OFFICIAL NAME: Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Socialist Military Dictatorship
AREA: 1,759,540 Sq Km (679,362 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 5,602,500
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Libya is located along the Mediterranean
coast of North Africa. It is bound by Tunisia to the northwest,
Algeria to the west, Niger to the southwest, Chad to the
south, Sudan to the southeast, Egypt to the east and the
Mediterranean Sea to the north. The principal topographical
regions are Tripolitania or Western Muqataa, Cyrenaica or
Eastern Muqataa and Fezzan or Southern Muqataa. Around 93%
of Libya's land area is semidesert or comprised of the Sahara
Desert. The country is generally low lying with two northern
upland areas while to the south the land rises to form the
Tibesti and Uweinat Massifs. The country has no permanent
rivers, although water courses known as wadis flow during
rains. Major Cities (pop. est.); Tripoli 591,100, Banghazi
446,300, Misratah 121,700 (1988). Land Use; forested 0.5%,
pastures 7.5%, agricultural-cultivated 1%, desert and other
CLIMATE: Libya has two climatic zones, (1.) a Mediterranean along
the coast and the northern areas which is generally characterized by warm
dry summers with cold winters and a variable precipitation up to 600 mm
(24 inches) between October and March. (2.) A hot and dry desert climate
in the south with rainfall seldom exceeding 500 mm (19 inches) annually.
The prevailing winds are from the north and east between May and October
as well as the north and west between November and April. Average temperature
ranges in Tripoli are from 8 to 16 degrees Celsius (46 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit)
in January to 22 to 30 degrees Celsius (72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in
PEOPLE: Around 89% of the population are of mixed Arab-Berber
origin. The remainder are comprised of ethnic minorities of Berber, Negroes
or Harratins and Tebous. In addition, there are small ethnic alien numbers
of Egyptians, Italians, Greeks, Creteans, Maltese, Tunisians and Armenians.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 2.5 persons per sq km
(6.4 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 82.4% urban, 17.6% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 52.4% male, 47.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
61.6 years male, 65.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 46% under 15,
25% 15 to 29, 16% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 3% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 44.0 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 9.4 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 34.6 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 82.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Islam with 97% of the population
Sunni Muslims while Jews and Christians represent less than 1% of the population.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Arabic with the different
dialects for the Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica topographical regions.
Other minority languages include Berber and the Tamohek dialect of Berber.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
72.7%, incomplete primary 18.8%, primary 3.5%, secondary 4.0%, higher 1.0%
(1973). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 63.8% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In Dec. 1951 the Kingdom of Libya
was proclaimed under King Idris. Between 1951 and 1963 the Kingdom of Libya
was made up of the Fezzan, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica provinces. The provinces
had considerable autonomy, however, in 1963 their autonomy was abolished
and the provinces were placed under the control of the central government.
After the King failed to enter the Arab-Israeli Six Day War in 1967, social
tension and unrest developed. In Sept. 1969 military officers led by Col.
Moamar al Gaddafi overthrew King Idris and took control of the government.
The new regime took immediate control of many economic activities and closed
the Western military bases. Throughout the 1970's and early 1980's Col.
Gaddafi has tried to form unions between Libya and several other Arab nations
which have resulted in the leaders of those nations denouncing Gaddafi
for interfering in the affairs of their country. In 1973 Libyan troops
occupied the Aozou Strip in the extreme northwest of Chad and in 1975 Gaddafi
survived a coup attempt. In 1977 a new constitution was adopted which resulted
in the establishment of the "Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah"
(Jamahiriyah means Society of the Masses). During the 1980's the US and
other European governments condemned Gaddafi for supporting terrorism and
in 1981 the US cut off diplomatic links with Libya followed by Britain
in 1984. In 1981 Libya became involved in Chad's civil war which led to
their ultimate defeat in Mar. 1987 when thousands of troops were captured
or killed by the Chadian army. Throughout the early 1980's Libya has been
involved in many terrorist attacks targeting Westerners, which resulted
in the imposition of economic sanctions and culminated in Apr. 1986 when
US Pres. Ronald Reagan ordered US planes to bomb military installations
in Libya. Since the offensive, Gaddafi has maintained a lower profile in
foreign affairs and in Oct. 1990 the government expelled a Palestinian
faction led by Abul Abbas, although the US refused to resume diplomatic
relations and to remove its trade embargo. In 1991 and in the face of strong
Western pressure Libya refused to extradite two Libyans to the US wanted
in connection the the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
In May 1991 Libya's foreign minister called on the US and Britain with
the hope of re-establishing diplomatic ties and ending Libya's growing
isolation. On June 20, 1991 clashes broke out between police and civilians
protesting against the execution of 32 political prisoners, that resulted
in the wounding or death of 20 people. On Aug. 20, 1991 Col. Gaddafi opened
the first stage of Libya's Great Man-Made River, a development under construction
since 1981 to bring water from the southern water basins to the depleted
coastal ground water areas. Also in 1991 relations between Libya and Chad
improved over the disputed Aozou Strip when Gen. Idriss Deby took control
of the country while the Libyan economy also improved throughout the year,
particularly as a result of increased oil prices and exports. On April
15, 1992 a joint US, British and French embargo, with UN approval, resulted
in all international flights to and from Libya's airport being halted,
due to Libya's non-compliance in extraditing two Libyans suspected of bombing
the 1988 Pan Am airliner. Later Col. Gaddafi agreed to the extradition
if the suspects themselves agreed, although he was overruled by the General
People's Congress. In June 1992 the government announced new legislation
to accelerate their privatization program to further attempt to strengthen
the economy while the imposed trade embargo continued to cause domestic
political and economic difficulties. Also in 1992 the Libyan government
attempted to improve relations with the West through closing down the Abu
Nidal training camps and providing the British government with information
on former Libyan links with the IRA. Additionally, Libya approached the
African Development Bank to obtain a loan for the second phase of its Great
Man-Made River project. In April 1993 Col. Gaddafi announced plans to introduce
some of the regulations of Shariah (Islamic) law in the hope of placating
radical fundamentalist Islamic groups threatening the government. In Sept.
1993 the air and arms embargo imposed by the US, British and French governments
was extended to include oil refining and transport equipment as well as
the freezing of some Libyan assets in the hope Libya would comply with
the requests for extradition. In Oct. 1993 government forces put down a
revolt by some army units. On Nov. 11, 1993 the UN voted to tighten the
sanctions even further, which resulted in the sanctions coming into effect
on Dec. 1, 1993 and further straining the domestic economic and living
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dinar (LD) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross Domestic Product; USD $32,900,000,000 (1994).
Public Debt; USD $2,592,000,000 (1992). Imports; USD $4,386,000,000 (1994).
Exports; USD $7,826,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $5,000,000 (1993).
Balance of Trade; USD $3,440,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population;
1,210,000 or 24.8% of total population (1992). Unemployed; N/A.
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Italy, Germany,
France, Spain and Turkey.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barley, Citrus Fruits, Dates, Ground Nuts,
Livestock, Olives, Oil and Natural Gas, Tobacco, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Fishing, Food Processing,
Handicrafts, Oil and Gas Production and Refining, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Natural Gas and Petroleum Products, Oil.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 19,300 km (11,992 mi)
(1987). Vehicles; cars 448,000 (1989), trucks and buses 322,000 (1989).
Merchant Marine; vessels 112 (1990), deadweight tonnage 1,467,728 (1990).
Air Transport; passenger-km 1,968,172,000 (1,222,965,000 passenger-mi)
(1990), cargo ton-km 10,336,000 (7,079,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 4 with a circulation
of 71,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 1,000,000 (1994). Television; receivers
500,000 (1994). Telephones; units 240,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 80,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 62.5%
army, 10.0% navy and 27.5% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 5.1% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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