Historical region, North Africa. It is now part of northwestern Libya. Colonized by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, it was named for its three chief citiesLeptis Magna, Oea (Tripoli), and Sabrata. It comprised the eastern part of Carthaginian territory by the 3rd century BC and came under Numidian chieftains in the mid-2nd century BC. After the Numidian War (46 BC), it was attached to the Roman province of Africa Nova (see Roman Africa). It fell under the Islamic caliphate in the 7th century AD and was ruled by successive Arab and Berber (Amazigh) dynasties before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in 1551. The region gained its independence in 1711. As part of the Barbary Coast, corsairs operating from there plundered shipping in the Mediterranean Sea, leading to the Tripolitan War with the U.S. (1801–05). It came under Ottoman administration again in 1835. The Italians acquired the region in 1912, and it was the scene of fierce fighting between British and German forces during the North Africa campaigns (1942–43) of World War II. In 1951, with the provinces of Cyrenaica and Fezzan, it formed the independent kingdom of Libya; the provinces were dissolved in 1963.
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