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Info Africa - LIBYA

Libya, in northern Africa, is a former colony of Italy, which gained independence in 1951. It shares its borders with Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Col. Muammar Qadhafi became Libya’s leader following the 1969 military coup. Still the current leader of Libya, he has always been a great believer of an Islamic state. In 1992, the UN politically isolated Qadhafi after the Pan AM Flight 103 incident, placing sanctions on Libya. The international community responded by isolating Libya. Since 2003, Libya has agreed to end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and relations with western nations and the international community are currently improving. Libya consists mostly of huge

areas of desert land. Tripoli, Libya’scapital, is known for its historical heritage. Narrow alleyways, vibrant markets and traditional mosques reveal the strong Arabic influence that is present in this region. Libya’s architecture is a mixture of the former rulers of Libya, namely the Spanish, Italian and Turkish. The city of Assai al-Hamra has a castle (Red Castle) and the Jamahiriya Museum where one can see historical statues. Leptis Magna, a historical town close to Tripoli, used to be a Roman settlement and the ruins from this era are still present (e.g. the basilica and the amphitheatre). Because of Libya’s ideal position at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Libya’s culture has a diverse set of origins. Libyan culture clearly reflects Berber, African, Arab and Turkish influences. This influence can be seen in everything from the food to the music of Libya.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Liberia's Flag

Plain green; green is the traditional color of Islam (the state religion)

Nationality: Libyan

Capital: Tripoli

Population: 5,900,754 (note: includes 166,510 non-nationals (July 2006 est.))

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 33.6%
  • 15-64 years: 62.2%
  • 65 years and over: 4.2% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.3% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 82.6% of the population is literate (male: 92.4%, female: 72%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Sunni Muslim 97%

Languages: Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities

Quick Facts
  • total: 1,759,540 sq km
  • land: 1,759,540 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: slightly bigger than Quebec

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, gypsum

Environmental Issues: desertification; very limited natural fresh water resources; the Great Manmade River Project, the largest water development scheme in the world, is being built to bring water from large aquifers under the Sahara to coastal cities


Libya’s oil sector accounts for 95% of export earnings, one-quarter of GDP and 60% of the public sector wages. Its economy depends mainly on revenues generated from the oil sector. Libya has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa because of its small population of Libya and the revenues from the energy sector. The Libyan officials have been working hard on their economic reforms. The removal of the majority of the US unilateral sanctions against Libya in April 2004 contributed to Libya attracting more foreign direct investment, mainly in the energy sector. Libya is working towards a more market-based economy, rather than a socialist-oriented economy. They have applied for WTO membership and announced plans for privatization. Libya is improving its non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors by producing petrochemicals, iron, steel and aluminum and agricultural productions. Libya imports 75% of its food as a result of poor soil and the climate.

Major industries:

  • petroleum
  • iron and steel
  • food processing
  • textiles
  • handicrafts
  • cement

Agricultural products:

  • wheat
  • barley
  • olives
  • dates
  • citrus
  • vegetables
  • peanuts
  • soybeans
  • cattle

Oil production: 1.643 million bbl/day (2005 est.)

Railways: 0 km (note: Libya is working on seven lines totaling 2,757 km of 1.435-m gauge track; it hopes to have trains running by 2008 (2004))

Road map: 83,200 km (paved: 47,590 km, unpaved: 35,610 km)

Currency: Libyan Dinar


Telephone lines in use: 750,000 (2003)

Cellular lines in use: 127,000 (2003)

Television Stations: 12 (plus one low-power repeater) (1999)

Radio Stations: AM 16, FM 3, shortwave 3 (2002)

Internet users: 205,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2001 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 10,000 (2001 est.)

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