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From the earliest days of his rule following the 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI has espoused 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. Libyan support for terrorism appeared to have decreased after the imposition of sanctions. During the 1990s, QADHAFI also began to rebuild his relationships with Europe. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya resolved the Lockerbie case. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, 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 travelled to Brussels in April 2004. QADHAFI also finally resolved in 2004 several outstanding cases against his government for terrorist activities in the 1980s by compensating the families of victims of the UTA and La Belle disco bombings.


Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia

Geographic coordinates:

25 00 N, 17 00 E


total: 1,759,540 sq km
land: 1,759,540 sq km
water: 0 sq km

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


1,770 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
note: Gulf of Sidra closing line - 32 degrees, 30 minutes north


Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior


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)

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; very 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

Geography - note:

more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert


note: includes 166,510 non-nationals (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 33.6% (male 1,012,748/female 969,978)
15-64 years: 62.2% (male 1,891,643/female 1,778,621)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 121,566/female 126,198) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 23 years
male: 23.1 years
female: 22.9 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.3% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

26.49 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

3.48 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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 (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 23.71 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 76.69 years
male: 74.46 years
female: 79.02 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.28 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

10,000 (2001 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: may be a significant risk in some locations during the transmission season (typically April through October) (2005)


noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan

Ethnic groups:

Berber and Arab 97%, Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, Tunisians


Sunni Muslim 97%


Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.6%
male: 92.4%
female: 72% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
conventional short form: Libya
local long form: Al Jumahiriyah al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma
local short form: none

Government type:

Jamahiriya (a state of the masses) in theory, governed by the populace through local councils; in fact, a military dictatorship



Administrative divisions:

25 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ajdabiya, Al 'Aziziyah, Al Fatih, Al Jabal al Akhdar, Al Jufrah, Al Khums, Al Kufrah, An Nuqat al Khams, Ash Shati', Awbari, Az Zawiyah, Banghazi, Darnah, Ghadamis, Gharyan, Misratah, Murzuq, Sabha, Sawfajjin, Surt, Tarabulus, Tarhunah, Tubruq, Yafran, Zlitan; note - the 25 municipalities may have been replaced by 13 regions


24 December 1951 (from Italy)

National holiday:

Revolution Day, 1 September (1969)


11 December 1969; amended 2 March 1977

Legal system:

based on Italian civil law system and Islamic law; separate religious courts; no constitutional provision for judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:

chief of state: Revolutionary Leader Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI (since 1 September 1969); note - holds no official title, but is de facto chief of state
head of government: Secretary of the General People's Committee (Prime Minister) al-Baghdadi Ali al-MAHMUDI (since 5 March 2006)
cabinet: General People's Committee established by the General People's Congress
elections: national elections are indirect through a hierarchy of people's committees; head of government elected by the General People's Congress; election last held 2 March 2000 (next to be held NA)
election results: NA

Legislative branch:

unicameral General People's Congress (NA seats; members elected indirectly through a hierarchy of people's committees)

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court

Economy - overview:

The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 95% of export earnings, about one-quarter of GDP, and 60% of public sector wages. Substantial revenues from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower orders of society. Libyan officials in the past four years have made progress on economic reforms as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and as Libya announced that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction in December 2003. Almost all US unilateral sanctions against Libya were removed in April 2004, helping Libya attract more foreign direct investment, mostly in the energy sector. Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps - including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization - are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy. The non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for about 20% of GDP, have expanded from processing mostly agricultural products to include the production of petrochemicals, iron, steel, and aluminum. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$48.29 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$33.48 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

8.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$8,400 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 7.6%
industry: 49.9%
services: 42.5% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

1.64 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 17%
industry: 23%
services: 60% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:

30% (2004 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

-1% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

11.4% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $25.34 billion
expenditures: $15.47 billion; including capital expenditures of $5.6 billion (2005 est.)

Public debt:

8% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans; cattle


petroleum, iron and steel, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement

Electricity - production:

14.4 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

13.39 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

1.643 million bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

237,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

40 billion bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

7 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

6.25 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

770 million cu m (2001 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

1.321 trillion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

$14.44 billion (2005 est.)


$30.79 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas

Exports - partners:

Italy 37.2%, Germany 16.6%, Spain 11.8%, Turkey 7.1%, France 6.2% (2004)


$10.82 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery, transport equipment, semi-finished goods, food, consumer products

Imports - partners:

Italy 25.2%, Germany 11%, South Korea 6%, UK 5.4%, Tunisia 4.7%, Turkey 4.6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$32.31 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.267 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

ODA, $4.4 million (2002)

Currency (code):

Libyan dinar (LYD)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

750,000 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

127,000 (2003)

Telephone system:

general assessment: telecommunications system is being modernized; mobile cellular telephone system became operational in 1996
domestic: microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, cellular, tropospheric scatter, and a domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: country code - 218; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat, NA Arabsat, and NA Intersputnik; submarine cables to France and Italy; microwave radio relay to Tunisia and Egypt; tropospheric scatter to Greece; participant in Medarabtel (1999)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 16, FM 3, shortwave 3 (2002)

Television broadcast stations:

12 (plus one low-power repeater) (1999)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

47 (2005)

Internet users:

205,000 (2005)


139 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 59
over 3,047 m: 23
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 80
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 41
under 914 m: 18 (2005)


2 (2005)


condensate 225 km; gas 3,611 km; oil 7,252 km (2004)


0 km
note: Libya is working on seven lines totalling 2,757 km of 1.435-m gauge track; it hopes to have trains running by 2008 (2004)


total: 83,200 km
paved: 47,590 km
unpaved: 35,610 km (1999)

Merchant marine:

total: 17 ships (1000 GRT or over) 96,062 GRT/88,760 DWT
by type: cargo 9, liquefied gas 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 4 (Kuwait 1, Turkey 2, UAE 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

As Sidrah, Az Zuwaytinah, Marsa al Burayqah, Ra's Lanuf, Tripoli, Zawiyah

Military branches:

Armed Peoples on Duty (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Command

Disputes - international:

Libya has claimed more than 32,000 sq km in southeastern Algeria and about 25,000 sq km in Niger in currently dormant disputes; various Chadian rebels from the Aozou region reside in southern Libya