Libya (11/03)

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Area:  1, 759, 540 million sq. km.
Cities:  Capital--Tripoli (1984 pop est. 990,000).  Other--Benghazi (1984 pop est. 485,000). 
Terrain:  Mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions. 
Climate:  Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior.

Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Libyan(s). 
Population (July 2001 est.): 5,240,599  (includes 662,669 non-nationals, of which an estimated 500,000 or more are sub-Saharan Africans living in Libya.
Annual growth rate (2001 est.): 2.42%. 
Ethnic groups:  Berber and Arab 97%; Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians. 
Religion:  Sunni Muslim 97% 
Languages:   Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in major cities. 
Education:  Years compulsory--9.  Attendance -- 90%.  Literacy--72.2%.
Health (2001 est.):  Infant mortality rate--27.67/1,000.  Life expectancy--male, 73.53 yrs.; female, 77.88 yrs. 
Work force (2000 est.):  1.5 million, an estimated 500,000 of whom are Sub-Saharan African foreign workers.  By occupation (1997 est.) Industry-- 29%; services and government--54%; agriculture-- 17%.

Official name:  Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
Type: "Jamahiriya," is a term Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi coined and which he defines as a "state of the masses" governed by the populace through local councils. In fact, the Libyan state is a military dictatorship.
Independence:  December 24, 1951. 
Revolution:  September 1, 1969. 
Constitution:  December 11, 1969, amended March 2, 1977 -- established popular congresses and people's committees.
Administrative divisions:  25 municipalities (singular -, "baladiyah"" plural - "baladiyat"): Ajdabiya, Al'Aziziyah, Al'Fatih, Al Jabal al-Akhdar, Al Jufrah, Al Khums, Al Kufrah, An Nuqat al Khams, Ash Shati', Awbari, Az Zawiyyah, Benghazi, Darnah, Ghadamis, Gharyan, Misratah, Murzuq, Sabha, Sawfajjin, Surt, Tarabulus, Tarhunah, Tubruq, Yafran, Zlitan.
Political system: Political parties are banned. According to the political theory of Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, multi-layered popular assemblies (people's congresses) with executive institutions (people's committees) are guided by political cadres (revolutionary committees).
Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal and compulsory.

GDP (2000 est.):  $45.4 billion. 
Per capita GDP (2000 est.):  $8,900.
Natural resources:  Petroleum, natural gas, gypsum.
Agriculture:  Products -- wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans; cattle; approximately 75% of Libya's food is imported.
Industry:  Types -- petroleum, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement.
Trade:  Exports (2000 est.)--$13.9 billion:  crude oil, refined petroleum products.  Major markets (1999 )--Italy (33%),Germany (24%), Spain (10%), France (5%), Turkey (4%), Tunisia (4%). Imports (2000 est.)--$7.6 billion:  machinery, transport equipment, food, manufactured goods.  Major suppliers (1999)-- Italy (24%), Germany (12%), Tunisia (9%), UK (7%), France (6%), South Korea (5%)

Libya has a small population in a large land area.  Population density is about 50 persons per sq. km. (80/sq. mi.) in the two northern regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, but falls to less than one person per sq. km. (1.6/sq. mi.) elsewhere.  Ninety percent of the people live in less than 10% of the area, primarily along the coast.  More than half the population is urban, mostly concentrated in the two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi.  Fifty percent of the population is estimated to be under age 15.

Native Libyans are primarily a mixture of Arabs and Berbers.  Small Tebou and Touareg tribal groups in southern Libya are nomadic or semi-nomadic.  Among foreign residents, the largest groups are citizens of other African nations, including North Africans (primarily Egyptians and Tunisians), West Africans and Sub-Saharan Africans. Specific numbers are not available.