Libya / Cities and Towns /
Capital of Libya with 1.2 million inhabitants (2005 estimate). Is situated in northwestern Libya, 90 km east of the border to Tunisia. The city is often called Tarablus al-Gharb, West Tripoli, distinguishing it from Lebanon's Tripoli.
Tripoli is now sole capital of Libya, a position the city shared with Benghazi from independence in 1951 until the 1970's. But even today some governmental activities are performed outside Tripoli, in the city of Sirt.
Tripoli is a principal seaport, and the commercial centre of Libya. There is some industry, mainly producing for the domestic market; tanning, cigarettes and carpets. Also, Tripoli has an oil depot and plants for gas-bottling. There is also some agriculture producing olives, vegetables, citrus fruits, tobacco and grains. Fishing is another important activity, and there are canneries processing the catch.
Tripoli has good connections with domestic and international destinations. Highways run to all other major urban centres, and to Tunisia in the west and Egypt in the east (through Benghazi). The international airport is once again open for Western destinations, but Tripoli has fewer connections than other North African capitals. The port is a busy transshipment centre.
Tripoli has an old quarter that is set distinctly from the modern quarters, and walled off. This quarter, commonly called medina, has a 16th century Spanish castle as its dominant structure. The 18th century Karamanli and 19th century Gurgi mosque lies here, and are among Libya's most prominent, while the 2nd century triumphal arch of Marcus Aurelius shows Tripoli's long history.
The modern city is to a great extent a project started in the 1970's following the end of the monarch and great oil revenues. All of the city's official buildings lie here, but also the former royal palace.
Tripoli has the Al Fatah University, founded in 1973, which replaced the former University of Libya, and a technical university. There are some museums and some embassies.
7th century BCE: Founded by the Phoenicians due to its ideal position for sea bourne trade.
146: Comes under Roman control, and is known as Oea and one of the three main cities of the province of Tripolitania.
Around 450 CE: Conquered by the Vandals. As they largely destroyed Sebratha and Leptis Magna, this would lead to growth for Oea.
533: The Byzantines take control over Oea.
643-44: Conquered by Arab Muslim troops. Gradually a the name of the region is used for the Oea, which now is the only large city of the original three. The city is effectively named Tarablus in Arabic; Tripoli in Western languages.
1146: Conquered by the Sicilian Normans.
1158: Arab control is reestablished.
1510: Conquered by the Spanish.
1511: Control of Tripoli is passed on to the viceroy of Sicily.
1523: Control of Tripoli is passed on to the Knights of St. John, ruling from the island of Rhodes.
1551: Forced to surrender to the Ottomans. Tripoli develops into a seat of piracy.
1714: The commander of the cavalry Ahmed Karamanli, makes himself the ruler of Tripoli with the title bey and establishes semi-autonomous control of the city and region.
1801: After that the pirate pasha of Tripoli had demanded increase in the annual tribute paid by the US fleet, a war breaks out, known as the First Barbary War. The port of Tripoli is blockaded.
1805: Peace between USA and Tripoli, resulting in the accession of a new pasha.
1835: With a civil war in Tripoli, the Ottomans takes back direct control of the city.
1911: Conquered by Italy, which makes a colony. At this time, Tripoli has 30,000 inhabitants.
1943: With the Italian defeat in World War 2, Tripoli passes to Britain.
1951: Libya gains its independence, and Tripoli is made co-capital together Benghazi.