Country profile for Libya

Libyan flags from the Gaddafi era and after are shown on a map

Due to rival governments in the west and east vying for national dominance, Libya, a mostly desert oil-rich country, has emerged as a major entry point for migrants traveling to Europe.

Prior to its independence in 1951, Libya spent centuries under foreign rule. Soon after, oil was found, which brought the nation great wealth.

Colonel Gaddafi seized control in 1969 and ruled for forty years before being overthrown in 2011 with the help of Western military intervention.

Since 2014, Libya has been split up into rival political and military factions that are based in various regions of the nation. In 2020, the two sides agreed to a long-term ceasefire, but political animosity persists.

  • Capital:. Tripoli.
  • Area:. 1,759,541 sq km.
  • Population:. 7,0 mil.
  • Language:. Arabic.
  • Expected lifespan: (Men) 70 years; (Women) 75 years.

Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, head of the Government of National Unity.

Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh

In March 2021, a Government of National Unity (GNU) with its headquarters in Tripoli and Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh as its internationally acclaimed prime minister was established.

The parallel governments that had existed since 2014 were successfully replaced by this one, which served as Libya's sole government for the first time in close to seven years.

This, however, was only temporary; in March 2022, the eastern-based parliament established the rival Government of National Stability (GNS), which was headed by Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha.

The GNS has struggled to make an international case for its legitimacy.

Ancient Roman arch in modern Tripoli
Ancient and contemporary structures coexist in Tripoli, the country's capital.

The highly polarized and essentially unregulated media landscape in Libya reflects the political unrest in the nation.

A significant news source is satellite TV, and many outlets are based outside of Libya.

It's risky to practice journalism; journalists frequently come under attack.

Libya's Col Gaddafi
During his four decades in power, Muammar Gaddafi grew increasingly irrational. He first seized power as a young officer.

Several significant dates in Libya's contemporary history are:.

AD 643. - Amr Ibn al-As leads Arabs to conquest of Libya and the spread of Islam.

sixteenth century. - Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan are combined into a single regency in Tripoli as a result of Libya's incorporation into the Ottoman Empire.

1911-12 . Italy takes control of Libya from the Ottomans.

1920s  . - The resistance of Libya to Italian rule increases.

1931 . Italy uses a combination of large-scale military operations and detention facilities for the rebel population to overcome resistance.

1934 . - Italy increases its immigration of Italians as part of a long-term strategy to incorporate Libya into a Greater Italy.

1942 . - After a two-year campaign, the Allies drive the Italians and their German allies out of Libya.

1951 . - Under King Idris, Libya gains independence.

1956 . - Exploration of Libya's oil reserves commences.

1969 . King Idris is overthrown by Muammar Gaddafi.

1971 . - The proposed Federation of Arab Republics (FAR), which consists of Libya, Egypt, and Syria, is approved by national referendum. The FAR, however, never takes off.

1977 . Col. Gaddafi proclaims a "people's revolution," renaming the nation from the Libyan Arab Republic to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah, and establishing "revolutionary committees.".

Wreckage of the airliner that came down over Lockerbie
Libya has been charged with taking part in the downing of the PanAm 747 that blew up and crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland.

1992 . - In response to the bombing of a PanAm airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988, the UN imposes sanctions on Libya.

2011 . - Benghazi is the starting point for violent protests that spread to other cities. This results in civil war, outside intervention, and ultimately Colonel Gaddafi's overthrow and demise.

2016. - After years of conflict, Tripoli now has a new government backed by the UN. Rival governments and a variety of militias oppose it.

2021. - Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh assumes control of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which is backed by the UN.

British tanks in pursuit of German forces in Libya
A significant battleground in World War Two was Libya.

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