NG Maps knows that many of our readers are curious about place-names on our maps because of the number of letters we receive. But it’s during times of political upheaval that our maps are more closely scrutinized, and we brace ourselves for receiving many more letters. For example, since the start of the Libyan rebellion, news reports have defined Cyrenaica as Libya’s “eastern province,” “rebel-held region, “or “eastern area.” We have received several queries about the definition of this geographic term promoted not only by media reports but by the way other cartographic firms portray Cyrenaica.
The ancient Greeks founded the settlement of Cyrene on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast that eventually evolved into the Roman province of Cyrenaica. From the mid to late 1930s, the term referred to an administrative division of the colony of Italian Libya, and prior to 1963, one of Libya’s three provinces: Cyrenaica (comprising almost the entire eastern half of the country), Fezzan, and Tripolitania.
So, while some maps show Cyrenaica labeled close to its classical location along the eastern Mediterranean coast and news outlets use various descriptions, we recognize and portray Cyrenaica on our maps as Libya’s easternmost region: its boundaries extending from Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast to its southeastern border with Chad and Sudan.
Map: Physical Africa, plate 206, National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World, 2011
This blog, originally titled Cyrenaica, Libya , was posted on the NGM Blog Central site on March 16, 2011.
Juan José Valdés
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps