Benghazi or Bengasiboth: bĕngä´zē [key], 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. BC) the colony of Hesperides, which was later (3d cent. BC) renamed Berenice after the wife of Ptolemy III of Egypt. Under the Romans, who conquered it in the mid-1st cent. BC, the city had a large Jewish colony. In the 5th cent. AD, 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 Qaddafi, the city was the scene of heavy fighting beginning in 2014 as various sides contested for control; by mid-2016 it was largely controlled by forces aligned with the Tobruk government. Benghazi is the site of Garyounes Univ., founded in 1955.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Libyan Political Geography