the heart of the city. Walk around and get lost in the western residential areas, which have beautiful surprises. There are signboards with a "cultural walk" marked out that you could follow. Up on the western side, the medina goes unto higher ground and you can see the sea.

  • Grand Mosque of Sousse. A surprisingly tranquil place despite its location in the middle of the city. Built c. 850 AD, this mosque is simple and austere in the Aghlabite style, no decoration whatsoever aside from a string of angular Arabic and curved arches. Even the prayer room is covered in reed mats instead of the usual carpet. You must be properly dressed to enter, but green wraps can be rented for a token fee to cover up.
  • Sousse Ribat. Whilst not as impressive or extensive as the Ribat in Monastir this fortified holy site is a worthwhile visit and served as home to a branch of Islamic warriors very similar in nature and creed as the Hospitaller Knights that lived in Rhodes. Climbing to the top of the watch tower affords you fantastic views over the Medina. TND 5 to enter; 1 more to take photos.
  • Mosaic Museum. In the gently crumbling old Kasbah on the edge of the Medina.
  • The Traditional Tunisian House (Musee Dar Essid). Extremely charming little museum located just within the old city walls. Approaching the Ribat from Hotel de Paris along the north wall, follow signs for Musee Dar Essid. It was the home of a long standing Tunisian family that has now become a museum with the passing of the last family member. The property centers on an open courtyard from which access to all the rooms can be gained, including bedrooms for the first and second wife and, in turn, to the children's rooms. All are delightfully fully furnished, with some curtains dating back 200 years, and with German clocks imported from the 1800's.The house is complete with a tower, originally used to watch the stars for the onset of Ramadan, from which views over Sousse can be gained - it is higher than the Ribat. There is also a small cafe area with great views. A must see! 4TND, 1 for photo rights.

Things to do

Play golf. There is no golf course in Sousse, but one in Kantaoui and two in Monastir

Walking around the fishing boats at the port is a pleasant way to spend time, and families with children may wish to take a trip on one of the 'pirate' ships which offer fishing and other nautical activities.

Festivals and events


A Flair of International with a Side of Olive Oil

Sousse Festivals are held primarily in the summer months. The largest and most notable festival, the Sousse International Festival, runs through July and August, while the smaller Sidi El Kantaoui Festival held in Hammam Sousse is held in July. The exception to this summer rule is for the December Mediterranean Olive Tree Festival. This festival is held in Kalaa Debira. Festivals are a central part of the way of life in all of Tunisia and you'll find it is no different in Sousse. People here get very excited for these festivals, especially the International Festival.


Sousse International Festival

The festival is widely known as having a parade with the most elaborately built floats in all of Africa. The International Festival is also known for traditional African food and dance. The parade and festival happens concurrently with Sousse Carnival. You'll find local artists and vendors here. You can also count on many concerts from symphonic orchestras during the event. As many other cities around Tunisia celebrate forms of the International Festival, this event is truly one of the largest in the country.


Mediterranean Olive Tree Festival

As its name would suggest, this festival specializes in olive oil. You can taste samples of fresh oil. You can find fresh olives and trinkets made from olive wood. There is also song and dance typical to the region at this event.

Nightlife

Sousse is one of few places in Tunisia with somewhat animated nightlife (mostly during high season though). There are 2 kinds of places: normal bars, clubs, discos (upscale) and dodgy cabarets (low scale). The last ones are local oriented (music and crowd), and though might represent some interest as a phenomenon, are often frequented by hustlers, which, mixed with a cheap beer, tend to end up in arguments and mass fights (quickly resolved however). Many bars and discos are located in hotels, though most famous ones are standalone venues.

Living / Banana / Saloon disco. Free entrance, 5 TND beer, party time 0:00 - 04:00 everyday. Conveniently located in Sousse hotel zone near Samara hotel and Movenpick, these venues although themed differently (ambiance and music), share the same positioning ("VIP") and owner ("Bora-Bora" open air disco). More chilled touristic crowd; dress smart.

Be One / B1 club disco. Free entrance, 5 TND beer, party time 0:00 - 04:00 everyday. Located in Port Kantaoui near Houria Palace hotel and Vincci Resort. A sophisticated venue with nice relaxed and partying more tunisian crowd, european / arabic dance music, lots of couches, 2 bars, dancefloor and a high platform for cheeky girls to dance in the middle. In low seasons tends to get crowded by 02:00. Dress smart.

Edge bar. 4 TND beer, party time 23:00 - 02:00 everyday. Located in Cesar Palace hotel between Sousse and Port Kantaoui, Avenue 14 Janvier, near Les Oliviers. One of the many hotel bars (with separate entrance), this one though is somewhat classy with nice and relevant (4 stars hotel) more tunisian crowd, mixed european / arabic music. A good place for pre-party on your way to B1. Dress normal.

Safety in Sousse

Stay Safe

There's no danger on walking alone at any time. Most streets are very busy till late night. Respect the locals and you will be respected. Crime is nearly non-existent, even if some of the neighborhoods of the city may look shabby or feel dangerous.

Expect some hassle in the souk (medina) and this is most normal. Merchants always try to show their goods/shops and see what you like. You have to get into the spirit to enjoy, always be nice and have a smile on your face. Even if sometimes annoying, this is absolutely not dangerous.

Women may want to avoid the red light area in the north west of the medina, reached through two overlapping walls which screen that street from the rest of the medina. Single women walking alone may be stared at, but, again, this is not dangerous, but rather a curiosity of some local men.

Most people who come up and speak English to you in the streets will be hoping to sell you something, no risk but end the conversation quickly to avoid them getting indignant when you don't buy, a simple 'non, merci' should suffice.

Mid / 5.9

Safety (Walking alone - day)

Mid. / 4.0

Safety (Walking alone - night)

Tunisia - Travel guide

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