A city located in northwest Libya on the Mediterranean coast. Tripoli was the capital of the former Ottoman province of Tripolitania in western Libya. The city’s climate was mitigated by the Mediterranean, but the desert winds that swept the region during the summer rendered widescale agriculture expensive and impractical. The Turks, therefore, used Tripoli mainly as a port along the Sudan-Sahara trade route. In 1714, the Karamanli dynasty seized control of Tripoli and, with the city-states of Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers, formed the Barbary States. Their pirate fleets seized European and American trade in the Mediterranean in return for tribute and ransoms. In the Barbary Wars of 1801–1805 and 1815, the United States defeated the pirates, forcing them to either lower or abandon their blackmail. The wars also allowed the Turks to return.
   The Ottomans reestablished authority over Tripoli in 1835 but were unable to impose strong centralized rule, and instead relied on Arabs and Europeans to help administer the province. One Arab tribe was the Islamic fundamentalist brotherhood, the Senussi, founded in 1837 by Muhammad bin Ali al-Sanusi (1791–1859). Italian emigrants in Tripoli opened up branches of the Bank of Rome throughout Tripolitania and Cyrenaica to handle the provinces’ trade. Each group mistrusted the other and were jealous of their prerogatives.
   In 1911, Italian imperialists pressured the government into launching a colonial war against Turkey for Libya on the pretext that the Turks were restricting Italian economic rights. During the Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912), the Italians bombarded and occupied Tripoli, installed a government, and formally annexed Tripolitania and Cyrenaica by royal decree. Tripoli became capital of the Italian colony of Tripolitania.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Beehler, W. H. The History of the Italian-Turkish War. Annapolis, MD: Advertiser-Republican, 1913;
    McCarthy, Justin. The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire. London: Arnold, 2001.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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