Postage stamps and postal history of Cyrenaica

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A map showing the location of Cyrenaica
A 1930 mint stamp of Cyrenaica while it was an Italian colony
A British stamp with a Middle East Forces overprint valid for use in occupied Cyrenaica
1950 postage due stamps of independent Cyrenaica

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Cyrenaica, now part of Libya.


Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya and also an ex-province or state ("muhafazah" or "wilayah") of the country (alongside Tripolitania and Fezzan) in the pre-1963 administrative system. What used to be Cyrenaica in the old system is now divided up into several "shabiyat" (see administrative divisions in Libya). In addition to the coastal region, i.e. historical Cyrenaica, the former province, during the Kingdom and the Italian era extended to the south to include the entire eastern section of the country.

Stamps of colonial Cyrenaica were inscribed Cirenaica and printed at the Italian Government Printing Works.[1]


The first stamps of Cyrenaica were Italian stamps overprinted CIRENAICA issued on 24 October 1923 at the same time as those for Tripolitania.[1][2]

Regular issues[edit]

Stamps inscribed Cirenaica began to be issued from 1926 and regular commemorative and definitive stamp issues continued until 1934[1] when Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan were united as the Italian colony of Libya.

British stamps[edit]

British stamps overprinted M.E.F. (Middle East Forces) were used from 1943 to 1948 after the area was captured by the British during World War II. From 1 July 1948 stamps overprinted B.M.A. TRIPOLITANIA were used.[2]

Internal autonomy[edit]

Cyrenaica enjoyed a brief period of internal autonomy in 1949-51 when the British authorities recognised Amir Mohammed Idris Al-Senussi as Emir of Cyrenaica, which ended on 24 December 1951 when Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan were unified as the Kingdom of Libya. Definitive and postage due stamps were issued in 1950. After unification, stamps of Libya were used.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Part 8 Italy & Switzerland. 6th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2003, pp.194-197. ISBN 0-85259-554-9
  2. ^ a b Rossiter, Stuart & John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald, 1986, p.275. ISBN 0-356-10862-7
  3. ^ Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue: Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840-1970. 110th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2008, p.123. ISBN 0-85259-653-7

Further reading[edit]

  • Davies, J.N. The British Administration of Cyrenaica issued on the 16 January 1950 and subsequent overprints on and after 24 December 1951. Bridgwater: The G.B. Overprints Society, 1980 10p.
  • Sirotti, Luigi and Nuccio Taroni. Le Occupazioni Britanniche Delle Colonie Italiane 1941-1950: storia postale = Postal History of the British Occupation of Italian Colonies 1941-1950. Rome: Sassone S.R.L., 2006 363p.
  • Tchilinghirian, S.D. & Rag. R. Bernardelli. Stamps of Italy used abroad: Part 2. London: Harris Publications Ltd., 1964.

External links[edit]

Media related to Stamps of Cyrenaica at Wikimedia Commons