Tripolitania as a subdivision of Libya 1934–1963.

Tripolitania /trɨpɒlɨˈteɪniə/ or Tripolitana (Arabic: طرابلسṬarābulus, Berber: Ṭrables, from Latin Regio Tripolitana) is a historic region and former province of Libya.

Tripolitania was a separate Italian colony from 1927 to 1934. From 1934 to 1963, Tripolitania was one of three administrative divisions within Italian Libya and the Kingdom of Libya, alongside Cyrenaica to the east and Fezzan to the south.



Satellite image of Libya with Tripolitania on the upper left half, showing the green Mediterranean coast in the north and the large desert in the centre and south
Detailed map of Tripolitania

In the old system, Tripolitania included Tripoli, the capital city of Libya and a vast northwestern portion of the country; in the subsequent systems, the sha'biyah of Tripoli has become much smaller than the original Tripolitania, including merely the city of Tripoli and its immediate surroundings. Because the city and the sha'biyah are nowadays almost coextensive, the term "Tripolitania" has more historical than contemporary value. In Arabic the same word (طرابلس) is used for both the city and the region, and that word, used alone, would be understood to mean only the city; in order to designate Tripolitania in Arabic, a qualifier such as "state", "province" or "sha'biyah" is required.

The system of administrative divisions that included Tripolitania was abolished in the early 1970s in favor of a system of smaller-size municipalities or baladiyat (singular baladiyah). The baladiyat system was subsequently changed many times and has lately become the "Sha'biyat" system. The region that was Tripolitania is now composed of several smaller baladiyat or sha'biyat – see administrative divisions in Libya.



The city of Oea, on the site of modern Tripoli, was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC. It was conquered by the Greek rulers of Cyrenaica, who were in turn displaced by the Carthaginians. The Greek name Τρίπολις "three cities" referred to Oea, Sabratha and Leptis Magna. The Roman Republic captured Tripolitania in 146 BC, and the area prospered during the Roman Empire period. The Latin name Regio Tripolitania dates to the 3rd century. The Vandals took over in 435, and were in turn supplanted by the Byzantine Empire in the 530s.

Middle Ages

In the 7th century, Tripolitania was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate, and was inherited by its descendants the Umayyads and the Abbasids. The Fatimids, originally vassals of the Abbasids, rebelled in the 10th century, establishing a Caliphate from Tunisia to Syria. In the 1140s, the Normans of Sicily invaded Tripoli, but were ousted by the Almohad Caliphate in 1158. Emir Abu Zakariya, an Almohad vassal, established an independent state in Tunisia in 1229 and took control of Tripolitania shortly after. The Hafsids would control the region until the Ottoman conquest of 1553.

Modern history

Flag of the Tripolitania Vilayet (1864–1911)
Flag of the Tripolitanian Republic (1919-1923).[citation needed]

The Ottoman vilayet of Tripoli (Trablusgarb) extended beyond the region of Tripolitania proper, also including Cyrenaica. Tripolitania became effectively independent under the rulers of the Karamanli dynasty from 1711 until Ottoman control was re-imposed by Mahmud II in 1835. Ottoman rule persisted until 1911–12, when it was captured by Italy in the Italo-Turkish War. Italy officially granted autonomy after the war, but gradually occupied the region.

After World War I, an Arab Republic, Al-Jumhuriya al-Trabulsiya, or "Tripolitanian Republic", declared the independence of Tripolitania from Italian Libya. The proclamation of the Tripolitanian Republic in autumn 1918 was followed by a formal declaration of independence at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. This was the first formally declared republican form of government in the Arab world, but it gained little support from international powers, and disintegrated by 1923. Italy managed to establish full control over Libya by 1930. Originally administered as part of a single colony, Italian Tripolitania was a separate colony from 26 June 1927 to 3 December 1934, when it was merged into Libya.

The Italian fascists constructed the Marble Arch as a form of an imperial triumphal arch at the border between Tripolitani and Cyrenaica near the coast.

During World War II Libya was occupied by the Allies and until 1947, Tripolitania (and the region of Cyrenaica) were administered by the United Kingdom. Italy formally renounced its claim upon the territory in the same year.

Tripolitania retained its status as a province in the Kingdom of Libya from 1951 to 1963, when it was replaced by a new system of governorates, which divided Tripolitania into the governorates of Khoms, Zawiya, Jabal al Gharbi, Misrata and Tarabulus.


Tripolitania is Libya's most populous region (compared to Fezzan and Cyrenaica). Tripolitania's population has grown throughout years, as has the population of Libya as a whole. Libya's overall population, however, has grown at a rate slightly greater. Because of this, the percentage of Libya's population living within Tripolitania has decreased.

Year Population Percent of
1954 738,338 67.8
1964 1,034,089 66.1
1973 1,459,874 64.9
1984 2,390,039 65.7
1995 3,185,458 66.4
2006 3,601,853 63.3

Source: Gathered from bulletins of censuses 1964, 1973, 1995, 2006.

See also

Airmail stamp of Tripolitania (1931)


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tripolitania — [trip΄ə lə tā′nē ə] historical region of NW Libya, on the Mediterranean * * * Tri·pol·i·ta·ni·a (trĭ pŏl ĭ tāʹnē ə, tānʹyə, trĭp ə lĭ ) A historical region of northern Africa bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. Originally a Phoenician colony, it… …   Universalium

  • Tripolitania — [trip΄ə lə tā′nē ə] historical region of NW Libya, on the Mediterranean …   English World dictionary

  • Tripolitania — Mapa de las tres regiones de Libia‎. Tripolitania o Tripolitana (árabe: طرابلس, transliterado: Tarābulus) es una región histórica de Libia occidental, centrada en la ciudad costera de Trípoli. La región fue originalmente habitada por la etnia… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Tripolitania —    It is located in the northwestern part of Libya, and it is one of the most populous and historic regions with about 80 percent of the country s population living here. It covers an area of about 365,000 square kilometers and runs from the… …   Historical dictionary of the berbers (Imazighen)

  • Tripolitania — (Tarābulus) ► Región del N de África, junto al Mediterráneo, en el NO de Libia. Cap., Trípoli. * * * Región histórica de África del norte. Hoy forma parte del noroeste de Libia. Colonizada por los fenicios en el s. VII BC, se la llamó así por sus …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Tripolitania — or ancient Tripolis geographical name region & former province NW Libya bordering on the Mediterranean • Tripolitanian adjective or noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Tripolitania — noun A historic region of western Libya, centered around the coastal city of Tripoli …   Wiktionary

  • Tripolitania — n. historic and ancient area in North Africa that surrounded Tripoli in northwestern Libya …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Tripolitania — /trɪpɒləˈteɪniə/ (say tripoluh tayneeuh) noun → Tripoli (def. 1) …   Australian English dictionary

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