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Tripoli Province

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Tripoli Province

Tripoli Province (Provincia di Tripoli in Italian) was one of the provinces of Libya under Italian rule. It was established in 1937, with the official name: Commissariato Generale Provinciale di Tripoli. It lasted until 1943.


The "Provincia di Tripoli" was located in northern Italian Libya, next to Tunisia. Its administrative center was the city of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast and was administratively divided in 6 sections (called "Circondari" in Italian):

The province experienced a huge economic growth in the late 1930s, with a great urban development of Tripoli while Italian colonists cultivated lands (that had returned to native desert for many centuries) and improved Italian Libya's agriculture to international standards. This was accomplished even with the creation of new farm villages.[1]

Most of the population was muslim, but there was a growing community of Catholics due to the Italian colonists immigration.[2] In 1940 there were more than 70,000 Catholics (of which 65,000 were Italians).

Additionally there were nearly 18,000 Jews in the Tripoli area.[3] Indeed after the Italian occupation of Libya in 1911, the Jews made great strides in education and economic conditions: at that time, there were about 21,000 Jews in the country, the majority in Tripoli. In the late 1930s, Fascist anti-Jewish laws were gradually enforced, and Jews were subject to moderate repression: still, by 1941 -due even to the partial rejection of those laws by governor Italo Balbo- the Jews accounted for a quarter of the population of Tripoli and maintained 44 synagogues [4]

The province from 1939 was considered officially part of the Kingdom of Italy, with the same laws. It was one of the 4 new Italian provinces of the so called Quarta Sponda ("Fourth Shore") of Mussolini's Imperial Italy. Indeed on January 9, 1939, the colony of Italian Libya was incorporated into "Metropolitan Italy" and thereafter considered an integral part of the Italian state (the French, in 1848, had incorporated French Algeria in the same manner).

In the coast of the province was built in 1937-1938 a section of the Litoranea Balbia, a road that went from Tripoli and Tunisia's frontier to the border of Egypt.

The car tag for the Italian province of Tripoli was "TL".[5] In the province was even created the Tripoli Grand Prix, an international motor racing event first held in 1925 on a racing circuit outside Tripoli (it lasted until 1940).[6]

Tripoli had a railway station with some small railway connections to nearby cities, when in August 1941 the Italians started to build a new 1040 km railway (with a 1435 mm. gauge, like the one used in Egypt and Tunisia) between Tripoli and Benghazi.

But the war (with the defeat of the Italian Army) stopped the construction the next year. The project was stopped in the fall of 1942, leaving many infrastructures like stations and connection roads already done in the "Provincia di Tripoli".


The indigenous population was arab, with some berbers in the Nafusa Mountains south of Tripoli and some thousands Jews and a few Maltese [7] on the coast. The Italians colonized the coastal cities and were mainly in the capital Tripoli, where they were nearly half the inhabitants in 1940.

In the province of Tripoli thousands of Italians (called "ventimilli") moved to live in 1938 and 1939 and founded some agricultural villages (like "Bianchi",[8] "Giordani", "Oliveti",[9] "Marconi", etc..).[10]

According to the 1939 Italian Census of Libya,[11] these were the main population data:

Tripoli 111,124 pop. 41,304 Nearly 50,000 Italians lived in the city and surroundings: 37% of the city's inhabitants.
Castel Benito 10,759 pop. 567 Italians were nearly 5%.
Zanzur 14.408 pop. 289 Italians were nearly 2%.
Bianchi 2,854 pop. 2,854 Italian agricultural village founded in 1937 by ETL & INFPS[12]
Giordani 2,300 pop. 2,300 Italian agricultural village founded in 1938 by ETL & INFPS.
Oliveti 1,300 pop. 1,300 Italian agricultural village founded in 1938 by INFPS & ETL.
Zuavia 30,033 pop. 2,040 Italians were nearly 6%.
Sorman 13,137 pop. 262 Italians more than 2%.
Sabratha 23,407 397 Italians were 1,7%.
Zuwara 27,956 pop. 662 Italians were nearly 2%.
Castelverde 6,458 pop. 270 Italians were nearly 4%: today is called GASR GARABULLI.
Mizda 1,113 pop. - Village mostly berber.
Giado 14,466 pop. 48 Italians were 0,3%.
Nalut 20,471 pop. 126 Italians were 0,6%.



  • Capresi, Vittoria. I centri rurali libici. L´architettura dei centri rurali di fondazione costruiti in Libia – colonia italiana – durante il

fascismo (1934-1940). PhD, Vienna University of Technology, 2007.

  • Chapin Metz, Hellen. Libya: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1987.
  • Istituto Agricolo Coloniale (Firenze). La colonizzazione agricola della Tripolitania. Ministero degli affari esteri , Tip. Del senato di G. Bardi, Roma 1946.
  • Luiggi, Luigi, Le opere pubbliche a Tripoli. Note di Viaggio, in: Nuova Antologia, XLVII, fasc.965, 1 marzo 1912, p. 115.

See also

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