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The District of Fier (Albanian: Rrethi i Fierit) is one of the thirty-six districts of Albania. It has a population of 200,000 (2004 estimate), and an area of 850 km˛. It is in the south-west of the country, and its capital is Fier. Other cities in this district include Patos and Roskovec.
Fier is well known for its ancient city, known as "Apollonia", where Cicero, the famous Roman orator had studied for a small period of time.
Fier is the most important industrial city of Albania. It is built by the Gjanica tributary of the Seman river, and is surrounded by reclaimed marshland. With nearby Patos town , it is the centre of the oil, bitumen and chemical industries in Albania. Fier is a convenient place to stay to visit the major Classical sites at nearby Byllis and Apollonia. The population is predominantly Muslim. Main roads from the central squarelead south to Vlora (35km) and east to the oil and chemical town of Patos (8 km).
The history of Fier is bound up with that of the oil, gas and bitumen deposits nearby. It was founded by the Vrioni family, beys of Berat, as a market town in the 18 th century. The presence of asphalt and burning escapes of natural gas in the vicinity was recorded as early as the 1st century AD. Dioscorides, in Materia Medica, describes lumps of bitumen in the adjacent river Seman, and the concentrated pitch on the banks of the Vjosa river, Strobo, writing in about A.D 17 th states:
' On the territory of the people of Apollonia in Illlyria there is what is called a nymphaeum. It is a rock which emits fire. Below it are springs flowing with hot water and asphalt... the asphalt is dug out of a neighbouring hill: the parts excavated are replaced by fresh earth, which in time is converted to asphalt'.