Tripolitania / (Arabic: طرابلس Ṭarābulus, Berber: Ṭrables, from Vulgar Latin *Trapoletanius, from Latin Regio Tripolitana, from Greek Τριπολιτάνια) is a historic region and former province of Libya.
Tripolitania was a separate Italian colony from 1927 to 1934. From 1934 to 1963, Tripolitania was one of three administrative divisions within Italian Libya and the Kingdom of Libya, alongside Cyrenaica to the east and Fezzan to the south.
The region had been settled since antiquity, first coming to prominence as part of the Carthaginian empire. Following the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Rome organized the region (along with what is now modern day Tunisia), into a province known as Africa, and placed it under the administration of a proconsul. During the Diocletian reforms of the late 3rd century, all of North Africa was placed into the newly created Diocese of Africa, of which Tripolitania was a constituent province.
After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, Tripolitania changed hands between the Vandals and the Byzantine Empire, until it was taken during the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in the 8th century. It was part of the region known to the Islamic world as Ifriqiya, whose boundaries roughly mirrored those of the old Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. Though nominally under the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate, local dynasties such as the Aghlabids and later the Fatimid Caliphate were practically independent. The native Berbers, who had inhabited the area locally for centuries before the arrival of the Arabs, established their own native Hafsid dynasty over Ifriqiya in the 13th century, and would control the region until it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, who established Ottoman Tripolitania as a distinct province.
Satellite image of Libya with Tripolitania on the upper left half, showing the green Mediterranean coast in the north and the large desert in the centre and south
Detailed map of Tripolitania
In the old system, Tripolitania included Tripoli, the capital city of Libya and a vast northwestern portion of the country; in the subsequent systems, the sha'biyah of Tripoli has become much smaller than the original Tripolitania, including merely the city of Tripoli and its immediate surroundings. Because the city and the sha'biyah are nowadays almost coextensive, the term "Tripolitania" has more historical than contemporary value. In Arabic the same word (طرابلس) is used for both the city and the region, and that word, used alone, would be understood to mean only the city; in order to designate Tripolitania in Arabic, a qualifier such as "state", "province" or "sha'biyah" is required.