Fezzan (Arabic: فزان
transliterated: Fuzzan) ( Latinname Phasania) is a south-western region of modern Libya. It is largely desertbut broken by mountains, uplands, and dry river valleys ( wadis) in the north, where oases enable ancient towns and villages to survive deep in the otherwise inhospitable Sahara.
Fezzan was formerly a Province ("
muhafazah" or " wilayah") of Libya(alongside Tripolitaniaand Cyrenaica[http://www.zum.de/whkmla/histatlas/northafrica/libya19431951.gif] ), in the system of administrative divisions abolished in the early 1970s in favor of smaller municipalitiesor " baladiyah". The "Baladiyat"-system was subsequently changed many times and has lately become the "Sha'biyat"-system. The former Fezzan province contains the Municipalities_of_Libya ("Sha'biyat") of Wadi Al Shatii, Wadi Al Hayaa, Al Jufrah, Murzuq, Sabhaand Ghat_Municipality. The former capitol and still largest city is Sabha.
Geography and population
Fezzan is crossed in the north by the Ash-Shati Valley ("Wadi Al Shatii") and in the west by the Wadi Irawan. These two areas, along with portions of the
Tibesti Mountainscrossing the Chadianborder and a sprinkling of remote oases and border posts, are the only parts of the Fezzan able to support settled populations. Large dune seas ( Erg_(landform)) cover much of the remaining land. The region's inhabitants include the nomadic Tuaregin the southwest and the Toubouin the southeast. These pastoralist populations often cross the borders of Algeria, Chadand Nigerfreely. In the north, Arab, Berberand settled Tuaregand Touboumix. While making up some 30% of the land area of Libya, the Fezzan supports little of its population. Despite this, large towns like Shaba, survive on near surface water in the wadis of the north and west.
From the 5th century BCE to the 5th century of the modern era, the Fezzan was home to the
Garamantian Empire, a city state which operated the Trans-Saharan traderoutes between the Carthaginians-- and later the Roman Empire-- and Sahelian states of west and central Africa. During the 13th and 14th century, portions of the Fezzan were part of the Kanem Empire, while the Ottomanrulers of North Africa asserted their contol over the region in the 17th century.
Beginning in 1911 the Fezzan was occupied by Italy: their control of the region was precarious until at least 1923, with the rise of the Italian
Fascistregime. The Italians were resisted in their early attempts at conquest by Berber and Arab adherents to the militant Sanusiya Sufireligious order. The Tuaregclans of the region were only ever nominally pacified by European expansion before the Second World War. Free Frenchtroops occupied Murzuk, a chief town of Fezzan, on 16 January 1943 and the area was under French military control until 1951 when Fezzan became part of the Kingdom of Libya.
Administrative divisions in "Libya"
* [http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&z=7&ll=26.332807,13.425293&spn=4.597098,7.404785 Map from Google showing a large area of Fezzan and its important cities.]
* [http://encarta.msn.com/map_701512442/Fezzan.html Map of Fezzan from Encarta online.]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Libya.htm#Fezzan Worldstatesmen.org's History and list of rulers of Fezzan.]
* [http://www.hostkingdom.net/noafrica.html#Fezzan Hostkingdom.net's History and list of rulers of Fezzan.]
* [http://lexicorient.com/e.o/fezzan.htm Lexiorient.com's article on Fezzan.]
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