Oran was founded in the 10th century by the Moors, but was captured by the Spanish in 1509. From 1708 to 1732 and from 1791 to 1831, the city was part of the Ottoman Empire, until it fell to the French. During World War II, Oran was held by Vichy France until it was captured by the Allies in late 1942. The folk music Rai had its beginnings in Oran.
In July 1940 the British Royal Navy shelled French warships in the port after they refused to respond to a British ultimatum designed to ensure they would not fall into German hands. The action sealed the hatred of Vichy France for Great Britain but convinced the world, especially the United States, of the British will to fight on alone against Nazi Germany and its allies.
Today, Oran is a major port and has a university.