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town, northwestern Libya. It is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a band of sand dunes and occupies a coastal oasis above an underground water table. The town originated about the 7th century as a caravan supply centre. By the 12th century, as Thubactis, it was engaged in interregional commerce. International trade developed through the port of Qasr Ahmad, or Misurata Marina (now closed), lying 7 miles (11 km) east on Cape Misratah, but the town reverted to a local market under Ottoman Turkish rule. By the 20th century, irrigation had greatly increased agricultural production, and the town, on the federal coastal road, became a main market and administrative centre