Libya / Cities and Towns /
City in northeastern Libya with 950,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), on the Gulf of Sidra, a part of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second largest city in Libya, and the dominating in the eastern Cyrenaica region, and is the capital of the district of Benghazi.
The new seafront of Benghazi.
Freedom Square, with the Atiq Mosque in the back.
The former Christian cathedral.
Important industries include salt processing, oil refining, food processing, cement manufacturing, tanning, brewing and sponge and tuna fishing. The region of Benghazi has some agriculture producing cereals, dates, olives, and livestock for wool and flesh. Benghazi's main exports are sponges, hides and wool. Fresh water is provided by one of the world's largest desalinization plants.
Benghazi's airport lies 32 km to the east, and connects Benghazi with some foreign cities, as well as the major cities of Libya. Roads connect Benghazi with other Libyan centres on the Mediterranean coast, as well as the interior. Tripoli lies 1,000 km to the west.
Benghazi has several national government buildings, and serves several functions normally associated with a country's capital. The university Gar Younis was established in 1955.
6th century BCE: Founded by Greeks from the nearby settlement of Cyrene. The city is named Euseperides.
249: Euseperides is refounded by the Egyptians, and given the additional name Barneek (or Berenice), after the wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy 3's wife. It became the most important city of Cyrenaica.
5th century CE: Barneek suffers great damage from invading Vandals.
642: Invasion and annexation by the Muslim Arabs. By this time, Barneek had become an insignificant village.
15th century: The city is named after Ibn Ghazi, a local holy man, and is in full called Bani Ghazi, "tribe of Ghazi."
16th century: Invasion by the Ottomans, and Bani Ghazi is incorporated into the empire.
1711: Comes under regional control of Tripoli, when the city's ruling Karamanli family relinquishes control.
1835: Comes under direct rule of Istanbul, and is generally neglected, and would eventually become the poorest region in the empire, without paved roads, telegraph or a decent harbour.
1858: Many of the inhabitants die from bubonic plague.
1874: A second attack of bubonic plague kills a large number of the inhabitants.
1911 October: Is occupied by Italy during the Turko-Italian War, together with most of the lands making up modern Libya. The region of Benghazi, called Cyrenaica, is granted the status of colony. A period of heavy repression starts, and Benghazi becomes a centre for Libyan resistance over the next 20 years, before Italian control is finally established.
1940-42: During World War 2, Benghazi is bombed more than 1,000 times by European forces.
1942 November: After changing hands 5 times, it comes under British control. They keep their control even after the end of the war.
1949: King Idris makes Benghazi capital of Barka, comprising the eastern Mediterranean coast of Libya.
1950's: Libyan independence leads to many projects for the improvement of Benghazi's infrastructure.
1986 April 17: Libya is bombed by USA.
1995 September: Libyan authorities clash down on Islamists, leading to the arrest of thousands of both Libyans and foreigners, especially Sudanese.