Africa :: LIBYA
Page last updated on October 19, 2016
View 13 photos of
  • Introduction :: LIBYA

  • The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks in the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. Following a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar al-QADHAFI assumed leadership and began to espouse his political system at home, which was a combination of socialism and Islam. During the 1970s, QADHAFI used oil revenues to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversive and terrorist activities that included the downing of two airliners - one over Scotland, another in Northern Africa - and a discotheque bombing in Berlin. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically and economically following the attacks; sanctions were lifted in 2003 following Libyan acceptance of responsibility for the bombings and agreement to claimant compensation. QADHAFI also agreed to end Libya's program to develop weapons of mass destruction, and he made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations.
    Unrest that began in several Middle Eastern and North African countries in late 2010 erupted in Libyan cities in early 2011. QADHAFI's brutal crackdown on protesters spawned a civil war that triggered UN authorization of air and naval intervention by the international community. After months of seesaw fighting between government and opposition forces, the QADHAFI regime was toppled in mid-2011 and replaced by a transitional government. Libya in 2012 formed a new parliament and elected a new prime minister. The country subsequently elected the House of Representatives in 2014, but remnants of the outgoing legislature refused to leave office and created a rival, Islamist-led government, the General National Congress. In October 2015, UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino LEON, proposed a power-sharing arrangement - known as the Libyan Political Agreement, which was signed by the rival governments two months later and subsequently endorsed by the UN. The agreement called for the formation of an interim Government of National Accord or GNA and the holding of general elections within two years.
  • Geography :: LIBYA

  • Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria
    25 00 N, 17 00 E
    total: 1,759,540 sq km
    land: 1,759,540 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 17
    about 2.5 times the size of Texas; slightly larger than Alaska
    Area comparison map:
    total: 4,339 km
    border countries (6): Algeria 989 km, Chad 1,050 km, Egypt 1,115 km, Niger 342 km, Sudan 382 km, Tunisia 461 km
    1,770 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    note: Gulf of Sidra closing line - 32 degrees, 30 minutes north
    exclusive fishing zone: 62 nm
    Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior
    mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions
    mean elevation: 423 m
    elevation extremes: lowest point: Sabkhat Ghuzayyil -47 m
    highest point: Bikku Bitti 2,267 m
    petroleum, natural gas, gypsum
    agricultural land: 8.8%
    arable land 1%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 7.6%
    forest: 0.1%
    other: 91.1% (2011 est.)
    4,700 sq km (2012)
    hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms
    desertification; limited natural freshwater resources; the Great Manmade River Project, the largest water development scheme in the world, brings water from large aquifers under the Sahara to coastal cities
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
    more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert
  • People and Society :: LIBYA

  • 6,541,948 (July 2015 est.)
    note: immigrants make up just over 12% of the total population, according to UN data (2015) (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    noun: Libyan(s)
    adjective: Libyan
    Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)
    Arabic (official), Italian, English (all widely understood in the major cities); Berber (Nafusi, Ghadamis, Suknah, Awjilah, Tamasheq)
    Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%, Christian 2.7%, Buddhist 0.3%, Hindu <0.1, Jewish <0.1, folk religion <0.1, unafilliated 0.2%, other <0.1
    note: non-Sunni Muslims include native Ibadhi Muslims (<1% of the population) and foreign Muslims (2010 est.)
    religious affiliation:
    Despite continuing unrest, Libya remains a destination country for economic migrants. It is also a hub for transit migration to Europe because of its proximity to southern Europe and its lax border controls. Labor migrants have been drawn to Libya since the development of its oil sector in the 1960s. Until the latter part of the 1990s, most migrants to Libya were Arab (primarily Egyptians and Sudanese). However, international isolation stemming from Libya’s involvement in international terrorism and a perceived lack of support from Arab countries led QADHAFI in 1998 to adopt a decade-long pan-African policy that enabled large numbers of sub-Saharan migrants to enter Libya without visas to work in the construction and agricultural industries. Although sub-Saharan Africans provided a cheap labor source, they were poorly treated and were subjected to periodic mass expulsions.
    By the mid-2000s, domestic animosity toward African migrants and a desire to reintegrate into the international community motivated QADHAFI to impose entry visas on Arab and African immigrants and to agree to joint maritime patrols and migrant repatriations with Italy, the main recipient of illegal migrants departing Libya. As his regime neared collapse in 2011, QADHAFI reversed his policy of cooperating with Italy to curb illegal migration and sent boats loaded with migrants and asylum seekers to strain European resources. Libya’s 2011 revolution decreased inmigration drastically and prompted nearly 800,000 migrants to flee to third countries, mainly Tunisia and Egypt, or to their countries of origin. The inflow of migrants declined in 2012 but returned to normal levels by 2013, despite continued hostility toward sub-Saharan Africans and a less-inviting job market.
    While Libya is not an appealing destination for migrants, since 2014, transiting migrants – primarily from East and West Africa – continue to exploit its political instability and weak border controls and use it as a primary departure area to migrate across the central Mediterranean to Europe in growing numbers. In addition, almost 350,000 people were displaced internally as of August 2016 by fighting between armed groups in eastern and western Libya and, to a lesser extent, by inter-tribal clashes in the country’s south.
    0-14 years: 26.17% (male 875,430/female 836,272)
    15-24 years: 17.41% (male 586,713/female 552,531)
    25-54 years: 46.99% (male 1,613,168/female 1,460,987)
    55-64 years: 5.21% (male 174,023/female 167,072)
    65 years and over: 4.22% (male 137,409/female 138,343) (2016 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 52.4%
    youth dependency ratio: 45.5%
    elderly dependency ratio: 6.9%
    potential support ratio: 14.5% (2015 est.)
    total: 28.5 years
    male: 28.6 years
    female: 28.3 years (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    1.8% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
    17.8 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    3.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    3.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    urban population: 78.6% of total population (2015)
    rate of urbanization: 1.13% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    TRIPOLI (capital) 1.126 million (2015)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
    9 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    total: 11.1 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 12 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 10.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    total population: 76.5 years
    male: 74.7 years
    female: 78.3 years (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 87
    2.04 children born/woman (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    41.9% (2007)
    5% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    1.9 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
    3.7 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    urban: 54.2% of population
    rural: 54.9% of population
    total: 54.4% of population
    urban: 45.8% of population
    rural: 45.1% of population
    total: 45.6% of population (2001 est.)
    urban: 96.8% of population
    rural: 95.7% of population
    total: 96.6% of population
    urban: 3.2% of population
    rural: 4.3% of population
    total: 3.4% of population (2015 est.)
    31.9% (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    5.6% (2007)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 91%
    male: 96.7%
    female: 85.6% (2015 est.)
    total: 48.7%
    male: 40.8%
    female: 67.8% (2012 est.)
  • Government :: LIBYA

  • conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Libya
    local long form: none
    local short form: Libiya
    note: name derives from the Libu, an ancient Libyan tribe first mentioned in texts from the 13th century B.C.
    in transition
    name: Tripoli (Tarabulus)
    geographic coordinates: 32 53 N, 13 10 E
    time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    22 districts (shabiyat, singular - shabiyat); Al Butnan, Al Jabal al Akhdar, Al Jabal al Gharbi, Al Jafarah, Al Jufrah, Al Kufrah, Al Marj, Al Marqab, Al Wahat, An Nuqat al Khams, Az Zawiyah, Banghazi, Darnah, Ghat, Misratah, Murzuq, Nalut, Sabha, Surt, Tarabulus, Wadi al Hayat, Wadi ash Shati
    24 December 1951 (from UN trusteeship)
    Liberation Day, 23 October (2011)
    previous 1951, 1977; latest 2011 (interim); note - the Constitution Drafting Assembly continued drafting a new constitution as of early 2016 (2016)
    Libya's post-revolution legal system is in flux and driven by state and non-state entities
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent or grandparent must be a citizen of Libya
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: varies from 3 to 5 years
    18 years of age, universal
    chief of state: Chairman, Presidential Council, Fayiz al-SARAJ (since December 2015)
    head of government: Prime Minister Fayiz al-SARAJ (since April 2016)
    cabinet: new cabinet awaiting approval by the House of Representatives
    elections/appointments: NA
    election results: NA
    description: unicameral Council of Deputies or Majlis Al Nuwab (200 seats including 32 reserved for women; members elected by direct popular vote; member term NA)
    elections: election last held in June 2014; note - the Libyan Supreme Court in November 2014 declared the House election unconstitutional, but the Council rejected the ruling; no country has officially recognized the rival government
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independent 200; note - not all 200 seats were filled in the June election because of boycotts and lack of security at some polling stations; some elected members of the Council also boycotted the election
    highest court(s): NA; note - government is in transition
    Al-Watan (Homeland) Party
    Justice and Construction Party or JCP [Mohamed SOWAN]
    National Forces Alliance or NFA [Mahmoud JIBRIL] (includes many political organizations, NGOs, and independents)
    National Front (initially the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, formed in 1981 as a diaspora opposition group)
    Union for the Homeland [Abd al-Rahman al-SUWAYHILI]
    note: partial list of the larger political parties and leaders
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Wafa M.T. BUGHAIGHIS (since 5 December 2014)
    chancery: 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 705, Washington, DC 20037
    telephone: [1] (202) 944-9601
    FAX: [1] (202) 944-9606
    chief of mission: Ambassador Peter William BODDE (since 21 December 2015)
    note: the embassy was closed in July 2014 due to major fighting near the embassy related to the Libyan civil war; embassy staff and operations were temporarily moved to Tunis, Tunisia
    embassy: Sidi Slim Area/Walie Al-Ahed Road, Tripoli
    mailing address: US Embassy, 8850 Tripoli Place, Washington, DC 20521-8850
    telephone: [218] (0) 91-220-3239
    three horizontal bands of red (top), black (double width), and green with a white crescent and star centered on the black stripe; the National Transitional Council reintroduced this flag design of the former Kingdom of Libya (1951-1969) on 27 February 2011; it replaced the former all-green banner promulgated by the QADHAFI regime in 1977; the colors represent the three major regions of the country: red stands for Fezzan, black symbolizes Cyrenaica, and green denotes Tripolitania; the crescent and star represent Islam, the main religion of the country
    star and crescent, hawk; national colors: red, black, green
    name: "Libya, Libya, Libya"
    lyrics/music: Al Bashir AL AREBI/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB
    note: also known as "Ya Beladi" or "Oh, My Country!"; adopted 1951; readopted 2011 with some modification to the lyrics; during the QADHAFI years between 1969 and 2011, the anthem was "Allahu Akbar," (God is Great) a marching song of the Egyptian Army in the 1956 Suez War
  • Economy :: LIBYA

  • Libya's economy, almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports, struggled during 2015 as the country plunged into civil war and world oil prices dropped to seven-year lows. In early 2015, armed conflict between rival forces for control of the country’s largest oil terminals caused a decline in Libyan crude oil production, which never recovered to more than one-third of the average pre-Revolution highs of 1.6 million barrels per day. The Central Bank of Libya continued to pay government salaries to a majority of the Libyan workforce and to fund subsidies for fuel and food, resulting in an estimated budget deficit of about 49% of GDP.
    Libya’s economic transition away from QADHAFI’s notionally socialist model has completely stalled as political chaos persists and security continues to deteriorate. Libya’s leaders have hindered economic development by failing to use its financial resources to invest in national infrastructure. The country suffers from widespread power outages in its largest cities, caused by shortages of fuel for power generation. Living conditions, including access to clean drinking water, medical services, and safe housing, have all declined as the civil war has caused more people to become internally displaced, further straining local resources.
    Extremists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked Libyan oilfields in the first half of 2015; ISIL has a presence in many cities across Libya including near oil infrastructure, threatening future government revenues from oil and gas.
    $92.61 billion (2015 est.)
    $98.92 billion (2014 est.)
    $130.2 billion (2013 est.)
    note: data are in 2015 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 84
    $38.3 billion (2015 est.)
    -6.4% (2015 est.)
    -24% (2014 est.)
    -13.6% (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    $14,600 (2015 est.)
    $15,800 (2014 est.)
    $20,800 (2013 est.)
    note: data are in 2015 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 111
    -17.9% of GDP (2015 est.)
    -34% of GDP (2014 est.)
    5.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    household consumption: 86.8%
    government consumption: 21.7%
    investment in fixed capital: 4%
    investment in inventories: 1%
    exports of goods and services: 32.7%
    imports of goods and services: -46.2% (2015 est.)
    agriculture: 1.9%
    industry: 43.1%
    services: 54.9% (2015 est.)
    wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans; cattle
    petroleum, petrochemicals, aluminum, iron and steel, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement
    -13% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 197
    1.193 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 137
    agriculture: 17%
    industry: 23%
    services: 59% (2004 est.)
    30% (2004 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 188
    note: about one-third of Libyans live at or below the national poverty line
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $9.058 billion
    expenditures: $21.02 billion (2015 est.)
    23.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    -31.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    8% of GDP (2015 est.)
    7.2% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 175
    calendar year
    12.1% (2015 est.)
    8.7% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    9.52% (31 December 2010)
    3% (31 December 2009)
    country comparison to the world: 27
    6% (31 December 2015 est.)
    6% (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    $51.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $48.02 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 50
    $54.66 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $53.34 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    $767.3 million (31 December 2015 est.)
    $-16.48 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    -$16.7 billion (2015 est.)
    -$12.36 billion (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    $10.86 billion (2015 est.)
    $13.81 billion (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas, chemicals
    Italy 32.1%, Germany 11.3%, China 8%, France 8%, Spain 5.6%, Netherlands 5.4%, Syria 5.3% (2015)
    $11.24 billion (2015 est.)
    $20.43 billion (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 93
    machinery, semi-finished goods, food, transport equipment, consumer products
    China 14.8%, Italy 12.9%, Turkey 11.1%, Tunisia 6.5%, France 6.1%, Spain 4.6%, Syria 4.5%, Egypt 4.4%, South Korea 4.3% (2015)
    $70.99 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $89.25 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    $3.985 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $5.244 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    $18.83 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $18.66 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    $21.59 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $20.91 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    Libyan dinars (LYD) per US dollar -
    1.379 (2015 est.)
    1.2724 (2014 est.)
    1.2724 (2013 est.)
    1.26 (2012 est.)
    1.224 (2011 est.)
  • Energy :: LIBYA

  • population without electricity: 13,083
    electrification - total population: 99.8 %
    electrification - urban areas: 100 %
    electrification - rural areas: 99.1 % (2013)
    31.94 billion kWh
    note: persistent electricity shortages have contributed to the ongoing instability throughout the country (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    27.54 billion kWh (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 63
    14 million kWh (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    61 million kWh (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    7.121 million kW (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 67
    99.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    0.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    470,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    735,000 bbl/day
    note: Libyan crude oil export values are highly volatile because of continuing protests and other disruptions across the country (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    48.36 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    171,600 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 58
    242,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 51
    35,630 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    108,500 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 49
    12 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    6.487 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    5.513 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 29
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 94
    1.549 trillion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    54.6 million Mt (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
  • Communications :: LIBYA

  • total subscriptions: 632,000
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 10 (July 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    total: 9.918 million
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 155 (July 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    general assessment: Libya's civil war has disrupted its telecommunications sector, but much of its infrastructure remains superior to that in most other African countries
    domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular service generally adequate, but pressure to rebuild damaged infrastructure growing
    international: country code - 218; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat, NA Arabsat, and NA Intersputnik; submarine cable to France and Italy; microwave radio relay to Tunisia and Egypt; tropospheric scatter to Greece; participant in Medarabtel (2015)
    state-funded and private TV stations; some provinces operate local TV stations; pan-Arab satellite TV stations are available; state-funded radio (2012)
    total: 1.219 million
    percent of population: 19% (July 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
  • Transportation :: LIBYA

  • 146 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 41
    total: 68
    over 3,047 m: 23
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 30
    914 to 1,523 m: 7
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 78
    over 3,047 m: 2
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
    914 to 1,523 m: 37
    under 914 m: 20 (2013)
    2 (2013)
    condensate 882 km; gas 3,743 km; oil 7,005 km (2013)
    total: 100,024 km
    paved: 57,214 km
    unpaved: 42,810 km (2003)
    country comparison to the world: 45
    total: 23
    by type: cargo 2, chemical tanker 4, liquefied gas 3, petroleum tanker 13, roll on/roll off 1
    foreign-owned: 2 (Kuwait 1, Norway 1)
    registered in other countries: 6 (Hong Kong 1, Malta 5) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    major seaport(s): Marsa al Burayqah (Marsa el Brega), Tripoli
    oil terminal(s): Az Zawiyah, Ra's Lanuf
    LNG terminal (export): Marsa el Brega
  • Military and Security :: LIBYA

  • note - in transition; government has affiliated Army, Air Force, and Navy forces (2015)
    18 years of age for mandatory or voluntary service (2012)
  • Transnational Issues :: LIBYA

  • dormant disputes include Libyan claims of about 32,000 sq km still reflected on its maps of southeastern Algeria and the FLN's assertions of a claim to Chirac Pastures in southeastern Morocco; various Chadian rebels from the Aozou region reside in southern Libya
    refugees (country of origin): 5,380 (West Bank and Gaza Strip) (2015)
    IDPs: 348,372 (conflict between pro-Qadhafi and anti-Qadhafi forces in 2011; post-Qadhafi tribal clashes 2014) (2016)
    current situation: Libya is a destination and transit country for men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution; migrants who seek employment in Libya as laborers and domestic workers or who transit Libya en route to Europe are vulnerable to forced labor; private employers also exploit migrants from detention centers as forced laborers on farms and construction sites, returning them to detention when they are no longer needed; some sub-Saharan women are reportedly forced to work in Libyan brothels, particularly in the country’s south; since 2013, militia groups and other informal armed groups, including some affiliated with the government, are reported to conscript Libyan children under the age of 18; large-scale violence driven by militias, civil unrest, and increased lawlessness increased in 2014, making it more difficult to obtain information on human trafficking
    tier rating: Tier 3 - the Libyan Government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, the government’s capacity to address human trafficking was hampered by the ongoing power struggle and violence; the judicial system was not functioning, preventing any efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict traffickers, complicit detention camp guards or government officials, or militias or armed groups that used child soldiers; the government failed to identify or provide protection to trafficking victims, including child conscripts, and continued to punish victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; no public anti-trafficking awareness campaigns were conducted (2015)