History of Libya

Libya Flag

Libya is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. The three traditional parts of the country are Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. With an area of almost 1.8 million sq km (700,000 sq mi), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa, and is the 17th largest country in the world. Tripoli, the largest city and capital, is home to over one million of Libya's six million people. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world.

The largest city and capital, Tripoli, is located in western Libya and contains over one million of Libya's six million people. The other large city is Benghazi, which is located in eastern Libya.

Libya has been inhabited by Berbers since the late Bronze Age. The Phoenicians established trading posts in western Libya, and Ancient Greek colonists established city-states in eastern Libya. Libya was variously ruled by Persians, Egyptians and Greek-Egyptians before becoming a part of the Roman Empire. Libya was an early center of Christianity. During the 7th Century, invasions brought Islam and Arab colonization. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish and the Knights of St John occupied Tripoli, until Ottoman rule began in 1551. Libya was involved in the Barbary Wars of the 18th and 19th centuries. Ottoman rule continued until the twentieth-century Italian occupation of Libya and large-scale Italian immigration. Italian rule ended during the Second World War, during which Libya was an important. The Italian population then went into decline. Libya became an independent kingdom in 1951. In 1969, a military coup overthrew King Idris I, beginning a period of improved living standards and brutal suppression of dissent. Within a year, the 20,000 remaining Italians and 37,000 Jews had been expelled. The most prominent coup conspirator, Muammar Gaddafi, was ultimately able to fully concentrate power in his own hands during the Libyan Cultural Revolution.

Muammar Gaddafi remained in power until the Libyan Revolution of 2011 overthrew his regime. Protests in Benghazi on 15 February 2011 led to clashes with security forces and ultimately escalated into an armed conflict. The Council authorized the use of force in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. The subsequent intervention by NATO and some Arab states ensured the fall of Gaddafi. Since then, Libya has experienced instability and political violence which has severely affected both commerce and oil production.

Libya is governed by two rival governments since August 2014, one in Tripoli and one in Tobruk. The House of Representatives elected in the June 2014 elections was dissolved by the Libyan Supreme Court in November 2014. The parliament's control of the country is severely limited by the current civil war against an Islamist rival government, which controls Tripoli. Officially, the House of Representatives took over from the General National Congress, which was elected in July 2012 to serve until January 2014. However, an Islamist minority of the General National Congress, having lost the elections, reconvened in August 2014. This New General National Congress meets in Tripoli, while the elected House of Representatives meet on a Greek car ferry in Tobruk harbour.

Island groups of Libya

Libya Map Libya Map - Click for larger view

Libya extends over 1,759,540 square kilometers (679,362 sq. mi), making it the 17th largest nation in the world by size. Libya is somewhat smaller than Indonesia in land area, and roughly the size of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is bound to the north by the Mediterranean Sea, the west by Tunisia and Algeria, the southwest by Niger, the south by Chad and Sudan and to the east by Egypt. Libya lies between latitudes19° and 34°N, and longitudes 9° and 26°E.

At 1,770 kilometers (1,100 mi), Libya's coastline is the longest of any African country bordering the Mediterranean. The portion of the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya is often called the Libyan Sea. The climate is mostly extremely dry and desert like in nature. However, the northern regions enjoy a milder Mediterranean climate.

Natural hazards come in the form of hot, dry, dust-laden sirocco (known in Libya as the gibli). This is a southern wind blowing from one to four days in spring and autumn. There are also dust storms and sandstorms. Oases can also be found scattered throughout Libya, the most important of which are Ghadames and Kufra. Libya is one of the sunniest and driest countries in the world due to prevailing presence of desert environment.

Libyan Desert
The Libyan Desert, which covers much of Libya, is one of the most arid and sun-baked places on earth. In places, decades may pass without seeing any rainfall at all, and even in the highlands rainfall seldom happens, once every 5–10 years. At Uweinat, as of 2006 the last recorded rainfall was in September 1998. There is a large depression, the Qattara Depression, just south of the northernmost scarp, with Siwa Oasis at its western extremity. The depression continues in a shallower form west, to the oases of Jaghbub and Jalu.

Likewise, the temperature in the Libyan Desert can be extreme; on 13 September 1922 the town of 'Aziziya, which is located southwest of Tripoli, recorded an air temperature of 57.8 °C (136.0 °F), considered to be a world record. In September 2012, however, the world record figure of 57.8 °C was overturned by the World Meteorological Organization

There are a few scattered uninhabited small oases, usually linked to the major depressions, where water can be found by digging to a few feet in depth. In the west there is a widely dispersed group of oases in unconnected shallow depressions, the Kufra group, consisting of Tazerbo, Rebianae and Kufra. Aside from the scarps, the general flatness is only interrupted by a series of plateaus and massifs near the centre of the Libyan Desert, around the convergence of the Egyptian-Sudanese-Libyan borders. Slightly further to the south are the massifs of Arkenu, Uweinat and Kissu. These granite mountains are ancient, having formed long before the sandstones surrounding them. Arkenu and Western Uweinat are ring complexes very similar to those in the Aïr Mountains. Eastern Uweinat (the highest point in the Libyan Desert) is a raised sandstone plateau adjacent to the granite part further west. The plain to the north of Uweinat is dotted with eroded volcanic features. With the discovery of oil in the 1950s also came the discovery of a massive aquifer underneath much of the country. The water in this aquifer pre-dates the last ice ages and the Sahara Desert itself. This area also contains the Arkenu structures, which were once though to be two impact craters.

People & Culture

The Libyan people reside in Libya, a country located on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, to the west of and adjacent to Egypt. Ethnically, the Libyan population is primarily Arab or a mixture of Arab-Berber ethnicities. There is also a small number of Berbers, who retain their own culture. According to DNA studies, 90% of the Arab Libyan population descended from the Arab-Berberinter-ethnic mixture and the remaining 10% are Phoenicians, Black Africans (especially in the South of the country) and other North African, Asian and European peoples. The 2012 worldwide Libyan population is estimated at 7 million and the ethnic Arab Libyan population from that estimate is around 6.4 million after the Libyan Civil War.

Libyan cuisine is heavily influenced by Mediterranean, North African (Tunisian cuisine) and the Middle Eastern (Egyptian cuisine) traditions. Notable dishes include Shorba Arabiya, or Arabian soup, which is a thick, highly-spiced soup. Bazeen is a traditional Libyan food, made from a mix of barley flour and a small amount of plain flour.

Libyan Arab instruments are the zokra (a bagpipe), a flute (made of bamboo), the tambourine, the oud (a fretless lute) and the darbuka (a goblet drum held sideways and played with the fingers). Bedouin poet-singers had a great influence on the musical folklore of Libya, particularly the style of huda, the camel driver's song.

Almost all Libyans are Sunni Muslims. Foreigners contribute to a small Christian presence. Historically, there was a small Jewish community living in Libya, but the entire Jewish community fled the country for Israel, Italy, or the United States, an exodus mainly precipitated by the anti-Jewish riots in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel.

Tribal groups
Libya is largely structured along tribal lines with tribes being very important in Libyan society. A Tribal name affects the surname of its inhabitants. There are more than 20 major tribal groups, and around 140 tribal networks, many of which are subdivided into clans and groups. These groups, however, are not fully documented. Some of the ancient Berber tribes include: Adyrmachidae, Auschisae, Es'bet, Temeh'u, Teh'nu, Rebu, Kehek, KeyKesh, Imukehek, Meshwesh, Macetae, Macatutae, Nasamones, Nitriotae, and Tautamaei.

Weather and Climate

Libya Climate



Libya's climate is dominated by the hot, arid Sahara, but it is moderated along the coastal littoral by the Mediterranean Sea. The Saharan influence is stronger in summer. From October to March, prevailing westerly winds bring cyclonic storms and rains across northern Libya. A narrow band of semiarid steppe extends inland from the Mediterranean climate of the Al-Jifārah Plain, the Nafūsah Plateau, and the Akhḍar Mountains. The desert climate of the Sahara reaches the coast along the southern fringes of the Gulf of Sidra, where Al-Ḥamrāyah (Sirte) Desert borders the sea. Periodic droughts, often lasting several years, are common in the steppe and desert.

Public Holidays

Libya Public Holidays
Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad) January 03
Revolution Day February 17
Jamahiriya Day March 02
British Evacuation Day March 28
Lailat al Miraj (Night of Ascension) May 16
American Evacuation Day June 11
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) July 18
Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) September 23
Italian Evacuation Day October 07
Islamic New Year October 13
Ashura October 23
Liberation Day October 23
Independence Day December 24

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Libya, exercise normal security precautions.