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Cyrenaica, Libya: Part I



NG Maps knows that many of our readers are curious about place-names on our maps because of the number of letters we receive. But it’s during times of political upheaval that our maps are more closely scrutinized, and we brace ourselves for receiving many more letters. For example, since the start of the Libyan rebellion, news reports have defined Cyrenaica as Libya’s “eastern province,” “rebel-held region, “or “eastern area.” We have received several queries about the definition of this geographic term promoted not only by media reports but by the way other cartographic firms portray Cyrenaica.

The ancient Greeks founded the settlement of Cyrene on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast that eventually evolved into the Roman province of Cyrenaica. From the mid to late 1930s, the term referred to an administrative division of the colony of Italian Libya, and prior to 1963, one of Libya’s three provinces: Cyrenaica (comprising almost the entire eastern half of the country), Fezzan, and Tripolitania.

So, while some maps show Cyrenaica labeled close to its classical location along the eastern Mediterranean coast and news outlets use various descriptions, we recognize and portray Cyrenaica on our maps as Libya’s easternmost region: its boundaries extending from Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast to its southeastern border with Chad and Sudan.

Map: Physical Africa, plate 206, National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World, 2011

This blog, originally titled Cyrenaica, Libya , was posted on the NGM Blog Central site on March 16, 2011.

Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps


  1. Dr. Ahmed Mansour
    March 21, 2014, 8:22 am

    I remember from the beginning of the revolution in February 2011 when they started using The word Cyrenaica in their Slogan and songs. This off cours has deep meaning for the habitant of Cyrenaica that freedom only will be obtained with the return of Cyrenaica to the existence. I believe there will not be any stability in Libya with out returning the state of Cyrenaica as occurred in 1951…

  2. Salim Raqa'i
    March 20, 2014, 7:32 pm

    As I’m from Cyrenaica
       I objected to the map, which developed in your article

    Please look at this map in 1947, the British Library

  3. Salim Raqa'i
    March 20, 2014, 1:58 pm

    Q: Where did the name of the Italian colonial Libya fired by the three colonies of Tripoli and Cyrenaica and Fezzan ?
    A: The colonizer Italian name of (Libya) from Greek books and Romania where the old name was Libya called on all North Africa, with the exception of Pharaonic Egypt in ancient times Vallibion at that time were the inhabitants of North Africa, whites except for the Egyptian pharaohs took the Italian colonialism that label Greek Romanian old and confined in the colonies of the three ( Tripoli and Cyrenaica and Fezzan ) under the name of (Libya Italian ) … As for the central and southern Africa has been dubbed the Greeks and Romans in those times gone by the name of ( Ethiopia ) the residents of African blacks are ( Ethiopians ) Any skinned black or burned and then been this label inventory in McCann knows Balhabcp ! .
    We are not we called ourselves Libyans do not we named our country , but Libya is Italian colonialism can not deny this irrefutable historical truth ! .

    Writing By: Salim Raqa’i

  4. O Algatrani
    March 20, 2014, 9:25 am

    Please see the map of Italian occupation 1913 borders of the province of Tripoli

  5. O Algatrani
    March 20, 2014, 8:39 am

    History of the world did not know the name of Libya , but three times stating Libya

    The first time :
    Known to the ancient Egyptians peoples inhabiting the west of Egypt , who lives in the area bordering Egypt is the tribe Libo (LIBU) which unknown origin precisely where likely some scientists that they are of the people of the Mediterranean that fired the Greeks the name of Libya on the country’s North African name for Libya

    The second time :
    Mussolini launched in 1934 on the state of the Emirate of Cyrenaica during the Italian occupation of Tripoli as part of Italy as a ( beach IV) ( in Italian : La Quarta Sponda) is a term Otallgah Benito Mussolini and , after mentioning Libya based on the name of the Greeks on Africa ( (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica ) )

    The third time
     : While 1951 was the emirate of Cyrenaica in 1949 to assist the British and the Allies and Army teamed Prince Idris to the British Eighth Army in the fight against Germany in the city of Tobruk and the fight against Italy

    This part of the history of the name of Libya

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