The Bengasiens were an ethnic subculture living in the Duchy of Bengasi in the 19th century and early 20th century. Mostly Italian immigrants or German-speaking Austrians, the Bengasiens were Europeans and their descendants of various origins living in the Duchy, typically in a defined middle and upper class. The Bengasiens contributed to the flourishing economy of the country up until the 1890's and were seen as the "anti-French rebel state" of the Mediterranean. Culturally, the group was known for quickly adapting to the desert lifestyle of the Maghreb, adopting an architectural and artistic style in their capital of Bengasi that blended Middle Eastern and French styles, and for intermarrying with Arabs, in particular males who (often forcibly) converted Arab women to Catholicism.
Due to their known hostility towards the French, Bengasiens were not given aid or support by the French government during either of the two uprisings of Arabs in 1903 and 1906 that preceded the violent 1907 Cyrenese Revolution, which toppled the ruling Hapsburgs and drove thousands of Bengasiens out of Africa, and in which thousands more died. By 2011, as few as 160,000 people worldwide associate themselves exclusively as Bengasiens - they have either died out or assimilated. The largest ethnic enclaves of Bengasiens are in French Algeria, Malta and southern Italy, although about five to ten thousand remain in Cyrene today.