Map Libya
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Libya


Background: 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 Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI began to espouse his own political system, the Third Universal Theory. The system is a combination of socialism and Islam derived in part from tribal practices and is supposed to be implemented by the Libyan people themselves in a unique form of "direct democracy." QADHAFI has always seen himself as a revolutionary and visionary leader. He used oil funds during the 1970s and 1980s to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversives and terrorists abroad to hasten the end of Marxism and capitalism. In addition, beginning in 1973, he engaged in military operations in northern Chad's Aozou Strip - to gain access to minerals and to use as a base of influence in Chadian politics - but was forced to retreat in 1987. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically following the downing of Pan AM Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. During the 1990s, QADHAFI began to rebuild his relationships with Europe. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism. QADHAFI has made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations since then. He has received various Western European leaders as well as many working-level and commercial delegations, and made his first trip to Western Europe in 15 years when he traveled to Brussels in April 2004. The US rescinded Libya's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in June 2006. In January 2008, Libya assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008-09 term. In August 2008, the US and Libya signed a bilateral comprehensive claims settlement agreement to compensate claimants in both countries who allege injury or death at the hands of the other country, including the Lockerbie bombing, the LaBelle disco bombing, and the UTA 772 bombing. In October 2008, the US Government received $1.5 billion pursuant to the agreement to distribute to US national claimants, and as a result effectively normalized its bilateral relationship with Libya. The two countries then exchanged ambassadors for the first time since 1973 in January 2009. Libya in May 2010 was elected to its first three-year seat on the UN Human Rights Council, prompting protests from international non-governmental organizations and human rights campaigners.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia
Area land: 1,759,540 sq km
Area water: 0 sq km
Coastline: 1,770 km
Country name conventional long form: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Country name conventional short form: Libya
Country name former: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Population: 6,597,960
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.8% (male 1,104,590/female 1,057,359); 15-64 years: 62.7% (male 2,124,053/female 2,011,226); 65 years and over: 4.6% (male 146,956/female 153,776) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 2.064% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 24.04 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 3.4 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female; total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 20.09 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 22.06 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 18.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.65 years; male: 75.34 years; female: 80.08 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.96 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2001 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 10,000 (2001 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Libyan(s); adjective: Libyan;
Ethnic groups: Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians);
Religions: Sunni Muslim 97%, other 3%;
Languages: Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 82.6%; male: 92.4%; female: 72% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $89.03 billion (2010 est.); $86.19 billion (2009 est.); $86.77 billion (2008 est.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $77.91 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 3.3% (2010 est.); -0.7% (2009 est.); 2.7% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $13,800 (2010 est.); $13,600 (2009 est.); $14,000 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.6%; industry: 63.8%; services: 33.6% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA;
note: About one-third of Libyans live at or below the national poverty line

Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 1.729 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 17%; industry: 23%; services: 59% (2004 est.);
Unemployment rate: 30% (2004 est.);
Budget: revenues: $42.31 billion; expenditures: $38.92 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, aluminum, iron and steel, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement;
Industrial production growth rate: 2.7% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 23.98 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 22.17 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 104 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 77 million kWh (2007 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.


Libya Herald

(English-language), Tripoli

Libya in the News

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Displaying 1 to 4 of 22 items.

Libya Is a Failed State

Instability in Libya, a country where militias rove the land, was demonstrated last week when Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was captured in Tripoli.

Can We Be Optimistic About Libya's Future?

Since the uprising in Libya, civil society organizations have been springing up and pushing for positive change, many of them led by the country's youth.

Something's Fishy in Tripoli

Where Western energy companies and Middle Eastern dictators meet, what factors determine the movement of tanks and tankers?

The Case for U.S. Humanitarian Interventionism

There is a difference between interventions driven by a U.S. agenda and interventions carried out in order to save innocent lives.