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Libya country facts

Africa Tripoli (Tarabulus) 6,244,174 inhabitants 1,759,540 sq km 3.55 inhabitants/sq km Libyan dinars (LYD) population evolution



The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks in the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. Following a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar al-QADHAFI assumed leadership and began to espouse his political system at home, which was a combination of socialism and Islam. During the 1970s, QADHAFI used oil revenues to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversive and terrorist activities that included the downing of two airliners - one over Scotland, another in Northern Africa - and a discotheque bombing in Berlin. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically and economically following the attacks; sanctions were lifted in 2003 following Libyan acceptance of responsibility for the bombings and agreement to claimant compensation. QADHAFI also agreed to end Libya's program to develop weapons of mass destruction, and he made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations. Unrest that began in several Middle Eastern and North African countries in late 2010 erupted in Libyan cities in early 2011. QADHAFI's brutal crackdown on protesters spawned a civil war that triggered UN authorization of air and naval intervention by the international community. After months of seesaw fighting between government and opposition forces, the QADHAFI regime was toppled in mid-2011 and replaced by a transitional government. Libya in 2012 formed a new parliament and elected a new prime minister.



Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria

Geographic coordinates

25 00 N, 17 00 E

Area (sq km)

total: 1,759,540 sq km
land: 1,759,540 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative (sq km)

about 2.5 times the size of Texas; slightly larger than Alaska
Area comparison map

Land boundaries (km)

total: 4,348 km
border countries: Algeria 982 km, Chad 1,055 km, Egypt 1,115 km, Niger 354 km, Sudan 383 km, Tunisia 459 km

Coastline (km)

1,770 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
note: Gulf of Sidra closing line - 32 degrees, 30 minutes north
exclusive fishing zone: 62 nm


Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior


mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Sabkhat Ghuzayyil -47 m
highest point: Bikku Bitti 2,267 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, gypsum

Land use (%)

arable land: 0.99%
permanent crops: 0.19%
other: 98.82% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

4,700 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources (cu km)

0.7 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) ()

total: 4.33 cu km/yr (14%/3%/83%)
per capita: 796.1 cu m/yr (2000)

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; limited natural freshwater resources; the Great Manmade River Project, the largest water development scheme in the world, brings water from large aquifers under the Sahara to coastal cities

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note

more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert

People and Society


noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan

Ethnic groups (%)

Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)

Languages (%)

Arabic (official), Italian, English (all widely understood in the major cities); Berber (Nafusi, Ghadamis, Suknah, Awjilah, Tamasheq)

Religions (%)

Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%, Christian 2.7%, Buddhist 0.3%, Hindu <.1, Jewish <.1, folk religion <.1, unafilliated 0.2%, other <.1
note: non-Sunni Muslims include native Ibadhi Muslims (<1% of the population) and foreign Muslims (2010 est.)


note: immigrants make up just over 12% of the total population, according to UN data (2013) (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 26.9% (male 859,016/female 820,643)
15-24 years: 18.2% (male 586,749/female 546,602)
25-54 years: 46.1% (male 1,509,108/female 1,370,709)
55-64 years: 4.8% (male 154,847/female 145,330)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 126,691/female 124,479) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Libya

Median age (years)

total: 27.5 years
male: 27.7 years
female: 27.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

3.08% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

18.4 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

3.57 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

16.01 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 77.7% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TRIPOLI (capital) 1.127 million (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.04 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate (deaths/100,000 live births)

58 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 11.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.83 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 76.04 years
male: 74.36 years
female: 77.82 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.07 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Health expenditures (% of GDP)

4.4% of GDP (2011)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

1.9 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

3.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 54.2% of population
rural: 54.9% of population
total: 54.4% of population
unimproved: urban: 45.8% of population
rural: 45.1% of population
total: 45.6% of population (2001 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 96.8% of population
rural: 95.7% of population
total: 96.6% of population
unimproved: urban: 3.2% of population
rural: 4.3% of population
total: 3.4% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)

0.3% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

10,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate (%)

27.8% (2008)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight (%)

5.6% (2007)

Education expenditures (% of GDP)


Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.5%
male: 95.8%
female: 83.3% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 16 years (2003)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Libya
local long form: none
local short form: Libiya

Government type

operates under a transitional government


name: Tripoli (Tarabulus)
geographic coordinates: 32 53 N, 13 10 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in March; ends last Friday in October
note: on 10 November 2012, Libya changed its standard time from UTC+2 to UTC+1

Administrative divisions

22 districts (shabiyat, singular - shabiyat); Al Butnan, Al Jabal al Akhdar, Al Jabal al Gharbi, Al Jafarah, Al Jufrah, Al Kufrah, Al Marj, Al Marqab, Al Wahat, An Nuqat al Khams, Az Zawiyah, Banghazi, Darnah, Ghat, Misratah, Murzuq, Nalut, Sabha, Surt, Tarabulus, Wadi al Hayat, Wadi ash Shati


24 December 1951 (from UN trusteeship)

National holiday

Liberation Day, 23 October (2011)


previous 1951, 1977; latest 2011 (interim); note - in mid-July 2013, Libya's legislative body agreed on steps for drafting a new constitution (2013)

Legal system

Libya's post-revolution legal system is in flux and driven by state and non-state entities

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


18 years of age, universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President, General National Congress, Nuri Abu SAHMAYN
head of government: Abdullah al-THANI remains Prime Minister after the 4 May 2014 election is declared unconstitutional; Deputy Prime Ministers Awad Ibrik Ibrahim al-BARASI, Sadiq Abd al-Karim Abd al-Rahman KARIM, Abd-al-Salam Muhammad al-Mahdi al-QADI
cabinet: new cabinet approved by the General National Congress on 31 October 2012
elections: prime minister and General National Congress president elected by the National Congress
election results: NA

Legislative branch

unicameral General National Congress (200 seats; 120 individual seats elected from 69 constituencies and 80 party list seats elected from 20 constituencies; member term NA)
elections: first General National Congress election held on 7 July 2012 (next to be held NA)
election results: percent of vote for party list seats only - NFA 48.7%, JCP 21.3%, other parties 30%; list and constituent seats - NFA 39, JCP 17, other 24, independents 120

Judicial branch

highest court(s): NA; note - government in transition

Political parties and leaders

Al-Watan (Homeland) Party
Justice and Construction Party or JCP [Muhammad SAWAN]
National Front (initially the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, formed in 1981 as a diaspora opposition group)
National Forces Alliance or NFA [Mahmoud JIBRIL, founder] (includes many political organizations, NGOs, and independents)
Union for the Homeland [Abd al-Rahman al-SUWAYHILI]
note: list includes some of the larger political parties and leaders

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Suleiman ABULHI
chancery: 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 705, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 944-9601
FAX: [1] (202) 944-9606

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Deborah K. JONES (since 11 June 2013)
note: on 11 September 2012, US Ambassador Christopher STEVENS and three other American diplomats were killed in an attack by heavily armed militants on a US diplomatic post in the eastern city of Benghazi
embassy: Sidi Slim Area/Walie Al-Ahed Road, Tripoli
mailing address: US Embassy, 8850 Tripoli Place, Washington, DC 20521-8850
telephone: [218] (0) 91-220-3239

Flag description

three horizontal bands of red (top), black (double width), and green with a white crescent and star centered on the black stripe; the National Transitional Council reintroduced this flag design of the former Kingdom of Libya (1951-1969) on 27 February 2011; it replaced the former all-green banner promulgated by the QADHAFI regime in 1977; the colors represent the three major regions of the country: red stands for Fezzan, black symbolizes Cyrenaica, and green denotes Tripolitania; the crescent and star represent Islam, the main religion of the country

National symbol(s)

star and crescent; hawk

National anthem

name: "Allahu Akbar" (God Is Greatest)
lyrics/music: Mahmoud el-SHERIF/Abdalla Shams el-DIN
note: adopted 1969; the anthem was originally a battle song for the Egyptian Army in the 1956 Suez War


Economy - overview

Libya's economy is structured primarily around the nation's energy sector, which generates about 95% of export earnings, 80% of GDP, and 99% of government income. Substantial revenue from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but Tripoli largely has not used its significant financial resources to develop national infrastructure or the economy, leaving many citizens poor. In the final five years of QADHAFI's rule, Libya made some progress on economic reform as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and after Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction. The process of lifting US unilateral sanctions began in the spring of 2004; all sanctions were removed by June 2006, helping Libya attract greater foreign direct investment, especially in the energy and banking sectors. Libyan oil and gas licensing rounds drew high international interest, but new rounds are unlikely to be successful until Libya establishes a more permanent government and is able to offer more attractive financial terms on contracts and increase security. Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing its primarily socialist economy, but the revolution has unleashed previously restrained entrepreneurial activity and increased the potential for the evolution of a more market-based economy. The service and construction sectors expanded over the past five years and could become a larger share of GDP if Tripoli prioritizes capital spending on development projects once political and security uncertainty subside. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 80% of its food. Libya's primary agricultural water source is the Great Manmade River Project.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$73.6 billion (2013 est.)
$77.57 billion (2012 est.)
$37.94 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$70.92 billion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

-5.1% (2013 est.)
104.5% (2012 est.)
-62.1% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$11,300 (2013 est.)
$12,100 (2012 est.)
$6,000 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 2%
industry: 58.3%
services: 39.7% (2013 est.)

Labor force

1.644 million (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 17%
industry: 23%
services: 59% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate (%)

30% (2004 est.)

Population below poverty line (%)

note: about one-third of Libyans live at or below the national poverty line

Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $41.54 billion
expenditures: $41.87 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

58.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-0.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt (% of GDP)

4.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
4.1% of GDP (2012 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

3.2% (2013 est.)
6.1% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate (%)

9.52% (31 December 2010 est.)
3% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate (%)

6% (31 December 2013 est.)
6% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$47.25 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$45.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money

$51.86 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$49.28 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$-54.04 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$-47.25 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Agriculture - products

wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans; cattle


petroleum, petrochemicals, aluminum, iron and steel, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement

Industrial production growth rate (%)

9.6% (2013 est.)

Current account balance

$2.727 billion (2013 est.)
$27.17 billion (2012 est.)


$38.45 billion (2013 est.)
$52.02 billion (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas, chemicals

Exports - partners (%)

Italy 23.3%, Germany 12.4%, China 11.2%, France 9.7%, Spain 7.6%, UK 4.7%, US 4.5% (2012)


$27.15 billion (2013 est.)
$18.1 billion (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

machinery, semi-finished goods, food, transport equipment, consumer products

Imports - partners (%)

China 13%, Turkey 11.6%, Italy 8.2%, Egypt 7.7%, Tunisia 6.6%, South Korea 5.8%, Greece 5.4%, Germany 4.6% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$120.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$118.6 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

External debt ($)

$6.319 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$5.278 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$17.92 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$16.84 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$17.82 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$17.21 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Libyan dinars (LYD) per US dollar -
1.277 (2013 est.)
1.2617 (2012 est.)
1.2668 (2010 est.)
1.2535 (2009)
1.2112 (2008)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

29.72 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

25.24 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

129 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

76 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

6.766 million kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

100% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

1.483 million bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

1.378 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

48.01 billion bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

388,300 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

314,000 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

119,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

575 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

7.855 billion cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

6.844 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

3.666 billion cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

1.547 trillion cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

49.67 million Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

814,000 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

9.59 million (2012)

Telephone system

general assessment: telecommunications system is state-owned and service is poor, but investment is being made to upgrade; state retains monopoly in fixed-line services; mobile-cellular telephone system became operational in 1996
domestic: multiple providers for a mobile telephone system that is growing rapidly; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity has soared
international: country code - 218; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat, NA Arabsat, and NA Intersputnik; submarine cable to France and Italy; microwave radio relay to Tunisia and Egypt; tropospheric scatter to Greece; participant in Medarabtel (2010)

Broadcast media

state-funded and private TV stations; some provinces operate local TV stations; pan-Arab satellite TV stations are available; state-funded radio (2012)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

17,926 (2012)

Internet users

353,900 (2009)



146 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 68
over 3,047 m: 23
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 30
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 78
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 37
under 914 m: 20 (2013)


2 (2013)

Pipelines (km)

condensate 882 km; gas 3,743 km; oil 7,005 km (2013)

Roadways (km)

total: 100,024 km
paved: 57,214 km
unpaved: 42,810 km (2003)

Merchant marine

total: 23
by type: cargo 2, chemical tanker 4, liquefied gas 3, petroleum tanker 13, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Kuwait 1, Norway 1)
registered in other countries: 6 (Hong Kong 1, Malta 5) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Marsa al Burayqah (Marsa el Brega), Tripoli
oil terminal(s): Az Zawiyah, Ra's Lanuf


Military branches

note - in transition; government attempting to staff a new national army with anti-QADAFI militia fighters and former members of QADAFI's military (2008)

Military service age and obligation (years of age)

18 years of age for mandatory or voluntary service (2012)

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 1,775,078
females age 16-49: 1,714,194 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 1,511,144
females age 16-49: 1,458,934 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 59,547
female: 57,070 (2010 est.)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

dormant disputes include Libyan claims of about 32,000 sq km still reflected on its maps of southeastern Algeria and the FLN's assertions of a claim to Chirac Pastures in southeastern Morocco; various Chadian rebels from the Aozou region reside in southern Libya

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 16,796 (Syria) (2013)
IDPs: at least 80,400 (59,400 still displaced at the end of 2013 from the conflict between pro-Qadhafi and anti-Qadhafi forces in 2011; 21,000 displaced by clashes in and around Sebha in 2014) (2014)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Libya is a destination and transit country for men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution; migrants who seek employment in Libya as laborers and domestic workers or transit Libya en route to Europe may be subject to forced labor; private employers also recruit migrants from detention centers as forced laborers on farms and construction sites; some sub-Saharan women are reportedly forced to work in Libyan brothels
tier rating: Tier 3 - the Libyan Government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government has failed to demonstrate significant efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders or to protect trafficking victims; policies and practices with respect to undocumented migrant workers has resulted in Libyan authorities detaining and punishing trafficking victims for unlawful acts that were committed as a result of being trafficked; no public anti-trafficking awareness campaigns are conducted; officials receive no training on trafficking issues (2013)

Largest cities of Libya

These are the 50 largest cities of Libya ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Tripoli 1,150,990
2 Benghazi 650,629
3 Misratah 386,120
4 Tarhunah 210,698
5 Zuwarah 180,310
6 Ajdabiya 134,357
7 Surt 128,123
8 Sabha 126,387
9 Tubruq 121,052
10 Sabratah 102,037
11 Zlitan 99,289
12 Darnah 78,782
13 Yafran 67,638
14 Nalut 66,228
15 Bani Walid 46,350
16 Marzuq 43,732
17 Awbari 42,975
18 Waddan 27,590
19 Mizdah 26,107
20 Surman 25,235
21 Gat 24,347
22 Masallatah 23,702
23 Tukrah 23,164
24 Hun 18,878
25 Zaltan 16,291
26 Suluq 15,543
27 Bardiyah 9,149
28 Awjilah 6,610
29 Jadu 6,013