Ouargla (wärˈglä) [key], town and oasis, E Algeria. It is the administrative center of a well-watered oasis at the junction of several Saharan desert caravan routes. Ouargla lies in the heart of a palm grove numbering more than 500,000 productive trees. The Hassi Messaoud oil fields are nearby as well as natural gas deposits. The oasis was settled c.A.D. 1000 by Muslims of the Kharijite sect, who were fleeing religious persecution. It became a small city-state which, from the 16th cent., paid tribute to the Turks. The town was conquered by French forces in 1853. It has a museum of Sahara desert life. An alternate spelling is Wargla.