Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> Curzon to Danbury >> Cyrenaica


cyrene, province, north, east and south

CYRENAICA, sir-e-nri-ka, anciently a Greek. state in the north of Africa, between Marmarica on the east and the Regio Syrtica on the west, and extending in its widest limits from the Philenonun Are at the bottom of the great Syrties to the Chersonesus Magna or north headland of the Gulf of Platea, or even to the Catabathmus Magnus, but the part possessed and cultivated by the Greek colonists actually occupied no more than the elevated district in the north, now called Jebel Akdar, along with the adjacent coast. It comprised five cities (Pentapolis) — (1) Hesperides-Berenice (Ben gazi) ' • (2) Barca (Merj) ; (3) Cyrene (Ain Shahat-Grenna) ; (4) Apollonia (Marla Susa); (5) Teucheira-Arsinoe (Tocra). In later times two more important towns were added, Ptolemais (Tolmeita) and Darnis-Zarine (Derna). During the most flourishing period of the history of the city of Cyrene that town held in nominal subjection the whole of Cyre naica, or the country lying between Carthage on the west, Egypt on the east and Phazania (Fessan) on the south, with the Mediterranean for its northern boundary. Cyrenaica remained independent at first as a monarchy under a dynasty of Icings, the successors of Battus (the Libyan title of the kings of Cyrene; the actual name of the founder seems to have been Aris toteles), who led the first colony to Cyrene; afterward as a republic, until it was subdued by Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, and annexed to Egypt 321 or 322 B.C. By the will of the last king of Cyrenaica belonging to the Ptolemaic dynasty, it was left to the Romans, 95 a.c., who, about 20 years later, erected it along with Crete into a Roman province. Under Constantine it was separated from Crete and made a province by itself. Under Diocletian, Cyrenaica was

separated from Crete and made a distinct prov ince under the name of Libya Superior. As the Roman Empire declined the attacks of the native Libyan tribes became more frequent and for midable, and the sufferings caused by their in roads and by plagues, earthquakes and locusts reduced the population and enterprise consider ably. The country became overrun by the Arabs eventually and was under Ottoman rule. It is at present, however, not used to the best of its capacity and resources. Together with Tripoli it was annexed to Italy in November 1911 and formed into one province (August 1915), bounded on the west by Tunis and Algeria, on the east by Egypt and on the south and south east by the Sahara. The estimated area is about 400,000 square miles and the population about 1,000,000, mostly Berbers and Jews. The province consists of Tripolitania (capital Tripoli ; pop. 73,000) and Cyrenaica (capital Bengazi; pop. 35,000). Through these cities practically all of the trade passes. The chief exports are esparto fibre, skins and hides, ostrich feathers and sponges. Each district has its governor, appointed by the king on the nomina tion of the Minister of Colonies in accord with the Minister of War. These governors hold the rank of lieutenant-generals. (See CYRENE). Consult Gottschick, A. F.,