Libya Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Libya > Map Economy History

Background: Since he took power in a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI has espoused his own political system - a combination of socialism and Islam - which he calls the Third International Theory. Viewing himself as a revolutionary leader, he used oil funds during the 1970s and 1980s to promote his ideology outside Libya, even supporting subversives and terrorists abroad to hasten the end of Marxism and capitalism. Libyan military adventures failed, e.g., the prolonged foray of Libyan troops into the Aozou Strip in northern Chad was finally repulsed in 1987. Libyan support for terrorism decreased after UN sanctions were imposed in 1992. Those sanctions were suspended in April 1999.
Government type: Jamahiriya (a state of the masses) in theory, governed by the populace through local councils; in fact, a military dictatorship
Capital: Tripoli
Currency: 1 Libyan dinar (LD) = 1,000 dirhams

Geography of Libya

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia
Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 17 00 E
Area:
total: 1,759,540 sq km
land: 1,759,540 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 4,383 km
border countries: Algeria 982 km, Chad 1,055 km, Egypt 1,150 km, Niger 354 km, Sudan 383 km, Tunisia 459 km
Coastline: 1,770 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
note: Gulf of Sidra closing line - 32 degrees 30 minutes north
Climate: Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior
Terrain: mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sabkhat Ghuzayyil -47 m
highest point: Bikku Bitti 2,267 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, gypsum
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 8%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 91% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 4,700 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current 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

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Desertification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note: more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert

People of Libya

Libya has a small population in a large land area. Population density is about 50 persons per sq. km. (80/sq. mi.) in the two northern regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, but falls to less than one person per sq. km. (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 Arabs and Berbers. Small Tebou and Touareg 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.

Population: 5,765,563 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  35.41% 
15-64 years:  60.64%
65 years and over:  3.95% 
Population growth rate: 2.42% 
Birth rate: 27.67 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 3.51 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 28.99 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  75.65 years
male:  73.53 years
female:  77.88 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.64 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan
Ethnic groups: Berber and Arab 97%, Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, Tunisians
Religions: Sunni Muslim 97%
Languages: Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.2%
male: 87.9%
female: 63% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Libya > Map Economy History