Dust Storm over Gulf of Sidra near Benghazi, Libya
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte. It is located by the city of Sirte. In Ancient Rome it was known as Syrtis Maior.
Benghazi or Bengasi (Arabic بنغازي, transliterated Banġāzī) is the second largest city in Libya and the main city (or capital) of the Cyrenaica region (or ex-Province). It is also a municipal territory of Libya of the wider city area.
Benghazi is one of the sub-regions of the area referred to as Cyrenaica, the others being the Jabal Akhdar and the coastal plain running east of Apollonia. Cyrenaica is surrounded by desert on three sides, hence in ancient times the most accessible civilisation was to the North, across the Mediterranean, in Crete and Greece, only 400 km away.
Benghazi is surrounded by the ‘barr’, arid steppe. The Jabal Akhdar, literally, ‘the Green Mountain’, just north of Benghazi, rises to the east. Here the vegetation and climate is more Mediterranean in feel with none of the desert landscapes found further south. A large section of the western Jabal Akhdar is taken up by the fertile Al Marj plain. Further east is the second level of the Jabal Akhdar, between 500 m and over 875 m above sea level, often thickly wooded and cut by ravines. Annual rainfall here, especially around Cyrene, can reach 500 mm. It was this fertile site northeast of Benghazi that the Greeks chose for their settlement. The soil in Benghazi is a rich red colour and very clayey.
To the north, below the steep cliffs of the plateau, lies a narrow belt of Mediterranean farmland. Olives and other mediterrenean fruits and vegetables are grown here. To the south, the forest and farmland gives way to juniper bush maquis and pre-desert scrub with some winter grazing.