(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks from 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, and 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 The US rescinded Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in June 2006.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.|
|History||Archaeological evidence indicates that from as early as the 8th millennium BC, Libya’s coastal plain was inhabited by a Neolithic people who were skilled in the domestication of cattle and the cultivation of crops. The area known in modern times as Libya was later occupied by a series of peoples, with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines ruling all or part of the area. Although the Greeks and Romans left ruins at Cyrene, Leptis Magna and Sabratha, little other evidence remains of these ancient cultures.
The Phoenicians were the first to establish trading posts in Libya, when the merchants of Tyre (in present-day Lebanon) developed commercial relations with the Berber tribes and made treaties with them to ensure their cooperation in the exploitation of raw materials. By the 5th century BC, Carthage, the greatest of the Phoenician colonies, had extended its hegemony across much of N.Africa, where a distinctive civilization, known as Punic, came into being. Punic settlements on the Libyan coast included Oea (Tripoli), Libdah (Leptis Magna) and Sabratha. All these were in an area that was later called Tripolis, or “Three Cities”. Libya’s current-day capital Tripoli takes its name from this.
The Greeks conquered Eastern Libya when, according to tradition, emigrants from the crowded island of Thera were commanded by the oracle at Delphi to seek a new home in North Africa. In 630 BC, they founded the city of Cyrene. Within 200 years, four more important Greek cities were established in the area: Barce (Al Marj); Euhesperides (later Berenice, present-day Benghazi); Teuchira (later Arsinoe, present-day Tukrah); and Apollonia (Susah), the port of Cyrene. Together with Cyrene, they were known as the Pentapolis (Five Cities).
The Romans unified all three regions of Libya, and for more than 600 years Tripolitania and Cyrenaica became prosperous Roman provinces. Roman ruins, such as those of Leptis Magna, attest to the vitality of the region, where populous cities and even small towns enjoyed the amenities of urban life. Merchants and artisans from many parts of the Roman world established themselves in North Africa, but the character of the cities of Tripolitania remained decidedly Punic and, in Cyrenaica, Greek.
Arabs under General Abdullah ibn Saad conquered Libya in the 7th century AD during the reign of Caliph Usman. In the following centuries, many of the indigenous peoples adopted Islam, and also the Arabic language and culture.
The Ottoman Turks conquered the country in the mid-16th century, and the three States or “Wilayat” of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan (which make up Libya) remained part of their empire with the exception of the virtual autonomy of the Karamanlis. The Karamanlis ruled from 1711 until 1835 mainly in Tripolitania, but had influence in Cyrenaica and Fezzan as well by the mid 18th century. This constituted a first glimpse in recent history of the united and independent Libya that was to re-emerge two centuries later. Ironically, reunification came about through the unlikely route of an invasion (Italo-Turkish War, 1911-1912) and occupation starting from 1911 when Italy simultaneously turned the three regions into colonies.
From 1912 to 1927, the territory of Libya was known as Italian North Africa. From 1927 to 1934, the territory was split into two colonies, Italian Cyrenaica and Italian Tripolitania run by Italian governors.
In 1934, Italy adopted the name “Libya” (used by the Greeks for all of North Africa, except Egypt) as the official name of the colony (made up of the three Provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan). King Idris I, Emir of Cyrenaica, led Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two World Wars. From 1943 to 1951, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were under British administration, while the French controlled Fezzan. In 1944, Idris returned from exile in Cairo but declined to resume permanent residence in Cyrenaica until the removal of some aspects of foreign control in 1947. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty with the Allies, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.
United Kingdom of Libya
On November 21, 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before January 1, 1952. Idris represented Libya in the subsequent UN negotiations. On December 24, 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris.
The discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled one of the world’s poorest nations to establish an extremely wealthy state. Although oil drastically improved the Libyan government’s finances, popular resentment began to build over the increased concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of King Idris and the national elite. This discontent continued to mount with the rise of Nasserism and Arab nationalism throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
Coup of Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi
On September 1, 1969, a small group of military officers led by then 27-year-old army officer Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris. At the time, Idris was in Turkey for medical treatment. His nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, became King. It was clear that the revolutionary officers who had announced the deposition of King Idris did not want to appoint him over the instruments of state as King. Sayyid quickly found that he had substantially less power as the new King than he had earlier had as a mere Prince. Before the end of September 1, Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida had been formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and put under house arrest. Meanwhile, revolutionary officers abolished the monarchy, and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi was, and is to this day, referred to as the “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” in government statements and the official press.
|Geography||Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia
Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 17 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: 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
Coastline: 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
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: 1.03%
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: NA
Nationality: noun: Libyan(s)
Ethnic groups: Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)
Religions: Sunni Muslim 97%, other 3%
Languages: Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.6%