“Issued by the Military Authority in Tripolitania” reads our banknote prominently across the obverse top center. The Tripolitanian Lira was issued in this region under British command, generally now known as Libya, during and immediately following World War 2. It was replaced in 1952 with the Libyan pound, Libya having become independent the preceding year, 1951. Tripoli today is the largest city in Libya., Benghazi being the second largest city.
Tripolitania, on the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa, is a region populated since time immemorial, and prominent since, at least, the Carthaginian empire, a great competitor of the early Roman empire. A city, on the site of present day Tripoli, was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC; and was subsequently overtaken by the Greeks and then the Carthaginians. With the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Tripolitania came under the governance of Rome until the Fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. The 8th century Muslim Conquest brought Tripolitania under the influence of Islam, and the 15th century Ottoman Conquest brought it into the new empire.
A military coup d’etat brought Omar Gaddafi to power in 1969. Gaddafi ruled until he was overthrown in the 2011 civil war, a part of the Arab Spring.
Tripoli has an ancient heritage. Americans may recall the name in the lyric from the theme song of the Marine division of its armed forces, “..to the shores of Tripoli“. A Barbary wars fought around Tripoli were perhaps the official first armed conflict of the newly birthed United States.
Musical instruments and musical scores adorn this side of our banknote from Sudan.
The story of Sudan, the southern neighbor of Egypt, traces back, at the least, to the age of the Pharoahs. At the end of the colonial era, it was under British control, from which it gained independence in 1953, in the rearrangement of all things following the wars of the 20th century.
2011, the year of our banknote, is also the year of the dissolution of Sudan’s union with much of its southern populace. This dissolution was the climax of two civil wars, the first of which commenced in 1955, 2 years after independence from Britain, and the second of which commenced in 1983, 11 years after the end of the first, but widely regarded as a continuation of the 1st civil war. The South seceded and has been recognized internationally as a new nation, South Sudan.
King Mohammed VI is featured on the front of the 2005 series banknote. Born the oldest son to Hassan II, Mohammed was named Heir Apparent and Crown Prince on the day of his birth in 1963. On July 23, 1999, he ascended the throne upon the death of his father and reigns as king to this day.
Beyond him is the gate of the Chellah, often referenced as bab callah, or similar, “bab” being an arabic word for gate. Chellah is an ancient fortress in Rabat, about 3 kilometers up the River Bou Reg from the Kasbah illustrated below. The gate can be seen in this photo in google earth.
Featured on the back of this banknote is the Kasbah of Rabat, on the Atlantic ocean at the mouth of the River Bou Reg. A kasbah, with various similar english spellings from the Arabic noun such as qasaba and qasbah, is a citadel or fortress or the central fortified part of a town. In Morocco it frequently refers to multiple buildings in a citadel or behind a defensive wall. Sometimes they were built on commanding hills for defense. Often they were built at the entrance to harbors, such as ours here at Rabat in Morocco. This was built in the 12th century. It has recently been added to the World Heritage list. The Kasbah can be seen in this google earth image.