"Barqa" redirects here. For other uses, see Barka
Cyrenaica was the name of an administrative division of Italian Libya
from 1927 until 1943, then under British military and civil administration from 1943 until 1951, and finally in the Kingdom of Libya
from 1951 until 1963. In a wider sense, still in use, Cyrenaica includes all of the eastern part of Libya between longitudes E16 and E25, including the Kufra District
. Cyrenaica borders on Tripolitania
in the northwest and on Fezzan
in the southwest. The region that used to be Cyrenaica officially until 1963 has formed several shabiyat
, the administrative divisions of Libya
, since 1995.
Satellite image of Libya with Cyrenaica on the right side, showing the green Mediterranean coast in the north and the large desert in the centre and south
This mass is divided into two blocks. The Jebel Akhdar
extends parallel to the coast from the Gulf of Sidra
to the Gulf of Bomba
and reaches an elevation of 882 meters. There is no continuous coastal plain, the longest strip running from the recess of Gulf of Sidra past Benghazi
. Thereafter, except for deltaic patches at Susa
, the shore is all precipitous. A steep escarpment separates the coastal plain from a relatively level plateau, known as the Marj Plain, which lies at about 300 meters elevation. Above the Marj Plain lies a dissected plateau at about 700 meters elevation, which contains the highest peaks in the range.
The Jebel Akhdar and its adjacent coast are part of the Mediterranean woodlands and forestsecoregion
and have a Mediterranean climate
of hot, dry summers and relatively mild and rainy winters.
The plant communities of this portion of Cyrenaica include forest, woodland, maquis
and oak savanna
. Garrigue shrublands occupy the non-agricultural portions coastal plain and coastal escarpments, with Sarcopoterium spinosum
, along with Asphodelus microcarpus
and Artemisia herba-alba
, as the predominant species.
Small areas of maquis are found on north-facing slopes near the sea, becoming more extensive on the lower plateau. Juniperus phoenicea, Pistacia lentiscus, Quercus coccifera
and Ceratonia siliqua
are common tree and large shrub species in the maquis.
The upper plateau includes areas of garrigue, two maquis communities, one dominated by Pistacia lentiscus
and the other a mixed maquis in which the endemic Arbutus pavarii
is prominent, and forests of Cupressus sempervirens, Juniperus phoenicea, Olea europaea, Quercus coccifera, Ceratonia siliqua,
and Pinus halepensis.
Areas of red soil
are found on the Marj Plain, which has borne abundant crops of wheat
from ancient times to the present day. Plenty of springs issue on the highlands. Wild olive trees are abundant, and large areas of oak savanna provide pasture to the flocks and herds of the local Bedouins
Historically large areas of range were covered in forest. The forested area of the Jebel Akhdar has been shrinking in recent decades. A 1996 report to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that the forested area was reduced to 320,000 hectares from 500,000 hectares, mostly cleared to grow crops.
The Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority estimates that the forested area decreased from 500,000 hectares in 1976 to 180,000 hectares in 2007.
The lower Jebel el-Akabah lies to the south and east of the Jebel Akhdar. The two highlands are separated by a depression. This eastern region, known in ancient times as Marmarica
, is much drier than the Jebel Akhdar and here the Sahara extends to the coast. Historically, salt-collecting and sponge fishing were more important than agriculture. Bomba
have good harbors.
South of the coastal highlands of Cyrenaica is a large east-west running depression, extending eastward from the Gulf of Sidra into Egypt. This region of the Sahara is known as the Libyan Desert
, and includes the Great Sand Sea
and the Calanshio Sand Sea
. The Libyan Desert is home to a few oases
, including Awjila
(ancient Augila) and Jaghbub
Ancient Egyptian Era
Egyptian records mention that during the New Kingdom of Egypt
(thirteenth century BC), the Libu
tribes of Cyrenaica made frequent incursions into Egypt.
Cyrenaica was colonized
by the Greeks
beginning in the 7th century BC when it was known as Kyrenaika
. The first and most important colony was that of Cyrene
, established in about 631 BC by colonists from the Greek island of Thera
, which they had abandoned because of a severe famine.
Their commander, Aristoteles, took the Libyan name Battos.
His descendants, known as the Battiad dynasty
, persisted in spite of severe conflict with Greeks in neighboring cities.
The eastern portion of the province, with no major population centers, was called Marmarica
; the more important western portion was known as the Pentapolis, as it comprised five cities: Cyrene
(near the modern village of Shahat) with its port of Apollonia
(Marsa Susa), Arsinoe or Taucheira
or Berenice (near modern Benghazi
), Balagrae (Bayda
) and Barce
) – of which the chief was the eponymous Cyrene.
The term "Pentapolis" continued to be used as a synonym for Cyrenaica. In the south, the Pentapolis faded into the Saharan
tribal areas, including the pharaonic oracle of Ammonium
The region produced barley, wheat, olive oil, wine, figs, apples, wool, sheep, cattle and silphium
, a herb that grew only in Cyrenaica and was regarded as a medicinal cure and aphrodisiac
Cyrene became one of the greatest intellectual and artistic centers of the Greek world, famous for its medical school, learned academies and architecture, which included some of the finest examples of the Hellenistic style
. The Cyrenaics
, a school of thinkers who expounded a doctrine of moral cheerfulness that defined happiness as the sum of human pleasures, were founded by Aristippus
Other notable natives of Cyrene were the poet Callimachus
and the mathematicians Theodorus
Creta et Cyrenaica
within the Roman Empire
in the 2nd century
The Latin name Cyrenaica
) dates to the 1st century BC. Although some confusion exists as to the exact territory Rome inherited, by 78 BC it was organized as one administrative province together with Crete
. It became a senatorial province in 20 BC, like its far more prominent western neighbor Africa proconsularis
, and unlike Egypt
itself, which became an imperial domain sui generis
(under a special governor styled praefectus augustalis
) in 30 BC.
reforms of 296 altered Cyrenaica's administrative structure. It was split into two provinces: Libya Superior
or Libya Pentapolis
, comprising the above-mentioned Pentapolis, with Cyrene as capital, and Libya Inferior
or Libya sicca
, the Marmarica
, which had by then gained a significant city, the port Paraetonium
. Each came under a governor holding the modest rank of praeses
. Both belonged to the Diocese of the Orient, with its capital at Antioch in Syria, and from 370, to the Diocese of Egypt
, within the praetorian prefecture
. Its western neighbor Tripolitania
, the largest split-off from Africa proconsularis, became part of the Diocese of Africa
, subordinate to the prefecture of Italia et Africa
. Following the Crete earthquake of 365
, the capital was moved to Ptolemais
. After the Empire's division, Cyrenaica became part of the East Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire
), bordering Tripolitania. It was briefly part of the Vandal Kingdom
to the west, until its reconquest by Belisarius
After being repeatedly destroyed and restored during the Roman period Pentapolis became a mere borough, but was nevertheless the site of a diocese. Its bishop, Zopyrus
, was present at the First Council of Nicaea
in 325. The subscriptions at Ephesus
(431) and Chalcedon
(451) give the names of two other bishops, Zenobius and Theodorus.
Arab and Ottoman rule
Cyrenaica was conquered by Muslim Arabs under command of Amr ibn al-As
during the tenure of the second caliph, Omar
, in c.
and became known as Barqah
after its provincial capital, the ancient city of Barce
After the breakdown of the Ummayad caliphate
it was essentially annexed to Egypt, although still under the same name, first under the Fatimid
In the middle of the 11th century, the Bedouin Banu Hilal
confederation devastated the North African coast under Muslim control. Barqa was ravaged by the Hilalian invasion and left to be settled by the Banu Sulaym
while the Banu Hilal marched westwards. The invasion contributed to the decline of the port cities and maritime trade.
emir Qaraqush marched into the Maghreb and according to al-Maqrizi had taken control of Cyrenaica on orders of Saladin
who wanted to use the province as an agricultural base.
were seemingly unable to exert any significant control and had to ally with the resident Bedouins to accept their suzerainty
indirectly while paying taxes.
The Ottoman Empire
later claimed suzerainty of Cyrenaica based on the Mamluk claim of suzerainty through alliance with the tribes. Cyrenaica was subsumed into Ottoman Libya
In 1879, Cyrenaica became a wilayah
of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1888, it became a mutasarrıfiyya under a mutasarrıf
and was further divided into five qadaas. The wali
of Ottoman Tripolitania
however looked after the military and judicial affairs. The bureaucratic setup was similar to the one in Tripoli. The mutasarrıfate existed until the Italian invasion.
Italian colonial rule
Littorio Palace in Benghazi was the seat of the Cyrenaican assembly
The Italians occupied Cyrenaica during the Italo-Turkish War
in 1911 and declared it an Italian protectorate
on 15 October 1912. Three days later, the Ottoman Empire
officially ceded the province to the Kingdom of Italy
. On 17 May 1919, Cyrenaica was established as an Italian colony
, and, on 25 October 1920, the Italian government recognized Sheikh Sidi Idriss
as the leader of the Senussi
, who was granted the princely rank of Emir
until 1929. In that year, Italy withdrew recognition of him and the Senussi. On 1 January 1934, Tripolitania
, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan
were united as the Italian colony of Libya
The Italian fascists constructed the Marble Arch
as a form of an imperial triumphal arch at the border between Cyrenaica and Tripolitani near the coast.
Emirate of Cyrenaica
In 1949, Idris as-Senussi
, with British backing, proclaimed Cyrenaica an independent emirate, called the Emirate of Cyrenaica
. This emirate became part of the Kingdom of Libya when it was established, and an independent kingdom on 24 December 1951, with Idris as-Senussi becoming King Idris I.
In 2007, the Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority, headed by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
, announced a regional plan for Cyrenaica, developed by the firm Foster and Partners
. The plan, known as The Cyrene Declaration, aimed to revive Cyrenaica's agriculture, create a national park and develop the region as a cultural
destination. The announced pilot projects included plans for three hotels, including the Cyrene Grand Hotel near the ruins of Cyrene.
For much of the Libyan civil war
, Cyrenaica was largely under the control of the National Transitional Council
while Tripolitania and Fezzan remained under Gaddafi's government control. Some proposed a "two-state solution" to the conflict, with Cyrenaica becoming an independent state,
but this concept was strongly rejected by both sides, and the three regions were united again in October 2011, as rebel forces took Tripolitania and Fezzan and the government collapsed.
Although a historical region, Cyrenaica has not had an official central government of its own for decades. Its individual provinces have reported directly to the central government in Tripoli.
On 20 July 2011, The First National Conference for Federalism offered proposals for ways to quickly achieve stability in the country after the fall of the Gaddafi government. Dr. Abubakr Mustafa Buera, head of the preparatory committee, was then elected first president for the National Federal Block, the first political group to call for federalism.
On 6 March 2012 Ahmed al-Senussi
, a relative of King Idris
, was appointed leader of the self-declared Cyrenaica Transitional Council, a meeting of tribal and military leaders.
According to the Council, Cyrenaica extended from the central coastal city of Sirte
to the Egyptian border.
In October 2013, "transitional" was dropped and the Council was renamed as "Council of Cyrenaica in Libya" (CCL). According to CCL, there would be further announcements relating to the organization of a local parliament and a Shura Council. Struggle for a federal system, to take place purely through legal means, was also emphasized.
On 2 November 2012, talks on the federal approach were on the verge of collapse after serious conflicts between the self-declared Cyrenaica Transitional Council (led by Ahmed al-Senussi
) and the National Transitional Council
; however, a new initiative by pro-Cyrenaican youth leaders resurrected the movement with a successful rally. Muheddine Mansury, Osama Buera and Salem Bujazia, the founders of the Movement for Federal Libya, organized numerous rallies and campaigns, in addition to distributing thousands of flags to remind the Cyrenaican people of their identity's symbol.
In a competing event, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi
was appointed head of the "Government of Cyrenaica" on 6 November 2013, supported by a local military leader, Ibrahim Jathran
, who was also acting without the consent of the central government.
Based on the appointed posts at the PBC, the government of al-Barassi planned to cover all functions except for foreign affairs and defense.
On 11 November 2013, PBC announced formation of its own oil company, further straining relations with the Tripoli government.
The CCL stated that it had attempted to present a united front with Jadhran, but that he had proved inflexible and intent on pursuing his own agenda.
Cyrenaica's population growth over the years has been consistent with overall growth in Libya's population.
Cities and towns of Cyrenaica
The city of Benghazi was traditionally the centre of Cyrenaica
- ^ Abdel Aziz Tarih Sharaf, "Jughrafia Libia", Munsha'at al Ma'arif, Alexandria, 2nd ed., 1971, pp.232-233.
- ^ 2006 census, based on the sum of population of districts Al Wahat, Kufra, Benghazi, Al Marj, Jebel Akhdar, Derna, Al Butnan
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- ^ "Mediterranean woodlands and forests". WWF Scientific Report . Accessed 27 March 2011
- ^ a b c El-Darier, S. M. and F.M. El-Mogaspi (2009). "Ethnobotany and Relative Importance of Some Endemic Plant Species at El-Jabal El-Akhdar Region (Libya)". World Journal of Agricultural Sciences 5 (3): 353-360, 2009, pp 353-360.
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- ^ Details of the founding are contained in Book IV of Histories, by Herodotus of Halicarnassus
- ^ a b Ring, Trudy, Robert M. Salkin and Sharon La Boda (1996). "Cyrene (Gebel Akhdar, Libya)" in International Dictionary of Historic Places, Volume 4: Middle East and Africa. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, Chicago and London.
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- ^ Stewart, John (1996) "Cyrenaica" The British Empire: An Encyclopedia of the Crown's Holdings, 1493 through 1995 McFarland & Co., Jefferson, North Carolina, p. 125, ISBN 0-7864-0177-X
- ^ Associated Press, 'Libyan Opposition to Khadafy Growing but Fragmented Says Expert,' 17 April 1986.
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- ^ "Libya: Semi-autonomy declared by leaders in east". BBC. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- ^ Federalist head distances himself from Jadhran, announces new Council of Cyrenaica. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
- ^ East Libya movement launches government, challenges Tripoli. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- ^ Eastern Libyans Declare Autonomous Government. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- ^ Jadhran launches new Cyrenaican oil company, mocks Zeidan’s ten-day deadline. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
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Westermann Grosser Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (in German).
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- Sandro Lorenzatti, Note archeologiche e topografiche sull’itinerario da Derna a Cirene seguito da Claude Le Maire (1706), in "L'Africa romana XX", Roma 2015, vol. 2, pp. 955–970.
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Last edited on 20 April 2021, at 22:01
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