Benghazi(redirected from Banghazi)
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(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.