It is a desert town in the eastern Libyan Desert, about 286 km south of Tobruk. It is actually closer to the Egyptian town of Siwa than to any Libyan town. It was the administrative seat of the Al-Jaghbub Basic People's Congress. Supported by reservoirs of underground water and date production, the town is best known for its hard-won self-sufficiency. Idris of Libya was born in Al-Jaghbub on 12 March 1890.
The Jaghbub oasis is located in a deep depression that extends below sea level. This depression, an area lower than the surrounding region, reaches to about -10 m. To the east the Siwa Oasis lies in a similar depression and even further east the large Qattara Depression also lies below sea level.
Al-Jagboub was founded around 1851 AD as a religious center, and it has a long history of spreading Islam, and many Libyan mujahideen learned in it, led by Ahmed Al-Sharif and Omar Al-Mukhtar. Since its establishment, it has been an important missionary center for the reform movement founded by Sheikh Muhammad bin Ali Al-Senussi (the grandfather of King Idris Al-Senussi, who was born there).
It was the headquarters of the Senussi Movement and home of a long disappeared Islamic university and the former Senussi palace (which is now in rubble). Al-Jaghbub was a part of Egypt until December 1925, when it was ceded to Italy as part of a deal to fix the Egypt–Libya border. In February 1931, the Italian colonial administration led by Marshal Rodolfo Graziani decided to build a barbed-wire fence stretching from the Mediterranean port of Bardia to Al-Jaghbub 270 km away. Supervised by armoured patrols and the air force, the fence sought to cut off the rebels from their supply sources and contacts with the Senussi leadership in Egypt. The fence still runs along the Libyan-Egyptian border from near Tobruk, finishing at Al-Jaghbub where the Great Sand Sea begins.