), officially the State of Libya,
: دولة ليبيا
: Dawlat Lībiyā
is a country in the Maghreb
region in North Africa
bordered by the Mediterranean Sea
to the north, Egypt
to the east
to the southeast
to the south
to the southwest
to the west
to the northwest
. The sovereign state
is made of three historical regions: Tripolitania
. With an area of almost 700,000 square miles (1.8 million km2
), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa and is the 16th largest country in the world
Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves
of any country in the world.
The largest city and capital, Tripoli
, is located in western Libya and contains over three million of Libya's seven million people.
The origin of the name "Libya" first appeared in an inscription of Ramesses II
, written as rbw
in hieroglyphic. The name derives from a generalized identity given to a large confederacy of ancient east "Libyan" berbers
people(s) and tribes who lived around the lush regions of Cyrenaica
. An army of 40,000 men
and a confederacy of tribes known as "Great Chiefs of the Libu
" were led by King Meryey
who fought a war against pharaohMerneptah
in year 5 (1208 BCE). This conflict was mentioned in the Great Karnak Inscription
in the western delta during the 5th and 6th years of his reign and resulted in a defeat for Meryey. According to the Great Karnak Inscription
, the military alliance comprised the Meshwesh
, the Lukka
, and the "Sea Peoples" known as the Ekwesh
, and the Sherden
The Great karnak inscription reads:
"... the third season, saying: 'The wretched, fallen chief of Libya, Meryey, son of Ded, has fallen upon the country of Tehenu with his bowmen — Sherden, Shekelesh, Ekwesh, Lukka, Teresh. Taking the best of every warrior and every man of war of his country. He has brought his wife and his children — leaders of the camp, and he has reached the western boundary in the fields of Perire."
The modern name of "Libya" is an evolution of the "Libu
" or "Libúē
" name (from Greek Λιβύη, Libyē
), generally encompassing the people of Cyrenaica
. The "Libúē"
name likely came to be used in the classical world as an identity for the natives of the North African region. The name was revived in 1934 for Italian Libya
from the ancient Greek
It was intended to supplant terms applied to Ottoman Tripolitania
, the coastal region of what is today Libya, having been ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1551 to 1911 as the Eyalet of Tripolitania. The name "Libya" was brought back into use in 1903 by Italian geographer Federico Minutilli.
Libya gained independence in 1951 as the United Libyan Kingdom
(المملكة الليبية المتحدة
al-Mamlakah al-Lībiyyah al-Muttaḥidah
), changing its name to the Kingdom of Libya (المملكة الليبية
), literally "Libyan Kingdom", in 1963.
Following a coup d'état led by Muammar Gaddafi
in 1969, the name of the state was changed to the Libyan Arab Republic (الجمهورية العربية الليبية
al-Jumhūriyyah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah
). The official name was "Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" from 1977 to 1986 (الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية الاشتراكية
), and "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"
(الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية الاشتراكية العظمى
, al-Jamāhīriyyah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah ash-Sha‘biyyah al-Ishtirākiyyah al-‘Udmá listen
)) from 1986 to 2011.
In December 2017 the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations informed the United Nations that the country's official name was henceforth the "State of Libya"; "Libya" remained the official short form, and the country continued to be listed under "L" in alphabetical lists.
The coastal plain of Libya was inhabited by Neolithic
peoples from as early as 8000 BC. The Afroasiatic
ancestors of the Berber people
are assumed to have spread into the area by the Late Bronze Age
. The earliest known name of such a tribe was the Garamantes
, based in Germa
. The Phoenicians
were the first to establish trading posts in Libya.
By the 5th century BC, the greatest of the Phoenician colonies, Carthage
, had extended its hegemony
across much of North Africa, where a distinctive civilization, known as Punic
, came into being.
In 630 BC, the ancient Greeks
colonized the area around Barca
in Eastern Libya and founded the city of Cyrene
Within 200 years, four more important Greek cities were established in the area that became known as Cyrenaica
In 525 BC the Persian
army of Cambyses II
overran Cyrenaica, which for the next two centuries remained under Persian or Egyptian rule. Alexander the Great
was greeted by the Greeks when he entered Cyrenaica in 331 BC, and Eastern Libya again fell under the control of the Greeks, this time as part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom
After the fall of Carthage
the Romans did not immediately occupy Tripolitania
(the region around Tripoli), but left it instead under control of the kings of Numidia
, until the coastal cities asked and obtained its protection. Ptolemy Apion
, the last Greek ruler, bequeathed Cyrenaica to Rome, which formally annexed the region in 74 BC and joined it to Crete as a Roman province
. As part of the Africa Nova
province, Tripolitania was prosperous,
and reached a golden age in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, when the city of Leptis Magna
, home to the Severan dynasty
, was at its height.
On the Eastern side, Cyrenaica's first Christian communities were established by the time of the Emperor Claudius
It was heavily devastated during the Kitos War
and almost depopulated of Greeks and Jews alike.
Although repopulated by Trajan
with military colonies,
from then started its decline.
Libya was early to convert to Nicene Christianity
and was the home of Pope Victor I
; however, Libya was a hotbed for early heresies such as Arianism
The decline of the Roman Empire
saw the classical cities fall into ruin, a process hastened by the Vandals
' destructive sweep through North Africa in the 5th century. When the Empire returned (now as East Romans
) as part of Justinian
's reconquests of the 6th century, efforts were made to strengthen the old cities, but it was only a last gasp before they collapsed into disuse. Cyrenaica, which had remained an outpost of the Byzantine Empire
during the Vandal period, also took on the characteristics of an armed camp. Unpopular Byzantine governors imposed burdensome taxation to meet military costs, while the towns and public services—including the water system—were left to decay. By the beginning of the 7th century, Byzantine control over the region was weak, Berber rebellions were becoming more frequent, and there was little to oppose Muslim
Ibn Ziri's Berber Zirid dynasty
ultimately broke away from the Shiite Fatimids, and recognised the Sunni Abbasids of Baghdad as rightful Caliphs. In retaliation, the Fatimids brought about the migration of thousands from mainly two Arab Qaisi tribes, the Banu Sulaym
and Banu Hilal
to North Africa. This act drastically altered the fabric of the Libyan countryside, and cemented the cultural and linguistic Arabisation of the region.
Zirid rule in Tripolitania was short-lived though, and already in 1001 the Berbers of the Banu Khazrun
broke away. Tripolitania remained under their control until 1146, when the region was overtaken by the Normans of Sicily
It was not until 1159 that the Moroccan Almohad
leader Abd al-Mu'min
reconquered Tripoli from European rule. For the next 50 years, Tripolitania was the scene of numerous battles among Ayyubids
, the Almohad rulers and insurgents of the Banu Ghaniya
. Later, a general of the Almohads
, Muhammad ibn Abu Hafs, ruled Libya from 1207 to 1221 before the later establishment of a Tunisian Hafsid dynasty
independent from the Almohads. The Hafsids ruled Tripolitania for nearly 300 years. By the 16th century the Hafsids became increasingly caught up in the power struggle between Spain and the Ottoman Empire
After weakening control of Abbasids, Cyrenaica was under Egypt based states such as Tulunids
before Ottoman conquest in 1517. Finally Fezzan
acquired independence under Awlad Muhammad dynasty after Kanem
rule. Ottomans finally conquered Fezzan between 1556 and 1577.
Ottoman Tripolitania (1551–1911)
The Siege of Tripoli
in 1551 allowed the Ottomans to capture the city from the Knights of St. John.
After a successful invasion of Tripoli by Habsburg Spain
and its handover to the Knights of St. John
, the Ottoman admiral Sinan Pasha
took control of Libya in 1551.
His successor Turgut Reis
was named the Bey
of Tripoli and later Pasha of Tripoli
in 1556. By 1565, administrative authority as regent in Tripoli was vested in a pasha
appointed directly by the sultan
. In the 1580s, the rulers of Fezzan
gave their allegiance to the sultan, and although Ottoman authority was absent in Cyrenaica
, a bey
was stationed in Benghazi late in the next century to act as agent of the government in Tripoli.
and large numbers of enslaved Blacks transported from Sudan were also a feature of everyday life in Tripoli. In 1551, Turgut Reis
enslaved almost the entire population of the Maltese island of Gozo
, some 5,000 people, sending them to Libya.
In time, real power came to rest with the pasha's corps of janissaries
In 1611 the deys
staged a coup against the pasha, and Dey Sulayman Safar was appointed as head of government. For the next hundred years, a series of deys
effectively ruled Tripolitania. The two most important Deys were Mehmed Saqizli
(r. 1631–49) and Osman Saqizli
(r. 1649–72), both also Pasha, who ruled effectively the region.
The latter conquered also Cyrenaica.
Lacking direction from the Ottoman government, Tripoli lapsed into a period of military anarchy during which coup followed coup and few deys survived in office more than a year. One such coup was led by Turkish officer Ahmed Karamanli
ruled from 1711 until 1835 mainly in Tripolitania, and had influence in Cyrenaica and Fezzan as well by the mid-18th century. Ahmed's successors proved to be less capable than himself, however, the region's delicate balance of power allowed the Karamanli. The 1793–95 Tripolitanian civil war
occurred in those years. In 1793, Turkish officer Ali Pasha
deposed Hamet Karamanli and briefly restored Tripolitania to Ottoman rule. Hamet's brother Yusuf
(r. 1795–1832) re-established Tripolitania's independence.
A US Navy expedition under Commodore Edward Preble
engaging gunboats and fortifications in Tripoli
In the early 19th century war broke out between the United States and Tripolitania, and a series of battles ensued in what came to be known as the First Barbary War
and the Second Barbary War
. By 1819, the various treaties of the Napoleonic Wars
had forced the Barbary states to give up piracy almost entirely, and Tripolitania's economy began to crumble. As Yusuf weakened, factions sprung up around his three sons. Civil war soon resulted.
Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II
sent in troops ostensibly to restore order, marking the end of both the Karamanli dynasty and an independent Tripolitania.
Order was not recovered easily, and the revolt of the Libyan under Abd-El-Gelil and Gûma ben Khalifa lasted until the death of the latter in 1858.
The second period of direct Ottoman rule saw administrative changes, and greater order in the governance of the three provinces of Libya. Ottoman rule finally reasserted to Fezzan between 1850 and 1875 for earning income from Saharan commerce.
Italian colonization (1911–1943) Omar Mukhtar
was a prominent leader of Libyan resistance in Cyrenaica against Italian colonization.
rose to prominence as a resistance leader
against Italian colonization and became a national hero despite his capture and execution on 16 September 1931.
His face is currently printed on the Libyan ten dinar note in memory and recognition of his patriotism. Another prominent resistance leader, Idris al-Mahdi as-Senussi (later King Idris I
), Emir of Cyrenaica, continued to lead the Libyan resistance until the outbreak of the Second World War
The so-called "pacification of Libya
" by the Italians resulted in mass deaths of the indigenous people in Cyrenaica, killing approximately one quarter of Cyrenaica's population of 225,000.Ilan Pappé
estimates that between 1928 and 1932 the Italian military "killed half the Bedouin population (directly or through disease and starvation in Italian concentration camps in Libya
In 1934, Italy combined Cyrenaica
and adopted the name "Libya" (used by the Ancient Greeks for all of North Africa except Egypt) for the unified colony, with Tripoli as its capital.
The Italians emphasized infrastructure improvements and public works. In particular, they greatly expanded Libyan railway and road networks from 1934 to 1940, building hundreds of kilometers of new roads and railways and encouraging the establishment of new industries and dozen of new agricultural villages.
From 1943 to 1951, Libya was under Allied occupation
. The British military administered
the two former Italian Libyan provinces of Tripolitana and Cyrenaïca, while the French administered
the province of Fezzan. In 1944, Idris returned from exile in Cairo
but declined to resume permanent residence in Cyrenaica until the removal of some aspects of foreign control in 1947. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty
with the Allies
, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.
Independence, Kingdom of Libya and Libya under the direction of Gaddafi (1951–2011)
King Idris I
of the Senussi
order became the first head of state of Libya in 1951
Versions of the Libyan flag in modern history
On 24 December 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya
a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris
, Libya's only monarch. The discovery of significant oil reserves
in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled one of the world's poorest nations to establish an extremely wealthy state. Although oil drastically improved the Libyan government's finances, resentment among some factions began to build over the increased concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of King Idris.
Gaddafi (left) with Egyptian President Nasser
On 1 September 1969, a group of rebel military officers led by Muammar Gaddafi
launched a coup d'état against King Idris
, which became known as the Al Fateh Revolution.
Gaddafi was referred to as the "Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution
" in government statements and the official Libyan press.
Moving to reduce Italian influence, in October 1970 all Italian-owned assets were expropriated and the 12,000-strong Italian community
was expelled from Libya alongside the smaller community of Libyan Jews
. The day became a national holiday
known as "Vengeance Day".
Libya's increase in prosperity was accompanied by increased internal political repression, and political dissent was made illegal under Law 75 of 1973. Widespread surveillance of the population was carried out through Gaddafi's Revolutionary Committees.
Gaddafi also wanted to combat the strict social restrictions that had been imposed on women by the previous regime, establishing the Revolutionary Women's Formation to encourage reform. In 1970, a law was introduced affirming equality of the sexes and insisting on wage parity. In 1971, Gaddafi sponsored the creation of a Libyan General Women's Federation. In 1972, a law was passed criminalizing the marriage of any females under the age of sixteen and ensuring that a woman's consent was a necessary prerequisite for a marriage.
On 25 October 1975, a coup attempt was launched by some 20 military officers, mostly from the city of Misrata
This resulted in the arrest and executions of the coup plotters.
On 2 March 1977, Libya officially became the "Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya". Gaddafi officially passed power to the General People's Committees
and henceforth claimed to be no more than a symbolic figurehead.
The new jamahiriya
(Arab for "republic") governance structure he established was officially referred to as "direct democracy
From 1977 onward, per capita income in the country rose to more than US$11,000, the fifth-highest in Africa,
while the Human Development Index
became the highest in Africa and greater than that of Saudi Arabia
This was achieved without borrowing any foreign loans, keeping Libya debt-free
The Great Manmade River
was also built to allow free access to fresh water across large parts of the country.
In addition, financial support was provided for university scholarships and employment programs.
Much of Libya's income from oil, which soared in the 1970s, was spent on arms purchases and on sponsoring dozens of paramilitaries and terrorist groups around the world.
An American airstrike
intended to kill Gaddafi failed in 1986. Libya was finally put under sanctions by the United Nations after the bombing
of a commercial flight killed 270 people.
gained power in a 1969 coup and was "leader of the revolution" until his overthrow in 2011.
Collapse of the Gaddafi government and the First Libyan civil war
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (May 2016)
Parts of this article (those related to The first civil war against Gaddafi and the second Libyan Civil war 2014–present which needs to be added ) need to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (May 2016)
The First civil war came during the Arab Spring
movements which overturned the rulers of Tunisia
, Libya experienced a full-scale revolt beginning on 17 February 2011
Libya's authoritarian regime led by Muammar Gaddafi put up much more of a resistance compared to the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. While overthrowing the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia was a relatively quick process, Gaddafi's campaign posed significant stalls on the uprisings in Libya.
The first announcement of a competing political authority appeared online and declared the Interim Transitional National Council
as an alternative government. One of Gaddafi's senior advisors responded by posting a tweet, wherein he resigned, defected, and advised Gaddafi to flee.
By 20 February, the unrest had spread to Tripoli. On 27 February 2011, the National Transitional Council
was established to administer the areas of Libya under rebel control. On 10 March 2011, America and many other nations recognised the council headed by Mahmoud Jibril
as acting prime minister and as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and withdrawing the recognition of Gaddafi's regime.
Pro-Gaddaffi forces were able to respond militarily to rebel pushes in Western Libya
and launched a counterattack along the coast toward Benghazi, the de facto
centre of the uprising.
The town of Zawiya
, 48 kilometres (30 mi) from Tripoli, was bombarded by air force planes
and army tanks and seized by Jamahiriya troops
, "exercising a level of brutality not yet seen in the conflict."
On 17 March 2011 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973
with a 10–0 vote and five abstentions including Russia, China, India, Brazil and Germany. The resolution sanctioned the establishment of a no-fly zone
and the use of "all means necessary" to protect civilians within Libya.
On 19 March, the first act of NATO allies to secure the no-fly zone began by destroying Libyan air defenses when French military jets entered Libyan airspace on a reconnaissance
mission heralding attacks on enemy targets.
In the weeks that followed, American forces were in the forefront of NATO operations against Libya. More than 8,000 American personnel in warships and aircraft were deployed in the area. At least 3,000 targets were struck in 14,202 strike sorties, 716 of them in Tripoli and 492 in Brega
The American air offensive included flights of B-2 Stealth bombers, each bomber armed with sixteen 2000-pound bombs, flying out of and returning to their base in Missouri in the continental United States.
The support provided by the NATO air forces contributed to the ultimate success of the revolution.
By 22 August 2011, rebel fighters
had entered Tripoli and occupied Green Square
which they renamed Martyrs' Square in honour of those killed since 17 February 2011. On 20 October 2011, the last heavy fighting of the uprising came to an end in the city of Sirte
. The Battle of Sirte
was both the last decisive battle and the last one in general of the First Libyan Civil War
where Gaddafi was captured and killed by NATO
backed forces on 20 October 2011. Sirte was the last Gaddafi loyalist stronghold and his place of birth. The defeat of loyalist
forces was celebrated on 23 October 2011, three days after the fall of Sirte.
Post-Gaddafi era and the Second Libyan Civil War
Since the defeat of loyalist forces, Libya has been torn among numerous rival, armed militias affiliated with distinct regions, cities and tribes, while the central government has been weak and unable effectively to exert its authority over the country. Competing militias have pitted themselves against each other in a political struggle between Islamist politicians and their opponents.
On 7 July 2012, Libyans held their first parliamentary elections since the end of the former regime. On 8 August 2012, the National Transitional Council
officially handed power over to the wholly elected General National Congress
, which was then tasked with the formation of an interim government and the drafting of a new Libyan Constitution to be approved in a general referendum
On 25 August 2012, in what Reuters reported as "the most blatant sectarian attack" since the end of the civil war, unnamed organized assailants bulldozed a Sufi
mosque with graves, in broad daylight in the center of the Libyan capital Tripoli
. It was the second such razing of a Sufi site in two days.
Numerous acts of vandalism and destruction of heritage were carried out by suspected Islamist militias, including the removal of the Nude Gazelle Statue and the destruction and desecration of World War II-era British grave sites near Benghazi.
Many other cases of Heritage vandalism were carried out and were reported to be carried out by Islamist related radical militias and mobs that either destroyed, robbed, or looted a number of Historic sites which remain in danger at present.
On 11 September 2012, Islamist militants mounted an attack
on the American consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens
, and three others. The incident generated outrage in the United States and Libya.
On 7 October 2012, Libya's Prime Minister-elect Mustafa A.G. Abushagur
was ousted after failing a second time to win parliamentary approval for a new cabinet.
On 14 October 2012, the General National Congress elected former GNC member and human rights lawyer Ali Zeidan
as prime minister-designate.
Zeidan was sworn in after his cabinet was approved by the GNC.
On 11 March 2014, after having been ousted by the GNC for his inability to halt a rogue oil shipment,
Prime Minister Zeiden stepped down, and was replaced by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani
On 25 March 2014, in the face of mounting instability, al-Thani's government briefly explored the possibility of the restoration of the Libyan monarchy.
In January 2015, meetings were held with the aim to find a peaceful agreement between the rival parties in Libya. The so-called Geneva-Ghadames talks were supposed to bring the GNC and the Tobruk government together at one table to find a solution of the internal conflict. However, the GNC actually never participated, a sign that internal division not only affected the "Tobruk Camp", but also the "Tripoli Camp". Meanwhile, terrorism within Libya has steadily increased, affecting also neighbouring countries. The terrorist attack against the Bardo Museum
on 18 March 2015, was reportedly carried on by two Libyan-trained militants.
During 2015 an extended series of diplomatic meetings and peace negotiations were supported by the United Nations, as conducted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon.
UN support for the SRSG-led process of dialogue carried on in addition to the usual work of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
In July 2015 SRSG Leon reported to the UN Security Council on the progress of the negotiations, which at that point had just achieved a political agreement on 11 July setting out "a comprehensive framework... includ[ing] guiding principles... institutions and decision-making mechanisms to guide the transition until the adoption of a permanent constitution." The stated purpose of that process was "...intended to culminate in the creation of a modern, democratic state based on the principle of inclusion, the rule of law, separation of powers and respect for human rights." The SRSG praised the participants for achieving agreement, stating that "The Libyan people have unequivocally expressed themselves in favour of peace." The SRSG then informed the Security Council that "Libya is at a critical stage" and urging "all parties in Libya to continue to engage constructively in the dialogue process", stating that "only through dialogue and political compromise, can a peaceful resolution of the conflict be achieved. A peaceful transition will only succeed in Libya through a significant and coordinated effort in supporting a future Government of National Accord...". Talks, negotiations and dialogue continued on during mid-2015 at various international locations, culminating at Skhirat in Morocco in early September.
Also in 2015, as part of the ongoing support from the international community, the UN Human Rights Council requested a report about the Libyan situation
and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, established an investigative body (OIOL) to report on human rights and rebuilding the Libyan justice system.
Chaos-ridden Libya has emerged as a major transit point for people trying to reach Europe
. Between 2013 and 2018, nearly 700,000 migrants reached Italy by boat, many of them from Libya.
In May 2018 Libya's rival leaders agreed to hold parliamentary and presidential elections following a meeting in Paris.
In June 2019, forces allied to Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord successfully captured Gharyan, a strategic town where military commander Khalifa Haftar and his fighters were based. According to a spokesman for GNA forces, Mustafa al-Mejii, dozens of LNA fighters under Haftar were killed, while at least 18 were taken prisoner.
In March 2020, UN-backed government of Fayez Al-Sarraj
commenced Operation Peace Storm. The government initiated the bid in response to the state of assaults carried by Haftar
. “We are a legitimate, civilian government that respects its obligations to the international community, but is committed primarily to its people and has an obligation to protect its citizens,” Sarraj said in line with his decision.
On 28 August 2020, the BBC Africa Eye
and BBC Arabic Documentaries
revealed that a drone operated by the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) killed 26 young cadets at a military academy in Tripoli
, on 4 January. Most of the cadets were teenagers and none of them were armed. The Chinese drone Wing Loong II
fired Blue Arrow 7 missile, which was operated from UAE-run Al-Khadim Libyan air base. In February, these drones stationed in Libya were moved to an air base near Siwa
in the western Egyptian desert.
probed and discovered the blatant violation of UN
arms embargo by the UAE
on 7 October 2020. As per the reporting, both the nations sent large-scale military cargo planes to Libya in support of their respective parties.
On 23 October 2020, a permanent ceasefire was signed to end the war.
A map of Libya
Libya map of Köppen climate classification
Sand dunes, rocks, and mountains in Tadrart Acacus, a desert area in southwestern Libya, part of the Sahara
Libya extends over 1,759,540 square kilometres (679,362 sq mi), making it the 16th largest nation in the world by size
. Libya is bound to the north by the Mediterranean Sea
, the west by Tunisia
, the southwest by Niger
, the south by Chad
, the southeast by Sudan
, and the east by Egypt
. Libya lies between latitudes 19°
, and longitudes 9°
At 1,770 kilometres (1,100 mi), Libya's coastline is the longest of any African country bordering the Mediterranean.
The portion of the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya is often called the Libyan Sea
. The climate is mostly extremely dry and desertlike in nature. However, the northern regions enjoy a milder Mediterranean climate
Natural hazards come in the form of hot, dry, dust-laden sirocco
(known in Libya as the gibli
). This is a southern wind blowing from one to four days in spring and autumn. There are also dust storms
can also be found scattered throughout Libya, the most important of which are Ghadames
Libya is one of the sunniest and driest countries in the world due to prevailing presence of desert environment.
Libya was a pioneer state in North Africa in species protection, with the creation in 1975 of the El Kouf protected area. The fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime favored intense poaching
: "Before the fall of Gaddafi even hunting rifles were forbidden. But since 2011, poaching has been carried out with weapons of war and sophisticated vehicles in which one can find up to 200 gazelle heads killed by militiamen who hunt to pass the time. We are also witnessing the emergence of hunters with no connection to the tribes that traditionally practice hunting. They shoot everything they find, even during the breeding season. More than 500,000 birds are killed in this way each year, when protected areas have been seized by tribal chiefs who have appropriated them. The animals that used to live there have all disappeared, hunted when they are edible or released when they are not," explains zoologist Khaled Ettaieb.
Libya is a predominantly desert country. Up to 90% of the land area is covered in desert.
The Libyan Desert
, which covers much of Libya, is one of the most arid and sun-baked places on earth.
In places, decades may pass without seeing any rainfall at all, and even in the highlands
rainfall seldom happens, once every 5–10 years. At Uweinat
, as of 2006 the last recorded rainfall was in September 1998.
There are a few scattered uninhabited small oases, usually linked to the major depressions, where water can be found by digging to a few feet in depth. In the west there is a widely dispersed group of oases in unconnected shallow depressions, the Kufra group, consisting of Tazerbo, Rebianae and Kufra
Aside from the scarps, the general flatness is only interrupted by a series of plateaus and massifs near the centre of the Libyan Desert, around the convergence of the Egyptian-Sudanese-Libyan borders.
Slightly further to the south are the massifs
of Arkenu, Uweinat, and Kissu. These granite
mountains are ancient, having formed long before the sandstones surrounding them. Arkenu and Western Uweinat are ring complexes very similar to those in the Aïr Mountains
. Eastern Uweinat (the highest point in the Libyan Desert) is a raised sandstone plateau adjacent to the granite part further west.
The plain to the north of Uweinat is dotted with eroded volcanic features. With the discovery of oil in the 1950s also came the discovery of a massive aquifer
underneath much of Libya. The water in this aquifer pre-dates the last ice ages and the Sahara Desert itself.
This area also contains the Arkenu structures
, which were once thought to be two impact craters.
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (February 2013)
The North African nation elected last week[when?]
an interim unity government to run the country until elections in December. The legislature of Libya is the unicameral House of Representatives
which meets in Tobruk
As of January 2013, there was mounting public pressure on the National Congress to set up a drafting body to create a new constitution. Congress had not yet decided whether the members of the body would be elected or appointed.
On 30 March 2014 General National Congress voted to replace itself with new House of Representatives
. The new legislature allocates 30 seats for women, will have 200 seats overall (with individuals able to run as members of political parties) and allows Libyans of foreign nationalities to run for office.
Following the 2012 elections, Freedom House
improved Libya's rating from Not Free to Partly Free, and now considers the country to be an electoral democracy.
Gaddafi merged civil and sharia
courts in 1973. Civil courts now employ sharia judges who sit in regular courts of appeal
and specialise in sharia appellate cases.
Laws regarding personal status are derived from Islamic law.
The formation of an interim unity government was announced on 5 February 2021, after its members were elected by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum
Seventy four members of the LPDF casted ballots for four-member slates which would fill positions including the Prime Minister and the head of the Presidential Council.
After no slates reached a 60% vote threshold, the two leading teams competed in a run-off election.
Mohamed Younes Menif, a former ambassador to Greece, will become head of the Presidential Council.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum
confirmed that Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh
, a businessman, will be the transitional Prime Minister.
All of the candidates who ran in this election, including the members of the winning slate, promised to appoint women to 30% of all senior government positions.
None of the politicians elected to lead the interim government but will be allowed to partake in the national elections scheduled for 24 December 2021.
The new Prime Minister has 21 days to form a cabinet that must be endorsed by the various governing bodies within Libya.
After this cabinet is agreed upon, the unity government will replace all "parallel authorities" within Libya, including the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and the administration led by General Haftar.
Libya's foreign policies have fluctuated since 1951. As a Kingdom, Libya maintained a definitively pro-Western stance, and was recognized as belonging to the conservative traditionalist bloc in the League of Arab States (the present-day Arab League
), of which it became a member in 1953.
The government was also friendly towards Western countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, France
, and established full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union
Although the government supported Arab causes, including the Moroccan and Algerian independence movements, it took little active part in the Arab-Israeli dispute
or the tumultuous inter-Arab politics of the 1950s and early 1960s. The Kingdom was noted for its close association with the West, while it steered a conservative course at home.
Relations with the West were strained by a series of incidents for most of Gaddafi's rule,
including the killing of London
policewoman Yvonne Fletcher
, the bombing
of a West Berlin
nightclub frequented by U.S. servicemen, and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
, which led to UN sanctions in the 1990s, though by the late 2000s, the United States and other Western powers had normalised relations with Libya.
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2016)
As of November 2012, it was deemed to be still in the embryonic stage of development.
President Mohammed el-Megarif
promised that empowering the army and police force is the government's biggest priority.
President el-Megarif also ordered that all of the country's militias must come under government authority or disband.
Militias have so far refused to be integrated into a central security force.
Many of these militias are disciplined, but the most powerful of them answer only to the executive councils of various Libyan cities.
These militias make up the so-called Libyan Shield
, a parallel national force, which operates at the request, rather than at the order, of the defence ministry.
Districts of Libya since 2007
Historically, the area of Libya was considered three provinces (or states), Tripolitania
in the northwest, Barka (Cyrenaica)
in the east, and Fezzan
in the southwest. It was the conquest by Italy in the Italo-Turkish War
that united them in a single political unit.
Since 2007, Libya has been divided into 22 districts (Shabiyat
- Nuqat al Khams
- Jabal al Akhdar
- Jabal al Gharbi
- Wadi al Shatii
- Al Wahat
- Wadi al Hayaa
According to Human Rights Watch
annual report 2016, journalists are still being targeted by the armed groups in Libya. The organization added that Libya ranked very low in the 2015 Press Freedom Index, 154th out of 180 countries.Homosexuality
is illegal in Libya.
For the 2019 Press Freedom Index its score dropped to 162nd out of 180 countries.
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2016)
The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector
, which account for over half of GDP and 97% of exports.
Libya holds the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and is an important contributor to the global supply of light, sweet crude
During 2010, when oil averaged at $80 a barrel, oil production accounted for 54% of GDP.
Apart from petroleum, the other natural resources are natural gas and gypsum
The International Monetary Fund
estimated Libya's real GDP growth at 122% in 2012 and 16.7% in 2013, after a 60% plunge in 2011.
The World Bank
defines Libya as an 'Upper Middle Income Economy', along with only seven other African countries.
Substantial revenues from the energy sector, coupled with a small population, give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa.
This allowed the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
state to provide an extensive level of social security
, particularly in the fields of housing and education.
Libya faces many structural problems including a lack of institutions, weak governance, and chronic structural unemployment
The economy displays a lack of economic diversification and significant reliance on immigrant labour.
Libya has traditionally relied on unsustainably high levels of public sector hiring to create employment.
In the mid-2000s, the government employed about 70% of all national employees.
Unemployment rose from 8% in 2008 to 21% in 2009, according to the census figures.
According to an Arab League
report, based on data from 2010, unemployment for women stands at 18% while for the figure for men is 21%, making Libya the only Arab country where there are more unemployed men than women.
Libya has high levels of social inequality, high rates of youth unemployment and regional economic disparities.
Water supply is also a problem, with some 28% of the population not having access to safe drinking water in 2000.
Libya imports up to 90% of its cereal consumption requirements, and imports of wheat in 2012/13 was estimated at about 1 million tonnes.
The 2012 wheat production was estimated at about 200,000 tonnes.
The government hopes to increase food production to 800,000 tonnes of cereals by 2020.
However, natural and environmental conditions limit Libya's agricultural production potential.
Before 1958, agriculture was the country's main source of revenue, making up about 30% of GDP. With the discovery of oil in 1958, the size of the agriculture sector declined rapidly, comprising less than 5% GDP by 2005.
The country joined OPEC
Libya is not a WTO
member, but negotiations for its accession started in 2004.
In the early 1980s, Libya was one of the wealthiest countries in the world; its GDP per capita
was higher than some developed countries.
In the early 2000s officials of the Jamahiriya era carried out economic reforms to reintegrate Libya into the global economy. UN sanctions
were lifted in September 2003, and Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction.
Other steps have included applying for membership of the World Trade Organization
, reducing subsidies
, and announcing plans for privatization
Authorities privatized more than 100 government owned companies after 2003 in industries including oil refining, tourism and real estate, of which 29 were 100% foreign owned.
Many international oil companies returned to the country, including oil giants Shell
After sanctions were lifted there was a gradual increase of air traffic, and by 2005 there were 1.5 million yearly air travellers.
Libya had long been a notoriously difficult country for Western tourists to visit due to stringent visa requirements.
In August 2011 it was estimated that it would take at least 10 years to rebuild Libya's infrastructure. Even before the 2011 war, Libya's infrastructure was in a poor state due to "utter neglect" by Gaddafi's administration, according to the NTC.
By October 2012, the economy had recovered from the 2011 conflict, with oil production returning to near normal levels.
Oil production was more than 1.6 million barrels per day before the war. By October 2012, the average oil production has surpassed 1.4 million bpd.
The resumption of production was made possible due to the quick return of major Western companies, like Total
In 2016, an announcement from the company said the company aims 900,000 barrel per day in the next year. Oil production has fallen from 1.6 million barrel per day to 900,000 in four years of war.
By 2017, 60% of the Libyan population were malnourished. Since then, 1.3 million people are waiting for emergency humanitarian aid, out of a total population of 6.4 million.
Libya is a large country with a relatively small population, and the population is concentrated very narrowly along the coast.
Population density is about 50 inhabitants per square kilometre (130/sq mi) in the two northern regions of Tripolitania
, but falls to less than 1 inhabitant per square kilometre (2.6/sq mi) elsewhere. Ninety percent of the people live in less than 10% of the area, primarily along the coast. About 88% of the population is urban, mostly concentrated in the three largest cities, Tripoli
. Libya has a population of about 6.7 million,
27.7% of whom are under the age of 15.
In 1984 the population was 3.6 million, an increase from the 1.54 million reported in 1964.
The majority of the Libyan population is today identified as Arab
, that is, Arabic
-speaking and Arab-cultured. Berber
Libyans, those who retain Berber language
and Berber culture, comprise a minority. There are about 140 tribes and clans
Family life is important for Libyan families, the majority of which live in apartment blocks
and other independent housing units, with precise modes of housing depending on their income and wealth. Although the Arab Libyans traditionally lived nomadic lifestyles in tents, they have now settled in various towns and cities.
Because of this, their old ways of life are gradually fading out. An unknown small number of Libyans still live in the desert as their families have done for centuries. Most of the population has occupations in industry and services
, and a small percentage is in agriculture.
According to the UNHCR, there were around 8,000 registered refugees, 5,500 unregistered refugees, and 7,000 asylum seekers of various origins in Libya in January 2013. Additionally, 47,000 Libyan nationals were internally displaced and 46,570 were internally displaced returnees.
Local demographics and ethnic groups
The original inhabitants of Libya belonged predominantly to various Berber
ethnic groups; however, the long series of foreign invasions – particularly by Arabs
– have had a profound and lasting linguistic, cultural, and identity influence on Libya's demographics.
Today, the great majority of Libya's inhabitants are Arabic-speaking Muslims of mixed descent, with many also tracing their ancestry to the Banu Sulaym tribe, beside Turkish and Berber ethnicities. The Turkish minority
are often called "Kouloughlis
" and are concentrated in and around villages and towns.
Additionally, there are some Libyan ethnic minorities, such as the Berber Tuareg
and the Tebou
Most Italian settlers
, at their height numbering over half a million, left after Italian Libya's independence in 1947. More repatriated in 1970 after the accession of Muammar Gaddafi, but a few hundred of them returned in the 2000s.
A map indicating the ethnic composition of Libya in 1974
As of 2013, the UN estimates that around 12% of Libya's population (upwards of 740,000 people) was made up of foreign migrants.
Prior to the 2011 revolution official and unofficial figures of migrant labour range from 25% to 40% of the population (between 1.5 and 2.4 million people). Historically, Libya has been a host state for millions of low- and high-skilled Egyptian migrants, in particular.
It is difficult to estimate the total number of immigrants in Libya as there are often differences between census figures, official counts and usually more accurate unofficial estimates. In the 2006 census, around 359,540 foreign nationals were resident in Libya out of a population of over 5.5 million (6.35% of the population). Almost half of these were Egyptians, followed by Sudanese and Palestinian immigrants.
During the 2011 revolution, 768,362 immigrants fled Libya as calculated by the IOM
, around 13% of the population at the time, although many more stayed on in the country.
If consular records prior to the revolution are used to estimate the immigrant population, as many as 2 million Egyptian migrants were recorded by the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli in 2009, followed by 87,200 Tunisians, and 68,200 Moroccans by their respective embassies. Turkey recorded the evacuation of 25,000 workers during the 2011 uprising.
The number of Asian migrants before the revolution were just over 100,000 (60,000 Bangladeshis, 20,000 Filipinos, 18,000 Indians, 10,000 Pakistanis, as well as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and other workers).
This would put the immigrant population at almost 40% before the revolution and is a figure more consistent with government estimates in 2004 which put the regular and irregular migrant numbers at 1.35 to 1.8 million (25–33% of the population at the time).
Libya's native population of Arabs-Berbers as well as Arab migrants of various nationalities collectively make up 97% of the population as of 2014.
According to the CIA, the official language of Libya is Arabic.
The local Libyan Arabic
variety is spoken alongside Modern Standard Arabic
. Various Berber languages
are also spoken, including Tamasheq
, Ghadamis, Nafusi, Suknah and Awjilah.
The Libyan Amazigh High Council (LAHC) has declared the Amazigh (Berber
or Tamazight) language as an official language in the cities and districts inhabited by the Berbers in Libya.
In addition, Italian and English are widely understood in the major cities, with the former used in commerce and still spoken among the remaining Italian population.
Mosque in Ghadames
, close to the Tunisian and Algerian border.
Before the 1930s, the Senussi
Sunni Sufi movement was the primary Islamic movement in Libya. This was a religious revival adapted to desert life. Its zawaaya
(lodges) were found in Tripolitania
, but Senussi influence was strongest in Cyrenaica
. Rescuing the region from unrest and anarchy, the Senussi movement gave the Cyrenaican tribal people a religious attachment and feelings of unity and purpose.
This Islamic movement was eventually destroyed by the Italian invasion
. Gaddafi asserted that he was a devout Muslim, and his government was taking a role in supporting Islamic institutions and in worldwide proselytising on behalf of Islam.
The Coptic Church has grown in recent years in Libya, due to the growing immigration of Egyptian Copts to Libya. There are an estimated 40,000 Roman Catholics
in Libya who are served by two Bishops, one in Tripoli (serving the Italian community) and one in Benghazi
(serving the Maltese
community). There is also a small Anglican
community, made up mostly of African immigrant workers in Tripoli; it is part of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt
. People have been arrested on suspicion of being Christian missionaries
, as proselytising is illegal.
Christians have also faced the threat of violence from radical Islamists in some parts of the country, with a well-publicised video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in February 2015 depicting the mass beheading of Christian Copts.
Libya was once the home of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, dating back to at least 300 BC.
In 1942, the Italian Fascist authorities set up forced labor camps south of Tripoli for the Jews, including Giado (about 3,000 Jews), Gharyan, Jeren, and Tigrinna. In Giado some 500 Jews died of weakness, hunger, and disease. In 1942, Jews who were not in the concentration camps were heavily restricted in their economic activity and all men between 18 and 45 years were drafted for forced labor. In August 1942, Jews from Tripolitania were interned in a concentration camp at Sidi Azaz. In the three years after November 1945, more than 140 Jews were murdered, and hundreds more wounded, in a series of pogroms
By 1948, about 38,000 Jews remained in the country. Upon Libya's independence in 1951, most of the Jewish community emigrated.
Many Arabic speaking Libyans consider themselves as part of a wider Arab community. This was strengthened by the spread of Pan-Arabism in the mid-20th century, and their reach to power in Libya where they instituted Arabic as the only official language of the state. Under their dictatorship the teaching and even use of indigenous Berber language
was strictly forbidden.
In addition to banning foreign languages previously taught in academic institutions, leaving entire generations of Libyans with limitations in their comprehension of the English language. Both the spoken Arabic dialects and Berber, still retain words from Italian, that were acquired before and during the Libia Italiana
Libyans have a heritage in the traditions of the previously nomadic Bedouin
Arabic speakers and sedentary Amazigh
tribes. Most Libyans associate themselves with a particular family name originating from tribal or conquest based, typically from Ottoman forefathers, heritage.
Reflecting the "nature of giving" (Arabic
, Berber languages
: ⴰⵏⴰⴽⴽⴰⴼ Anakkaf ), amongst the Libyan people as well as the sense of hospitality, recently the state of Libya made it to the top 20 on the world giving index in 2013.
According to CAF, in a typical month, almost three-quarters (72%) of all Libyans helped somebody they did not know – the third highest level across all 135 countries surveyed.
There are few theaters or art galleries due to the decades of cultural repression under the Qaddafi regime and lack of infrastructure development under the regime of dictatorship.
For many years there have been no public theaters, and only very few cinemas showing foreign films. The tradition of folk culture
is still alive and well, with troupes performing music and dance at frequent festivals, both in Libya and abroad.
A large number of Libyan television
stations are devoted to political review, Islamic topics and cultural phenomena. A number of TV stations air various styles of traditional Libyan music.[? clarification needed] Tuareg music
and dance are popular in Ghadames
and the south. Libyan television broadcasts air programs mostly in Arabic though usually have time slots for English and French programs.[? clarification needed]
A 1996 analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists
found Libya's media was the most tightly controlled in the Arab world during the country's dictatorship.
As of 2012 hundreds of TV stations have begun to air due to the collapse of censorship from the old regime and the initiation of "free media".
Many Libyans frequent the country's beach and they also visit Libya's archaeological sites—especially Leptis Magna
, which is widely considered to be one of the best preserved Roman archaeological sites in the world.
The most common form of public transport between cities is the bus, though many people travel by automobile. There are no railway services in Libya, but these are planned for construction in the near future (see rail transport in Libya
Libya's capital, Tripoli
, has many museums and archives. These include the Government Library, the Ethnographic Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the National Archives, the Epigraphy Museum and the Islamic Museum. The Red Castle Museum
located in the capital near the coast and right in the city center, built in consultation with UNESCO
, may be the country's most famous.
Libyan cuisine is a mixture of the different Italian
, Bedouin and traditional Arab culinary influences.
Pasta is the staple food in the Western side of Libya, whereas rice is generally the staple food in the east.
Common Libyan foods include several variations of red (tomato) sauce based pasta dishes (similar to the Italian Sugo all'arrabbiata
dish); rice, usually served with lamb or chicken (typically stewed, fried, grilled, or boiled in-sauce); and couscous
, which is steam cooked whilst held over boiling red (tomato) sauce and meat (sometimes also containing courgettes/zucchini and chickpeas), which is typically served along with cucumber slices, lettuce and olives.
, a dish made from barley flour and served with red tomato sauce, is customarily eaten communally, with several people sharing the same dish, usually by hand. This dish is commonly served at traditional weddings or festivities. Asida
is a sweet version of Bazeen, made from white flour and served with a mix of honey, ghee or butter. Another favorite way to serve Asida is with rub
(fresh date syrup) and olive oil. Usban
is animal tripe stitched and stuffed with rice and vegetables cooked in tomato based soup or steamed. Shurba
is a red tomato sauce-based soup, usually served with small grains of pasta.
A very common snack eaten by Libyans is known as khubs bi' tun
, literally meaning "bread with tuna fish", usually served as a baked baguette or pita bread stuffed with tuna fish that has been mixed with harissa
(chili sauce) and olive oil. Many snack vendors prepare these sandwiches and they can be found all over Libya. Libyan restaurants may serve international cuisine, or may serve simpler fare such as lamb, chicken, vegetable stew, potatoes and macaroni
Due to severe lack of infrastructure, many under-developed areas and small towns do not have restaurants and instead food stores may be the only source to obtain food products. Alcohol consumption is illegal in the entire country.
There are four main ingredients of traditional Libyan food: olives
(and olive oil
, grains and milk.
Grains are roasted, ground, sieved and used for making bread, cakes, soups and bazeen. Dates are harvested, dried and can be eaten as they are, made into syrup or slightly fried and eaten with bsisa
and milk. After eating, Libyans often drink black tea. This is normally repeated a second time (for the second glass of tea), and in the third round of tea, it is served with roasted peanuts or roasted almonds
known as shay bi'l-luz
(mixed with the tea in the same glass).
Parts of this article (those related to post-23 October 2011 national tertiary level education in Libya
) need to be updated
. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.
Last update: 22 July 2006 (October 2012)
Al Manar Royal Palace in central Benghazi – the location of the University of Libya
's first campus, founded by royal decree in 1955
Libya's population includes 1.7 million students, over 270,000 of whom study at the tertiary level
Basic education in Libya is free for all citizens,
and is compulsory up to the secondary level
. The adult literacy rate in 2010 was 89.2%.
After Libya's independence in 1951, its first university – the University of Libya
– was established in Benghazi by royal decree.
In the 1975–76 academic year the number of university students was estimated to be 13,418. As of 2004, this number has increased to more than 200,000, with an extra 70,000 enrolled in the higher technical and vocational sector.
The rapid increase in the number of students in the higher education sector has been mirrored by an increase in the number of institutions of higher education.
Since 1975 the number of universities has grown from two to nine and after their introduction in 1980, the number of higher technical and vocational institutes currently stands at 84 (with 12 public universities).[? clarification needed]
Since 2007 some new private universities such as the Libyan International Medical University
have been established. Although before 2011 a small number of private institutions were given accreditation, the majority of Libya's higher education has always been financed by the public budget. In 1998 the budget allocation for education represented 38.2% of Libya's total national budget.
is the most popular sport in Libya. The country hosted the 1982 African Cup of Nations
and almost qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup
. The national team
almost won the 1982 AFCON; they barely lost to Ghana
on penalties 7–6. In 2014, Libya won the African Nations Championship after beating Ghana in the finals. Although the national team has never won a major competition or qualified for a World Cup, there is still lots of passion for the sport and the quality of football is improving.
Horse racing is also a popular sport in Libya. It is a tradition of many special occasions and holidays.
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (January 2013)
In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 3.88% of the country's GDP. In 2009, there were 18.71 physicians and 66.95 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants.
The life expectancy at birth was 74.95 years in 2011, or 72.44 years for males and 77.59 years for females.
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