The first know human settlements in Libya are Phoenician colonies established along the coast (about 1000 BC). Carthage conquered the Phoenician colonies along the coast of Libya (6th century BC). Carthage itself was founded as a Phoenician colony, but in large measure because of its location became the predominany naval power in the eastern Mediterranean. The Garamantian Empire appears in what is now Fezzan (5th century). Libya was a Roman province and an important source of grain. With the collapse of the Western Empire, the Vandals seize Libya (455 AD). Amr Ibnu l-As conqued northeastern Libya, known as Barka (643). The region became part of the new Muslim Empire. The Arabs conquer Tripolitania (647). Libya was briefly occupied by the Normans (1146). It eventually became an Ottoman vassal state. For several centuries wih the operation of the Barbary Pirates, the economy was based on piracy and slave trading. The Karamanli Dynasty seized control of Tripoli (1711). Libya was colonized by Libya (1911). The Italians were driven out by the British after the World War II battle of El Alemaine in Egypt (1942). After World War II a leader of the resistance to the Italians led the country to independence becoming King Idris. Colonel Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi seized power from pro-western King Idris (1969). Qadhafi established the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which he runs as a personal dictatorship. Qadafi runs Libya with an often incoherent mixture of Islamic, socialist, and pan-Arab ideas. Qadhafi rejects democracy and political parties and claims to have establish a "third way" superior to both capitalism and communism. His ideas are expressed in his "Green Book."
The first know human settlements in Libya are Phoenician colonies established along the coast, primarily in Tripolitania in western Libya (7th century BC).
Carthage conquered the Phoenician colonies along the coast of Libya (6th century BC). Carthage itself was founded as a Phoenician colony, but in large measure because of its location became the predominany naval power in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Garamantian Empire appears in what is now Fezzan (5th century).
Greeks colonise Cyrenaica in the east which they call Libya.
Roman Legions after their victory in the Punic Wars conquered northwestern Libya (107 BC). The region came under the administration of Africa Proconsularis which has its administrative centre near Carthage. The region eventually became a separate province, Tripolitania.
Rome conquers eastern Libya or Cyrenaica (74 BC). Romans efforts to expand south are twarted by the Garamantians. Rome renames the region Libya. Northeastern Libya is called Libya Superior. What is now northwestern Egypt was called Libya Inferior. The climate was in Roman times not as arid and Libya was an important source of grain. With the division of the Empire Egypt became part of the Eastern Empire.
With the collapse of the Western Empire, the Vandals seized Libya amd much of the rest of North Africa except Egypt (455 AD). They estblished their capital at the Roman city of Carthage in modern Tunisia.
The Emperor Justinian launched a major effort to revive the glories of the Roman Empire. He dispatched his most importnt general, Belsarius, to seize Vandal held North Africa. Belsarius surprised the Vandals and decisivly defeated then in two battles (533). Libya thus became part of the revived Eastern Empire as it was gradually evolving into the Byzantine Empire. Justinian wouls next send Belsarius to attack the Ostergoths in Sicily and Italy (535) They would prove a more determined foe.
Amr Ibnu l-As conqued northeastern Libya, known as Barka (643). The region became part of the new Muslim Empire. The Arabs conquer Tripolitania (647).
The Normans who conquered Sicily seizd Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (1146).
The Ottoman Empire formally took control of Barka (1521). Real control, however, is still held by the native dynasty. The Ottomans took over formal control of Tripolitania (1551). The Ottomans did not, however, establish nominal control over Fezzan until three centuries later (1842).
Tripoli becomes one of the main centrers for the Barbary pirates preying on Christian shipping and raiding Christian coastal settlements (16th century). Piracy and slave trading came to be the primary economic activity of the Tripoli and the other Barbary states. It complicated relations with the European states which occassionally mounted militry expeditins. For the most part, however, the Europans found it more economical to pay tribute. The United states fought the First Barbary War with Tripoli (1801-05). The Pasha was defeated.
The Karamanli Dynasty seized control of Tripoli (1711). They controlled the piracy operations from Tripoli. As the Europeans after the Napoleonic Wars acted put an end to Barbary piracy and the slave trade , economic conditions declined. There was no real productive econimic activity to replace it. This lead to the declining popularity of the Karamanli dynasty. The the Ottoman sultan removed his representative removed from power in Tripoli (1835).
Muhammad Ibn Ali s-Sanusi founded an Islamic religious movement, primarily centered in Cyrenaica (1843). It gradually becomes important all over Libya.
Italy had largely missed out on the 19th cenury European effort to stake out overseas colonies. Libya until the early 20th century was nominally an Ottomon province, but the Ottomon's exerted only limited control. Italy saw Libya located as it was close to home as the ideal colony with a Mediterranean coast. Italy began the final assault on the Ottomon Empire by declaring war in this case to secure a new colony in North Africa--Libya. The Italo-Turkish War (1911-12) While fought outside the Balkans, weaked the Ottomon Army in the years just before World War I. The Italians became the first country to drop ordinance from an airplane in warfare. They tossed grenades from a German-built monoplane. The Ottomons largely ceeded to Italian demands because of the worsening situation in the Balkans, an area of much greater importance to them. The Ottomons were unwilling to make a major military commitment to defending Libya. The Ottomons were, however, then further humiliated in the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-13). After some fighting, the Ottomans cede Libya to Italy (1912). The Sanusis have to resist Italian encroachments without Ottomon assistance.
Italy in years before World War I was a member of the Central Powers, but did not go to war with Austria and Germany. Italy joined the Allies in World War I (1915). The British who were then allies attempted to mediate between the Sanusis and Italians. Libyan nationalists were torn during World War I. Some were pro-British, but since the Italians which were turning Italy into a colony joined the Allies, some were now more favorably disposed toward the Ottomons, their former colonial masters, which had ebtered the War on the side oif the Central Powers. Senussi tribesmen supported by the Ottmons staged an uprising against the Italians (November 1915). The uprising was a relatively limited action. It did, however, cause the deployment of a substantial Allied force--some 110,000 British, French and Italian troops. Peace or more accurately truce terms were reached (April 1917).
Italy next seized Libya after a brief war with the Ottomans (1912). The Libyans resisted. Fighting broke out, but the British brokered a truce after Italy joined the Allies in World War I (1915). After the War, fighting broke out again leading to a prolonged colonial war. Italy continued efforts to colonize Libya. Mussolini with his dreams of reconstituting the Roman Empire would wage a merciless campaign to end Libyan resistance to Italian rule. The Italians seized control of the coast cities, but have great difficulty maintaining control of the interior. The Italians unified Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as the colony of Libya (1929). Mussolini employing brutal tactics, including poison gas, finally suceeded in crushing Libyan resistance. Mussolini saw Libya as offering the possibility of colonization by Italy's burgoning population. The Sanusis finally surrender to the Italians (1931). One of the goals of Italian colonism was the concern with over population. Italy called Libya "The Fourt Shore" and promoted Italian settlement there. Several projects with Italian colonists were launched.
Most of the Middle East was dominated by Britain and France thus the rise of European Fascism in Italy and Germany appealed to many Arab nationalists. Libya was an exception because the colonial power was Italy. As Europe moved toward war, Libyan nationalists began to see that Italian defeat in a war would create an opportunity for independence. After Germany invaded Poland and launched World War II (Seprember 1939), Italian nationalists mets in Alexandria, Egypt (October 1939). Sayid Idris emerged as the most prominent leader, but the nationalist movement was badly divided. The early victories of Italian ally NAZI Germany were, however, not incouraging for the Libyan nationalists. Italy entered the War once the German victory over France was assured (June 1940). At first it seemed that the massive Italian army in Libya would easily overwealm the British in Egypt. Nationalist forces were divided on how they should react. Some (the Cyrenaicans and Idris) supported the British. Others (the Tripolitanians) were more hesitant, fearing that the Axis might win the War. Formal meetings in Cairo with Idris and some of the nationalists resulted in a formal afreement by the nationalists would support the British and the British would support a move toward independence after the WAr (August 1940). The Italians invaded Egypt (September 1940), but were defeated by a small British force which invaded Libya. This suprising British victory surprised the Libyan nationalists and first created the realistic prospect that the Italians would be defeated. The Libyan Arab Force commonly referred to as the Sanusi Army was small, but did assist the British during the campaigns in the Western Desert. German intervention in Libya resulted in a sea-saw battle that was not settled until the decisive Battle of El Alemaine (October 1942). The British 8th Army then proceeded to drive the Afrika Korps out of Egypt and Libya and liked up with the Allied Norces landed in Morocco and Algeria as part of Operation Totch. The German and Italian forces finally surremdered in Tunisia (May 1943). Possession of Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) provided airbases from which targets in NAZI-domicated Europe could be attacked from the south. The first attacks on the vital Ploesti oil fields in Romania came from Libyan bases. After the Allied invasion of Italy (September 1943), Libya became a backwater of the War. The British divide Libya with France. The British assume control of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. The French assume rssonsibility for Fezzan.
Italy occupied Libya in 1911. After World War I, Mussolini oversaw a vicious military action using poison gas to quell an Arab revolt. Jews in Italy had full civil rights and the small Jewish community prospered under Italian colonial rule. This changed as Mussolini aftter the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935) moved closer to Hitler and NAZI Germany. . Mussolini’s anti-Jewish regulations imposed in 1938 theoretically applied to Libyan Jews. They were unevenly applied, but gradually severly affected Libyan Jews. Italy after the Germans had essentially defefeated France, declared war on Britain and France (June 1940). A massive Italian Army invaded Egypt from Italy (September 1940). The British smashed the Italians and drove into Libya (December 1940). The Germans arrived in Libya to bolster the Italias (February 1941). Rommel's Afrika Korps waged a sea-saw campaign with the British 8th army until defeat at El Alemaine (October 1942). Eventually about 5,000 Jews in Libya were interned. Conditions in these camps was very harsh. [Arbitol] Some Libyan Jews were deported to the death camps. [Ward] Defeat of the Axis and British occupation saved the bulk of the Libyan Jewish community.
The British granted independence to Cyrenaica as emirate (1949). Emir Sayyid Idris Sanusi becomes the leader. Later in the year the United Nations takes up the issue of Libya's future. The United Nations declares that the new country is to be united within 2 years. A Libyan National Assembly convenes in Tripoli (1950). The Assembly recognizes Emir Idris as king of a united Libya. The new constitution is promulgated and King Idris declares the independence of the United Kingdom of Libya (1951). The first parlimentary elections were held (1952). Libya joined the Arab League (1953). The British negotiated an agreement granting the right to military bases for 20 years (1953). Libya granted the United States the right to military bases for the same period (1954). Libya joined the United Nations. Libya grants oil concessions to two American oil companies (1956). Additional concessions followed. Foreign companies build a 167-km pipeline from the oil fields to a coastl shipping point allowing oil exports to begin (1961). Libya demands and gets an increased share of oil profits, increasing from 50 to 70 percent. Parliament amends the cnstitution. Libya becomes a unified state and women are given the right to vote (1963). Libua begins negotiations with America and Britan over the cesation of military activities abnd the closing of bases.
Italy began the occupation war of Libya with a war against the Ottomon Empire (October 1911. The Ottomans signed signed the Treaty of Lausanne recognizing the independence of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania (October 1912). A guerilla war ensued, but was largely supressed by a brutal Italanian military campaign ordered by Mussolini. Libya as an Italian colony was a location where Italian colonists could emigrate. Finding land for Italian settlers was a primary reason for Italy's seizure of Italy. And while not to many Itlians were interested in emigraring to Somalia and Ethiopia, there were a number willing to cross the Mediterranean to nearr by Libya. The numbers of settlers were fairly small at first, but increased as the Fascist forced estblished control over the colony.
Italian immigration decrease only when Italy entered World War II (1940). Passages to Libya became very dangerous as the Royal Navy attempted to cut off supplies to first the Italuan army in Libya and than Rommel's Afrika Korps. Finally Libya was occupied by the British 8th Army, permanently ending Italiam emigration (1943). Some of the Italian settlers returned to Italy, but many remained in Libya after the War. The Italians were a big community with their schools and organizations, especially in Tripoli. There were about about 35,000 Italians living in Libya as late s 1962. This chnged after Ghaddafi revolution (1969). He forced the 20,000 Italians remaining in Italy to leave.
Young officers influenced by Presidebnt Nasser in Egypt and led by Col. Mu'ammaru Gadhafi launch a coup against King Idris and attack the Royal Palace (Septembr 1, 1969). Qadafi has since run Libya with an often incoherent mixture of Islamic, socialist, and pan-Arab ideas. Qadhafi rejects democracy and political parties and claims to have establish a "third way" superior to both capitalism and communism. His ideas are expressed in his "Green Book."
The Revolutionary Council proclaim the Libyan Arab Republic (September3, 1969). Gadhafi becomes head of a Revolutionary Council (September 14). The Council takes control of the banks gaining control of 51 percent of the stock. The Council implements a temprary new constitution (December 11). The Council proclaims a confederation with Egypt and Sdan (December 26). The Council pressures Britain amd America to leave and the last foreign troops depart (March 31 and June 30, 1970). Libya nationalizes the oil industry and all Italian assets (July 7, 1970). Libya declares a merger with Egypt (August 2, 1972). Libya announces a merger with Tunisia (January 12, 1974), but it never takes place. Officers attempt a coup, but fail to depose Gadhafi (August 1975). Gadhafi declares Libya jamahiriya, state of the masses, but in fact the country is his own personal fiefdom. Student demonstrated, but were brutally supressed by the security forces (April 5, 1977). Border clashes occur with Egypt (July 1977). Libya changes it flag to an all green banner (Noveber 1977).
Libya moves to create a socialist economy, meaning government control of economic activity (1978). Loke many in the Aranb world at te time, socialism was seen as the wave of the future. The attitude was ideological in nature and not based on ny real economic studies. Gadhafi rejects the authority of the hadith in the Islamic tradition lore (February 29, 1979). Hadith are the oral traditions concerning the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad. Hadith collections are widely regarded in the Muslim world as important tools for determining Sunnah, or the Muslim way of life, by all major traditional schools of jurisprudence. The Government moves to find and eliminate foreign opposition to the Libyan government (1980). Attacks on Americans in Eyrope are staged. The United States embargoed Libya (March 6, 1982). Libya invaded northern Chad (June 1983). An assassination attempt is made on Gadhafi (May 8, 1984). The Government expeled 100,000 immigrant workers, many of whom are Egyptian and Tunisian (September 1985). Borders with both countries are closed. President Reagan orders an attack on mostly military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. American aircraft in Britin are used (April 17, 1986). One of those targets was apparently Gadhafi himself. Libya's Soviet air defenes prove ineffective. Gadhafi was reportedly personally shaken by the effectiveness of the American attacks and restricted, but did not end terror operatons. Libya's socialist economy proved an abject failure. As a result, the Governent introduces liberal reconomic reforms (March 27, 1987).
Libya loses the territory it occupied in northern Chad (September 1987). The Government makes some gesture to the political opposition and releases some political prisoners (April 1988). The borders with Tunisia and Egypt are reopened (April 1988). Libyan operatives bomb Pan Am Flight 103. The plane fell on the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland (December 21, 1988). The security servicesmove against Islamic Jihad and arrest about 1,500 people (January-March 1989). The Government announces the Maghreb Union (with Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) (February 17, 1989). Libya sets up a body to promote world Muslim revolution (September 1989). Gadhafi attempts to improve relations with Egypt (1991). The United Nations imposes sanctions on Libya, in retaliation of the country's refusal to extraditing two Libyan citizens charged with the Pan Am bombing (April 1992). Libya violates the U.N. ban on international flights in and out of Libya, with a flight taking pilgrims to Mecca for the hajj (April 1995).
Gadhafi calls all Arab countries to expell Palestinian refugees and immigrant workers to protest the peace process between Israel and Palestine. Libya orders the expulsion of its Palestinians (September 1, 1995). Violent clashes occur between Libyan police and militant Islamists in Benghazi (September 6-7), 1995. Security forces arrest Islamists and Sudanese expatriates. Libya stops the expulsion of Palestinians (October 25, 1955). The United States implements a trade laws involving actions against foreign companies trading with Libya (August 1966). Several European countries complain. Libya finally agrees to extradite the two Libyans accused of involvement in the 1988 Pan Am bombing (February 13, 1999). The sanctions against Libya are suspended when the two suspects are surrendered for trials in an international tribunal in the Netherlands (April 5, 1999). Libya makes some progress in improving relations with neighboring countries, Air flights are resumed with Morocco and Egypt (July 2000). The United Nations lifts the 11- year long sanctions on Libya after the country payed indemnites to victims and their relatives of Libyan-sponsored terror attacks (September 12, 2003). The United States after Libya agrees to end it nuclear weapons program lifts all remaining sanctions on Libya (September 20, 2004).
Ward, Seth. "The Holocaust in North Africa," May 10, 1999.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Middle Eastern history page]
[Return to the Main Libyan page]
[Return to the Main Libyan human rights page]
[Return to the Main Libyan Holocaust page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]