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Libya CIA factbook

Libya CIA factbook




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 Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI began to espouse his own political system, the Third Universal Theory. The system is a combination of socialism and Islam derived in part from tribal practices and is supposed to be implemented by the Libyan people themselves in a unique form of "direct democracy." QADHAFI has always seen himself as a revolutionary and visionary leader. He used oil funds during the 1970s and 1980s to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversives and terrorists abroad to hasten the end of Marxism and capitalism. In addition, beginning in 1973, he engaged in military operations in northern Chad's Aozou Strip - to gain access to minerals and to use as a base of influence in Chadian politics - but was forced to retreat in 1987. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically following the downing of Pan AM Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. During the 1990s, QADHAFI began to rebuild his relationships with Europe. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism. QADHAFI has made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations since then. He has received various Western European leaders as well as many working-level and commercial delegations, and made his first trip to Western Europe in 15 years when he traveled to Brussels in April 2004. Libya has responded in good faith to legal cases brought against it in US courts for terrorist acts that predate its renunciation of violence. Claims for compensation in the Lockerbie bombing, LaBelle disco bombing, and UTA 772 bombing cases are ongoing. The US rescinded Libya's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in June 2006. In late 2007, Libya was elected by the General Assembly to a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2008-09 term.


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

Geographic coordinates:

25 00 N, 17 00 E

Map references:



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

Area - comparative:

slightly larger than Alaska

Land boundaries:

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


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:

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

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, gypsum

Land use:

arable land: 1.03%
permanent crops: 0.19%
other: 98.78% (2005)

Irrigated land:

4,700 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

0.6 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 4.27 cu km/yr (14%/3%/83%)
per capita: 730 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 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: 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


note: includes 166,510 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 33.2% (male 1,046,400/female 1,002,148)
15-64 years: 62.6% (male 1,988,038/female 1,875,034)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 128,386/female 133,573) (2008 est.)

Median age:

total: 23.6 years
male: 23.7 years
female: 23.5 years (2008 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.216% (2008 est.)

Birth rate:

25.62 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Death rate:

3.46 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Net migration rate:

NA (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 21.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.14 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.07 years
male: 74.81 years
female: 79.44 years (2008 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.15 children born/woman (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

10,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:



noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan

Ethnic groups:

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


Sunni Muslim 97%, other 3%


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


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.6%
male: 92.4%
female: 72% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 17 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2003)

Education expenditures:

2.7% of GDP (1999)


Country name:

conventional long form: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
conventional short form: Libya
local long form: Al Jumahiriyah al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma
local short form: none

Government type:

Jamahiriya (a state of the masses) in theory, governed by the populace through local councils; in practice, an authoritarian state


name: Tripoli
geographic coordinates: 32 53 N, 13 10 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

25 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ajdabiya, Al 'Aziziyah, Al Fatih, Al Jabal al Akhdar, Al Jufrah, Al Khums, Al Kufrah, An Nuqat al Khams, Ash Shati', Awbari, Az Zawiyah, Banghazi, Darnah, Ghadamis, Gharyan, Misratah, Murzuq, Sabha, Sawfajjin, Surt, Tarabulus, Tarhunah, Tubruq, Yafran, Zlitan; note - the 25 municipalities may have been replaced by 13 regions


24 December 1951 (from UN trusteeship)

National holiday:

Revolution Day, 1 September (1969)


none; note - following the September 1969 military overthrow of the Libyan government, the Revolutionary Command Council replaced the existing constitution with the Constitutional Proclamation in December 1969; in March 1977, Libya adopted the Declaration of the Establishment of the People's Authority

Legal system:

based on Italian and French civil law systems and Islamic law; separate religious courts; no constitutional provision for judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:

chief of state: Revolutionary Leader Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI (since 1 September 1969); note - holds no official title, but is de facto chief of state
head of government: Secretary of the General People's Committee (Prime Minister) al-Baghdadi Ali al-MAHMUDI (since 5 March 2006)
cabinet: General People's Committee established by the General People's Congress
elections: national elections are indirect through a hierarchy of people's committees; head of government elected by the General People's Congress; election last held March 2006 (next to be held NA)
election results: NA

Legislative branch:

unicameral General People's Congress (approximately 2,700 seats; members elected indirectly through a hierarchy of people's committees)

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:


Political pressure groups and leaders:

other: Arab nationalist movements; anti-QADHAFI Libyan exile Movement; Islamic elements

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Ali Suleiman AUJALI
chancery: 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 705, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 944-9601
FAX: [1] (202) 944-9060

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires J. Christopher STEVENS
embassy: Serraj Area, Tripoli
mailing address: US Embassy, 8850 Tripoli Place, Washington, DC 20521-8850
telephone: [218] 91-220-0125

Flag description:

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


Economy - overview:

The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 95% of export earnings, about one-quarter of GDP, and 60% of public sector wages. Substantial revenues from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower orders of society. Libyan officials in the past five years have made progress on economic reforms 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 as Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction. Almost all US unilateral sanctions against Libya were removed in April 2004, helping Libya attract more foreign direct investment, mostly in the energy sector. Libyan oil and gas licensing rounds continue to draw high international interest; the National Oil Company set a goal of nearly doubling oil production to 3 million bbl/day by 2015. Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps - including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization - are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy. The non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for more than 20% of GDP, have expanded from processing mostly agricultural products to include the production of petrochemicals, iron, steel, and aluminum. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food. Libya's primary agricultural water source remains the Great Manmade River Project, but significant resources are being invested in desalinization research to meet growing water demands.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$74.72 billion (2007 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$57.06 billion (2007 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.8% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$12,400 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 2%
industry: 83.1%
services: 14.8% (2007 est.)

Labor force:

1.83 million (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

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

Unemployment rate:

30% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

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

Investment (gross fixed):

8.8% of GDP (2007 est.)


revenues: $39.88 billion
expenditures: $19.48 billion (2007 est.)

Public debt:

4.7% of GDP (2007 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

6.3% (2007 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

4% (31 December 2007)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

6% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money:

$18.04 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:

$3.192 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:

NA (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

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


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

Industrial production growth rate:

5.6% (2007 est.)

Electricity - production:

23.98 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

20.71 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production:

1.845 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - consumption:

278,700 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Oil - exports:

1.455 million bbl/day (2005)

Oil - imports:

575.3 bbl/day (2005)

Oil - proved reserves:

41.46 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Natural gas - production:

14.8 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

6.39 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

9.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

1.419 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Current account balance:

$26.38 billion (2007 est.)


$42.97 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities:

crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas, chemicals

Exports - partners:

Italy 40.5%, Germany 12.2%, US 7.4%, Spain 7.4%, France 6.3% (2007)


$14.43 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

Italy 18.9%, Germany 7.7%, China 7.3%, Tunisia 6.8%, France 5.7%, Turkey 5.4%, US 4.3% (2007)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$79.6 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.837 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$6.286 billion (2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$3.333 billion (2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:


Currency (code):

Libyan dinar (LYD)

Exchange rates:

Libyan dinars (LYD) per US dollar - 1.2604 (2007), 1.3108 (2006), 1.3084 (2005), 1.305 (2004), 1.2929 (2003)


Telephones - main lines in use:

852,300 (2005)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

4.5 million (2007)

Telephone system:

general assessment: telecommunications system is being modernized; mobile cellular telephone system became operational in 1996; combined fixed line and mobile telephone density approached 90 telephones per 100 persons in 2007
domestic: microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, cellular, tropospheric scatter, and a domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: country code - 218; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat, NA Arabsat, and NA Intersputnik; submarine cables to France and Italy; microwave radio relay to Tunisia and Egypt; tropospheric scatter to Greece; participant in Medarabtel (2007)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 16, FM 3, shortwave 3 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:

12 (plus 1 repeater) (1999)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

31 (2008)

Internet users:

260,000 (2006)



141 (2007)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 60
over 3,047 m: 23
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 2 (2007)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 81
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 41
under 914 m: 18 (2007)


2 (2007)


condensate 882 km; gas 3,425 km; oil 6,956 km (2007)


0 km
note: Libya has announced plans to build seven lines totaling 2,757 km of 1.435-m gauge track (2006)


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

Merchant marine:

total: 17
by type: cargo 9, liquefied gas 3, petroleum tanker 4, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 4 (Kuwait 1, Norway 1, Syria 2)
registered in other countries: 3 (Malta 3) (2008)

Ports and terminals:

As Sidrah, Az Zuwaytinah, Marsa al Burayqah, Ra's Lanuf, Tripoli, Zawiyah


Military branches:

Armed Peoples on Duty (APOD, Army), Libyan Arab Navy, Libyan Arab Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriya al-Arabia al-Libyya, LAAF) (2008)

Military service age and obligation:

17 years of age (2004)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 1,682,183
females age 16-49: 1,611,001 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 1,439,941
females age 16-49: 1,381,914 (2008 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 61,305
female: 58,788 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:

3.9% of GDP (2005 est.)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:

Libya has claimed more than 32,000 sq km in southeastern Algeria and about 25,000 sq km in the Tommo region of Niger in a currently dormant dispute; various Chadian rebels from the Aozou region reside in southern Libya

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 8,000 (Palestinian Territories) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:

current situation: Libya is a transit and destination country for men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Libya is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking in persons in 2007 when compared to 2006, particularly in the area of investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenses; Libya did not publicly release any data on investigations or punishment of any trafficking offenses (2008)

This page was last updated on 18 December 2008

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