TRIPOLI, a Turkish vilayet (regency) of North Africa. It is bounded N. by the Mediterranean (between 11° 40' and 25° 12' E.) and has a coast-line of over iioo m. Tripoli comprises at least five distinct regions - Tripoli proper, the Barca plateau (Cyrenaica), the Aujila oases, Fezzan and the oases of Ghadames and Ghat - which with the intervening sandy and stony wastes occupy the space between Tunisia and Egypt, extend from the Mediterranean southwards to the Tropic of Cancer, and have a collective area of about 400,000 sq. m., with a population estimated at from 800,000 to 1,300,000. Towards the south and east the frontiers are undefined. But on the west side the conventional line laid down by agreement with France in 1886 was more accurately determined in 1892, when the terminal point on the Mediterranean was shifted from Borj-el-Biban to Ras Ajir, 18 m. to the south-east, in 33° 12' N. 11° 40 E. From this point the line passes along the Wad Magla and across the Erg (sand) dunes in such a way as to leave Ghadames to Turkey. In consequence of frontier collisions the boundary as far as Ghadames was precisely defined in 1910. South of that point the rival claims of France and Turkey remained in dispute.
For some distance east of Tunisia the seaboard is low and sandy, and is often regarded as a part of the Sahara, which, however, begins only some 80 m. farther south, beyond the Jebels Nefusi, Yefren and Ghurian (Gharian). The " Jebel," as this system is locally called, terminates eastwards in the Tarhona heights of the Horns (Khoms) coast district, has a mean altitude of about 2000 ft. and culminates in the Takut (Tekuk) volcano (2800 ft.) nearly due south of the capital. It is not a true mountain range, but rather the steep scarp of the Saharan plateau, which encloses southwards the Jefara coast plains, and probably represents the original coast-line. The Ghurian section is scored in places by the beds of intermittent coast streams, and on its lower slopes is clothed with a rich sub-tropical vegetation. South of these escarpments, the vast Hammada el-Homra, the " Red Hammada," an interminable stony table-land covering some 40,000 sq. m., occupies the whole space between Tripoli proper and the Fezzan depression. The now uninhabited and waterless Hammada formerly drained through several large rivers, such as the Wadis Targelat (Uani, Kseia), Terrgurt, Sofejin, Zemzem and Bel, north-eastwards to the Gulf of Sidra (Syrtis major). Southwards the table-land is skirted by the Jebel Welad Hassan, the Jebel es-Sud.a, the Jebel Morai-Yeh, and other detached ranges, which have a normal west to east trend in the direction of the Aujila oases, rising a little above the level of the plateau, but falling precipitously towards Fezzan. The Jebel es-Suda (Black Mountains), most conspicuous of these ranges, with a mean altitude of 2800 ft., takes its name from the blackened aspect of its limestone and sandstone rocks, which have been subjected to volcanic action, giving them the appearance of basalt. Eastwards this range ramifies into the two crescent-shaped chains of the Haruj el-Aswad and Haruj el-Abiad (" Black " and " White " Haruj), which rise some 700 ft. above the Red Hammada, and enclose an extensive Cretaceous plateau. Rocks of Cretaceous age cover, indeed, an immense area of the northern part of the vilayet, recent eruptive rocks being represented by the lavas and ashes of the craters of Takut and Manterus. The later palaeozoic formations occur in Fezzan.
Beyond the barren Ghadama district in the north of the Hammada the dreary aspect of the wilderness is broken by several tracts under grass, corn and date-palms, and containing some permanent reservoirs in the beds of the Wadis Sofejin and Zemzem, where the plateau falls from a mean height of 2000 ft. to 1000 and 530 ft. respectively. But it again rises rapidly southwards to a somewhat uniform level of 1600 or 1700 ft., and here the main caravan route from Tripoli to Murzuk and Lake Chad traverses for a distance of fully 130 m. a monotonous region of sandstone, underlying clays, marls, gypsum and fossiliferous silicious deposits. In its northern section this part of the Hammada, as it is locally called in a pre-eminent sense, is relieved by a few patches of herbage, scrub and brushwood, with a little water left in the rocky cavities by the heavy showers which occasionally fall.
North-eastwards the Neddik pass over the Jebel Morai-Yeh leads down to the remarkable chain of low-lying oases, which, Aujila from the chief member of the group, is commonly called the Aujila depression. Collectively the oases present the aspect of a long winding valley, which is enclosed on the north side by the southern escarpments of the Barca plateau, expands at intervals into patches of perennial verdure and shallow saline basins, and extends from the Wadi el-Fareg, near the Gulf of Sidra, through the Bir Rassam, Aujila, Jalo, Faredgha, and Siwa oases, to the Natron lakes and the dried-up branch of the Nile delta known as the Bahr bila-M5, (waterless river). The whole region presents the aspect of a silted-up marine inlet, which perhaps in Pliocene times penetrated some 300 m. south-eastwards in the direction of the Nile. Nearly all the fossil shells found in its sands belong to the fauna now living in the Mediterranean, and Siwa is 98 ft. below sea-level. This is true also of its eastern extensions, Sittra (80) and the Birket el-Kerun in the Fayum (141). But Aujila and Jalo stand 130 and 296 ft. respectively above sealevel, so that the idea entertained by the explorer Gerhard Rohlfs of transforming the chain of oases into a marine gulf, and thus converting the Barca plateau into an island or peninsula in the midst of the Mediterranean waters, and in fact flooding the Libyan desert, must share the fate of Colonel Francois Roudaire's equally visionary scheme in respect of the Western Sahara.
The Barca plateau, which consists largely of strata of tertiary formation, falls in terraces down to the Aujila depression, and presents an unbroken rampart of steep cliffs towards the Mediterranean, is by far the most favoured region of the vilayet. Its many natural advantages of climate, soil and vegetation led to the establishment of several Greek colonies, the oldest and most famous of which was that of Cyrene, dating from about 630 B.C. From this place the whole region took the name of Cyrenaica (q.v.) and was also known as Pentapolis, from its " five cities " of Cyrene, Apollonia, Arsinoe, Berenice and Barca. The elevated plateau of Cyrenaica, which encloses the Gulf of Sidra on the west, is separated southwards by the Aujila depression from the Libyan desert, and projects northwards far into the Mediterranean, might seem, like the Atlas region in the west, to belong geologically rather to the European than to the African mainland. It has a mean altitude of considerably over 2000 ft., and in the Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountains) attains a height of nearly 3500 ft. Eastwards the Barca uplands merge gradually in the less elevated Marmarica plateau, which nowhere rises more than 1800 ft. above sea-level, and disappears altogether in the direction of the Nile delta. The most easterly spot on the coast belonging to Tripoli is the head of the Gulf of Solum; from this point the frontier line separating the regency from the Egyptian dominions runs south so as to leave the Siwa oasis on the Egyptian side of the line.
South of the Aujila depression the land rises steadily to a height of nearly 1200 feet in the Kufra oases, which lie between 21° and 24° E., Kufra north of the Tropic of Cancer and due east of Fezzan.
The group consists of five distinct oases in the heart of the Libyan desert - Taizerbo, Zighen, Bu-Zeima, Erbena and Kebabo - which extend for a distance of 200 m. northwest and south-east, and have a collective area of 7000 sq. m. and a population of 6000 or 7000 Arabo-Berber nomads. Good water is obtained in abundance from the underground reservoirs, which lie within a few feet of the surface, and support over a million date-palms. Kufra, that is, " Infidels " (in reference to the now extinct pagan Tibu aborigines), is a centre of the Senussite brotherhood, whose zawya (convent) at Jof, in Kebabo, ranks in importance with that of Jarabub, their chief station in Cyrenaica. This circumstance, together with the great fertility of the group and its position midway on the caravan route between Cyrenaica and Wadai, imparts exceptional importance to these oases. Formerly the Turks did not exercise authority in Kufra, the influence of the Senussi being paramount. Kufra, moreover, is outside the limits usually assigned to Tripoli. But in 1910 Ottoman troops were in occupation of the oases.
Ghat stands 2400 feet above the sea, on the Wadi Aghelad in the Igharghar basin, and consequently belongs, not to the Fezzan depression, but to the Saharan plateau. The Aghelad, or Passage," trends north to the Iasawanvalley along the east foot of the Tasili plateau, that is, the divide between the waters Xxvii. Io which formerly flowed north to the Mediterranean, west to the Atlantic, and south to the Niger and Chad basins. Ghat, which is skirted eastwards by the Akakus range, is a sandy plain dotted over with clumps or groves of date-palms. In the centre is an open space where is held a great annual fair, and to this, combined with its position on one of the caravan routes across the desert, the oasis owes all its importance. For several years, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the only caravan route used from the Niger countries to Tripoli was by way of Ghat, disturbances in Bornu and raids by Tuareg having closed all other routes. There is, in the oasis, a population of perhaps io,000, nearly all Ihajenen Tuareg, about half of whom live in the town of Ghat (35 o m. south of Ghadames and 250 south-west of Murzuk), which appears to be a relatively modern place, successor to Rapsa, a great commercial centre and military station under the Roman Empire.
Ghadames, on the contrary, is ancient, being the Cydamus of the Garamantes, the capture of which by L. Cornelius Balbus Minor led to the overthrow of their empire. The oasis, which stands on the cretaceous Tinghert plateau 300 m.
south-west of Tripoli, and 1200 ft. above the sea, is enclosed by a circular rampart over 3 m. in circumference. The town, which occupies the south-west corner of the enclosure, has a population of about 7000. Owing to its perennial springs and artesian wells, the oasis yields an abundance of dates, figs, apricots and vegetables, besides some wheat, barley and millet. It occupies a highly advantageous position at the converging-point of several caravan routes, and has extensive trading relations with the markets of Tripoli, Tunisia and the Sudan.
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The climate of Tripoli is very variable; cold nights often succeed warm days. The rainfall in the northern regions varies from 5 in. to 15 in. a year - December, January and February being the rainy season. The mean temperature on the coast lands is 68°; it is very much higher in the Hammada, where rain seldom falls.
The flora in the greater part of the regency is Saharan, the date-palm being the characteristic tree. The gumyielding acacia, the tamarisk, sapan, mastic and pistachio are found in the wadis, and shi (wormwood) grows in clusters on the stony plateaus. In the Barca plateau and in parts of the coast belt the flora is more varied, resembling that of the Mediterranean countries generally. In these regions the laurel, myrtle and other evergreens are fairly common, and the oak, cypress, pine, carob and other trees occur, notably the olive, found also in the oases. Other fruit trees are the almond, fig, pomegranate, quince and apricot. Vines flourish in a few districts.
The larger wild animals are scarcely represented in Tripoli. The wild boar is found in Jebel Akhdar, the hyena, fox and jackal in the deserts. The mouflon, gazelle, hares, rabbits and marmots are among the commoner animals. Reptiles include the horned viper and the gecko. The characteristic animal is the camel, found only in the domesticated state. Horses and cattle are bred, but the horses are not numerous; goats and a fat-tailed variety of sheep are kept in large numbers. Birds include the ostrich, vultures, hoopoes, wood pigeons and doves. Bees are numerous and honey forms an article of export.
The explorations of Henri Duveyrier, Victor Largeau, Erwin von Bary and H. S. Cowper during the second half of the 19th century showed that Tripoli was not only inhabited by primitive man, but was the seat of a flourishing Neolithic culture, comparable to and in many respects resembling that of Iberia, Brittany and the British Isles. As in other parts of Mauretania, many now arid and uninhabitable wastes are strewn with monolithic and other remains, which occur in great variety of form and in vast numbers, as many as 10,000, chiefly of the menhir type, having been enumerated in the Mejana steppe alone. All kinds of megalithic structures are found - dolmens and circles like Stonehenge, cairns, underground cells excavated in the live rock, barrows topped with huge slabs, cup stones, mounds in the form of step pyramids, and sacrificial altars. Most remarkable are the " Senams," or trilithons of the Jebel MsId and other districts, some still standing, some in ruins, the purpose of which has not been determined. They occur either singly or in rows, and consist of two square uprights io ft. high standing on a common pedestal and supporting a huge transverse beam. In the Terrgurt valley " there had been originally no less than eighteen or twenty megalithic trilithons, in a line, each with its massive altar placed before it " (Cowper). There is reason to believe that the builders of these prehistoric monuments are represented by the Berber people, who still form the substratum, and in some places the bulk, of the inhabitants of Tripoli proper. But even here the Berbers have for the most part been driven to the Ghurian and Tarhona uplands by the Arab nomads, who now occupy the Jefara flats about the capital, and are in almost exclusive possession of Cyrenaica, Marmarica, and the Aujila oases. In Fezzan the Saharan Berbers (Tinylkum Tuareg) are dominant, but are here largely intermingled with Negro or Negroid intruders from the Sudan. But even in the uplands many of the Berbers have been Arabized, and Cowper describes the people of the Tarhona heights as " pure-bred Arabs." Other early intruders are the Jews, some of whom arrived from Egypt in the time of the Ptolemies, and still lead the life of troglodytes in the limestone caves of the Ghurian escarpments. They are also numerous in the large towns, where there are also colonies of Turks, and Maltese, Italian, Cretan and other South European traders and artisans.
On the other hand, no trace can be now detected either of the Greeks who colonized Cyrenaica in the 7th century B.C., Tripoli and or of the Phoenicians who at a still earlier date other founded the three great cities of Oea, Sabrata and Leptis Magna (q.v.), from which the western region projecting seawards between the two Syrtes took the name of Tripolitana. Later, when Oea, which stood between the two others, was made the capital of the province it was called Tripolis, the " Three Cities," as it were, rolled into one, and this name it has retained since Roman times, being now distinguished from the Tripolis of Syria as West Tripolis, the Tarabulus el-Gharb of the Turks and Arabs. Tripoli (q.v.), the capital of the province, is thus one of the oldest places in the world, and no doubt owes its stability in large measure to its position over against Sicily at the northern terminus of three great historic caravan routes, one of which runs due south to Lake Chad through Fezzan and Bilma, that is, across the narrowest part of the Sahara; another runs south-west through Ghadames and Ghat to Timbuktu and Kano, and the third south by east through Sokna to Wadai and Darfur. East of Tripoli are the small seaports of Horns (Khoms) and Lebda.
In Barca the largest town is Bengazi, the ancient Berenice, at the southern extremity of a headland which formerly enclosed a spacious natural haven on the north-east side of the Gulf of Sidra. But the harbour has been partly filled up by the ruins of a large fortress, and is inaccessible to vessels drawing over 6 or 7 ft. East of Bengazi are Merj, the ancient Barca (q.v.), and the exposed roadstead of Derna. Marsa-Susa, the ancient Apollonia, lies under the Ras Sem headland, and was the emporium of the neighbouring city of Cyrene (Ain Shahat-Grenna). The Turkish government displayed much activity in this fertile and healthy district in the period 1897-1903. To it were removed many of the Moslem inhabitants of Crete dissatisfied with the autonomous regime established in that island in 1898.
Agriculture and Trade. - Tripoli proper is purely an agricultural and trading country; it possesses no manufactures of importance, nor exploited mineral wealth save salt. The uncertainty of the rainfall, the apparent increasing poverty of the soil and the heavy taxation of the peasants reduced agriculture at the close of the 19th century to a lower point than theretofore recorded. The cultivation of wheat was largely supplanted by that of barley - the staple food of the peasantry, whilst esparto grass, a fibre growing wild in the rural districts within the cereal zone, acquired the chief place among local exports. The importation of foreign flour, begun in 1881, assumed large dimensions in providing for the deficiencies occasioned by ever-recurring failures of the wheat and barley harvests. Besides wheat and barley the principal products of the country are esparto grass, olives, saffron, figs and dates - these last being perhaps the finest in North Africa. Fruit also is abundant in certain parts, including oranges and lemons, and so are many kinds of vegetables. There is a lucrative sponge fishery, a monopoly of Greek traders, over 100 barques being engaged in the industry.
Trade, before the suppression of the oversea slave traffic; was largely in negroes, brought across the Sahara with other Sudan produce, for the Turkish market. It now consists chiefly in the export of esparto, barley in years of plenty, eggs, cattle, sponges, mats and henna, all articles of local production, and, from Central Africa, ivory, ostrich feathers, tanned goat-skins and a little gold dust. The cattle go mainly to Malta, the esparto, barley, eggs and ivory mostly to England, the feathers to Paris and London, and the skins to New York. The henna and mats are sent to Turkey, Egypt, Tunis and Malta. The exports of esparto grass vary with the success or failure of the cereal crops; thus in 1903 the value of barley exported was £70,800, and of esparto £76,400. In 1904 the exports of barley fell to £3,200 and those of esparto rose to £126,000. From Bengazi hundreds of thousands of sheep are exported to Egypt, Malta and Crete. With Egypt there is an overland as well as sea trade. The caravan trade, which in the forty years ending 1901 had an annual average value of £114,000, is so costly that only articles yielding considerable profit can be carried; the desert trade is, moreover, being deflected to the Niger and the Guinea coast. Tripoli imports, chiefly, food-stuffs (flour, rice, sugar, tea) cotton goods, tobacco, metals and hardware About two-thirds of the imports are from Great Britain. Exclusive of Bengazi the value of trade, imports and exports combined, was for the last thirty years of the 19th century some £770,000 per annum. The trade of Bengazi and Derna, chiefly with Great Britain and Malta, largely increased at the beginning of the 20th century. For the five years1902-1906the average annual value of imports was £214,000, of exports £455,700. From these ports the chief exports are sheep and goats, oxen, wool and skins, barley and camels - the last sent overland to Alexandria. Food-stuffs, tea, olive oil and cotton goods are the chief imports. There is an active contraband trade with Greece and Malta in firearms and gunpowder.
Barley is the chief food of the people both in Tripoli proper and in Bengazi. The nomad Arabs possess thousands of camels, cattle and sheep. They weave rough woollen garments, make reed matting, carpets of alternative strips of woven goat and woven camel hair, and manufacture butter. Olive and date-palm trees are cultivated in large numbers. Tea has become a favourite beverage both in the regency and with the Sudanese. Tea, sugar and cottons form the staple articles of exchange with the Sudanese for their produce.
The town of Tripoli is connected by telegraph cable with Malta, and telegraph lines run inland from that town to Murzuk, Bengazi, Derna and other towns in the regency, and to Gabes in Tunisia. A wireless telegraphic apparatus connects Derna and Rhodes. There are regular sailings between Malta and Tripoli and between Tunis and Tripoli. Italian vessels also call regularly at Bengazi and Derna. The shipping trade is mostly in the hands of Italians - who have more than half the total tonnage - and French, British shipping coming third. Inland communication is almost entirely by camel caravans.
The vali or governor-general, who exercises chief authority both civil and military, is appointed by the sultan of Turkey and holds office at his majesty's pleasure. The system of government, executive and judicial, resembles that of other Turkish provinces, but with some modifications in the direction of local autonomy. Bengazi or Barca is a separate sub-province with an administration responsible direct to Constantinople. Revenue is derived chiefly from customs, tithes and a poll tax called verghi. Owing to expenditure on the army, some 10,000 Turkish troops being stationed in the regency, the receipts from revenue are generally below the cost of administration. The receipts in the period 1900-1905 averaged about £150,000 a year and the expenditure £170,000, of which amount some £10o,000 was on military requirements.
The early history of Cyrenaica and Tripoli is distinct though similar. Cyrenaica was first colonized by Greeks, afterwards it fell under the sway of the Ptolemies and from them passed to the Romans (see Cyrenaica). Tripoli, on the other hand, was originally a Phoenician colony (vide ante, Towns). Later it was dependent on Carthage and followed its fortunes. From the Romans the province received its present name. In the 5th century both Tripoli and Cyrenaica were conquered by the Vandals, whose power was destroyed by the Byzantine general Belisarius in the following century. In the middle of the 7th century the whole country was overrun by the Arabs, and Christianity gave place to Islam. From this period, for many centuries, Tripoli was subject to the successive rulers of Tunisia. It was pillaged in 11 4 6 by the Normans of Sicily. In 1321 the Beni Ammar established an independent dynasty, which lasted with an interval (1354-1369), during which two sovereigns of the Beni Mekki reigned, until 1401 when Tripoli was reconquered by the Tunisians. In 1510 Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain took Tripoli, and in 1528 it was given to the knights of St John, who were expelled in 1553 by the Turkish corsairs Dragut and Sinan. Dragut, who afterwards fell in Malta, lies buried in a much venerated kubba close to one of the mosques. After his decease the connexion between Tripoli and Constantinople seems to have been considerably weakened. But the Tripolitan pirates soon became the terror and scourge of the Mediterranean; half the states of Europe seem at one time or other to have sent their fleets to bombard the capital. In 1714 Ahmed Pasha Caramanli achieved practical independence and he and his descendants governed Tripoli as a regency, the claims of the Porte being recognized by the payment of tribute, or " presents." In the early part of the 19th century the regency, owing to its piratical practices, was twice involved in war with the United States. In May 1801 the pasha demanded from America an increase in the tribute ($83,000) which the government of that country had paid since 1796 for the protection of their commerce from piracy. The demand was refused and a naval force was sent from America to blockade Tripoli. The war dragged on for four years, the Americans in 1803 losing the frigate " Philadelphia," the commander (Captain William Bainbridge) and the whole crew being made prisoners. The most picturesque incident in the war was the expedition undertaken by William Eaton, with the object of replacing upon the Tripolitan throne an exiled pasha, elder brother of the reigning sovereign, who had promised to accede to all the wishes of the United States. Eaton at the head of a motley assembly of 500 men marched across the desert from Alexandria, and with the aid of American ships succeeded in capturing Derna. Soon afterwards (June 3, 1805) peace was concluded, the reigning pasha relinquishing his demands but receiving $60,000 (about 12,000) as ransom for the " Philadelphia " prisoners. In 1815, in consequence of further outrages, Captains Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur, at the head of an American squadron, again visited Tripoli and forced the pasha to comply with the demands of America. In 1835 the Turks took advantage of a civil war to reassert their direct authority, and since that date Tripoli has been an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, rebellions in 1842 and 1844 being unsuccessful. After the occupation of Tunisia by the French (1881) the Turks increased their garrison in Tripoli considerably. After the Anglo-French agreement of 1889 recognizing the central Sahara as within the French sphere, various disputes arose as to the extent of the Tripolitan hinterland, which the French endeavoured to circumscribe (see Tunisia). The French, on their part, believed that their opponents in Wadai and elsewhere in the central Sudan received support from the Turks.
The khouan (ikhwdn) or semi-religious semi-political Moslem fraternities are powerful in Tripoli. The most remarkable is that of the Senussites. The explorers Rohlfs, Nachtigal and Duveyrier found their passage barred by Senussite agents. (See SENUSSI.) Authorities. - Sir R. L. Playfair, Bibliography of the Barbary States, pt. i., " Tripoli and the Cyrenaica " (London, 1892); H. M. de Mathuisieulx, A travers la Tripolitaine (Paris, 1903); Sheik el Hachaichi, Voyage au pays des Senoussia a travers la Tripolitaine (Paris, 1903); G. de Martino, Cirene e Cartagine (Bologna, 1908); A. Medana, Il Vilayet di Tripoli di Barberia nell' anno 1902 (Italian Foreign Office, Rome, 1904); G. Rohlfs, Von Tripolis nach Alexandrien (Bremen, 1871); and Kiifra: Reise von Tripolis nach der Oase Kufra (Leipzig, 1881); M. Bisson, La Tripolitaine et la Tunisie (Paris, 1880; M. Fournel, La Tripolitaine, &c., (Paris, 1887); F. Borsari, Geografia, eec., della Tripolitania, &c. (Naples, 1888); H. S. Cowper, The Hill of the Graces (London, 1897); " Notes on a Journey in Tripoli," Geographical Journal (February, 1896); and " Further Notes on the Tripoli Hill Range," Geographical Journal (June, 1897); P. V. de Regny, " La Tripolitania," in La Rassegna italiana for 1908; F. W. and H. W. Beechey, Proceedings of the Expedition to Explore the Northern Coast of Africa from Tripoli Eastwards (London, 1828). Admiral W. H. Smyth's Mediterranean, (London, 1854), contains a description of the coast. The Letters (London, 1819) of Richard Tully, consul at Tripoli from 1783 to 1 793, throw a strange and vivid light on Tripolitan life during the 18th century. See also the British Foreign Office reports on the trade of Tripoli and Bengazi and consult the bibliography under CYRENAICA. (A. H. K.; F. R..C.)
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