Benghazi

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Benghazi

or

Bengasi

(both: bĕngä`zē), city (1985 est. pop. 490,500), capital of Benghazi municipality, NE Libya, the main city of Cyrenaica and a port on the Mediterranean Sea. It is primarily an administrative and commercial center. Manufactures include processed food, beverages, textiles, and cement. On the site of Benghazi the Greeks founded (7th cent. B.C.) the colony of Hesperides, which was later (3d cent. B.C.) renamed Berenice after the wife of Ptolemy IIIPtolemy III
(Ptolemy Euergetes) , d. 221 B.C., king of ancient Egypt (246–221 B.C.), of the Macedonian dynasty, son of Ptolemy II and the first Arsinoë. He plunged immediately into a war with Syria, where his sister, Berenice, was trying to secure the throne for her
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 of Egypt. Under the Romans, who conquered it in the mid-1st cent. B.C., the city had a large Jewish colony. In the 5th cent. A.D., the Vandals severely damaged the city, and in the 7th cent. it was captured by the Arabs. The Ottoman Turks took the city in the mid-16th cent., and they held it until it was captured by Italy in 1911. The Italians modernized the city and enlarged its port. At the start of World War II, Benghazi had about 22,000 Italian inhabitants, but they were evacuated before the city fell to the British in late 1942. From 1951 to 1972, Benghazi was the cocapital (with Tripoli) of Libya. After the fall of QaddafiQaddafi, Muammar al-
, 1942–2011, Libyan army officer and dictator. He graduated from the Univ. of Libya in 1963 and became an army officer in 1965. In 1969 he formed, along with a group of fellow officers, a secret revolutionary committee and led (1969) a successful coup
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, the city was the scene of heavy fighting beginning in 2014 as various sides contested for control. Benghazi is the site of Garyounes Univ., founded in 1955.

Benghazi

 

(or Bengasi), a city and, along with Tripoli, the capital of Libya. It is located at the southern tip of a rocky peninsula washed by the Sidra Gulf of the Mediterranean Sea. Population, 137,300 (1964).

Benghazi was founded in the fifth century B.C. as the ancient Greek colony of Euhesperides, or Hesperides. After the seizure of Cyrene by the Ptolemies, the city was renamed Berenice (in honor of the wife of Ptolemy III). According to tradition, the city received its present-day name from the Muslim saint (marabut) Ban Ghazi (or Sidi Ghazi), whose grave is located not far from Benghazi. The city was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1578 until 1911. In October 1911, Benghazi was occupied by Italian troops and became part of the Italian colony of Libya. From 1912 to 1942, it was Italy’s naval base in North Africa. During World War II the city suffered heavy destruction; in November 1942 it was occupied by British troops. From 1943 onward it was under British military administration. From December 1951 until Sept. 1, 1969, Benghazi was one of the capitals of the kingdom of Libya; since Sept. 1,1969, it has been a capital of the Libyan Arab Republic.

After Tripoli, Benghazi is the country’s largest and busiest port, exporting raw leather and wool. It is an important trade and industrial center for Libya, with one-fourth of all the country’s industrial enterprises, on the Tripoli-Tobruk main line. There are cement and asphalt plants. Olive oil, fruit drinks, and preserves are among the products of Benghazi, and fishing and sponge fishing are based there. Salt is mined nearby. Benina, an airport of international importance, is located east of Benghazi.

Benghazi consists of an old Arabian sector and the new city. The old sector has narrow streets, adobe houses, and mosques, among them Jami al-Kabir, which was built in the 16th century and reconstructed in the 20th. The new city, south of the old, contains modern government buildings, movie theaters, and hotels. Three departments of the University of Libya are located in Benghazi.

Benghazi

, Bengasi
a port in N Libya, on the Gulf of Sidra: centre of Italian colonization (1911--42); scene of much fighting in World War II. Pop.: 1 080 500 (2002 est.)
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