country profile - LIBYA
Background: 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. The country subsequently elected a new parliament in 2014, but remnants of the outgoing legislature refused to leave office and created a rival government.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria
Area: total: 1,759,540 sq km
land: 1,759,540 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 4,339 km
border countries (6): Algeria 989 km, Chad 1,050 km, Egypt 1,115 km, Niger 342 km, Sudan 382 km, Tunisia 461 km
Coastline: 1,770 km
Climate: Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, gypsum
Population: 6,411,776
note: immigrants make up just over 12% of the total population, according to UN data (2013) (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.52% (male 869,583/female 830,751)
15-24 years: 17.77% (male 588,243/female 551,139)
25-54 years: 46.62% (male 1,567,608/female 1,421,246)
55-64 years: 4.97% (male 163,133/female 155,703)
65 years and over: 4.12% (male 132,740/female 131,630) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 28 years
male: 28.2 years
female: 27.8 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.23% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 18.03 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 3.58 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate 7.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: 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: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan
Ethnic groups: Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)
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.)
Languages: Arabic (official), Italian, English (all widely understood in the major cities); Berber (Nafusi, Ghadamis, Suknah, Awjilah, Tamasheq)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91%
male: 96.7%
female: 85.6% (2015 est.)
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
Capital: name: Tripoli (Tarabulus)
geographic coordinates: 32 53 N, 13 10 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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
Independence: 24 December 1951 (from UN trusteeship)
National holiday: Liberation Day, 23 October (2011)
Legal system: Libya's post-revolution legal system is in flux and driven by state and non-state entities
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and technically compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: Speaker of the House of Representatives Aqilah Salah ISSA (since 5 August 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Abdullah al-THINI (since 11 March 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers Abd al-Salam al-BADRI (since 4 August 2014), Al-Mahdi Hasan Muftah al-LABAD (since 4 August 2014), Abd al-Rahman al-Tahir al-UHAYRISH (since 4 August 2014)
cabinet: new cabinet approved by the House of Representatives in September 2014
elections/appointments: prime minister and speaker of the house elected by the House of Representatives
election results: NA
Legislative branch: unicameral House of Representatives or Majlis Al Nuwab (200 seats including 32 reserved for women; member term NA)
elections: election last held in June 2014; note—the Libyan Supreme Court in November 2014 declared the House election unconstitutional; however, no country has officially recognized the rival government
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 200; note - not all 200 seats were filled in the June election because of boycotts and lack of security at some polling stations; some elected members of the House also boycotted
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 Forces Alliance or NFA [Mahmoud JIBRIL, founder] (includes many political organizations, NGOs, and independents)
National Front (initially the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, formed in 1981 as a diaspora opposition group)
Union for the Homeland [Abd al-Rahman al-SUWAYHILI]
note: partial list of the larger political parties and leaders
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
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
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 710,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 10.1 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 161 (2014 est.)
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)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 3, shortwave 3 (2001)
Television broadcast stations: 12 (plus 1 repeater) (1999)
Internet country code: .ly
Internet hosts: 11,751 (2009)
Internet users: 1.4 million (2014 est.)
Airports: 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)
Heliports: 2 (2013)
Pipelines: condensate 882 km; gas 3,743 km; oil 7,005 km (2013)
Roadways: 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
LNG terminal (export): Marsa el Brega
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): 18,653 (Syria); 5,391 (West Bank and Gaza Strip) (2014)
IDPs: more than 434,000 (conflict between pro-Qadhafi and anti-Qadhafi forces in 2011; post-Qadhafi tribal clashes 2014) (2015)
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, particularly in the country’s south; militia groups and other informal military units allegedly conscript children under the age of 18
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 failed to demonstrate significant efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders in 2013 or to identify and protect trafficking victims; authorities continued to treat trafficking victims as illegal migrants, punishing them for unlawful acts that were committed as a result of being trafficked; no public anti-trafficking awareness or education campaigns were conducted (2014)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 failed to demonstrate significant efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders in 2013 or to identify and protect trafficking victims; authorities continued to treat trafficking victims as illegal migrants, punishing them for unlawful acts that were committed as a result of being trafficked; no public anti-trafficking awareness or education campaigns were conducted (2014)
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook,