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This article is about Libya, the country in North Africa. For the mythical character of the same name see: Libya (mythology).

The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or Libya (Arabic: ليبيا, transliterated Lībiyyā) is a country in North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, located between Egypt on the east, Sudan on the southeast, Chad and Niger on the south and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. Its capital city is Tripoli. The three traditional sections of the country are Tripolitania, the Fezzan and Cyrenaica.

The name "Libya" derives from the ancient Egyptian term "Lebu", referring to Berber peoples living west of the Nile, and adopted into Greek as "Libya". In ancient Greece, the term had a broader meaning, encompassing all of North Africa west of Egypt, and sometimes referring to the entire continent of Africa.

الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية الإشتراكية
al-Jamāhīrīyah al-‘Arabīya al-Lībīyah ash-Sha‘bīyah al-Ishtirākīyah
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: n/a
Location of Libya
Official language Arabic
Capital Tripoli
Leader of the Revolution Muammar al-Qaddafi
President Zentani Muhammad az-Zentani
Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem
- Total
Ranked 16th
1,759,540 km²
 - Total (Year)
 - Density
Ranked 103rd
Currency Dinar
Time zone UTC +2
Independence December 24, 1951
National anthem Allahu Akbar
Internet TLD .ly
Calling Code 218



Main article: History of Libya

Ruins of Leptis Magna in Libya
Ruins of Leptis Magna in Libya

Tripoli and Cyrenaica were Roman colonies until they were conquered by Arab Muslims in the 7th century. By the 19th century the area was an increasingly independent Ottoman province until it came under the control of Italy in 1912.

After the Second World War Libya was granted independence as a condition of the Allied peace treaty with Italy. Since 1969 Libya has been ruled by Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, who came to power in a coup and deposed the Libyan monarchy of King Idris. At the time, Libya was the fourth largest oil producer in the non-communist world, surpassed only by Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela. The Qaddafi government rapidly began to nationalize Libya's oil companies, taking complete control of some while forcing others to surrender majority control to the government. Eventually, Qaddafi expelled all Western oil men from the country with the result that Libyan production dropped dramatically. According to this BusinessWeek article, because of the nationalization of its oil companies and the U.S. led sanctions, notably in 1992 by the United Nations, in 2005 Libyan production was still down by more than 50% from its peak in 1970.

Qadhafi rejected both Soviet Communism and Western capitalism and claimed that he was charting an independent course, portraying himself as a champion of "oppressed peoples" and Third World nations seeking to assert their independence on the international stage. Despite this, he received mostly Soviet support until the USSR's collapse in 1991.

U.S.-Libyan relations deteriorated when in December 2, 1979, Libyan mobs sacked the United States embassy in Tripoli. Qadhafi referred to the incident as a "spontaneous demonstration" and denied any involvement. It is suspected that he ordered the attack to show sympathy to Ayatollah Khomeini and the new government of Iran. In May 1980, the United States withdrew all U.S. diplomats but did not break off diplomatic ties with Libya.

In 1980, the Libyan government paid Jimmy Carter's brother, Billy Carter, $220,000 to lobby for better diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya.

On May 6, 1981, four and a half months after Ronald Reagan became president of the United States, the United States government accused the Libyan government of sponsoring international terrorism. All Libyan diplomats were expelled and the United States officially broke diplomatic relations between the two nations. The Libyan embassy was also shut down.

The Reagan administration saw Libya as an unacceptable player on the international stage because of its backing of Palestinian armed groups, its support for revolutionary Iran in its 1980-1988 war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq (see Iran-Iraq War), and its assistance to guerrilla movements in different parts of the world, many which were conducted by separatist groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

In March 1982 the U.S. declared a ban on the import of Libyan petroleum and the export to Libya of U.S. industrial technology items, most of which were used for oil; Europe did not follow suit.

Relations between the UK and Libya became strained following the 1984 Libyan Embassy Siege, when shots were fired at a crowd of protesters, killing a policewoman, leading to a break in relations.

The U.S. attacked Libyan patrol boats from January to March 1986 during clashes over access to the Gulf of Sidra, which Libya claimed as territorial waters but was not recognized internationally. Qadhafi had long referred to it as the "line of death". Later, on April 14, 1986, Reagan ordered major bombing raids against suspected terrorist sites in Tripoli and Benghazi that killed approximately 60 people. The bombings followed U.S. accusations of Libyan involvement in an explosion at the West Berlin La Belle nightclub frequented by U.S. servicemen on April 5, which had killed 3. Among the victims of the April 14 bombing raid was the adopted daughter of Qadhafi. However the raid appeared to have had its desired effect as Libyan attacks against Americans became more subtle, with the exception of the Lockerbie bombing.

The United Nations imposed sanctions against Libya in 1992 following the Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing. The sanctions were lifted on September 12, 2003, after Libya agreed to accept responsibility and make payment of US $2.7 billion to the families of those who died in the bombing. In the same vein, on February 26, 2004, the United States lifted its 23-year travel ban to Libya, and on September 21 that year eliminated the remaining economic sanctions, lifting the prohibitions of the Libyan Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 550, and unblocking property and property interests previously restricted under those regulations.


Wall carpet depicting Col. Muammar Gadhafi, in a hotel in Misrata, Libya
Wall carpet depicting Col. Muammar Gadhafi, in a hotel in Misrata, Libya

Main article: Politics of Libya

The Libyan system of government is quite unusual. Qadhafi claims that Libya is a "pure socialist state", and as such the formal institutions of government are purposely quite vague. Qadhafi himself is not even technically the "President" or "Prime Minister" of the country, and instead describes himself as a sort of "guide" or a "leader" to help the Libyan people in socialism. To most people around the world, he is simply referred to as "Colonel Qadhafi". Libya has no constitution, and the laws of the land come from Islamic law, and Qadhafi's Green Book of political philosophy. The government is called a "jamahiriya", a modification of the Arabic word "jumhuriya" (republic) that translates loosely as "people's state."

In practice, however, Libya is essentially a militarydictatorship, with Qadhafi ruling by decree, assisted by a small clique of military and political officials. Libya has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and state sponsored terrorism.

On 19 December 2003, Libya admitted having had a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program and simultaneously announced its intention to end it and dismantle all existing WMDs, to be verified by unconditional inspections. Libya also agreed to limit its long range missiles to 300 km. Some of the WMD included mustard gas, which was hidden in a turkey farm. The announcement came after clandestine diplomatic negotiations with the United Kingdom and United States since March 2003.

About that same time, Libya was also caught secretly passing nuclear technology, originally from North Korea, to other countries. Furthermore, Pakistan and China were mentioned as contributors to the programs. Egypt previously had obtained technology directly from Pyongyang, officials said, but the U.S. blocked a shipment of missiles in 2001. Nevertheless, as the House subcommittee on terrorism learned a year later, Egypt had received 24 No-Dong missile engines from North Korea.

"We are still trying to understand the network, to see if other countries have received the [weapons-related] technology, the weapons designs," IAEA director-general Mohamed El Baradei, who did not cite Egypt, said during a visit to Libya February 23, 2004. "This is of course an important and urgent concern for us." On March 7, 2004, the White House confirmed that the last of Libya's nuclear weapons-related equipment had been sent to the United States.

See also


Main article: Municipalities of Libya


A desert in Libya
A desert in Libya
city centre of Adjabiya, Libya
city centre of Adjabiya, Libya
road side shop in Libya
road side shop in Libya
Ghadames, an oasis in Libya
Ghadames, an oasis in Libya
the excavation of Sabratha, Libya
the excavation of Sabratha, Libya
Sahara Desert 200km east of Jalu
Sahara Desert 200km east of Jalu

Main article: Geography of Libya

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia

Climate: Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, gypsum

Geographic regions: Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan.

Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust-laden sirocco (known in Libya as the ghibli) is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms.

The Great Manmade River project is a large engineering project Libya has undertaken to supply water to the Sahara desert.


Main article: Economy of Libya

Libya's economy under the current Prime Minister (Ghanem) is undergoing an incredible business boom. Many socialist-era government-run industries are being privatized. UN sanctions have been mostly lifted (2004) and US sanctions are too. For example, Continental Airlines now offers code-share travel to Libya.


Main article: Demographics of Libya

Libya has a small population within its large territory, with population density of about 50 persons per km² (80/sq. mi.) in the two northern regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and less than one person per km² (1.6/sq. mi.) elsewhere. Ninety percent of the people live in less than 10% of the area, primarily along the coast. More than half the population is urban, mostly concentrated in the two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi. 50% of the population is estimated to be under age 15.

Native Libyans are primarily a mixture of Berbers and Arabs. Small Tuareg and Tebu tribal groups in southern Libya are nomadic or seminomadic. Among foreign residents, the largest groups are citizens of other African nations, including North Africans (primarily Egyptians and Tunisians), West Africans and Sub-Saharan Africans.


Main article: Culture of Libya

Miscellaneous topics

External links

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