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Flag of Libya
Map of Libya
Introduction Libya
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.
Geography Libya
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
water: 0 sq km
land: 1,759,540 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
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: 0.17%
other: 98.8% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
4,700 sq km (1998 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: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note:
more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert
People Libya
note: includes 662,669 non-nationals, of which an estimated 500,000 or more are Africans living in Libya (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (male 958,243; female 917,940)
15-64 years: 61% (male 1,694,986; female 1,581,400)
65 years and over: 4% (male 105,500; female 110,516) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.41% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
27.59 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
3.5 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
27.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.86 years
female: 78.11 years (2002 est.)
male: 73.71 years
Total fertility rate:
3.57 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.05% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan
Ethnic groups:
Berber and Arab 97%, Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, Tunisians
Sunni Muslim 97%
Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.2%
male: 87.9%
female: 63% (1995 est.)
Government Libya
Country name:
conventional long form: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
conventional short form: Libya
local short form: none
local long form: Al Jumahiriyah al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma
Government type:
Jamahiriya (a state of the masses) in theory, governed by the populace through local councils; in fact, a military dictatorship
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 Italy)
National holiday:
Revolution Day, 1 September (1969)
11 December 1969, amended 2 March 1977
Legal system:
based on Italian civil law system 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
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 2 March 2000 (next to be held NA)
election results: Mubarak al-SHAMEKH elected premier; percent of General People's Congress vote - NA%
cabinet: General People's Committee established by the General People's Congress
head of government: Secretary of the General People's Committee (Premier) Mubarak al-SHAMEKH (since 2 March 2000)
Legislative branch:
unicameral General People's Congress (NA seats; members elected indirectly through a hierarchy of people's committees)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Political pressure groups and leaders:
various Arab nationalist movements with almost negligible memberships may be functioning clandestinely, as well as some Islamic elements
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Libya does not have an embassy in the US
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US suspended all embassy activities in Tripoli on 2 May 1980
Flag description:
plain green; green is the traditional color of Islam (the state religion)
Economy Libya
Economy - overview:
The socialist-oriented economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contributes practically all export earnings and about one-quarter of GDP. These oil revenues and 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. Import restrictions and inefficient resource allocations have led to periodic shortages of basic goods and foodstuffs. The nonoil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for about 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. Higher oil prices in 1999 and 2000 led to an increase in export revenues, which improved macroeconomic balances and helped to stimulate the economy. The suspension of UN sanctions in 1999 also boosted growth. Libya's January 2002 51% devaluation of the official exchange rate of the dinar is another fiscal plus, although it will also bring higher inflation.
purchasing power parity - $40 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 7%
industry: 47%
services: 46% (1997 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
13.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
1.5 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 54%, industry 29%, agriculture 17% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
30% (2000 est.)
revenues: $9.3 billion
expenditures: $9.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
petroleum, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
19.4 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
18.042 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans; cattle
$13.1 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil, refined petroleum products
Exports - partners:
Italy 42%, Germany 19%, Spain 13%, Turkey 6%, France 4%, Switzerland 3%, Tunisia 2% (2000)
$8.7 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, transport equipment, food, manufactured goods
Imports - partners:
Italy 25%, Germany 10%, UK 8%, France 7%, Tunisia 7%, South Korea 4% (2000)
Debt - external:
$4.7 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$7 million
Libyan dinar (LYD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Libyan dinars per US dollar - 0.6501 (December 2001), 0.6501 (2001), 0.5403 (2000), 0.5403 (1999), 0.3785 (1998), 0.3891 (1997); market rate for Libyan dinars per US dollar - 1.55 (January 2002)
note: Libya devalued its official rate for foreign trade on 1 January 2002 to 21.30 dinars per US dollar; the previous official rate was 0.63 dinar per US dollar (Dec 2001 )
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Libya
Telephones - main lines in use:
500,000 (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
20,000 (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: telecommunications system is being modernized; mobile cellular telephone system became operational in 1996
domestic: microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, cellular, tropospheric scatter, and a domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: 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 (1999)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 16, FM 3, shortwave 3 (2002)
1.35 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
12 (plus one low-power repeater) (1999)
730,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
20,000 (2001)
Transportation Libya
note: Libya has had no railroad in operation since 1965, all previous systems having been dismantled; current plans are to construct a 1.435-m standard-gauge line from the Tunisian frontier to Tripoli and Misratah, then inland to Sabha, center of a mineral-rich area, but there has been little progress; other plans made jointly with Egypt would establish a rail line from As Sallum, Egypt, to Tobruk with completion originally set for mid-1994; Libya signed contracts with two private companies - Bahne of Egypt and Jez Sistemas Ferroviarios of Spain - in 1998 for the supply of crossings and pointwork (2001)
total: 24,484 km
paved: 6,798 km
unpaved: 17,686 km
note: data for the length of unpaved roads include the assumption that because they were listed as secondary roads, they are unpaved; some may be paved and some part of the primary roads may not be paved (1996)
crude oil 4,383 km; petroleum products 443 km (includes liquefied petroleum gas or LPG 256 km); natural gas 1,947 km
Ports and harbors:
Al Khums, Banghazi, Darnah, Marsa al Burayqah, Misratah, Ra's Lanuf, Tobruk, Tripoli, Zuwarah
Merchant marine:
total: 23 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 209,000 GRT/278,277 DWT
ships by type: cargo 9, chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas 3, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 4, short-sea passenger 4
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Algeria 1, Kuwait 1, United Arab Emirates 1 (2002 est.)
136 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 58
over 3,047 m: 23
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 22
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 78
under 914 m: 18 (2002)
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 39
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
1 (2002)
Military Libya
Military branches:
Armed Peoples on Duty (Army), Navy, Air and Air Defense Command (includes Air Force)
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,503,647 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 890,783 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 61,694 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.3 billion (FY99/00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.9% (FY99/00)
Transnational Issues Libya
Disputes - international:
Chadian rebels from Aozou region reside in Libya; Libya claims about 19,400 sq km in Niger as well as part of southeastern Algeria in currently dormant disputes

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003