A country of northern Africa on the Mediterranean Sea. Controlled at various times by Carthage, Rome, Arabia, and Spain, the area was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1551 to 1911. It was subsequently seized by Italy and became an Italian colony during World War II, achieving independence as a kingdom in 1951. In 1969 Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi took power in a coup d'état, establishing a socialist dictatorship. Tripoli is the capital and the largest city.