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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pentapolis (North Africa) redirects here. For other uses, see Pentapolis
Barqa redirects here. For other uses, see Barka.
self-declared autonomous region[1][2] of Libya
Flag of Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica as an administrative unit. It included all of eastern Libya from 1927 to
1963 Italian Cyrenaica from 1927 to 1937 and the Cyrenaica governorate until 1963.
Cyrenaica as an administrative unit. It included all of eastern Libya from 1927 to
1963 Italian Cyrenaica from 1927 to 1937 and the Cyrenaica governorate until 1963.
Semi-autonomy proclaimed 6 March 2012
Autonomy proclaimed 3 November 2013
Capital Benghazi[3]
Cyrenaica Transitional Council[4] (declared)
Libyan House of Representatives (de facto authority)
Total 855,370 km2 (330,260 sq mi)
Population (2006)[6]
Total 1,613,749
Density 1.9km2 (4.9sq mi)
Cyrenaica (sa?r?'ne?.?k? SY-r?-NAY-ik-?; Ancient Greek ?????a??? Kyrenak?, after
the city of Cyrene; Arabic ?????? Barqah) is the eastern coastal region of Libya.
Also known as Pentapolis (Five Cities) in antiquity, it formed part of the Roman
province of Crete and Cyrenaica, later divided into Libya Pentapolis and Libya
Sicca. During the Islamic period, the area came to be known as Barqa, after the
city of Barca.

Cyrenaica was the name of an administrative division of Italian Libya from 1927
until 1943, then under British military and civil administration from 1943 until
1951, and finally in the Kingdom of Libya from 1951 until 1963. In a wider sense,
still in use, Cyrenaica includes all of the eastern part of Libya, including the
Kufra District. Cyrenaica borders on Tripolitania in the northwest and on Fezzan in
the southwest. The region that used to be Cyrenaica officially until 1963 has
formed several shabiyat, the administrative divisions of Libya, since 1995.

The 2011 Libyan Civil War started in Cyrenaica, which came largely under the
control of the National Transitional Council (headquartered in Benghazi) for most
of the war.[7]

Contents [hide]
1 Geography
2 History
2.1 Berber people
2.2 Egyptian rule
2.3 Greek rule
2.4 Persian rule
2.5 Resumption of Greek rule
2.6 Roman province
2.6.1 Christianization
2.7 Arab and Ottoman rule
2.8 Italian colonial rule
2.9 Emirate of Cyrenaica
2.10 Gaddafi's Arab republic
2.11 Post-Gaddafi federalism
3 Population
4 Cities and towns of Cyrenaica
5 Episcopal sees
6 See also
7 References
8 Further reading
9 Sources and external links

Satellite image of Libya with Cyrenaica on the right side, showing the green
Mediterranean coast in the north and the large desert in the centre and south
Geologically, Cyrenaica rests on a mass of Miocene limestone that tilts up steeply
from the Mediterranean Sea and falls inland with a gradual descent to sea level

This mass is divided into two blocks. The Jebel Akhdar extends parallel to the
coast from the Gulf of Sidra to the Gulf of Bomba and reaches an elevation of 872
meters. There is no continuous coastal plain, the longest strip running from the
recess of Gulf of Sidra past Benghazi to Tolmeita. Thereafter, except for deltaic
patches at Susa and Derna, the shore is all precipitous. A steep escarpment
separates the coastal plain from a relatively level plateau, known as the Marj
Plain, which lies at about 300 meters elevation. Above the Marj Plain lies a
dissected plateau at about 700 meters elevation, which contains the highest peaks
in the range.[8]

The Jebel Akhdar and its adjacent coast are part of the Mediterranean woodlands and
forests ecoregion and have a Mediterranean climate of hot, dry summers and
relatively mild and rainy winters.[9] The plant communities of this portion of
Cyrenaica include forest, woodland, maquis, garrigue, steppe and oak savanna.
Garrigue shrublands occupy the non-agricultural portions coastal plain and coastal
escarpments, with Sarcopoterium spinosum, along with Asphodelus microcarpus and
Artemisia herba-alba, as the predominant species.[8][10] Small areas of maquis are
found on north-facing slopes near the sea, becoming more extensive on the lower
plateau. Juniperus phoenicea, Pistacia lentiscus, Quercus coccifera and Ceratonia
siliqua are common tree and large shrub species in the maquis.[8][10] The upper
plateau includes areas of garrigue, two maquis communities, one dominated by
Pistacia lentiscus and the other a mixed maquis in which the endemic Arbutus
pavarii is prominent, and forests of Cupressus sempervirens, Juniperus phoenicea,
Olea europaea, Quercus coccifera, Ceratonia siliqua, and Pinus halepensis.[8]

Areas of red soil are found on the Marj Plain, which has borne abundant crops of
wheat and barley from ancient times to the present day. Plenty of springs issue on
the highlands. Wild olive trees are abundant, and large areas of oak savanna
provide pasture to the flocks and herds of the local Bedouins.[11] Historically
large areas of range were covered in forest. The forested area of the Jebel Akhdar
has been shrinking in recent decades. A 1996 report to the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization estimated that the forested area was reduced to 320,000 hectares from
500,000 hectares, mostly cleared to grow crops.[10] The Green Mountain Conservation
and Development Authority estimates that the forested area decreased from 500,000
hectares in 1976 to 180,000 hectares in 2007.[12]

The southward slopes of the Jebel Akhdar are occupied by the Mediterranean dry
woodlands and steppe, a transitional ecoregion lying between the Mediterranean
climate regions of North Africa and the hyper-arid Sahara Desert.[13]

The lower Jebel el-Akabah lies to the south and east of the Jebel Akhdar. The two
highlands are separated by a depression. This eastern region, known in ancient
times as Marmarica, is much drier than the Jebel Akhdar and here the Sahara extends
to the coast. Historically, salt-collecting and sponge fishing were more important
than agriculture. Bomba and Tobruk have good harbors.[11]

South of the coastal highlands of Cyrenaica is a large east-west running

depression, extending eastward from the Gulf of Sidra into Egypt. This region of
the Sahara is known as the Libyan Desert, and includes the Great Sand Sea and the
Calanshio Sand Sea. The Libyan Desert is home to a few oases, including Awjila
(ancient Augila) and Jaghbub.

Berber people[edit]
The Berber people were the earliest recorded inhabitants of Cyrenaica, and most
modern Cyrenaicans are considered to be Berber in origin.[citation needed] Remnants
of the ancient Berber language spoken by their ancestors are still found in the
Awjila-Berber language of the Awjila oasis. The ancient Berbers founded a number of
cities and settlements, both on the coast and in the inland oases.

Egyptian rule[edit]
Egyptian records mention that, during the Ramesside period (thirteenth century BC),
the Libu and Meshwesh tribes of Cyrenaica made frequent incursions into the New
Kingdom of Egypt.

Greek rule[edit]
Cyrenaica was colonized by the Greeks beginning in the 7th century BC. The first
and most important colony was that of Cyrene, established in about 631 BCE by
colonists from the Greek island of Thera, which they had abandoned because of a
severe famine.[14] Their commander, Aristoteles, took the Libyan name Battos.[15]
His dynasty, the Battaid, persisted in spite of severe conflict with Greeks in
neighboring cities.

The eastern portion of the province, with no major population centers, was called
Marmarica; the more important western portion was known as the Pentapolis, as it
comprised five cities Cyrene (near the modern village of Shahat) with its port of
Apollonia (Marsa Susa), Arsinoe or Taucheira (Tocra), Euesperides or Berenice (near
modern Benghazi), Balagrae (Bayda) and Barce (Marj) of which the chief was the
eponymous Cyrene.[14] The term Pentapolis continued to be used as a synonym for
Cyrenaica. In the south, the Pentapolis faded into the Saharan tribal areas,
including the pharaonic oracle of Ammonium.

The region produced barley, wheat, olive oil, wine, figs, apples, wool, sheep,
cattle and silphium, an herb that grew only in Cyrenaica and was regarded as a
medicinal cure and aphrodisiac.[16] Cyrene became one of the greatest intellectual
and artistic c

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