History of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi became the de facto leader of Libya on 1 September 1969 after leading a group of young Libyan military officers against King Idris I in a bloodless coup d'état. After the king had fled the country, the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council headed by Gaddafi abolished the monarchy and the old constitution and established the Libyan Arab Republic, with the motto "freedom and unity". After coming to power, the RCC government initiated a process of directing funds toward providing education, health care and housing for all. Public education in the country became primary education compulsory for both sexes. Medical care became available to the public at no cost, but providing housing for all was a task the RCC government was not able to complete. Under Gaddafi, per capita income in the country rose to more than US $11,000, the fifth highest in Africa; the increase in prosperity was accompanied by a controversial foreign policy, there was increased domestic political repression. During the 1980s and 1990s, Gaddafi, in alliance with the Eastern Bloc and Fidel Castro's Cuba supported rebel movements like Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Irish Republican Army and the Polisario Front.
Gaddafi's government was either known to be or suspected of participating in or aiding terrorist acts by these and other proxy forces. Additionally, Gaddafi undertook several invasions of neighboring states in Africa, notably Chad in the 1970s and 1980s. All of his actions led to a deterioration of Libya's foreign relations with several countries Western states, culminated in the 1986 United States bombing of Libya. Gaddafi defended his government's actions by citing the need to support anti-imperialist and anti-colonial movements around the world. Notably, Gaddafi supported pan-Africanist and black civil rights movements. Gaddafi's behavior erratic, led some outsiders to conclude that he was not mentally sound, a claim disputed by the Libyan authorities and other observers close to Gaddafi. Despite receiving extensive aid and technical assistance from the Soviet Union and its allies, Gaddafi retained close ties to pro-American governments in Western Europe by incentivising Western oil companies with promises of access to lucrative Libyan energy sectors.
After the 9/11 attacks, strained relations between Libya and the West were normalised, sanctions against the country relaxed, in exchange for Libyan efforts to shrink its nuclear program. In early 2011, a civil war broke out in the context of the wider "Arab Spring"; the rebel anti-Gaddafi forces formed a committee named the National Transitional Council on 27 February 2011. It was meant to act as an interim authority in the rebel-controlled areas. After killings by government forces in addition to those by the rebel forces, a multinational coalition led by NATO forces intervened on 21 March 2011 in support of the rebels; the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Gaddafi and his entourage on 27 June 2011. Gaddafi's government was overthrown in the wake of the fall of Tripoli to the rebel forces on 20 August 2011, although pockets of resistance held by forces in support of Gaddafi's government held out for another two months in Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, which he declared the new capital of Libya on 1 September 2011.
The fall of the last remaining cities under pro-Gaddafi control and Sirte's capture on 20 October 2011, followed by the subsequent killing of Gaddafi, marked the end of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The name of Libya was changed several times during Gaddafi's tenure as leader. At first, the name was the Libyan Arab Republic. In 1977, the name was changed to Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Jamahiriya was a term coined by Gaddafi translated as "state of the masses"; the country was renamed again in 1986 as the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, after the 1986 United States bombing of Libya. The discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled the Kingdom of Libya to transition from one of the world's poorest nations to a wealthy state. Although oil drastically improved the Libyan government's finances, resentment began to build over the increased concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of King Idris; this discontent mounted with the rise of Nasserism and Arab nationalism/socialism throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
On 1 September 1969, a group of about 70 young army officers known as the Free Officers Movement and enlisted men assigned to the Signal Corps, seized control of the government and in a stroke abolished the Libyan monarchy. The coup was launched at Benghazi, within two hours the takeover was completed. Army units rallied in support of the coup, within a few days established military control in Tripoli and elsewhere throughout the country. Popular reception of the coup by younger people in the urban areas, was enthusiastic. Fears of resistance in Cyrenaica and Fezzan proved unfounded. No deaths or violent incidents related to the coup were reported; the Free Officers Movement, which claimed credit for carrying out the coup, was headed by a twelve-member directorate that designated itself the Revolutionary Command Council. This body constituted the Libyan government after the coup. In its initial proclamation on 1 September, the RCC declared the country to be a free and sovereign state called the Libyan Arab Republic, which would proceed "in the path of freedom and social justice, guaranteeing the right of equality to its citizens, opening before them the doors of honorable work."
The rule of the Turks and Italians and the "reactionary" government just overthrown were characteriz
Misurata (Arabic: مصراتة, is a city in the Misrata District in northwestern Libya, situated 187 km to the east of Tripoli and 825 km west of Benghazi on the Mediterranean coast near Cape Misurata. With a population of about 281,000, it is the third-largest city in Libya, after Tripoli and Benghazi, it has been called the trade capital of Libya. The harbor is at Qasr Ahmad; the name "Misurata" derives from the Misrata tribe, a section of the larger Berber Hawwara confederacy, whose homeland in Roman and early Arab times was coastal Tripolitania. "Trirone Acrone", The oldest description mentioned by Ptolemy III Euergetes of Misurata because it consists of three heads of land stretching into the sea depth, got Misurata importance by being at the crossroads of many convoys and because it is in the middle of an agricultural area as the name of "Cephalae Promentorium" Greek geographer Strabo. And the city of Misurata is one of the commercial stations that have been built by the Phoenicians, since more than 3000 years to the north-western parts of the Libyan coast.
The flag by the name of Thubactis Misurata and know that name in relation to the Berber tribe of Misurata, which means the sailors. Modern Misurata was established around the 7th century AD during the beginning of modern Libya's rule by the Caliphate; some contemporary sources claim the town existed prior to Islamic rule, during the Roman Empire era and that its initial Arabic name derived from its Roman name Thubactis. David Mattingly, author of Tripolitania, a comprehensive reference book on northwestern Libya, stated that identification of Misurata as the ancient Thubactis is problematic, complicated and "defies an easy answer." Nonetheless the Roman town was located at some point on the oasis upon. The two common identifications are at the eastern and western anchorages of modern Misurata or south and inland of the city, respectively; the Roman town was recorded as one of the six municipia of the Tripolitania province, a rank below coloniae In any case, in the 7th century, it served as a caravan supply center and an important port.
Merchant traders from Misrata were well known throughout the Sahara during the years of the Caliphate In addition to its strategic location, the city established itself as one of Libya's oldest producers of luxury carpets. The Misrata tribe, a section of the larger Berber Hawwara confederacy, inhabited the coastal region of Tripolitania during the Roman and early Arab eras; the region of Tripolitania, which included Misurata, came under the regency of the Ottoman Empire in 1551. By the beginning of the 19th century, Misrata had been established as a major center for the Trans-Saharan trade route, where caravans carrying gold and slaves stopped; because of the rainfall along the coast, abundant compared to other cities in Tripolitania, supplemental water from underground springs, Misrata's inhabitants were able to engage in unusually fertile agriculture in this arid region. The city was filled with thick areas of vegetable gardens while the surrounding countryside included fields of wheat, date palms and olive orchards.
Misrata's artisans expanded on the city's ancient carpet industry for which it was regionally renowned. Although Misurata contained a well-built harbor, most of its long-distance trade was overland because the city of Benghazi to the east served as the preferable substitute for maritime shipping; as a result of the abolition of slavery and increasing European colonial influence in Sub-Saharan Africa, Trans-Saharan trade declined and Misurata's role in the trade decreased. However, the decline in Trans-Saharan trade saw the establishment of weekly and permanent markets in the city, replacing the seasonal markets associated with long-distance trade; because of this new economic situation, the residents of the countryside devoted less time to pastoralism and guide service for foreign traders and began to shift their focus on agricultural production. Farmers concentrated on growing cash crops, relying on market relations to provide income for their families, instead of subsistence farming and periodic barter exchanging.
Bedouins abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and began to settle into permanent dwellings within the city limits. To cope with an rising population due to immigration from the surrounding areas, Misrata witnessed a construction boom in the late 19th century. A covered produce market and numerous streets lined with shops were built in addition to new district and municipal government offices, a renovated Ottoman army barracks and several Turkish-style houses for the city's wealth families. Two clans, the Muntasir and Adgham, dominated the political and economic aspects of Misrata and led the local tribes against their Turkish overlords during various periods of tension. There were many wealthy families in the city, but the Muntasirs, who were of Arabian descent, the Adghams, who descended from Ottoman officers who settled in the province in previous centuries, were the most prominent, they made their income from commerce and protected their wealth by cooperating with the Ottoman provincial authorities.
Both had extended families and economic holdings not just in Misrata, but the provincial capital of Tripoli as well as the eastern Cyrenican towns of Benghazi and Derna. The Aghdams had traditionally resisted efforts by the central Ottoman government in Istanbul to reestablish direct control over Tripoli Province and, under the leadership of Osman al-Aghdam, they led a rebellion against the Ottomans and their local a
Tripoli International Airport
Tripoli International Airport is an international airport built to serve Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. The airport is located in the area of 24 kilometres from central Tripoli, it used to be the hub for Libyan Airlines, Afriqiyah Airways, Buraq Air. The airport has been closed intermittently since 2011 and as of early 2018, flights to and from Tripoli have been using Mitiga International Airport instead; as part of the 2014 Libyan Civil War, the airport was damaged in the Battle of Tripoli Airport. The airport reopened for limited commercial use in July 2017. In April 2019, however, it was reported that Mitiga had become the last functioning airport in Tripoli during the 2019 Western Libya offensive, it was soon acknowledged that the ruling Government of National Accord had bombed the Tripoli airport in order to recapture it from Libya National Army forces. Mitiga was soon shut down as well after being bombed by the LNA, thus making the Misrata Airport, located 200 km to the east down the coast, the nearest airport for Tripoli residents.
The airport has one main passenger terminal that serves international and domestic departures and arrivals. The terminal hall is a five-story building with an area of 33,000 square metres, is capable of handling three million passengers annually. Check-in facilities are all located on the ground floor; the departure gates are located on the floor above as is the duty-free section. Beside this is a prayer room and a first-class lounge which serves business class and above on all airlines operating from the airport; the airport operates 24 hours a day. There is no overnight accommodation at the airport but there are plans to build an airport hotel to serve transit flyers. A restaurant can be found on the fourth floor of the international terminal; the head office of the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority is on the airport property. The airport's cargo-handling facilities include cranes, heavy fork lifts, roller pallet lifts, conveyor belts. There is twenty-four-hour fire protection at the airport with 112 trained personnel working at the fire station.
The Abu Argub VOR-DME is located 12.1 nautical miles south of the airport. The Tripoli VOR-DME is located on the field. In September 2007, the Libyan government announced a project to expand the airport; the eventual total cost of the project, contracted to a joint venture between Brazil's Odebrecht, TAV Construction of Turkey, Consolidated Contractors Company of Greece and Vinci Construction of France, was LD2.54 billion. The project was to construct two new terminals at the airport on either side of the existing International Terminal; each of the new terminals would have been 162,000 square metres in size, collectively they would have had a capacity of 20 million passengers and a parking lot for 4,400 vehicles. French company Aéroports de Paris designed the terminals, which were expected to serve 100 aircraft simultaneously. Work started in October 2007 on the first new terminal; the initial capacity will be 6 million passengers. Preparation was underway for the second new terminal, which would have brought the total capacity to 20 million passengers.
Although the government identified Tripoli airport as a "fast track" project in 2007, leading to construction work starting before the design was developed, the project was not be finished until at least May 2011. The cost of the project had been rising, leading to an intense round of renegotiations; the project has since been halted due to the ongoing civil war that led to further damages to the airport. The airport was called Tripoli-Castel Benito Airport and was a Regia Aeronautica airfield created in 1934 in the southern outskirts of Italian Tripoli. In 1938 the Italian Libya governor Italo Balbo enlarged the military airfield and created an international airport for civilians served by Ala Littoria, the official Italian airline: the Aeroporto di Tripoli-Castel Benito; the first international flights were to Rome and Malta. In 1939, a a flight from Rome to Ethiopia and Somalia, one of the first intercontinental flights in world history. During World War II the airport was destroyed, but the airfield was used by the British Royal Air Force and was named RAF Castel Benito changing to RAF Idris in 1952.
In the 1950s and 1960s the airport was named Tripoli Idris International Airport. The airport was renovated for national and international air travel in September 1978; the existing international terminal was designed and built from a masterplan developed by Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners. The airport closed from March 2011 to October 2011 as a result of United Nations Security Council establishing a no-fly zone over Libya; the Zintan Brigade captured the airport during their advance on Tripoli on 21 August 2011. The airport was reopened on 11 October 2011. On 14 July 2014, the airport was the site of fierce battle as militias from the city of Misrata attempted to take control of the airport; the airport has been closed to flights since the clashes. On 23 August 2014, after 40 days of clashes, Zintan forces, withdrew; the Los Angeles Times reported that at least 90% of the airport's facilities, 20 airplanes, were destroyed in the fighting. While still under the control of Misrata militias, the VIP terminal which suffered less destruction was reopened on 16 February 2017.
A new passenger terminal is in planning by
The World Factbook
The World Factbook known as the CIA World Factbook, is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official print version is available from the Government Printing Office. Other companies—such as Skyhorse Publishing—also print a paper edition; the Factbook is available in the form of a website, updated every week. It is available for download for use off-line, it provides a two- to three-page summary of the demographics, communications, government and military of each of 267 international entities including U. S.-recognized countries and other areas in the world. The World Factbook is prepared by the CIA for the use of U. S. government officials, its style, format and content are designed to meet their requirements. However, it is used as a resource for academic research papers and news articles; as a work of the U. S. government, it is in the public domain in the United States. In researching the Factbook, the CIA uses the sources listed below.
Other public and private sources are consulted. Antarctic Information Program Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center Bureau of the Census Bureau of Labor Statistics Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs Defense Intelligence Agency Department of Energy Department of State Fish and Wildlife Service Maritime Administration National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Naval Facilities Engineering Command Office of Insular Affairs Office of Naval Intelligence Oil & Gas Journal United States Board on Geographic Names United States Transportation Command Because the Factbook is in the public domain, people are free under United States law to redistribute it or parts of it in any way that they like, without permission of the CIA. However, the CIA requests. Copying the official seal of the CIA without permission is prohibited by U. S. federal law—specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949. Before November 2001 The World Factbook website was updated yearly. Information available as of January 1 of the current year is used in preparing the Factbook.
The first, edition of Factbook was published in August 1962, the first unclassified version in June 1971. The World Factbook was first available to the public in print in 1975. In 2008 the CIA discontinued printing the Factbook themselves, instead turning printing responsibilities over to the Government Printing Office; this happened due to a CIA decision to "focus Factbook resources" on the online edition. The Factbook has been on the World Wide Web since October 1994; the web version receives an average of 6 million visits per month. The official printed version is sold by the Government Printing Office and National Technical Information Service. In past years, the Factbook was available on CD-ROM, magnetic tape, floppy disk. Many Internet sites use information and images from the CIA World Factbook. Several publishers, including Grand River Books, Potomac Books, Skyhorse Publishing have re-published the Factbook in recent years; as of July 2011, The World Factbook comprises 267 entities, which can be divided into the following categories: Independent countries The CIA defines these as people "politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory."
In this category, there are 195 entities. Others Places set apart from the list of independent countries. There are two: Taiwan and the European Union. Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty Places affiliated with another country, they may be subcategorized by affiliated country: Australia: six entities China: two entities Denmark: two entities France: eight entities Netherlands: three entities New Zealand: three entities Norway: three entities United Kingdom: seventeen entities United States: fourteen entitiesMiscellaneous Antarctica and places in dispute. There are six such entities. Other entities The World and the oceans. There are the World. Areas not covered Specific regions within a country or areas in dispute among countries, such as Kashmir, are not covered, but other areas of the world whose status is disputed, such as the Spratly Islands, have entries. Subnational areas of countries are not included in the Factbook. Instead, users looking for information about subnational areas are referred to "a comprehensive encyclopedia" for their reference needs.
This criterion was invoked in the 2007 and 2011 editions with the decision to drop the entries for French Guiana, Martinique and Reunion. They were dropped because besides being overseas departments, they were now overseas regions, an integral part of France. Kashmir Maps depicting Kashmir have the Indo-Pakistani border drawn at the Line of Control, but the region of Kashmir administered by China drawn in hash marks. Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus, which the U. S. considers part of the Republic of Cyprus, is not given a separate entry because "territorial occupations/annexations not recognized by the United States Government are not shown on U. S. Government maps."Taiwan/Republic of China The name
Tobruk or Tobruck is a port city on Libya's eastern Mediterranean coast, near the border of Egypt. It is the capital of the Butnan District and has a population of 120,000. Tobruk was the site of an ancient Greek colony and of a Roman fortress guarding the frontier of Cyrenaica. Over the centuries, Tobruk served as a waystation along the coastal caravan route. By 1911, Tobruk had become an Italian military post, but during World War II, Allied forces the Australian 6th Division, took Tobruk on 22 January 1941; the Australian 9th Division pulled back to Tobruk to avoid encirclement after actions at Er Regima and Mechili and reached Tobruk on 9 April 1941 where prolonged fighting against German and Italian forces followed. Although the siege was lifted by Operation Crusader in November 1941, a renewed offensive by Axis forces under Erwin Rommel the following year resulted in Tobruk being captured in June 1942 and held by the Axis forces until November 1942, when it was recaptured by the Allies.
Rebuilt after World War II, Tobruk was expanded during the 1960s to include a port terminal linked by an oil pipeline to the Sarir oil field. King Idris of Libya had his palace at Bab Zaytun. Tobruk was traditionally a stronghold of the Senussi royal dynasty and one of the first to rebel against Colonel Gaddafi in the Arab Spring. Tobruk has a strong protected deep harbour, it is the best natural port in northern Africa, although due to the lack of important nearby land sites it is not the most popular. The city is surrounded by a desert populated with nomadic herdsmen who travel from oasis to oasis. There are many escarpments to the south of Tobruk; these escarpments have their high sides to the south and their low sides to the north. This constitutes a substantial physical barrier between the north and south of Libya in the Tobruk area. Tobruk was some 470 km from Benghazi through the Libyan Coastal Highway, but this distance was shortened to 450 km after the construction of the Charruba–Timimi Road between the years 1975 and 1985.
Construction of the Tobruk–Ajdabiya Road reduced the distance between those two cities from 620 km to about 410 km. Because it is 150 km away from Egypt by land, Tobruk is an important hub for merchants from both Egypt and Libya, for travellers between the two countries as well as those from Bayda and Derna. However, Tobruk suffers a serious saltwater intrusion problem. A factory for the desalination of sea water has been built there. Tobruk features a hot desert climate An Ancient Greek agricultural colony, Antipyrgus was once on the site of modern Tobruk, the ancient name is still in use; the name meant "across from Pyrgos", referring to a location in Crete across the Mediterranean Sea from Antipyrgos. In the Roman era, the town became. With the spread of Christianity, Antipyrgus became. Only one of its ancient bishops is known by name: Aemilianus, who took part in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553. No longer a residential bishopric, Antipyrgus is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.
The site became a way station on the caravan route that ran along the coast. The Hotel Tobruk was built in 1937. At the beginning of World War II, Libya was an Italian colony and Tobruk became the site of important battles between the Allies and Axis powers. Tobruk was strategically important to the conquest of Eastern Libya the province of Cyrenaica, for several reasons. Tobruk had a deep and protected harbour, which meant that if the port were bombed, ships would still be able to anchor there and be safe from squalls, so the port could never be rendered wholly useless regardless of military bombardment; this was of critical importance, as it made Tobruk an excellent place to supply a desert warfare campaign. It was heavily fortified by the Italians prior to their invasion of Egypt in November 1940. In addition to these prepared fortifications, there were a number of escarpments and cliffs to the south of Tobruk, providing substantial physical barriers to any advance on the port over land. Tobruk was on a peninsula, allowing it to be defended by a minimal number of troops, which the Allies used to their advantage when the port was under siege.
An attacker could not bypass the defenders, for if they did, the besieged would sally forth and cut off the nearby supply lines of the attacker, spoiling their advance. But Tobruk was strategically significant, due to its location with regard to the remainder of Cyrenaica. Attackers from the east who had secured Tobruk could advance through the desert to Benghazi, cutting off all enemy troops along the coast, such as those at Derna; this advance would be protected from counterattack, due to escarpments that were quite difficult for a military force to climb, running from Tobruk to Suluq. Due to the importance of maintaining supply in the desert, getting cut off in this area was disastrous. Therefore, whoever held both Tobruk controlled the majority of Cyrenaica. 24 km south of the port was the largest airfield in eastern Libya. This was significant due to the importance of air power in desert warfare. Italian forces invaded Egypt in early September 1940 but
Transport in Tunisia
Tunisia has a number of international airports to service its sizable tourist trade. Tunis is the center of the transport system as the largest city having the largest port and a light transit system. Tunisia inherited much of its rail transport system from the French and the Tunisian Government has developed infrastructure further; the railways are operated by the Société Nationale de Chemins de Fer Tunisiens, the Tunisian national railway. A modernisation program is underway, it has a total of 2,152 km consisting of 468 km of 1,435 mm standard gauge railways and 1,674 kilometres of 1,000 mm metre gauge. Tunis has a light rail system. In the south of Tunisia, there is a narrow gauge railway called the Sfax-Gafsa Railway which delivers phosphates and iron ore to the harbour at Sfax. Tunisia has rail links with the neighbouring country of Algeria via the Ghardimaou-Souk Ahras line, another connection to Tébessa, the latter link is not used. There are no railways yet in neighbouring Libya though some are under construction in 2008.
Libya - railways under construction Algeria - yes - Same gauge - 1,435 mm TGM Lézard rouge, a tourist train Métro léger de Tunis Réseau Ferroviaire Rapide As of 2004, there were 18,997 km of highway including 12,310 of paved road and 6,387 of unpaved road. The major cities are all linked by road through the interior. In 2002, Tunisia borrowed €300 million from the European Investment Bank in 2002 to be used to improve roads in the country including €120 million towards building a motorway between Tunis and Sfax. A1 motorway A3 motorway A4 motorway Route 1 in the Trans-African Highway network passes through Tunisia, linking it to North African nations including Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, to West African nations via Mauritania. In addition a feeder road links Tunisia to the Trans-Sahara Highway from Algeria to West Africa. Tunisia has an extensive pipeline network including 3,059 km of gas pipelines, 1,203 kilometres of oil pipeline and 345 km of refined products. Petrochemicals are Tunisia's third most important export despite the small size of its oil and gas fields as compared to Libya and Algeria.
It gets a royalty rate of 5 per cent on the Algerian gas that runs through Tunis to Sicily through the Trans-Mediterranean gas pipeline. Libya's National Oil Corporation formed a joint venture with Societe Tunisienne de l'Electricite et du Gaz to construct a national gas pipeline between the two countries. Tunis is the most significant port in Tunisia with other significant ports on the Mediterranean Sea including Bizerte, Gabès, La Goulette, Sfax and Zarzis. Tunisia's merchant marine consisted of 14 ships as at 2002; as of 2002, Tunisia had 30 airports including several international airports. The most important one is the Tunis-Carthage International Airport but other significant airports serve Sfax, Djerba-Zarzis, Monastir and Tabarka. Tunisair is the national airline. Tunisia CIA World Factbook 2006 Transportation in Tunisia "Tunisia" Encyclopædia Britannica Online page 16 accessed 18 March 2006 "North Africa" Encyclopædia Britannica Online page 20 accessed 18 March 2006 Railways in Northern Africa Tourism Tunisia Airports Tunisia360 SNCFT-Thread Air Freight Tunisia // Forwarding transit Tunisia
The Spanish Empire known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World and the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies", it included territories in Europe and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description given to the Portuguese Empire, it was the world's most powerful empire during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century. The Spanish Empire was the first empire to be called "the empire on which the sun never sets". Castile became the dominant kingdom in Iberia because of its jurisdiction over the overseas empire in the Americas and the Philippines; the structure of empire was established under the Spanish Hapsburgs and under the Spanish Bourbon monarchs, the empire was brought under greater crown control and increased its revenues from the Indies.
The crown's authority in The Indies was enlarged by the papal grant of powers of patronage, giving it power in the religious sphere. An important element in the formation of Spain's empire was the dynastic union between Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, known as the Catholic Monarchs, which initiated political and social cohesion but not political unification. Iberian kingdoms retained their political identities, with particular administration and juridical configurations. Although the power of the Spanish sovereign as monarch varied from one territory to another, the monarch acted as such in a unitary manner over all the ruler's territories through a system of councils: the unity did not mean uniformity. In 1580, when Philip II of Spain succeeded to the throne of Portugal, he established the Council of Portugal, which oversaw Portugal and its empire and "preserv its own laws and monetary system, united only in sharing a common sovereign." The Iberian Union remained in place until in 1640, when Portugal overthrew Hapsburg rule and reestablished independence under the House of Braganza.
Under Philip II, rather than the Hapsburg empire, was identified as the most powerful nation in the world eclipsing France and England. Furthermore, despite attacks from other European states, Spain retained its position of dominance with apparent ease; the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis confirmed the inheritance of Philip II in Italy. Spain's claims to Naples and Sicily in southern Italy dated back to the Aragonese presence in the 15th century. Following the peace reached in 1559, there would be no Neapolitan revolts against Spanish rule until 1647; the Duchy of Milan formally remained part of the Holy Roman Empire but the title of Duke of Milan was given to the King of Spain. The death of the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent in 1566 and the naval victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 gave Spain a claim to be the greatest power not just in Europe but in the world; the Spanish Empire in the Americas was formed after conquering large stretches of land, beginning with Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean Islands.
In the early 16th century, it conquered and incorporated the Aztec and Inca Empires, retaining indigenous elites loyal to the Spanish crown and converts to Christianity as intermediaries between their communities and royal government. After a short period of delegation of authority by the crown in the Americas, the crown asserted control over those territories and established the Council of the Indies to oversee rule there; some scholars consider the initial period of the Spanish conquest as marking the most egregious case of genocide in the history of mankind. The death toll may have reached some 70 million indigenous people in this period. However, other scholars believe the vast majority of indigenous deaths were due to the low immunological capacity of native populations to resist exogenous diseases. Many native tribes and their cultures were wiped out by the Spanish conquest and disease epidemics; the structure of governance of its overseas empire was reformed in the late 18th century by the Bourbon monarchs.
Although the crown attempted to keep its empire a closed economic system under Hapsburg rule, Spain was unable to supply the Indies with sufficient consumer goods to meet demand, so that foreign merchants from Genoa, England and The Netherlands dominated the trade, with silver from the mines of Peru and Mexico flowing to other parts of Europe. The merchant guild of Seville served as middlemen in the trade; the crown's trade monopoly was broken early in the seventeenth century, with the crown colluding with the merchant guild for fiscal reasons in circumventing the closed system. Spain was unable to defend the territories it claimed in the Americas, with the Dutch, the English, the French taking Caribbean islands, using them to engage in contraband trade with the Spanish populace in the Indies. In the seventeenth century, the diversion of silver revenue to pay for European consumer goods and the rising costs of defense of its empire meant that "tangible benefits of America to Spain were dwindling...at a moment when the costs of empire were climbing sharply."The Bourbon monarchy attempted to expand the possibilities for trade within the empire, by allowing commerce between all ports in the empire, took other measures to revive economic activity to the benefit of Spain.
The Bourbons had inherited "an empire invaded by