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Fazzan

Fazzan (fäz-zänˈ) [key] or Fezzan fĕz–, historic region, SW Libya. Marzuq, Sabhha, Brak, and Zawilah, all situated in oases in the Sahara Desert, are the chief settlements. The population is largely Arab, with Berber and black African influence. Located on caravan routes connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Sudan, Fazzan was long important in the trans-Saharan trade. Herodotus, the 5th-century B.C. Greek historian, wrote that the region was part of the realm of the Garamantes, a people who have not been precisely identified. In 19 B.C., Rome conquered the region, calling it Phazania, and many of its inhabitants were later converted to Christianity. After the Vandal invasion of North Africa in the 5th cent. A.D., Fazzan regained its independence. In 666, the Arabs conquered the region, and the people were soon converted to Islam. The Arabs held the area until the 10th cent., when it regained its independence. During the following centuries, Fazzan was at times ruled by foreign powers and at times independent. From the early 16th to the early 19th cent., it was the center of the Bani Muhammad dynasty, which originated in Morocco. Fazzan was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1842 and fell under Italian control during the Turko-Italian War of 1911–12. For later history, see Libya.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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