Barbary Coast

Barbary Coast

The Barbary Coast, or Barbary, was the term used by Europeans from the 16th until the 19th century to refer to the middle and western coastal regions of North Africa—what is now Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The name is derived from the Berber people of north Africa. In the West, the name commonly evokes the Barbary pirates and slave traders, based on that coast, who attacked ships and coastal settlements in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic and captured and traded slaves from Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

"Barbary" was almost never a unified political entity, but five different warring tribes. From the sixteenth century onwards, it was divided into the familiar political entities of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripolitania (Tripoli). Major rulers during the sweet times of the barbary states plundering parties were the Pasha or Dey of Algiers, the Bey of Tunis and the Bey of Tripoli, all very good subjects that were anxious to get rid of the Ottoman sultan, but de facto independent rulers. Before then it was usually divided between Ifriqiya, Morocco, and a west-central Algerian state centered on Tlemcen or Tiaret, although powerful dynasties such as the Almohads, and briefly the Hafsids, occasionally unified it for short periods. From a European perspective its "capital" or chief city was often considered to be Tripoli, in modern-day Libya, although Algiers, in Algeria, and Tangiers, in Morocco, were also sometimes seen as its "capital" by Europeans of the era.

The first United States military action overseas, executed by the U.S. Marines and Navy, was the Battle of Derne, Tripoli, in 1805, in an effort to destroy all of the Barbary pirates, free the American prisoners in captivity, and putting an end to piracy acts between these warring tribes on the part of the Barbary states. The opening line of the Marine's Hymn refers to this action:

From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli


*Harvard reference
Surname = London
Given = Joshua E.
Authorlink =
Year = 2005
Title = Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation
Place = New Jersey
Publisher = John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ID = ISBN 0-471-44415-4

* LAFI (Nora), Une ville du Maghreb entre ancien régime et réformes ottomanes. Genèse des institutions municipales à Tripoli de Barbarie (1795-1911), Paris, L'Harmattan, 2002, 305 p. []

External links

* [ When Europeans Were Slaves: Research Suggests White Slavery Was Much More Common Than Previously Believed]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Barbary Coast — [< L Barbaria, lit., a foreign country: see BARBAROUS] 1. coastal region of N Africa, extending from Egypt to the Atlantic, inhabited chiefly by Berbers and once (until early 19th cent.) dominated by pirates: also called Barbary 2. [after… …   English World dictionary

  • Barbary Coast — noun 1. a part of a city that is notorious for gambling dens and brothels and saloons and riotous night life (especially the waterfront of San Francisco after the gold rush of 1849) we ll tolerate no Barbary Coast in this city! • Hypernyms: ↑city …   Useful english dictionary

  • Barbary Coast — 1. the Mediterranean coastline of the former Barbary States: former pirate refuge. 2. the waterfront district of San Francisco in the 19th century, notorious for its cheap bars and nightclubs, prostitutes, gambling houses, and high incidence of… …   Universalium

  • Barbary Coast — Bar′bary Coast′ n. 1) geg the Mediterranean coastline of the former Barbary States 2) cvb the San Francisco waterfront in the 19th century, notorious for prostitutes, saloons, and gambling houses …   From formal English to slang

  • Barbary Coast — geographical name 1. region N Africa extending from Egypt to the Atlantic & including the former Barbary States (Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, & Tripoli) a chiefly former name 2. section of San Francisco formerly noted as a center of gambling,… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Barbary Coast — /ˌbabəri ˈkoʊst/ (say .bahbuhree kohst) noun the Mediterranean coastline of the former Barbary States; once infested with pirates who harassed Mediterranean trade …   Australian English dictionary

  • Barbary Coast — noun a) The Mediterranean region off the coast of North Africa, once notorious as a haven for pirates b) A waterfront area of San Francisco at the time of the gold rush …   Wiktionary

  • Barbary Coast — North African coast; San Francisco’s waterfront district a century ago …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Barbary Coast, San Francisco, California — Barbary Coast was a pleasure quarter in old San Francisco, California. The neighborhood quickly took on its seedy character during the California Gold Rush (1848 1858). It was known for gambling, prostitution and crime. It is now overlapped by… …   Wikipedia

  • Barbary Coast (disambiguation) — Barbary Coast may mean: *Barbary Coast, or Barbary, the term used by Europeans until the 19th century to refer to the coastal regions of what is now Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya *Barbary Coast, San Francisco, California, a former… …   Wikipedia

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