Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, the capital of the Cyrenaica region (or ex-Province), and the former provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. The wider metropolitan area (which includes the southern towns of Gimeenis and Suluq) is also a district of Libya. The port city is located on the Mediterranean Sea.
During the Kingdom era of Libya's history, Benghazi enjoyed a sort of joint-capital status (alongside Tripoli), possibly because the King used to reside in the nearby city of Bayda and the Senussis (royal family) in general were associated with Cyrenaica rather than Tripolitania. Benghazi continues to hold institutions and organizations normally associated with a national capital city. This creates a constant atmosphere of rivalry and sensitivities between Benghazi and Tripoli and by extension between the two regions (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania). The population of the entire district was 500,120 in 1995 (census) and has increased to 670,797 in the 2006 census.
On 15 February 2011, an uprising against the government of Muammar Gaddafi occurred in the city. On 21 February, the city was taken by Gaddafi opponents, who founded the National Transitional Council days later. On 19 March it was the site of the turning point of the Libyan civil war, when the Libyan Army attempted to score a decisive victory against the NTC by attacking Benghazi, but was forced back by locals resistance and intervention from French Air Force authorized by UNSC Resolution 1973 to protect civilians, allowing the rebellion to continue