Arab, Cyrenaican in Libya

Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Arab, Cyrenaican
Country: Libya
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,475,000
World Population: 1,475,000
Primary Language: Arabic, Libyan Spoken
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.10 %
Evangelicals: 0.03 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Arab, Libyan
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya and also an ex-province or State of the country (alongside Tripolitania and Fezzan) in an old system of administrative divisions which was abolished in the early 1970s in favor of a system of smaller-size municipalities or baladiyat. Prior to the abolishment of the old system, under the administrative divisions of Libya during the Kingdom, Italian or Ottoman eras, Cyrenaica represented the eastern half of Libya (the western half being shared by Tripolitania and Fezzan).

The name Cyrenaica is obviously derived from Cyrene, a historical city around which the region has evolved. Kufra, a vital oasis for overland travel, is situated amid the desert southern part of the ex-Province of Cyrenaica. Cyrenaica was a Roman province on the northern coast of Africa between Egypt and Numidia and also included the island of Rhodes; In antiquity, it had been an area heavily colonized by the Greeks. That area is now the eastern part of the Mediterranean coast of Libya.

Conquered by Alexander the Great, Cyrenaica passed to the dynasty of the Lagids, which is better known as the Ptolemaic dynasty. It briefly gained independence under Magas, the stepson of Ptolemy I Soter, but was reabsorbed into the Ptolemaic empire after the death of Magas. It was separated from the main kingdom by Ptolemy VIII and given to his son Ptolemy Apion, who, dying without heirs in 96 BC, bequeathed it to the Roman Republic. It became a senatorial province in 20 BC.

Although some confusion exists as to the exact territory Rome inherited, by 78 BC it was organized as an administrative province with Crete. The Tetrarchy reforms of Diocletian in 296 changed all of the administrative structure. Cyrenaica was split into two provinces, until later when the Byzantine Empire came to power. Cyrenaica was conquered by the Islamic Arabs by the first caliph, Abu Bekr, in 643/44, and became known as Barka, after its new provincial capital, the ancient Barka. Later, it was annexed to Egypt, although still under the same name. Ultimately, it was annexed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1517 (it was mentioned in the full style of the Great Sultan as the vilayet of Barka, alongside Tripoli, with which it had been joined); its main cities became Bengazi and Derna.

The Italians occupied Cyrenaica during the Italo-Turkish War in 1911 and declared the protectorate of Cyrenaica on October 15, 1912. Three days later, the Ottoman Empire officially ceded the province to Italy. On January 1, 1934, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan were united as the Italian colony of Libya. Today, Libya has gained its independence.

What Are Their Lives Like?

There are no good roads in the province, and very little internal communication and trade. However, a wireless telegraphic system has been installed in communication with Rhodes, and there is a landline from Bengazi to Tripoli.

Not much is known about the daily lifestyle of the Cyrenaican Arabs. However, it is known that there are many forests on the northern slopes of Cyrenaica, and the soil in these areas produces abundant amounts of barley. There are also wide expanses of grassy hillsides and valleys dotted with trees. It is here that the Bedouins pasture their flocks and herds, which number several million. The temperature in the area is mild, with adequate rainfall, but usually once every five years a drought occurs. This is always potentially hazardous to the well-being of the Cyrenaican people, as many of them farm the land and/or feed their livestock from the produce of the land.

Prayer Points

* Pray that God would allow the Gospel to be proclaimed among the Cyrenaican Arabs.
* Ask God that more information would be known about the Cyrenaican Arabs in Libya so that the church can pray more effectively.
* Ask God to send workers out into His harvest field.
* Pray that many believers around the world would pray for these people.

Text Source:   Anonymous