Situated on north Africa’s Mediterranean coast, Libya was declared a revolutionary state in 1969 by Colonel Gaddafi, who promotes Islam, African unity, and a communal lifestyle.
Geography: Apart from the coastal strip and a mountain range in the south, Libya is desert or semi-desert. Natural oases provide the agricultural land.
Climate: Hot and arid. The coastal area has a temperate climate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
People and Society: Most Libyans are of Arab and Berber origin. Once a nation of nomads and livestock herders, it is almost 80% urban. Revolution wiped out private
enterprise and the middle classes. Jews and European settlers were banished.
Years of political marginalization and sanctions ended after Libya offered compensation for terrorist bombings. The voluntary ending of its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program was also welcomed by the West.
The Economy; Oil is key export. Dates, olives, and fruit grow in oases, but most food is imported. Corruption and mismanagement. High inflation.
Insight: 90% of Libya is still desert, despite grand irrigation projects
Official Name: Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahariyah
Date Of Formation: 1951
Population: 6.42 million
Total Area: 679,358 sq. miles (1,759,540 sq. km)
Density: 9 people per sq. mile
Languages: Arabic*, Tuareg
Religions: Muslim (mainly Sunni) 97%, other 3%
Ethnic Mix: Arab and Berber 95%, other 5%
Government: One-party state
Currency: Libyan dinar = 1000 dirhams