V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1792–1914 > 3. North Africa, 1792–1914 > d. Libya > 1858
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
Application of the Ottoman land law. It supplanted collective tribal landholding and allowed individuals to register small parcels for a fee in return for a certificate of ownership. Unlike its reception in other parts of the Ottoman Empire, the reform apparently did not create a new class of large landholders or absentee landlords, possibly because agriculture was considered unprofitable because of heavy taxation and high risk. Most wealth remained concentrated in commercial ventures until late in the 19th century. Since 1855 the Ottomans had encouraged the sedentarization of the bedouin. The Sanusi leadership supported this objective and was anxious for tribal people to adopt an agricultural lifestyle. In 1914 about half of Libya's population was still pastoral.  1
A telegraph line between Malta and Tripoli was established.  2
The first Libyan newspaper, Tarablus al-gharb (Tripoli of the West), was published. It was a short, government-supported chronicle printed in Turkish and Arabic.  3
Governorship of Ali Rida Pasha, an active Ottoman bureaucrat who, with French technical assistance, attempted to improve the water supply by digging artesian wells in the capital. He also directed the dredging of the port of Benghazi and attempted to make Tobruk a more significant site for coastal commerce.  4
Revised Ottoman law of provincial administration. It established that each city would have its own administrative unit headed by a mayor (ra'is) aided by an advisory council responsible for public works. By 1872, Tripoli, Benghazi, Khums, and Darna each had such a program in place for local governance.  5
Libya became the province of exile for Ottoman political reformers. The policy continued until 1908.  6
The local newspaper Taraqqi (Progress) was started but was suspended after only a few issues because of its reformist views.  7
A modern police force was established in Tripoli.  8
Italy obtained from France permission to exercise a free hand in Libya, in return for accepting French freedom of action in Morocco.  9
A branch of the Banco di Roma opened in Tripoli as part of the Italian attempt at a peaceful economic invasion of Libya through increased trade. Branches were opened after 1907 in Benghazi, Khums, and other cities. The Italians attempted to provide a variety of goods and services ill suited to the local population, including locally available sponges and an ice factory for a population that did not desire it. Local notables were given lavish gifts, but these attempts to buy influence did not succeed. Despite attempted Italian penetration, Libya's two greatest trading partners remained England and the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, eager to maintain a competitive stance against Italian economic encroachment, opened a branch of the Ottoman Imperial Bank in Tripoli.  10
The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 lifted press censorship and resulted in the publication of more than seven newspapers and journals during this period. Most, including al-Asr al-jadid (The New Age) and al-Mirsad (The Lookout), advocated the expansion of industry, compulsory education, and a defense against European encroachment.  11
THE ITALIAN OCCUPATION OF LIBYA. Under the pretext of protecting its citizens in Libya, Italy declared war on the Ottomans on Sept. 29, 1911. Its forces invaded Libya and occupied Tripoli (See Sept. 28) and other port towns with 35,000 troops. There were only 7,000 Ottoman soldiers in the province. The local population, with the help of Ottoman officers, offered considerable resistance, but the Ottomans were eventually obliged to cede their rights in Tripoli and Cyrenaica to Italy by the Treaty of Ouchy (Oct. 15, 1912). Some Libyans, such as the mayor of Tripoli, a member of the Qaramanli family, did not resist the invasion, but instead collaborated with the Italians. By 1914 the Italians had consolidated their control of the coastal areas, but much of the interior, especially the Fezzan, was yet to be conquered. The occupation, which lasted until 1943, fulfilled 30 years of Italian imperial aspiration for the last surviving Ottoman province in North Africa.  12
Sayyid Ahmad al-Sharif (d. 1933), head of the Sanusi movement, led the resistance to the Italian occupation, claiming to be the heir to the Ottoman authority in Libya. The struggle of the Sanusis to hold on to Cyrenaica continued until 1931, when they were finally defeated by the Italians. (See Libya)  13
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.