Derna Province

Map showing the "Provincia di Derna" in 1939 Italian Libya

Darnah Province (called in Italian Provincia italiana di Derna) was one of the provinces of Libya under Italian rule. It was established in 1937 with the official name: "Commissariato Generale Provinciale di Derna". Derna province was called only "Darnah District" after World War II.


Derna province was located in northern Italian Libya, next to Egypt. It was a semi-arid area near the Mediterranean coast, with a fertile plateau around ancient Cyrene, but in the interior it was a desert. Its administrative center was the small city of Derna on the Mediterranean coast.

It was divided in 3 "circondari" (sections):

The province from 1939 was considered officially part of the Kingdom of Italy, with the same laws. It was one of the 4 new Italian provinces of the so-called Quarta Sponda (Fourth Shore). Indeed, on January 9, 1939, the colony of Italian Libya was incorporated into "metropolitan Italy" and thereafter considered an integral part of the Italian state (the French, in 1848, had incorporated French Algeria in the same manner).

In the coast of the province was built in 1937-1938 the eastern section of the Litoranea Balbia, that went from Tripoli to the border of Egypt. Some Italian colonists moved to live in a group of new villages after 1938: they increased local agricultural production, but British invasion during World War II destroyed all improvements.

The car tag for the Italian province of Derna was DE.[1]

Population in Province of Derna

According to the 1936 census, which allowed citizens to declare their ethnicity, Derna's native population was made up of 94.4% Arabs, 1.8% Turks, 0.7% Blacks, 0.2% Berbers, and 2.9% Others.[2]

According to the 1939 Italian Census of Libya,[3] these were the main population data:

Beda Littoria 16.238 pop. 1.533 Italians nearly 9,5%
Cyrene 494 pop. 222 Italians nearly 45%
Bardia 5,491 pop. 216 Italians nearly 4%; it was even called "Porto Bardia"
Derna 16,609 pop. 3,250 Italians 20%
Tobruk 11,284 pop. 1,756 Italians nearly 16%
Giarabub 215 pop. - oasis with military garrison
Apollonia 3,313 pop. 449 Italians 14%


  1. Italian car tags (in Italian)
  2. Pan, Chia-Lin (1949), "The Population of Libya", Population Studies, 3 (1): 121, doi:10.1080/00324728.1949.10416359.
  3. Guida Breve d'Italia Vol. III-Italia Meridionale e Insulare - Libia, C.T.I, Milano, 1939

See also

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