Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, the capital of the Cyrenaica region (or ex-Province). The wider metropolitan area (which includes the southern towns of Gimeenis and Suluq) is also a district of Libya. The port city is located on the Mediterranean Sea.
During the Kingdom era of Libya's history, Benghazi enjoyed a sort of joint-capital status (alongside Tripoli), possibly because the King used to reside in the nearby city of Bayda and the Senussis (royal family) in general were associated with Cyrenaica rather than Tripolitania. The population of the entire district was 500,120 in 1995 (census) and has increased to 670,797 in the 2006 census.
Benghazi, as the principal city of eastern Libya, is one of Libya's major economic centres. The city has an important port which is vital to the economy, as Libya imports many foodstuffs and manufactured products. Benghazi is also an industrial and commercial centre in Libya. Major manufactured goods include processed food, textiles, tanning, processed salt and construction materials, particularly cement; a large cement factory is located in al-Hawari. Food processing is based on local fish, imported goods, and the produce of irrigated coastal lowlands and the nearby Jabal al-Akdhar Mountains, including cereal, dates, olives, wool and meat.
Finance is also important to the city's economy, with the Libyan Bank of Commerce and Development maintaining branches in Benghazi.
The Ancient Greek city that existed within the modern day boundaries of Benghazi was founded around 525 BC and called Euesperides. It was probably founded by people from Cyrene or Barce on the edge of a lagoon which opened from the sea and which at the time may have been deep enough to receive small sailing vessels.
Modern Benghazi, on the Gulf of Sidra, lies a little southwest of the site of the ancient Greek city of Berenice or Berenicis. That city was traditionally founded in 446 BC (different sources give different dates like 347 BC or 249 BC), by a brother of the king of Cyrene, but got the name Berenice only when it was refounded in the 3rd century BC under the patronage of Berenice (Berenike), the daughter of Magas, king of Cyrene, and wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes, the ruler of Egypt. Benghazi later became a Roman city and prospered for 600 years.
In the 13th century, the small settlement became an important player in the trade growing up between Genoese merchants and the tribes of the hinterland. In 16th century maps, the name of Marsa ibn Ghazi appears.
In 1578, the Turks invaded Benghazi and it was ruled from Tripoli by the Karamanlis from 1711 to 1835; it then passed under direct Ottoman rule until 1911. Under Ottoman rule, Benghazi was the most impoverished of the Ottoman provinces. It had neither a paved road nor telegraph service, and the harbor was too silted to permit the access of shipping.
In 1911, Benghazi was invaded by the Italians. Nearly half the local population of Cyrenaica under the leadership of Omar Mukhtar resisted the Italian occupation.
In the early 1930s, the revolt was over and the Italians—under governor Italo Balbo—started to assimilate the local population with friendly policies: many new villages for Cyrenaicans were created with health services and schools.
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During the actions of Operation Compass during World War II, Benghazi was captured by the Australian 6th Division on 6 February 1941.
It was recaptured by Axis powers, led by General Erwin Rommel of the German Africa Corps, on 4 April. It was taken again during Operation Crusader by the British on 24 December only to change hands again on 29 January 1942 in the Africa Corps's push to Egypt and the fateful Battle of Al-Alamayn.
On 20 November, Benghazi was captured by the British Eighth Army and thereafter held by the British until over 250,000 German soldiers and their Italian allies in North Africa surrendered in May 1943.
On 15 April 1986 US Air Force and Navy planes bombed Benghazi and Tripoli. President Ronald Reagan justified the attacks by claiming Libya was responsible for terrorism directed at the USA, including the bombing of La Belle discothèque in West Berlin ten days before.
Second Tiberium War
Nod established the key TV Station of the Nod News Network in Benghazi between the First Tiberium War and the Second Tiberium War, near a key Elite Guard base of General Hassan. This news station broadcast to people worldwide and had a great following, employing among others Oxanna Kristos and Maycheck but in reality served General Hassan even telling outright lies on occasion about his political enemies with Nod.
Rebel and Loyalist Nod forces faught a battle for control of Benghazi which saw the TV Station captured by the rebels and the Elite Guard base eliminated shortly afterwards. Afterwards the city remained under rebel control and remained under Nod control as part of a Nod military zone for the whole of the Second Tiberium War.
Like with Sirte, during the GDI invasion of Libya, Nod control over Benghazi was disrupted by GDI but they were unable to establish a secure foothold there. It can be surmised that the Nod News Network was relocated at this point to a more secure location.