General issues: French occupation 1943, French military administration Fezzan & Ghadames 1946-1948, French military administration 1948-1949, French civil administration 1949-1951
Country name on general issues: Fezzan, Fezzan-Ghadames
Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1943-1951
Population: 54 000 in 1954
Political history Fezzan
Fezzan is located in northern Africa, part of the current Libya. In the 19th century Fezzan is part of the Ottoman Empire. After the Italo-Turkish war in 1912, Italy takes possession of Fezzan as part of Italian Libya. Fezzan comes to be administered as part of the Military Territory of Southern Libya – effective Italian rule, though, is not established until 1930. During WWII, Libya is one of the major theaters of war. Fortunes change between 1940 and 1943, but eventually events turn to the advantage of the Allies so that by 1943 the Italians have been driven out of Libya.
The British and the French divide Libya into three occupation zones: the British administer Cyrenaica and Tripolitania and the French administer the zone of Fezzan & Ghadames. The borders of these zones are different from the borders of the Italian period. Most notably the territory of Ghadames – part of the former Italian Tripolitania – becomes part of Fezzan & Ghadames and the Kufra region south of the former Italian Cyrenaica is attached to the Cyrenaica zone.
In 1943, the French establish military administration for Fezzan & Ghadames. Although technically subordinate to the Allied command, the French de facto administer Fezzan & Ghadames as an extension of the Algerian Southern Territories – the southern part of Algeria that is equally under military administration. In 1948, the French detach Ghadames from Fezzan – Ghadames is attached to the Tunesian Southern Territories. A step that may well be explained by the alleged intentions of France to annex Fezzan proper to Algeria.
Fezzan is a sparsely populated region. The population consists of different peoples of Berber origin that are found both in Fezzan and in neighboring countries. The people live nomadic lives or pastoral lives in the oases. Caravan routes have crossed Fezzan for centuries.
By 1949, the United Nations step in to play an active part in Libya. A resolution is passed stating that independence should be achieved for Libya as a unified nation by 1952. Subsequently, in 1949, Fezzan and Ghadames are joined again and civil administration is established. In 1951, Libya gains independence as the kingdom of Libya.
Postal history Fezzan
The first stamps used may possibly have been the stamps of the Ottoman Empire. These were superseded by the issues for Italian Libya. The French issue stamps for Fezzan in 1943 – provisionals with different overprints on stamps from Italy and Italian Libya, issued by the occupying forces in small numbers. Subsequently, stamps from Algeria are used. The first definitives are issued for the combined territory of Fezzan & Ghadames in 1946 – inscribed ‘Territoire Militaire Fezzan-Ghadames’. From 1948, stamps are issued inscribed ‘Territoire Militaire Fezzan’ reflecting the detachment of the Ghadames territory – the Fezzan issues remain valid in Ghadames though. Finally, in 1951 stamps are issued reflecting the change to civil administration as the stamps are now inscribed ‘Territoire du Fezzan’.
From 1951, the stamps of Fezzan are superseded by the issues of independent Libya – they remained valid for use until 1952.