Tripolitania as described in Historic Encyclopedias

Brockhaus 1809-1811, Brockhaus 1837-1841, Pierer 1857-1865, Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Meyer 1902-1909, Röll 1912-1923,

Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon 1809-1811, Article : Tripoli
Tripoli is one of three republics on he North African coast, located opposite of the island of Malta, bordering in the east on
Barca, in the west on Tunis. It is divided in Tripoli proper and the regions Gedeme and Fezzan, and is about as large as Great Britain. In the northern part the climate is moderate, in the south very hot. The soil for the most part is sandy, fertile only in the Sudan, along the coast the noble fruits of Italy are found. The Dey, who is elected from among the Turkish military officers, is head of the state and exercises almost unlimited power. The rights of the Porte, under whose protection Tripoli is, are maintained by a Turkish Pasha (see also Algier). The capital of this republic is also called Tripolis. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea, has a good port, beautiful houses, without roof, lacks water. Most European nations are represented by consuls. Most of the inhabitants are engaged in piracy.
source in German, posted by Zeno

Brockhaus Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon 1837-1841, Article : Tripolis
Tripolis or Tripoli, one of the Barbaresque states (see Barbaresken), located between Egypt and
Tunis on the Mediterranean Sea, toward which it has a 140 miles long coast dangerous because of surf, currents and frequent storms, and in the south borders on the great desert. Including the oasis of Fezzan and the territory of Barka, with undefined borders almost on all sides, it contains about 8800 square miles and 1 1/2 million inhabitants, mostly consisting of Moors and Arabs or Bedouins, as well as of Ottomans, Berbers, Negroes, Jews and Franks. The Moors are merchants, skilled craftsmen and farmers, he Arabs live in the interior, under their own chieftains, in the mountains, engage in livestock keeping, a little agriculture, warfare and robbery. The western coastal region is rather fertile, to the south, from west to east the Ghuriano and Harudj mountains extend, about a day's journey south of the coast, until Sidra Bay, where the desert reaches the shore of the sea. South of the Ghuriano mountains only isolated fertile oases are found. The territory east of Sidra Bay rises again and forms the area of Barka, about 2000 square miles, which declines sharply toward the sea. This hilly, partially even forested country, where presently mostly Bedouins roam, in Antiquity was the cultivated, densely populated Cyrenaica, famous for its fertility, which first had to recognize the suzerainty of the Egyptian kings, later became Roman province, where the Psylli dwelled, who healed snake bites by sucking out the poison. In the entire area of Tripolis there are only a few minor coastal rivers and a few minor lakes. The climate in the summer is very hot, otherwise pleasant and healthy, if the desert wind does not blow, which causes a strangling humidity and which carries many sandy particles which cause eyesores. Most rain falls in October and November. Products of the land are the most excellent citrus fruit, dates and other trade articles such as safran, senna leaves, viola roots, madder, wool, honey. The most important trade is conducted via caravans with Africa's interior, where the products imported from Europe and the Levant for he most part find their market, and from where are brought back gold dust, ivory, ostrich feathers and negro slaves. Of a part of the population of Tripolis it is said that they show a special tendency toward the acceptance of European culture.
Tripolis proper, the area located with the Bay of Kabes in the west and Sidra Bay in the east, appears as a Roman province only since after the 2nd century, and was called Regio Tripolitana, after the three cities Oea, Sabrata and Leptis Magna, which it contained, and after its location between those bays Regio Syrtica. Later it shared the fate of the Barbaresques (see there). In the 16th century it came under Ottoman suzerainty and was administrated by pashas, who since 1714 eluded immediate dependency. Since, the dignity of Dey was inherited in the family Karamanli, until the Porte succeeded in 1834, on the occasion of a rebellion against the pasha, to sent troops and to turn Tripolis again into a province, without strengthening their hold, which they will not be able to hold on to for long. The Arab population continuously proved hostile to the new Ottoman stadholder, the Bey of Fezzan did not even recognize his authority and heads the opposition against him. The piracy long conducted by Tripolitan Corsairs only has ended with the French occupation of Algiers and with an annual tribute paid by many European states. The small navy of the Dey of Tripolis is said to consist of a frigate and 20 small naval vessels and cannon boats. By calling to arms the Arab population he can raise a force of 15,000 men; the standing army is 3,000 men strong.
The name of the country later came into use for the ancient city of Oea, the modern capital of Tripolis, which has 25,000 inhabitants, among them 2000 Jews ...
20 days' journeys to the south of Tripolis is located the important caravan station of Ghadames, tributary to the Dey of Tripolis. The land of Fezzan, hitherto dependent on him, south of the Harudj mountains, forms a sandy plain surrounded by mountains, where it hardly ever rains, but where here and there the soil is made fertile by springs. The 70,000 inhabitants are a kind of semi-negroes and are ruled by a Bey who has 5,000 Arabs in his service. The fortified main place Mursuk is located 120 miles from Tripolis, and from October to February serves as the place where caravans assemble which come here from the interior from 12 different directions. Near Sokna the best African dates are said to grow.

source in German, posted by Zeno

Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, Article : Tripoli
Tripoli (Tripoli di Barberia), the easternmost country of Barbary, located on the north coast of Africa between Egypt in the east and
Tunis in the west, a lengthy coastal stretch 180 miles wide and only 15 miles deep. Including the political dependency Barka (3480 square miles) and Fezzan (4650 square miles) the area is estimated at 14,080 square miles, the population at maximally 1.5 million. Toward the south the coastal land is limited by the Ghurian Mountains (with the Tekut, 2626 feet), which are connected with the Atlas Mountains, and by the Harudj, an extension of the former. Close to the coast reach the Tarhona mountain chain and Jabal Jafran. Between Sidra Bay and the Egyptian border is found the small plateau of Barka. The most important promontories are : Ras el Mehabes, Cape Misurata, Ras Tashuni, Ras Sem, Ras Tin and Ras el Melha. The country has hardly any permanent rivers, and few springs, but water mostly is found just a few feet below. There are no freshwater lakes, but a few saltwater and natron lakes in the Fezzan. The climate is healthy in general, except for a few swampy places along the sea, namely along Sidra Bay and in Fezzan. The summer is very hot and very dry, but because of humid sea winds there is a lot of dew. Pernicious is the Samum, the glowing wind coming out of the desert. The most fertile part of the country is the land stretching west of the Gulf of Sidra. Here, namely in the environs of Tripoli, grow all kinds of citrus fruit, water melon, madder, cotton. The best wine is produced near Misurata; most European fruit trees degenerate after only a few years, and even the citrus fruit trees have a southern limit, as oranges, lemons, pistacchios and carob bean trees are not found beyond the Ghurian. The olive tree only grows until the date-rich valley of the Bani Olid, the mulberry tree until Sukna on the border to Fezzan, near Murzuk thrive pomegranades, dates, figs, almonds and wine. Among grain mostly wheat and barley are grown. Livestock keeping is also considerable, namely the horses are good-looking, and the sheep produce fine wool. Along the coast, lakes and swamps deliver salt in abundance. The inhabitants for the most part are Moors and nomadizing Arabs, further there are Turks, many Jews, relatively few Berbers. The industry is small in size, but beautiful textiles made of wool, cotton and silk are produced, leatherwares, arms and metalwares produced. Trade is rather important. In good years exports amount to 7-8 million Francs, imports to 3-4 million, of which almost 3/4 are handled by the port of Tripoli, which is the natural sea port for the inner African trade with the Sudan. Trae is facilitated for the most part by Turkish, then by Italian and English ships. Main export articles are wheat, oil, barley, ivory, wool, gold dust, cattle; the slave trade has ended. Introduced are especially woolwares, cottonwares, metalwares, glasswares, arms, ammunition, timber and colonial products. Tripoli forms a Turkish pashalik (often called regency) and is divided in 4 Sanjaks, Fezzan, Benghazi, Misurata and Ghadames, each of which is placed under a Kaimakam; those of Fezzan and Ghadames have the title Pasha. The city area of Tripoli is placed immediately under the governor general. The pashas are frequently exchanged, and therefore they always try to exploit the country to their own advantage. The pashalik's revenues in earlier times not only sufficed to pay for its own administration, including the payment for the costs of a force of 10,000 men, but there was a surplus, so that in good years 400,000 Francs could be ent to Constantinople. The revenues in part originate from direct taxes, the tithe of all agricultural products, the tribute of nomadic tribes, the Jewish tax, and of a fee for every fruit tree and animal; in part of indirect taxes, from renting out customs (5 % for incoming, 12 % for outgoing products) and from monopolies. To the latter belong distillery, fishery, the sales of tobacco, the weighing of gold and silverware etc. In general the country since 1835 has retrogressed.
Coins, measures and weights. ..
See : E. Testa, Notice statistiche et commerciale sur la Regence de Tripoli de Barbarie, Haag 1856. [posted at Internet Archive]

source in German, posted by Zeno

Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Article : Barka (1892)
Tripolis (Tripolitanien), Turkish Vilayat in North Africa, bordered in the west by Algeria and
Tunisia, in the north by the Mediterranean Sea, in the east by the desert of Barka or the Libyan desert which separates it from Egypt, and in the south by the Sahara. Within these borders, which contain many desert stretches such as the oases of Fezzan and the plateau of Barka, which only nominally are under Tripolis, T. has an area of about 1,033,000 square km, of which Tripolis proper makes up about 220,000 square km. In respect to its physical and ethnographic condition Tripolis in general is similar to Barbary in general, but has more the character of a steppe and at no place is clearly distinct from he desert, which invades the country at a number of places, and which at several locations reaches the sea. The larger parts of the country consist of sand, or of mountain country without vegetation. But Tripolis is less mountainous than the western part of Barbary, as only the eastern, lower extensions of the Atlas interrupt the plain. In regard to the coast, it is rather difficult to determine the border between Egypt and Tripolis. The coast of the Libyan desert is so litle known to the Europeans, that the good ports of Tobruk (Tabarka) and Bomba nearly escaped attention. The coast to the west of the last-mentioned port until Benghasi, Jabal al Akhdar, forms an exception from the other sterile coastal stretches, as it has both forest and water as well as other natural resources, but its ports, except for Derna, are hardly worth of the name "port". The tract between Mirsa Susa (Apollonia), now merely a port for boats, but in prehistory a powerful city in Cyrenaica, and Benghasi, has a large number of antique ruins. he land has no larger river. But at the rim of the coast and in the interior mountain plateau (Ghurian plateau) a large number of springs are found, which during the rainy season feed periodical creeks which flow into the sea or disappear in the sand. The climate is very various. Warm days are often followed by cold nights. Along the coast there is always spring, and only rarely snowfall is registered. On the plateaus in the interior, winter announces its arrival by strong rains in connection with heavy storms. Several months may pass without any rain. The population is estimated at just over 1 million. It consists mainly of Bedouins and Berbers, of Kulugli (descendants of Turkish fathers and Moorish mothers), Turks, Jews, Europeans and negroes. They live mainly of livestock keeping and trade. Agriculture is of lesser importance, but he Ghurian plateau produces maize, wheat and corn. The main products of the country are sheep, camels, cattle, horses, wheat, dates, citrus fruit of all kind, safran, senna leaves, salt (from the sea and from swamps along the coast) and sulphur (from the tract along Sidra Bay). As a consequence of the troubles of recent years in Tunis, caravan trade has concentrated on Tripolis. It is located at least 400 km closer to the large markets in the interior than Tunis or Algiers. A large share of Tripolis' trade is conducted by British merchants, or with British goods, which send British textiles or wrought-iron products southward in exchange for halfa, ivory and ostrich feathers. Trade with foreign countries is conducted almost exclusively by the ports of Tripolis and Benghasi; in the interior Mursuk is an important trading place.
Administratively Tripolis is divided in 5 Sanjaks : Tripolis (Tarabulus), Fezzan, Jabal Gharbiye, Hams and Benghasi, which is also under a mutesarrif. Since the French took Tunisia, the Turkish garrison in Tripolis has been considerably strengthened, and many new fortifications have been constructed along the coast.
In Antiquity, Tripolitania formed the eastern part of Carthago's Empire (Regio Syrtica), after the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.) it was merged with Numidia by the Romans, and this in 46 B.C. was merged with the province of Africa, but separated as a separate province, Provincia Tripolitana, by Emperor eptimius Severus (193-211 A.D.) In 644 it was conquered by the Arabs and since has been a Muslim state. In 1510 the city of Tripolis has been conquered by Ferdinand the Catholic, and in 1530 Charles V. gave it to he Knights of St. John, to whom it belonged until 1552, when it was conquered by the Turkish pirates Dragut and Sinan. Since, the country has been under a Dey or Bey, tributary to Turkey. The Dey since 1714 belonged to the Karamanli family, and Tripolis was one of the main centers of piracy in the Mediterranean. European powers (Sweden since 1741) were represented by consuls in Tripolis and paid tribute to the Dey to leave their ships unmolested, but repeatedly they tried to terminate piracy by storming the capital. Piracy was ended only after the French conquered Algiers. In 1835 Tripolis' position as an autonomous vassall state of Turkey ended, and it was transformed into a Turkish province (vilayet).

source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg

Meyers Grosses Conversations-Lexikon 1902-1909, Article : Tripolis
Tripolis (Tripoli, Tripolitania), Turkish province on the north coast of Africa, between Tunis and Egypt (8 degrees 50 minutes and 25 degrees 20 minutes eastern longitude), in the south bordering on the desert, including Fezzan and Barka contains about 1,033,400 to 10,050,000 square km (Tripoli alone c. 240,000 square km) with abut 1 million inhabitants (according to other sources only 600,000 inhabitants). From a mostly low, sandy coast (the deserts occasionally reaches the sea directly) the land rises in the east to a plateau (300 m) spotted with volcanic hills, to the south and east of which another plateau rises, 600 m high (Jabal Ghurian), the deeply incised valleys of which are very fertile. In the south the almost 100,000 square km large terrasse Hamada el Homra separates Tripoli proper from Fezzan. There singular peaks, especially in the eastern part, rise there to over 850 m, here to 1500 m. The ground of Tripoli is formed by almost horizontal formations of the Upper Crestacean, which, rich in petrifications, often contain layers rich in oysters (between Tripolis and Ghadames, of Senonian age). Younger (Tertiary) eruptive rocks (phonolith, basalt) in the Jabal Ghurian form several cone-shaped mountains, some of which, such as the Tekut, are extinct volcanos with clearly recognizable craters. Quarternary deposits are found on the coast and extended into the interior in the flat stretches in the southwest. Irrigation is poor, the wadis are mostly dry, but in the riverbeds, if one digs, one finds water nearly everywhere in low depth. According to new research (Grothe) Tripoli, together with Barka, contains an area exceeding Germany in size suitable for agriculture, for the cultivation of wheat, fruit, vegetables and flowers. The climate is more continental than in the other countries on the Mediterranean coast. The average temperature is 20-22 degrees Celsius on the coast, at the oasis of Jofra 30 degrees Celsius (but here sometimes snow falls and the temperature drops below zero, as it does in the Black Mountains) and as annual temperature 20.7 degrees (coldes month February, 14.7 degrees, warmest month August, 27.2 degrees). The precipitation, low on the coast, often fails in the interior. Amount of precipitation : 44 cm maximum (December); summer almost rainless. 75 rainy days per year. According to recent observations, Tripoli is not as hot and rainless as hitherto believed. An area poor in vegetation, the northern fringe shows he desert type, the eastern plateau of Barka instead Mediterranean flora. In the interior, only the oases have rich vegetation. The fauna of Tripoli belongs to the Mediterranean subregion of the Paleoarctic region; characteristic animals are lacking. The exclusively Muslim inhabitants are Moors in the cities, in the countryside Arab Bedouins, Berbers (in the oases and mountain regions), freed negroes (4,000, after ohers 20,000) and Turks (mostly officials, 25,000). In addition there are Jews, in the city of Tripoli also Europeans mostly Maltese and Italians), according to Mehier de Mathuisieulx all in all 20,000. The language most spoken is Arabic, in the offices Turkish. Great importance and power has the Order of the Senussi. The Bedouins mainly engage in livestock keeping, the Moors in trade, mostly caravan trade. Wheat, barley, madder, safran, lotus beans, dates (the number of date palms in Tripoli proper shall be 2 million, in Barka 100,000, in Fezzan 5-6 million), citrus fruit, olives, carob beans are cultivated, salt is produced at lakes and swamps, as are sulphur, natron, in river beds a little gold. Cattle and horses, both small and ugly, are found only at the coast in significant number, donkeys are numerous, sheep with fat tails and coarse wool, goats everywhere. The most important animal found everywhere is the camel. Sponge fishing along the coast, mostly done by Greeks, has much declined in the last years. The negligible craft industry produces coarse woolwares and cottonwares, carpets, mats, leatherwares, essences of roses, jasmin and gerania. Trade for the most part is transit trade to and from the Sudan. In 1904 imports amounted to 9.4 million Francs (grain, flour, woolwares, cottonwares, tobacco, band iron, colonial wares etc.), exports to 9.5 million Francs (halfa, barley, salt, ostrich feathers, sponges, livestock, ivory, henna, eggs, burnusses, madder, skins, mats). Of these from / to Germany 551,000 / 40,000 Francs. External trade is conducted almost exclusively by the ports of Tripoli (30,000 inhasbitants) and Benghasi (15,000 inh.); in the interior Mursuk (8,000 inh.) is of importance. Other places deserving to be mentioned : Misurata (10,000), Hms or Khoms (10,000), Ghadames (7,000), Ghat or Rhat (8,000) and Derna (2,000). In earlier times, 8,000 slaves annually were brought to the coast, later 3,000, presently slave trade can only be conducted in very narrow limits. The trade with the Sudan declines sharply, as the British successfully strive to attract the Sudan trade via the Niger to London, as do the French toward their possessions. The trade of Tripoli will become a purely local one.
Coins, measures and weight ... Tripoli forms a Vilayet of the Turkish Empire (Benghasi a Mutasaffariate directly administrated by the Porte) with a governor general (wali) directly appointed by the Porte; under him are placed 5 governors (mutesarrifs), 23 undergovernors (kaimakams) and 18 distrct administrators (mudirs). All of them are Turks. Further in the villages the Shaykhs. The military stationed in Tripoli and Fezzan (10,000 - 15,000 men) forms a division of the 17th army corps (also in Arabia).
History. The Oea of Antiquity, by Sicilian Greeks was combined with the cities of Sabratha and Leptis Magna to form Tripolis. For a time Tripolis formed a dependency of Carthago, Regio Syrtica. After the Second Punic War the Romans left it to the Numidian kings; after the submission of the latter it was added to the Province Africa. Under Septimius Severus in the 3rd century the Provincia Tripolitana was formed, with Oea as capital, which took on the name Tripolis. From he invasion of the Arabs in the 7th century, Tripoli shared the fate of Barbary. After having belonged to Tunis for a longer period of time, at the end of the 15th century it gained independence. In 1509 the city of Tripoli was conquered by Pietro de Navarra, and a Spanish stadholder appointed. Emperor Charles V. in 1530 granted the city to the Knights of St. John as a fief, but already in 1551 it was conquered by the Turks, and since it is a major centre of piracy. In 1681 Admiral Duquesne attacked the Tripolitan Corsairs in he port of Skio and sank many ships. In 1685 Marechal d'Estrees bombarded the city of Tripoli so successfully, that the Dey had to pay 1/2 million livres in order to get peace. In 1714 Turkish Pasha Hamed Bey established the rule of the Karamanli family, from then on only paying tribute to the Porte. In 1728 the French destroyed Tripoli, but only the French conquest of Algiers 1830 terminated the piratical activity of Tripoli. In 1835 the Porte terminated the decayed rule of the Karamanli family and annexd Tripoli as a Vilayet into the Ottoman Empire. In 1900 Italy concluded a secret agreement with France (only in 1902 communicated to the other two membvers of the Triple Alliance), according to which Italy, for recognition of the prevalence of French interests in Morocco, was granted a first claim on Tripolitania. The Porte undertook efforts to raise the trade of Tripoli and to strengthen the defensive fortifications. On the occasion of the claim on the oasis of Janet by the Porte (July 1906) a conflict with France (Tunis) occurred, as the latter did not recognize the allocation of the oasis of Janet, according to the new administrative division of 1902, to the Turkish Sanjak of Ghat. Janet was occupied by French troops, as was the oasis of Bilma, at the same ime, located on the road from Tripoli to Bornu.
See : Haimann, Cirenaica-Tripolitana, 2nd ed. Milan 1885, v. Maltzan, Reise in die Regentschaften Tunis und Tripolis, Leipzig 1870, 3 vols., Rohlfs, Von Tunis nach Alexandrien, Bremen 1871, 2 vols., and : Reise von Tripoli nach der Oase Kufra, Leipzig 1881 [posted on Internet Archive], Grothe, Tripolitanien, Landschaftsbilder und Völkertypen, Leipzig 1898, and : Tripolitanien und der Karawanenhandel nach dem Sudan, Leipzig 1903, Schönfeld, Aus den Staaten der Barbaresken, Berlin 1902 [posted on Internet Archive, Schanz, Algerien, Tunesien, Tripolitanien, Halle 1905, Stumme, Märchen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripoli, Leipzig 1898, Thompson, Life in Tripoli, Liverpool 1894, (Mohammad Ben Otsmane) El Haichaichi, Voyage en pays de Senussia, French by Serres, Paris 1903, Mathuisieulx, A travers la Tripolitaine, Paris 1903, Minutilli, La Tripolitania, Turin 1902, Ricchieri, La Tripolitania e l'Italia, Milan 1902, Dardano, Carta dimostrativa della Tripolitania, 1:5,000,000, Rome 1902.

source in German, posted by Zeno

Freiherr von Röll, Enzyklopädie des Eisenbahnwesens, 1912-1923, Article : Tripolis (1921)
Tripolis. After the occupation of Tripolis by Italy, at the end of 1911, the miliary administration immediately began railroad construction in order to secure the region strategically. At first a 95 cm gauge width line (as in Eritrea, following the Sicilian example ..) from Tripolis southward to Ain Zara was constructed, 12 km long, and completed in March 1912. Further in western direction to the quarries of Gargaresh, 9 km; from this line a line branches off which circumvents the old town leading to the port, with a branch line to the army camp at Baldari, further a line to he fortress of Tagiura, 15 km, and a branch toward the east. Construction is made difficult by drifting sand dunes. Of the line from Tunis to the Garian Mountains in 1913 the stretch Gheran-Zanzur-Suani-Azizia was completed, so that on May 1st 1913 in total 85 km were in operation. Rails, locomotives and waggons for the transport of persons were made in Germany. The rails which had been constructed for military purpose on May 1st 1913 were handed over by military authority to the Italian railroad administration and opened to civilian traffic.
Newly planned lines : from Tripolis via Bir Kuka to Garian, about 38 km, via Zanzur west to Zuara, about 90 km, further via Tagiura to Kussabat, about 70 km, and to Homs (c. 80 km). Further plans of railroads into the interior from Garian, westward to Ghadames, southward to Mursuk, further the extension of the planned coastal lines to the borders of Egypt and Tunisia, are future music.
In Benghasi (Cyrenaica) where no railroad construction has been undertaken so far, a connection between Benghasi and Derna and a line into the interior, perhaps to Merg, make sense.

source in German, posted by Zeno

DOCUMENTS Johnston, Alexander Keith, Africa (1878), in the series : Stanford's Compendium of Geography and Travel, based on Hellwald's Die Erde ind ihre Völker, posted by Internet Archive

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First posted on April 25th 2009

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