Quick reference

General issues: French military administration 1949

Country name on general issues: Ghadames

Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes

Population: No period statistics available

Political history Ghadames

Postal history Ghadames

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Ghadames is located in northern Africa, part of the current Libya. In the 19th century Ghadames is part of the Ottoman Empire. After the Italo-Turkish war, Italy takes possession of Ghadames as part of Italian Libya in 1912. Ghadames comes to be administered as part of the Italian colony of Italian Tripolitania. 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 who drive the Italians out of Libya by 1943.

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 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 then attached to the Tunesian Southern Territories. A step that may well be explained by the alleged intentions of France to annex Fezzan to Algeria.

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.

The population of Ghadames is of Berber origin, having been Arabized since the conquest of Libya by the Arabs in the 7th century. Ghadames may seem remote, but it is not entirely obscure. When Libya was part of the Roman Empire, a permanent Roman garrison was stationed in what was then called Cydamus. As Christianity made its advent, Ghadames became the seat of a bishop in the 6th century. Until well into the 20th century, Ghadames has been known as a station on the caravan routes across the Sahara. Currently, the town of Ghadames is a United Nations World Heritage Site.

Postal history Ghadames

Postal history Ghadames

1949 – Cross of Agadez. Please note the inscription at the bottom of the design reading ‘Croix d’Agadem’.

In Ghadames the stamps of the Ottoman Empire have been used until superseded by the issues of Italian Libya and Italian Tripolitania. The French first issue provisionals for use in Fezzan in 1943. Although issued in limited numbers, evidence suggests these provisionals were also used in Ghadames. Subsequently, stamps of Algeria have been used until the first definitives are issued for Fezzan & Ghadames  in 1946. Specifically for Ghadames stamps are issued after the detachment of Ghadames from Fezzan in 1948 – one set has been issued in 1949. The stamps of Fezzan remained valid in Ghadames, the stamps of Ghadames were valid in Ghadames only.

Of interest, with respect to the design of the stamps, may be that it shows a cross that the designer has identified as the ‘Croix d’Agadem‘. The cross is actually the cross of Agadez – a symbol used by the Tuareg, a nomadic people living all across the Sahara.  The catalogs in their description also refer to the ‘Cross of Agadem’ – only Yvert & Tellier seems to have noted the apparent error and in it’s description refers to the ‘Cross of Agadez’.



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