Benghazi

Benghazi

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Benghazi bɛnˈɡɑːzi is the second largest city in Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, the main city (or capital) of the Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 region (or ex-Province), and the former provisional capital of the National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

. The wider metropolitan area (which includes the southern towns of Gimeenis and Suluq
Suluq
Suluq is a town in the Benghazi District of the Cyrenaica region in northeastern Libya. It is located about 53 kilometers to the south-east of Benghazi.-Italian Libya:...

) is also a district of Libya. The port city is located on the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

.

During the Kingdom era of Libya's history, Benghazi enjoyed a sort of joint-capital status (alongside Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

), possibly because the King
Idris I of Libya
Idris, GBE , , was the first and only king of Libya, reigning from 1951 to 1969, and the Chief of the Senussi Muslim order.- Early life :...

 used to reside in the nearby city of Bayda and the Senussi
Senussi
The Senussi or Sanussi refers to a Muslim political-religious order in Libya and the Sudan region founded in Mecca in 1837 by the Grand Senussi, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Senussi was concerned with both the decline of Islamic thought and spirituality and the weakening of Muslim political...

s (royal family) in general were associated with Cyrenaica rather than Tripolitania
Tripolitania
Tripolitania or Tripolitana is a historic region and former province of Libya.Tripolitania was a separate Italian colony from 1927 to 1934...

.
Benghazi continues to hold institutions and organizations normally associated with a national capital city. This creates a constant atmosphere of rivalry and sensitivities between Benghazi and Tripoli and by extension between the two regions (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania). The population of the entire district was 500,120 in 1995 (census) and has increased to 670,797 in the 2006 census.

In February 2011, an uprising
First Battle of Benghazi
The First Battle of Benghazi occurred as part of the 2011 Libyan civil war between army units and militiamen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi forces, with clashes occurring in Benghazi, Bayda and Derna...

 against the government of Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 occurred in the city. On 21 February, the city was taken by Gaddafi opponents, who founded the National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

 days later. It was the site of the turning point of the 2011 Libyan civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

, when Libyan Army
Libyan Army
In 2009 the IISS estimated that the Ground Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya numbered 25,000 with an additional, estimated, 25,000 conscripts...

 forces hoping to score a decisive victory against the NTC in its de facto capital attacked
Second Battle of Benghazi
The Second Battle of Benghazi was a battle in the 2011 Libyan civil war between army units and militiamen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi forces...

 Benghazi only to be dealt a crippling defeat at the hands of the French Air Force
French Air Force
The French Air Force , literally Army of the Air) is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

 on 19 March.

Etymology


The city's present name, Benghazi, is derived from that of a pious benefactor of the city named Ghazi or Sidi Ghazi, as the locals called him, who died about 1450. Ghazi could literally mean "invader", "raider" or "warrior" in Arabic.

The city was renamed Bani Ghazi (which literally means "of Ghazi's sons or descendants"). Turkish Bingazi literally means "Thousand veterans", but this must be the assimilation of the name in Turkish by using a homophonous word.

Ancient Greek colony



The Ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 city that existed within the modern day boundaries of Benghazi was founded around 525 BC and called Euesperides. It was probably founded by people from Cyrene or Barce on the edge of a lagoon which opened from the sea and which at the time may have been deep enough to receive small sailing vessels. The name was attributed to the fertility of the neighbourhood, which gave rise to the mythological associations with the garden of the Hesperides
Hesperides
In Greek mythology, the Hesperides are nymphs who tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world, located near the Atlas mountains in North Africa at the edge of the encircling Oceanus, the world-ocean....

 The ancient city existed on a raised piece of land opposite what is now the Sidi-Abayd graveyard in the Northern Benghazi suburb of Sbikhat al-Salmani (al-Salmani Marsh
Marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

).

The city is first mentioned by ancient sources in Herodotus' account of the revolt of Barca and the Persian expedition to Cyrenaica in c. 515 BC, where we learn that the unitive force sent by the satrap in Egypt conquered most of Cyrenaica and reached as far west as Euesperides. The oldest coins minted in the city date back to 480 BC. One side of those coins has an engraving of Delphi. The other side is an engraving of a silphium
Silphium
Silphium was a plant that was used in classical antiquity as a rich seasoning and as a medicine. It was the essential item of trade from the ancient North African city of Cyrene, and was so critical to the Cyrenian economy that most of their coins bore a picture of the plant...

 plant, which once formed the crux of trade from Cyranaica because of its use as a rich seasoning and as a medicine. Its coinage suggests that it must have enjoyed an intermittent autonomy from Cyrene in the early 5th century BC, when the coins of Euesperides had their own types, distinct from those of Cyrene with the legend EU(ES).

The city was in hostile territory and was surrounded by inhospitable tribes. The Greek historian Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 mentions a siege of the city in 414 BC by Libyan tribes who were probably the Nasamones. Euesperides was saved by the chance arrival of Spartan general Gylippus and his fleet, who were blown to Libya by contrary winds on their way to Sicily.

One of the Cyrenean kings whose fate is tragically connected with the city is Arcesilaus IV
Arcesilaus IV of Cyrene
Arcesilaus IV of Cyrene or Arcesilaus IV was the eighth and last Greek Cyrenaean King and last Greek Cyrenaean King to serve as a client king under Persian rule...

. The King used his chariot victory at the Pythian Games
Pythian Games
The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi....

 of 462 BC to attract new settlers to Euesperides, where Arcesilaus hoped to create a safe refuge for himself against the resentment of his people in Cyrene. This proved totally ineffective, since when the King fled to Euesperides during the anticipated revolution (around 440 BC), he was assassinated, thus terminating the almost two hundred year rule of the Battiad dynasty.

From an inscription found in modern Benghazi and dated around the middle of the 4th century BC, we learn that the city had a similar constitution to that of Cyrene, with a board of chief magistrates (ephors) and a council of elders (gerontes). Later in the 4th century BC, during the unsettling period which followed Alexander's death, the city backed the losing side in a revolt led by the Spartan adventurer Thibron; he was trying to create an empire for himself, but was defeated by the Cyreneans and their Libyan allies.

After the marriage of Ptolemy III
Ptolemy III Euergetes
-Family:Euergetes was the eldest son of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his first wife, Arsinoe I, and came to power in 246 BC upon the death of his father.He married Berenice of Cyrene in the year corresponding to 244/243 BC; and their children were:...

 to Berenice
Berenice II
Berenice II was the daughter of Magas of Cyrene and Queen Apama II, and the wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes, the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt....

, daughter of the Cyrenean Governor Magas
Magas of Cyrene
Magas of Cyrene was a Greek Macedonian nobleman. Through his mother’s second marriage he was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became King of Cyrenaica and he managed to wrestle independence for Cyrenaica from the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt.-Family Background & Early Life:Magas...

, around the middle of the 3rd century BC, many Cyrenaican cities were renamed to mark the occasion. Euesperides became Berenice and the change of name also involved a relocation. Its desertion was probably due to the silting up of the lagoons; Berenice, the place they moved to, lies underneath Benghazi's modern city centre. The Greek colony had lasted from the 6th to the mid-3rd centuries BC.

Carthaginians and Romans


Modern Benghazi, on the Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

, lies a little southwest of the site of the ancient Greek city of Berenice or Berenicis. That city was traditionally founded in 446 BC (different sources give different dates like 347 BC or 249 BC), by a brother of the king of Cyrene
Cyrene, Libya
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...

, but got the name Berenice only when it was refounded in the 3rd century BC under the patronage of Berenice (Berenike), the daughter of Magas
Magas of Cyrene
Magas of Cyrene was a Greek Macedonian nobleman. Through his mother’s second marriage he was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became King of Cyrenaica and he managed to wrestle independence for Cyrenaica from the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt.-Family Background & Early Life:Magas...

, king of Cyrene, and wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes, the ruler of Egypt. The new city was later given the name Hesperides, in reference to the Hesperides
Hesperides
In Greek mythology, the Hesperides are nymphs who tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world, located near the Atlas mountains in North Africa at the edge of the encircling Oceanus, the world-ocean....

, the guardians of the mythic western paradise. The name may have also referred to green oases in low-lying areas in the nearby coastal plain. Benghazi later became a Roman city and prospered for 600 years. The city superseded Cyrene and Barca
Barca
Barce was an ancient Greek colony and later Roman, Byzantine, city in North Africa. It occupied the coastal area of what is modern day Libya...

 as the chief center of Cyrenaica after the 3rd century AD and during the Persian
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 attacks; in 642-643, it had dwindled to an insignificant village among magnificent ruins.

Ottoman province


In the 13th century, the small settlement became an important player in the trade growing up between Genoese merchants and the tribes of the hinterland. In 16th century maps, the name of Marsa ibn Ghazi appears.

Benghazi had a strategic port location, one that was too useful to be ignored by the Ottomans.
In 1578, the Turks invaded Benghazi and it was ruled from Tripoli by the Karamanlis
Karamanli dynasty
The Karamanli or Caramanli or Qaramanli or al-Qaramanli dynasty was a series of Pashas, of Turkish origin who ruled from 1711 to 1835 in Tripolitania . At their peak, the Karamanlis' influence reached Cyrenaica and Fezzan covering most of Libya. The founder of the dynasty was Pasha Ahmed Karamanli...

 from 1711 to 1835; it then passed under direct Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule until 1911. Under Ottoman rule, Benghazi was the most impoverished of the Ottoman provinces. It had neither a paved road nor telegraph service, and the harbor was too silted to permit the access of shipping. Greek and Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 sponge fishermen worked its coastal waters. In 1858, and again in 1874, Benghazi was devastated by bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

.

Italian colonial rule



In 1911, Benghazi was invaded by the Italians. Nearly half the local population of Cyrenaica under the leadership of Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar , of the Mnifa, was born in the small village of Janzour, near Tobruk in eastern Barqa in Libya. Beginning in 1912, he organized and, for nearly twenty years, led native resistance to Italian colonization of Libya. The Italians captured and hanged him in 1931...

 resisted the Italian occupation. Cyrenaica suffered oppression, particularly under the fascist dictator Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. About 125,000 Libyans were forced into concentration camps, about one-third of whom perished (mainly because of epidemics).

In the early 1930s, the revolt was over and the Italians—under governor Italo Balbo
Italo Balbo
Italo Balbo was an Italian Blackshirt leader who served as Italy's Marshal of the Air Force , Governor-General of Libya, Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa , and the "heir apparent" to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.After serving in...

—started to assimilate the local population with friendly policies: many new villages for Cyrenaicans were created with health services and schools.

Additionally Cyrenaica was populated by more than 20,000 Italian colonists in the late 1930s, mainly around the coast of Benghazi. Benghazi population was made by more than 35 per cent of Italians in 1939.

As a consequence, there was in Cyrenaica and mostly in Benghazi a huge economic development in the second half of the 1930s. Benghazi was going to be connected in 1940 by a new railway to Tripoli, but in summer of that year war started between Italians and British and all the improvements were stopped.

World War II



During the actions of Operation Compass
Operation Compass
Operation Compass was the first major Allied military operation of the Western Desert Campaign during World War II. British and Commonwealth forces attacked Italian forces in western Egypt and eastern Libya in December 1940 to February 1941. The attack was a complete success...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Benghazi was captured by the Australian 6th Division on 6 February 1941.

It was recaptured by Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

, led by General Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

 of the German Africa Corps
Afrika Korps
The German Africa Corps , or the Afrika Korps as it was popularly called, was the German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia during the North African Campaign of World War II...

, on 3 April. It was taken again during Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader was a military operation by the British Eighth Army between 18 November–30 December 1941. The operation successfully relieved the 1941 Siege of Tobruk....

 by the British on 24 December only to change hands again on 29 January 1942 in the Africa Corps's push to Egypt and the fateful Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

 – 106 kilometres (65.9 mi) from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Egypt – in which British troops led by General Bernard Montgomery defeated the Africa Corps in the decisive battle of the North African portion of World War II; the Africa Corps remnants then made a long steady retreat across Libya passing through Benghazi for the final time.

On 20 November, Benghazi was captured by the British Eighth Army
Eighth Army (United Kingdom)
The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations of the British Army during World War II, fighting in the North African and Italian campaigns....

 and thereafter held by the British until over 250,000 German soldiers and their Italian allies in North Africa surrendered
Tunisia Campaign
The Tunisia Campaign was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps...

 in May 1943. This after being hemmed into the Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

n port cities of Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 and Bizerte
Bizerte
Bizerte or Benzert , is the capital city of Bizerte Governorate in Tunisia and the northernmost city in Africa. It has a population of 230,879 .-History:...

, by the British advancing from the east and an Anglo-American army, under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

, advancing from the west, this being America's entry into the European-North African theatre of World War II. This effectively ended Axis operations in the North African portion of World War II.

Contemporary Benghazi



Heavily bombed in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Benghazi was later rebuilt with the country's newly found oil wealth as a gleaming showpiece of modern Libya
History of Modern Libya
The history of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi spanned a period of over four decades from 1969 to 2011. Gaddafi became the de facto leader of the country on 1 September 1969 after leading a group of young Libyan military officers against King Idris I in a bloodless coup d'état...

. It became the capital city of Emirate of Cyrenaica (1949–1951) under Idris Senussi I. In 1951, Cyrenaica was merged with Tripolitania and Fezzan to form the independent Kingdom of Libya
Kingdom of Libya
The Kingdom of Libya, originally called the United Libyan Kingdom came into existence upon independence on 24 December 1951 and lasted until a coup d'état led by Muammar Gaddafi on 1 September 1969 overthrew King Idris of Libya and established the Libyan Arab Republic.- Constitution :Under the...

, of which both Benghazi and Tripoli were capital cities. Benghazi lost its capital status when the Free Officers under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 staged a coup d'état in 1969, whereafter all government institutions were concentrated in Tripoli. Even though King Idris was forced into exile and the monarchy abolished, support for the Senussi dynasty remained strong in Cyrenaica. This was emphasized by real or perceived injustices from the government towards the people of Benghazi, including the demolition in the year 2000 of the arena of football club Alahly Benghazi S.C., following anti-government protests.

On 15 April 1986 US Airforce and Navy planes bombed Benghazi and Tripoli. President Ronald Reagan justified the attacks by claiming Libya was responsible for terrorism directed at the USA, including the bombing of La Belle discothèque in West Berlin
1986 Berlin discotheque bombing
The 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing was a terrorist attack on the La Belle discothèque in West Berlin, Germany, an entertainment venue that was commonly frequented by United States soldiers...

 ten days before.

2011 uprising and civil war


In February 2011, the city was the scene of violent protests. There were reports of the military and mercenaries being sent to "likely trouble spots", sections of the city being cordoned off, killings, and the destruction of the homes of those suspected of anti-Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 regime sympathies. At least 200 people were killed in the protests against the government.

The former Libyan flag
Flag of Libya
The Libyan Independence Flag or Flag of Libya was the original flag of the Kingdom of Libya introduced in 1951 following the creation of the Libyan state in the post World War II period...

 used in the Kingdom of Libya
Kingdom of Libya
The Kingdom of Libya, originally called the United Libyan Kingdom came into existence upon independence on 24 December 1951 and lasted until a coup d'état led by Muammar Gaddafi on 1 September 1969 overthrew King Idris of Libya and established the Libyan Arab Republic.- Constitution :Under the...

 has been used by many protesters
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

 as an opposition flag. Demonstrators to Colonel Gaddafi were also seen carrying images of King Idris I. Benghazi and the Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 have been traditional strongholds of the royal Senussi
Senussi
The Senussi or Sanussi refers to a Muslim political-religious order in Libya and the Sudan region founded in Mecca in 1837 by the Grand Senussi, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Senussi was concerned with both the decline of Islamic thought and spirituality and the weakening of Muslim political...

 dynasty.

As of 21 February, the city was reported to be largely controlled by the opposition. The widely loathed mayor, Huda Ben Amer
Huda Ben Amer
Huda Ben Amer is a former Libyan politician. A follower of the Libyan ruler, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, she was the Secretary of the General People's Congress of Inspection People's Control and mayor of Benghazi until the 2011 Libyan civil war....

, nicknamed "the Executioner", fled the city for Tripoli. Residents organised to direct traffic and collect refuse. By 24 February, a committee made up of lawyers, judges and respected local people had been formed in order to provide civic administration and public services within the city. Two local radio stations, operated by Voice of Free Libya
Voice of Free Libya
Voice of Free Libya is the name used by three radio stations aligned to the Libyan rebels, operating from the cities of Benghazi, Bayda and Misrata...

, along with a newspaper, were also established.

From 26 February to 26 August, Benghazi was the temporary headquarters of the National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

 which is led by the former justice minister, Mustafa Abdul Jalil
Mustafa Abdul Jalil
Mustafa Abdul Jalil or Abdul-Jalil is the Chairman of the National Transitional Council of Libya, and as such serves as head of state in Libya's caretaker government which was formed as a result of the 2011 Libyan civil war. He is also a spokesman for the city of Bayda...

, until Tripoli was liberated.

On 19 March, pro-Gaddafi forces almost defeated the rebellion when they began attacking the city of Benghazi in a major offensive
Second Battle of Benghazi
The Second Battle of Benghazi was a battle in the 2011 Libyan civil war between army units and militiamen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi forces...

, but were forced back the next day when NATO forces began implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

.

On 1 June, explosives were detonated in a car near the Tibesti Hotel
Tibesti Hotel
The Tibesti Hotel is a hotel situated overlooking the harbour of the 23rd July Lake in the city centre of Benghazi, Libya.-2011 bomb attack:...

, with a rebel spokesman calling the bombing a "cowardly act". It was suspected that an officer was killed, and many people started to shout out anti-Gaddafi chants while the Tibesti was cordoned off.

Administrative divisions


Benghazi is one of Libya's 22 shabiyahs (people's districts). Benghazi shabiyah is divided into 32 Basic People's Congress
Basic People's Congress (country subdivision)
Basic People's Congress is the smallest administrative subdivision in Libya.Geographically it corresponds approximately to the level of a township or borough....

 administrative divisions, in which the responsibilities of the corresponding political units of the same name fall.
The official 32 Basic People's Congresses of Benghazi are:


1 Al-Magroon
Al-Magroon
Al-Magroon is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



2 Al-Saahil al-Gharbi
Al-Saahil al-Gharbi
Al-Saahil al-Gharbi is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



3 Karkoora
Karkoora
Karkoora is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



4 Gimeenis
Gimeenis
Gimeenis is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



5 Suluq
Suluq
Suluq is a town in the Benghazi District of the Cyrenaica region in northeastern Libya. It is located about 53 kilometers to the south-east of Benghazi.-Italian Libya:...



6 Al-Khadhraa
Al-Khadhraa
Al-Khadhraa is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



7 Al-Nawagiya
Al-Nawagiya
Al-Nawagiya is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



8 Al-Magziha
Al-Magziha
Al-Magziha is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



9 Al-Keesh
Al-Keesh
Al-Keesh is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



10 Garyounis
Garyounis
Garyounis is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



11 Al-Fuwayhat
Al-Fuwayhat
Al-Fuwayhat is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



12 Al-Berka
Al-Berka
Al-Berka is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



13 Bu-Fakhra
Bu-Fakhra
Bu-Fakhra is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



14 Jarrutha
Jarrutha
Jarrutha is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



15 Al-Quwarsha
Al-Quwarsha
Al-Quwarsha is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



16 Bu Atni
Bu Atni
Bu Atni is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



17 Benina
Benina
Benina is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya.It contains the Benina International Airport....



18 Al-Kwayfiya
Al-Kwayfiya
Al-Kwayfiya is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



19 Sidi Khalifa
Sidi Khalifa
Sidi Khalifa is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



20 Al-Hawari
Al-Hawari
Al-Hawari is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



21 Al-Thawra al-Shabiyah
Al-Thawra al-Shabiyah
Al-Thawra al-Shabiyah is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



22 Shuhadaa al-Salawi
Shuhadaa al-Salawi
Shuhadaa al-Salawi is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



23 Madinat Benghazi
Madinat Benghazi
Madinat Benghazi is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



24 Sidi Hsayn
Sidi Hsayn
Sidi Hsayn is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



25 Al-Sabri
Al-Sabri
Al-Sabri is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



26 Sidi Abayd
Sidi Abayd
Sidi Abayd is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



27 Al-Salmani
Al-Salmani
Al-Salmani is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya. It is part of the city of Benghazi, being east of the port and just north of Raas Abayda....



28 Raas Abayda
Raas Abayda
Raas Abayda is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



29 Benghazi al-Jadida
Benghazi al-Jadida
Benghazi al-Jadida or New benghazi is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya. It is part of the city of Benghazi located east of the port and west of Al-Hawari....



30 Al-Uruba
Al-Uruba
Al-Uruba is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



31 Hay al-Mukhtar
Hay al-Mukhtar
Hay al-Mukhtar is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....



32 Al-Hadaa'iq
Al-Hadaa'iq
Al-Hadaa'iq is a Basic People's Congress administrative division of Benghazi, Libya....


Geography


Benghazi is one of the sub-regions of the area referred to as Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

, the others being the Jebel Akhdar and the coastal plain running east of Apollonia
Apollonia, Cyrenaica
Apollonia in Cyrenaica was founded by Greek colonists and became a significant commercial centre in the southern Mediterranean. It served as the harbour of Cyrene, to the southwest...

. Cyrenaica is surrounded by desert on three sides, hence in ancient times the most accessible civilisation was to the North, across the Mediterranean, in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, only 400 kilometres (248.5 mi) away.

Benghazi is surrounded by the "barr", arid steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

. The Jebel Akhdar, literally, "the Green Mountain", just north of Benghazi, rises to the east. Here the vegetation and climate is more Mediterranean in feel with none of the desert landscapes found further south. A large section of the western Jebel Akhdar is taken up by the fertile Marj plain. Further east is the second level of the Jebel Akhdar, between 500 metres (1,640.4 ft) and over 875 m (2,870.7 ft) above sea level, often thickly wooded and cut by ravines
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

. Annual rainfall here, especially around Cyrene, can reach 500 millimetres (19.7 in). It was this fertile site northeast of Benghazi that the Greeks chose for their settlement. The soil in Benghazi is a rich red colour and very clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

ey. Sirocco
Sirocco
Sirocco, scirocco, , jugo or, rarely, siroc is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe. It is known in North Africa by the Arabic word qibli or ghibli Sirocco, scirocco, , jugo or, rarely, siroc is a Mediterranean wind...

 winds are not uncommon in the city, and as such, many of Benghazi's smaller streets and buildings can be quite dusty.

To the north, below the steep cliffs of the plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

, lies a narrow belt of Mediterranean farmland. Olives and other mediterrenean fruits and vegetables are grown here. To the south, the forest and farmland gives way to juniper bush maquis
Maquis shrubland
thumb|220px|Low Maquis in Corsica.220px|thumb|High macchia in Sardinia.Maquis or macchia is a shrubland biome in the Mediterranean region, typically consisting of densely growing evergreen shrubs such as holm oak, tree heath, strawberry tree, sage, juniper, buckthorn, spurge olive and myrtle...

 and pre-desert scrub with some winter grazing.

As a district, Benghazi borders Hizam Al Akhdar, which surrounds it on land.

Climate


Benghazi has a warm semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 BSh). To the north of the city is the Mediterranean Jabal Al-Akhdar, and to the south the climate is desert- like. Summers in Benghazi are hot and dry. Winters are mild with occasional rain. Annual rainfall is low at 268 mm (10.6 in) per year. The city's local water supply is supplemented by groundwater transported from the aquifers of southern Libya along the Great Manmade River
Great Manmade River
The Great Man-Made River is a network of pipes that supplies water from the Sahara Desert in Libya, from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System fossil aquifer. It is the world's largest irrigation project....

.

Natural recreation and parks


Although Benghazi does not have a high percentage of green space per resident, there are a few public parks and green recreational areas in the city. Perhaps the most famous is the zoological garden and theme park in Al-Fuwayhat; the park is referred to locally as al-Bosco, a colloquial Italian name for zoo/forest. The park is a combination of a zoo full of trees built during Italian rule (which contains wild cats, primates, elephants, birds and other animals) and a small theme park of electric rides, added later in the 1980s as part of a redevelopment of the entire site. It is one of the most popular parks in Benghazi, and is very busy on public holidays, as well as amongst school children and scouts
Public Scout and Girl Guide Movement
The Public Scout and Girl Guide Movement is the national Scouting organization of Libya. It was founded in 1954, and became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1958 and of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1981...

 on outings.

On Gamal Abdel Nasser Street is the 23rd of July Park, another large green space which faces the Tibesti Hotel and borders the waterfront. The park is popular amongst teenagers, and families on Thursday nights (as Friday is a day off work throughout Libya). Another large and popular park is al-Buduzira in North Benghazi on the al-'Uruba Road in al-Kwayfiya. The park surrounds a natural lake, and is more rugged in nature than the city parks. A section of al-Buduzira is also a water park with large slides, whilst the southern part of the park has picnic areas which are popular in the summers.

Economy



Benghazi, as the principal city of eastern Libya, is one of Libya's major economic centres. The city has an important port which is vital to the economy, as Libya imports many foodstuffs and manufactured products. Benghazi is also an industrial and commercial centre in Libya. Major manufactured goods include processed food, textiles, tanning, processed salt and construction materials
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, particularly cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

; a large cement factory is located in al-Hawari. Food processing is based on local fish, imported goods, and the produce of irrigated coastal lowlands and the nearby Jabal al-Akdhar Mountains, including cereal, dates, olives, wool and meat.

Finance is also important to the city's economy, with the Libyan Bank of Commerce and Development maintaining branches in Benghazi; the Bank's headquarters is a high office tower on Gamal Abdel Nasser Street in el-Berka. Other large banks include the Central Bank of Libya
Central Bank of Libya
The Central Bank of Libya is the monetary authority in Libya and enjoys the status of autonomous corporate body. The law establishing the CBL stipulates that the objectives of the central bank shall be to maintain monetary stability in Libya , and to promote the sustained growth of the economy in...

 office in the city centre.

The oil industry drives the city's commerce. Large national companies such as the Al-Brega Oil Marketing Company and the Arabian Gulf Oil Company
Arabian Gulf Oil Company
The Arabian Gulf Oil Company is an oil company based in Benghazi, Libya, engaged in crude oil and natural gas exploration, production and refining. It was a subsidiary of the state-owned National Oil Corporation . -Overview:...

 are important to the city's economy and employ many people. An increase in consumer prices has been coupled with an increase in the importance of the retail sector to the city's economy. In recent years, international franchises such as United Colors of Benetton
Benetton Group
Benetton Group S.p.A. is a global luxury fashion brand, based in Treviso, Italy. The name comes from the Benetton family who founded the company in 1965. Benetton Group is listed in Milan....

, H&M
H&M
H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB is a Swedish retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing offerings for women, men, teenagers and children....

 and Nike
Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area...

 have opened in Benghazi.

Tourism is still in its very early stages in Libya. The industry is however growing in importance in Benghazi. The majority of tourists that visit Eastern Libya use Benghazi as a base for which to explore the Greek ruins in Cyrene or to make desert excursions south in Kufra
Kufra
Kufra is a basin and oasis group in Al Kufrah District, southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. Kufra is historically important above all because at the end of nineteenth century it became the center and holy place of the Senussi order...

. The two main hotels in the city are the Tibesti Hotel and Uzu Hotel, and several other hotels have opened in recent years to cater for increased demand. Handicrafts are found in the many souk
Souk
A souq is a commercial quarter in an Arab, Berber, and increasingly European city. The term is often used to designate the market in any Arabized or Muslim city, but in modern times it appears in Western cities too...

s in the city, but are of little significance to the economy.

Skanska
Skanska
Skanska AB, is a multinational construction and development company based in Sweden, where it also is the largest construction company. The company's head office is in Solna, north of Stockholm.-History:...

 built a good connection of speedways and flyovers in the decades after the Libyan revolution in 1969; this has made the transport of goods between Benghazi and other cities easier. Benghazi's air transport uses Benina International Airport
Benina International Airport
Benina International Airport serves Benghazi, Libya. It is located in the town of Benina, 19 km east of Benghazi, from which it takes its name. The airport is operated by the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Bureau of Libya and is the second largest in the country after Tripoli International...

; numerous daily flights leave for Tripoli and connections are also available to other African, Asian and European cities.

Demographics



As with other cities in Libya, there is a reasonable amount of ethnic diversity in Benghazi. The people of eastern Libya, Benghazi included, have in the past always been of predominantly Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 descent. In recent times, however, there has been an influx of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n immigrants into Benghazi. There are also many Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian immigrants in Benghazi. A small Greek community also exists in Benghazi. The Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 island of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 is a short distance from Benghazi and many families in Benghazi today bear Cretan surnames. There are even a few Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

-related families, left from the colonial times before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

The overwhelming majority of Libyans in Benghazi are of Arab descent, though there is a minority of Berber descent
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

. In the 11th century, the Sa'ada tribe from the Bani Salim migrated to Cyrenaica; each sub tribe from the Sa'adi historically controlled a section of Cyrenaica. Benghazi and its surrounding areas were controlled by Barghathi tribe. In modern times, Benghazi has seen a lot of Libyans from differents parts of the country move into the city, especially since the Kingdom era. Many came to Benghazi from Misrata (about 25-30% of the population have roots from Misrata). Thus Benghazi has always been seen as a welcoming city, a city which the local Bedouins refer to as 'Benghazi rabayit al thayih' which can be translated as, 'Benghazi raises the lost' as many immigrants who arrived from Western Maghreb or ex Andalusia came with little money, clothes or food and were looked after very generously by the local Bedouin population as well as those arriving following the Italian war from Western Libya.

Education


The oldest university in Libya is the University of Libya
University of Libya
The University of Libya was a public university based in Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya. The university was established in 1955 and disestablished in 1973, when its colleges were split into two new universities: the Benghazi University in Benghazi, and the University of Tripoli in Tripoli.-Origins...

, founded by royal decree in 1955. It was initially housed in the royal Al Manar Palace before receiving its own campus in 1968. It was later split and became known as Garyounis University
Garyounis University
University of Benghazi , formerly known as the Garyounis University, is a public university in Benghazi, Libya.- History :It is the oldest and first Libyan university. It was founded on 15 December 1955 as The Libyan University...

.

Education in Benghazi, as is throughout Libya, is compulsory and free. Compulsory education continues up until ninth grade
Ninth grade
Ninth grade is the ninth post-kindergarten year of school education in some school systems. The students are 13 to 15 years of age, depending on when their birthday occurs. Depending on the school district, ninth grade is usually the first year of high school....

. There are many public primary and secondary schools scattered throughout the city as well as some private and international schools such as Benghazi European School
Benghazi European School
Benghazi European School or "BES" is an International School located in Benghazi, Libya.-Mission:-History:The BES was established in 1999 with the aim of offering secondary education through the English language in the Benghazi area.-Education:...

. University education is also free for all Libyan citizens in Benghazi.

The country's largest library containing over 300,000 volumes is affiliated with the university.

Religion



The predominant religion in Benghazi is Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Practically all of the city's inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. During Islamic holidays such as Ramadan, most abstain from food; restaurants are usually empty during the day, with the exception of some expatriates and tourists. Alcohol is banned by law in Benghazi and throughout Libya in accordance with Islamic principles. The conservative Islamic nature of Benghazi creates a strong sense of family life in the city - practically all teenagers and young adults live at home until they get married. Many Muslims in Benghazi adhere to the traditional Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 school of religious law, however much less so than in decades past. In recent years, more people are beginning to practice Salafism with the spread of literalist inclined Islamic television channels. It is not uncommon therefore to see woman wearing black niqab
Niqab
A niqab is a cloth which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijāb...

s and men with full beards in Benghazi because of the existence of such schools, although not exclusively for that purpose. The Senussi
Senussi
The Senussi or Sanussi refers to a Muslim political-religious order in Libya and the Sudan region founded in Mecca in 1837 by the Grand Senussi, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi. Senussi was concerned with both the decline of Islamic thought and spirituality and the weakening of Muslim political...

 order from which the royal dynasty sprang has traditionally enjoyed strong support in Benghazi and the Cyrenaica.

For Muslims, there are many mosques throughout Benghazi; the oldest and best known such as the Atiq and Osman mosques are located in and around the medina
Medina quarter
A medina quarter is a distinct city section found in many North African cities. The medina is typically walled, contains many narrow and maze-like streets...

.
There is also a small foreign Christian community in the city. The Roman Catholic Franciscan Church of the Immaculate Conception serves Benghazi's Catholic community
Apostolic Vicariate of Benghazi
The Apostolic Vicariate of Benghazi is a Roman Catholic apostolic Vicariate located in the city of Benghazi in Libya.-History:* February 3, 1927: Established as Apostolic Vicariate of Cirenaica from the Apostolic Vicariate of Libya...

 of roughly 4,000; there is also a disused cathedral church
Benghazi Cathedral
Benghazi Cathedral was a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Benghazi, Libya. It is located in the city center and is currently disused and undergoing renovation work.-History:...

. For Egyptian Copts
Copt
The Copts are the native Egyptian Christians , a major ethnoreligious group in Egypt....

, there is a Coptic Orthodox church (which was formerly the grand synagogue) with two serving priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s.

Jews lived in Benghazi as they did elsewhere in Libya
History of the Jews in Libya
The history of the Jews in Libya stretches back to the 3rd century BCE, when Cyrenaica was under Greek rule. During World War II, Libya's Jewish population was subjected to anti-Semitic laws by the Fascist Italian regime and deportations by German troops...

, from Roman times until 1967 when most were airlifted out after a series of riots in the years after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. There are no Jews remaining in Libya today.

Cityscape


The city is divided into many neighbourhoods, some of which were founded during Italian Colonial rule and many which have developed as a result of modern urban sprawl
Urban sprawl
Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a...

. The different neighbourhoods vary in their levels of economic prosperity, as well as their cultural, historic and social atmosphere. Generally, the city is roughly divided into the following areas: Central Benghazi (colloquially referred to as al-Blaad by locals) - includes the medina, and the old quarter, Central Districts which circle the downtown - Al-Sabri, Sidi Abayd, Sidi Hsayn, Al-Berka, Al-Salmani, Al-Hadaa'ik, Al-Fuwayhat and Al-Keesh, Central Suburbs - Al-Laythi, Bu Atni, Al-Quwarsha, Al-Hawari, Coastal Districts - Al-Kwayfiya (North), Garyounis, Bu-Fakhra and Jarrutha (South), and the Distant Suburbs - Gimeenis, Benina and Sidi Khalifa.

Central Benghazi is where the majority of Benghazi's historical monuments are located, and has the city's most popular tourist attractions. Virtually all of Benghazi's theatres, libraries, best clothing stores, markets and old mosques can be found there. The Italian quarter is also located in the centre. The central districts are mostly residential and commercial areas such as Sidi Hsayn. The central suburbs are almost entirely residential and more like little towns in their own right; Al-Quwarsha is a good example of this. The coastal districts (especially the southern districts) are where Benghazi's beaches can be found. Some sections have become more popular as residential areas in recent years (such as Qanfuda). These areas are still primarily recreational however, and many beach condominium
Condominium
A condominium, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate is individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights...

 resorts (known locally as chalet
Chalet
A chalet , also called Swiss chalet, is a type of building or house, native to the Alpine region, made of wood, with a heavy, gently sloping roof with wide, well-supported eaves set at right angles to the front of the house.-Definition and origin:...

s) have been built in previous years such as those at al-Nakheel beach, and the Nayrouz condominiums.

Culture


Benghazi is one of the cultural centres of Libya and is a base for tourists, visitors and academics in the region. Throughout its history, Benghazi has developed with a certain level of independence from the more Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 oriented capital Tripoli. This has influenced the city, and as such, the cultural atmosphere in Benghazi is more Arab in nature than that in Tripoli. An influx of African immigrants as well as Egyptian, Iraqi, Palestinian, Sudanese and Syrian immigrants have also influenced the city's culture to a certain extent in recent years.

The city centre contains a few local theatres, as well as the Dar al-Kutub National Library in Al-Funduq, where the works of popular local novelists like Sadeq Naihoum
Sadeq Naihoum
Sadeq Al Naihoum was a prominent Libyan writer and journalist. He was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1937 where he lived and studied until he finished his university degree in literature. He then lived in Egypt, Germany and Finland between 1963 and 1971. Naihoum began writing in the newspaper Haqiqa...

 and Khalifa al-Fakhri can be found. Different architectural styles attest to the different empires that have controlled the city throughout history. Sport is also important in the city; two of Libya's most successful football clubs are based in Benghazi.

Architecture



There are a variety of architectural styles in Benghazi, which reflect the number of times the city has changed hands throughout its history. Arab, Ottoman and Italian rule have influenced the different streetscapes, buildings and quarters in Benghazi.

Ancient architectural remains of the Greek and later Roman settlement of Berenice can be found by the Italian lighthouse. There is a trace of the 3rd century BC wall built by the Greeks, four Roman peristyle houses, six wine vats. A Byzantine church also exists on the site, with a mosaic still intact. These ruins formed the northern part of the ancient city, which extended south and east but now lies buried beneath the modern city.

The next oldest section of the city is the medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

, which began to grow sometime under Medieval Arab rule, and is still intact today. This quarter stretches out from the Northern shores of the harbour, and covers an area roughly bounded by Ahmed Rafiq al-Mahdawi Street to the North-west, al-Jezayir Street to the South-east and the 23rd of July Street to the South-west. The heart of the medina is Maydan al-Hurriya (Freedom Square); to the northeast of this is the covered Souq al-Jareed.

The largest Ottoman architectural monument in Benghazi is the late 19th-century Ottoman palace in El-Berka; built during the rule of Rashid Pasha II. The front elevation was completed in 1895, whilst the side sections were added later during Italian rule. The white and green structure houses 360 rooms; and is on a tract of land where Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

 Street meets al-Saqzali Street; south of the 28th of March football stadium
March 28 Stadium
March 28 Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Benghazi, Libya. It is a part of Benghazi Sports City. It was used mostly for football matches and it also has athletics facilities. The stadium holds 65,000...

.

The house of Omar Pasha Mansour El Kikhia, an Ottoman Pasha from a prominent Benghazi family, represents a good example of Ottoman residential architecture with several balconies, stone archways, and an open courtyard containing a fountain. The home was recently restored, remodeled and converted into the Bait-al Medina al-Thaqafi museum.


Benghazi came under Italian rule in the early part of the 20th century. Some examples of Italianate, as well as modernist colonial architecture from this period remain today. Under the governorships of Generals Ernesto Mombelli and Attilio Teruzzi in the 1920s, the buildings commissioned in Benghazi had an eclectic architectural language that embodied a Western conception of Eastern architecture. An example of this is the Municipal palace built in 1924, which stands in Maydan al-Hurriya (Freedom Square). The building combines Moorish
Moorish Revival
Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental...

 arches with Italianate motifs on the facade. Italians even did the first architectural plan of Benghazi. in the 1930s, with a new railway station
Italian Libya Railways
Italian Libya Railways was a group of small railways built in the Italian colony of Libya between the two World Wars.-History:The Kingdom of Italy built in Italian Libya nearly 400 km of railways with 950 mm gauge.-Projects:...

 and promenade.

The largest colonial building from this Italian period is the Benghazi Cathedral
Benghazi Cathedral
Benghazi Cathedral was a Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Benghazi, Libya. It is located in the city center and is currently disused and undergoing renovation work.-History:...

 in Maydan El Catedraeya (Cathedral Square), which was built in the 1920s and has two large distinct domes.

Benghazi was heavily bombed during World War II, and so the majority of buildings in the city are examples of modern or contemporary architecture. The central business district was built mostly in the 1960s and 1970s with Libya's new found oil wealth. The highest building in Benghazi is the Tibesti Hotel on Gamal Abdel Nasser Street built in 1989. Another prominent example of modern architecture in Benghazi is the Da'wah al-Islamiyah Building, which has a series of distinctive cubes piled in the shape of a pyramid.

Sport



Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, and as such, has some of the best sports facilities in the country. The city has various sporting centres of different standards, such as football stadia, beach clubs (where many water sports are played), as well as several other public and private facilities. Benghazi has hosted many national sports events throughout the years, as well as more significant international competitions such as the African Cup of Nations
African Cup of Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations, also referred to as the African Cup of Nations or African Nations Cup, officially CAN , is the main international association football competition in Africa. It is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football , and was first held in 1957. Since 1968, it has been...

.

Football is the most-popular sport in Benghazi, and two of Libya's most-successful football clubs, Al-Ahly Benghazi and Al-Nasr
Al Nasr Benghazi
-Honours:*Libyan Premier League: 1*Libyan Cup: 3-Performance in CAF competitions:* African Cup of Champions Clubs: 1 appearance*CAF Confederation Cup: 2 appearances*CAF Cup: 1 appearance...

, are based in the city. The two teams have won the Libyan Premier League
Libyan Premier League
The Libyan Premier League is the highest division of Libyan football championship, organised by Libyan Football Federation. The players that play in this league are mainly professional...

 five times; Al Ahly four and Al Nasr only one. The most-important football event that took place in Benghazi was the 1982 African Cup of Nations
1982 African Cup of Nations
The 1982 African Cup of Nations was the 13th edition of the African Cup of Nations, the soccer championship of Africa . It was hosted by Libya. Just like in 1980, the field of eight teams was split into two groups of four...

. The city hosted six group games and a semifinal in the March 28 Stadium
March 28 Stadium
March 28 Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Benghazi, Libya. It is a part of Benghazi Sports City. It was used mostly for football matches and it also has athletics facilities. The stadium holds 65,000...

, Libya's second-largest stadium. The city will very likely be the scene of more games when Libya re-hosts the African Cup of Nations in 2013.

The largest sporting centre in Benghazi is the Medina al-Riyadhia (Sports City). The complex is situated just south of the city centre, and houses the March 28 Stadium, and the Slayman al Tharrat basketball stadium – several matches of the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship
FIBA Africa Championship 2009
The 2009 FIBA Africa Championship was the 25th FIBA Africa Championship, played under the auspices of the Fédération Internationale de Basketball, the basketball sport governing body, and the African zone thereof. At stake were the three berths allocated to Africa in the 2010 FIBA World Championship...

 were hosted at the arena. The complex also has a sports hall for indoor sports, a tennis stadium and several small tennis courts. The facility was built in the 1950s and is therefore quite outdated; the stadia have nonetheless undergone maintenance work in recent years. Sports City was recently closed down for a complete redevlopment of the site. As of 2009, the March 28 Stadium was undergoing demolition work, and a new 45,000 all seater stadium was to be constructed in its place. A second smaller stadium was to be built on-site, and the entire site was to undergo redevelopment before its reopening in 2011, and its use in the 2013 African Nations Cup.

Benghazi is a coastal city, and its beaches are an important location for sporting activities. The coast at Jeliana is home to the Milaha Beach Club amongst others. Wind surfing and swimming are two of the most popular water sports. There are also several contact sport clubs in the city –judo
Judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

 and taekwondo
Taekwondo
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

 are popular men's sports in Benghazi. In recent times, rugby sevens
Rugby sevens
Rugby sevens, also known as seven-a-side or VIIs, is a variant of rugby union in which teams are made up of seven players, instead of the usual 15, with shorter matches. Rugby sevens is administered by the International Rugby Board , the body responsible for rugby union worldwide...

 has seen great success with three clubs in the vicinity. Gyms have also become more popular in the city in recent years, because of a greater concern for healthy living amongst Libyans.

Transport


Benghazi is a transport hub in Eastern Libya and is an important city on the northern coastal road that crosses the country. An efficiently designed system of roads, bridges and underpasses cover Benghazi, however traffic jams and poorly maintained streets are not uncommon. A microbus system covers many areas of the city and has its base in Al-Funduq. National and international bus services also leave from Al-Fudnuq from the central bus station. As of 2010, earthworks
Earthworks (engineering)
Earthworks are engineering works created through the moving or processing of quantities of soil or unformed rock.- Civil engineering use :Typical earthworks include roads, railway beds, causeways, dams, levees, canals, and berms...

 were underway in the city for a rail network which will traverse northern Libya.

Benina International Airport
Benina International Airport
Benina International Airport serves Benghazi, Libya. It is located in the town of Benina, 19 km east of Benghazi, from which it takes its name. The airport is operated by the Civil Aviation and Meteorology Bureau of Libya and is the second largest in the country after Tripoli International...

 serves national and international flights.

The Benghazi port is a vital terminal for the region, and allows for the import and export of national and international goods and food products.

The city's road network is generally well designed. An efficient system of highways, flyovers
Overpass
An overpass is a bridge, road, railway or similar structure that crosses over another road or railway...

, ringroads
Ring road
A ring road, orbital motorway, beltway, circumferential highway, or loop highway is a road that encircles a town or city...

 and underpasses serve the city, and allow for the transport of goods and vehicles. The roads are not always well-maintained however, and often have incorrect, poorly visible or no road markings, as well as potholes in some roads and inner-city streets. In recent years, a rapid increase in car ownership has meant that traffic jams, lack of parking spaces and overcrowding are also not uncommon, especially on smaller streets. Road accidents are also on the rise because of the increase in vehicles and the subsequent lax in attention given by authorities to dangerous driving. There is no systemised public transport system in Benghazi despite the city's size and significance. A popular system of microbuses has developed in recent years; bus journeys run on fixed routes and passengers can embark and disembark anywhere on the route. Most microbuses stop at Al-Funduq or have the end of Souq Al-Jarid in Al-Funduq as their final destination. National and international coach services depart and arrive at Benghazi's coach station at Al-Funduq with regular journeys to Tripoli, as well as international services to Cairo, Amman and Damascus.

Until the 1960s there were two small railways, built by the Italians, departing from Benghazi and served with classical Littorine: Benghazi-Barce and Benghazi-Soluch. But recently huge railway plans were supported by Gaddafi: work started in September 2008 on a new railway network that would connect to major cities of western Libya at Sirte
Sirte
Sirte is a city in LibyaSirte may also refer to:* Sirte Declaration, a 1999 resolution to create the African Union* Sirte Oil Company, a Libyan oil companyIn geography:* Gulf of Sirte, alias for Gulf of Sidra on Libya's coast...

. Russian Railways
Russian Railways
The Russian Railways , is the government owned national rail carrier of the Russian Federation, headquartered in Moscow. The Russian Railways operate over of common carrier routes as well as a few hundred kilometers of industrial routes, making it the second largest network in the world exceeded...

is responsible for the three-year contract. In the future, a rail link may be built to both Tunisia and Egypt forming a North African coastal rail network.

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