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State of Libya
National emblem (government of national unity) of Libya
National emblem
(government of national unity)
Anthem: Libya, Libya, Libya [1]

Location of Libya
and largest city
Official languagesArabic[a]
Spoken languagesLibyan Arabic, other Arabic dialects, Berber
GovernmentDemocratic parliamentary state
Mohamed al-Menfi[3]
Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh
• Relinquished by Italy
10 February 1947
24 December 1951
• Total
1,759,541 km2 (679,363 sq mi) (17th)
• 2006 census
• Density
3.6/km2 (9.3/sq mi) (218th)
GDP (PPP)2012 estimate
• Total
$66.941 billion[4]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2012 estimate
• Total
$79.691 billion[4]
• Per capita
HDI (2011)Decrease 0.760[5]
high · 64th
CurrencyDinar (LYD)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
Driving sideright
Calling code218
ISO 3166 codeLY
Internet TLD.ly
a. ^ Libyan Arabic and other varieties. Berber languages in certain low-populated areas. The official language is simply identified as "Arabic" (Constitutional Declaration, article 1).
b. ^ Included 350,000 foreigners

Libya (Arabic: ‏ليبيا Lībyā, Berber: ⵍⵉⴱⵢⴰ Libya), officially the State of Libya,[6][7] is a country in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. It covers an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi). Libya is the 17th largest country in the world.[8]

Geography[change | change source]

Libya's borders touch the countries of Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Algeria, Niger, and Tunisia. To its north is the Mediterranean Sea. The capital of Libya is Tripoli, which is a port on the sea. Tripoli has about one million people.[9] Libya covers an area of about 1,760,000 km2 (679,540 sq mi).


The highest point in Libya is Bikku Bitti 2,267 m above sea level and the lowest point is Sabkhat Ghuzayyil -47 m at below sea level.[9] Most of the country is flat, with large plains. Because it is so dry, only 1.03% of the land is suitable for farming.[9]

The area around Tripoli is called Tripolitania, and it was the most developed during the Ottoman Empire.

Cyrenaica is an area of the north east coast.[11] It is divided from Tripolitania by the Gulf of Sirte.[12] It was named by the Ancient Greeks who built the city of Cirene in 630 BC.[11] It includes the cities of Tobruk and Benghazi.[11]

The Fezzan is an area of desert in south west Libya which the Italians made a part of Tripoli in 1912.[13] After the war this area was governed by France, who wanted to annex to their Empire.

The people[change | change source]

The Libyans are Muslim. The population of Libya in 2011 was said to be about 6,597,960.[9] This is not a large number for a country that has such a large area, so the population density of Libya is low. This is because much of Libya is in the Sahara Desert. Most people in Libya live in cities on the coast. People from Libya are called Libyans.

Libyans are mostly Arabs, though many are Berbers, a group which includes the nomadic Tuareg of North Africa.[14] About 95% of Libyans are of Arab-Berber origin.[15] Nearly all Libyans are Sunni Muslims.[10]

Districts[change | change source]

Since 2007 Libya has been divided into 22 districts.

Arabic Transliteration Pop (2006)[16] Land area (km2) Number
(on map)
The current twenty-two shabiyat system in Libya (since 2007)
البطنان Butnan 159,536 83,860 1
درنة Derna 163,351 19,630 2
الجبل الاخضر Jabal al Akhdar 206,180 7,800 3
المرج Marj 185,848 10,000 4
بنغازي Benghazi 670,797 43,535 5
الواحات Al Wahat 177,047 6
الكفرة Kufra 50,104 483,510 7
سرت Sirte 141,378 77,660 8
مرزق Murzuq 78,621 349,790 22
سبها Sabha 134,162 15,330 19
وادي الحياة Wadi al Hayaa 76,858 31,890 20
مصراتة Misrata 550,938 9
المرقب Murqub 432,202 10
طرابلس Tripoli 1,065,405 11
الجفارة Jafara 453,198 1,940 12
الزاوية Zawiya 290,993 2,890 13
النقاط الخمس Nuqat al Khams 287,662 5,250 14
الجبل الغربي Jabal al Gharbi 304,159 15
نالوت Nalut 93,224 16
غات Ghat 23,518 72,700 21
الجفرة Jufra 52,342 117,410 17
وادي الشاطئ Wadi al Shatii 78,532 97,160 18

Cities[change | change source]

A map of Libya
Italian style buildings in Tripoli

Economy[change | change source]

Oil was discovered in Libya in 1958 and is about 95% of the country's export income.[15] Oil is about 25% of Libya's GDP.[15] Other exports include natural gas, salt, limestone and gypsum. Because so much of the country is desert, Libya has to import about 75% of its food.[15] It does grow wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, peanuts, soybeans and many vegetables. In 1984, a 3,862 km (2,400 mi) pipeline was started to bring underground water from the Sahara to coastal areas for irrigation. The pipeline which will take 25 years to complete has been estimated to cost about $25 billion.[15] It is called the Great Man-made River, and is the largest water development scheme in the world.[9]

The money of Libya is called the Libyan dinar.[10] It was made to take the place of the old money, the Libyan pound, in 1971.[17] There are 1000 dirhams in a dinar. Dinar is the name of the money in many Islamic countries.[18] The name comes from an old Roman coin, the denarius.

Politics and History[change | change source]

Temple of Zeus, Cyrene, Libya

Libya is made up of three regions, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and the Fezzan. Tripolitania is the area on the north west coast, once called the Kingdom of Tripoli. It was ruled by Turks from the Ottoman Empire. The USA went to war with the Kingdom of Tripoli in 1805 over the problems of piracy in the Mediterranean. The USA had refused to pay increased "protection" money to the Turkish rulers.

Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were captured by the Italians during the Italian-Turkish War of 1911-1912.[11][19] The reason for the war was to set up Italian Libya. Like other parts of North Africa, this area was once part of the Roman Empire and they said it belonged to Italy.[20] The Italians were the first country to use aeroplanes to drop bombs when they attacked Tripoli in 1911.[20]

Many thousands of Italian settlers moved to Libya to set up businesses and farms, which were going to supply food and produce for Italy and its Empire.[20] Libyans had some of their land in Cyrenaica taken from them by force and about 70,000 people died during the battles, starved, or were decimated by the terrible epidemic (called "Spanish flu") of 1918. Many thousands escaped to Egypt, but soon moved back when the new Italian governor Italo Balbo started a friendly attitude toward Arabs.

Italian Libya enjoyed in the late 1930s a huge development, with the creation of new railways, ports, hospitals, airports, roads.[21] In those years the agricultural economy boomed, thanks to the creation of many dozens of new villages for Italian & Arab farmers. There was even an international race-car competition outside Tripoli (Grand Prix of Tripoli [22]).

Much of the North African Campaign of World War II was fought in Libya, including the Battle of Tobruk. The British captured Tripolitania in 1942 and ruled it until 1951.[19]

United Kingdom of Libya[change | change source]

After World War II, the regions of Libya were ruled by military governors from both Britain and France. The United Nations made Libya an independent country, the United Kingdom of Libya, in 1951. This was to be a constitutional monarchy, ruled by King Idris I and his successors. Idris (Muhammad Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi) (13 March 1890—25 May 1983)[23] had been the Emir of Cyrenaica, but went into exile in Egypt in 1922. At the end of the war, he returned as emir, with support of Britain. He was also asked to be Emir of Tripolitania. He was able to unite the three regions and became the king of the United Kingdom of Libya on 24 December 1951.

The problems facing Libya were huge. The country was poor, with little in the way of goods to export. Only 250,000 people could read.[24] There were only 16 Libyan college graduates, no Libyan doctors, engineers, pharmacists, or surveyors.[24] The United Nations estimated that 10% of the people were blind from eye diseases, especially trachoma.[24] Idris was a religious leader did not take much interest in the affairs of government.[12] His government was seen to be corrupt, and did nothing about an increasing rise in Arab nationalism which had brought Nasser to power in Egypt in 1952.[12] Once oil was discovered, Libya became one of the largest oil producing countries in the world. Many Libyans felt that Cyrenaica was getting more of the oil money than the rest of the country.[12] A lot of the money from oil was also going to overseas companies.[20]

Libyan Arab Republic[change | change source]

In the early morning of 1 September 1969, a group of military officers took over the government in a coup d'état.[25] Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi was named as chief of staff of the military.[25] From 1970 to 1972 he served as Prime Minister.[25] He began a political system named "The Third Universal Theory". This is a mix of socialism and Islam, based on tribal government. It was to be put in place by the Libyan people themselves in a unique form of "direct democracy." Al-Gaddafi called this "jamahiriya".

Some of his first actions were to take back control of the oil and send the remaining Italian settlers back to Italy.[20] He also closed down the American USAF base.[20]

Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya[change | change source]

In 1977 Libya became "Al-Jamahiriya al-`Arabiyah al-Libiyah ash-Sha`biyah al-Ishtirakiyah al-Uzma" . In English, the name means the "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya".

Libya was alleged to have sponsored anti-western groups. Gaddafi openly supported independence movements like Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Irish Republican Army, the Polisario Front (Western Sahara) and more. Because of this Libya's foreign relations with several western nation were negatively effected, and it would become a reason for US to bomb Libya in 1986. Gaddafi survived the bombing, the action of US was condemned by many countries and UN general assembly.

Libya had also supplied weapons and money to the Irish Republican Army during its fight with the British government in Northern Ireland.[26] Gaddafi developed a good relationship with revolutionary Colombian Marxist–Leninist guerrilla group called FARC.[27] Activities also included such as Libyan contribution towards Falklands War, where Gaddafi had provided 20 launchers, 60 SA-7 missiles, machine guns, mortars and mines to the Argentinian government.[28] Libya was alleged to have role in bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 and French UTA Flight 772 in 1989, despite the investigation found no evidence which involves any Libyan role.[29][30]

The United Nations put economic sanctions in place against Libya in 1992. These sanctions stopped other countries selling weapons, investing money, or even allowing their people to visit Libya.[31] After six days when US had captured Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi renounced Libya's weapons of mass destruction programs and welcomed international inspections to verify that he would follow through on the commitment.[32] Gaddafi said he hopes that other nations would follow his example. UN removed the sanctions in the same year.[31] Gaddafi solved the Lockerbie plane crash issue by paying US$2.7 billion to the families of the victims. Prime Minister of Libya Shukri Ghanem, told in the interviews that Gaddafi was "paying the price for peace" with the West, and suggested that Libya had no role in the case.[33] United Nations observers would acknowledge such statement and cast doubt towards the whole issue.[34]

Desert in Libya, 2007

Gaddafi also set about having normal relations with other countries. Western European leaders and many working-level and commercial delegations were able to visit the country. He made his first trip to Western Europe in 15 years when he traveled to Brussels in April 2004. He reattached the ties with Russia once again, which had remained idle since the collapse of the Soviet Union.[35]

By 2010, Libya's Human Development Index was highest in Africa, the country ranked at #53 overall as 'High standard' on living bases.[36] Libya remained a debt-free nation.[37] In 2011, Human rights in Libya were praised by the U.N. Human rights council.[38][39] However, after civil war the human rights seems to be getting worse.[40] In March 2013, according to the Barnabas Fund, at least 48 Christians were tortured inside Libya, one died in custody.

Suffrage[change | change source]

Every Libyan who is older than 18 can vote. This means that voting (also known as "suffrage") in Libya is universal.

Civil War[change | change source]

Muammar Gaddafi the leader of Libya who died in 2011. After his death Libya has been struggling with conflict

In February 2011, a civil war broke out in Libya when rebels fought against Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi and his government. NATO intervened in the war in favor of the rebels. However, some rebels had links with al-Qaeda.[41][42] NATO ended its mission in October after Colonel al-Gaddafi was reported to have been killed. In the aftermath of the civil war, a low-level rebellion by al-Gaddafi loyalists continued. Armed militias filled the gap left by the revolution.[43] Two different national governments were organized in Tripoli and Tobruk and many fighters did not follow either of them.

References[change | change source]

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  2. "Libyan National Anthem". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  3. "Interim Libya government assumes power after smooth handover". Ynet. 16 March 2021. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Libya". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  5. "Human Development Report 2011" (PDF). United Nations. 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  6. Zaptia, Sami (9 January 2013). "GNC officially renames Libya the "State of Libya" – until the new constitution". Libya Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  7. "المؤتمر العام يقر "دولة ليبيا" اسما للبلاد عربي" [General Conference recognizes the "state of Libya" a name for the country] (in Arabic). الأخبار (Al Jazeera). Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
  8. "Demographic Yearbook (3) Pop., Rate of Pop. Increase, Surface Area & Density" (PDF). United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "Libya". CIA - The World Factbook. 2011. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Libya". Collins English Dictionary. 2001. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Cyrenaica". Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Charkow, Ryan (1 March 2011). "The role of tribalism in Libya's history". cbc.ca. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  13. "Fezzan". Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  14. "Berbers - Credo Reference Topic". The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 "Libya - Credo Reference Topic". The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
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  17. "Libyan Dinar". iraqi-dinar.org. 2011 [last update]. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  18. "History". islamicmint.com. 2002. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
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  37. http://allafrica.com/stories/201107210928.html
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  39. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/16session/A-HRC-16-15.pdf
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  43. Hubbard, Ben; Gladstone, Rick (2013-08-16). "Return to oppression in Egypt shows limits of the Arab Spring". International Herald Tribune. p. 1.

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