Libya is a huge country on the central part of North Africa. Covering 1,759,541 sq km (679,359 sq mi), it is the fourth largest country in Africa. The country is however sparsely populated, with only a population of 6.4 million people (2011 estimate). The capital and biggest city is Tripoli.

Libya is bordered by Egypt to the east,Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. It has a coastline facing the Libyan Sea to the north, next to the Mediterranean Sea.

The official language of Libya is Arabic. The official currency is the Dinar (LYD). Libya is in the Eastern European Time Zone, which is two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2). Traffic is driven on the right here. The phone IDD code is +218. The electricity is 127V/50Hz or 230V/50Hz.

Libya had a nominal GDP of $76.557 in 2010. This translates to a per capita nominal GDP of $11,852. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity stood at $14,884. The country’s economy is dependent on petroleum – in the form of oil and natural gas. This income from oil has given Libya one of the highest GDP per capita in Africa. However, the country continues to be plagued by a variety of social problems such as high unemployment.

Much of Libya is covered by the Libyan Desert. While the northern part of Libya enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, the southern part experiences a harsh desert climate.

Libya has been inhabited since the time of antiquity. The Phoenicians established trading posts here around the 5th century BC. Ancient Greeks also founded cities in Eastern Libya. Then came the Romans, which annexed the region in 74 BC. Arab horsemen brought with them the religion of Islam in the 7th century, and Libya was under several Islamic rulers from AD 642 until 1551, when the Ottoman Turks conquered Tripoli.

Ottoman rule lasted several centuries, from 1551 until the Ottoman empire collapsed in 1911. It was then ruled as a colony of Italy, known as Italian North Africa, from 1912 until 24 December, 1951, when Libya declared its independence. It was known as the United Kingdom of Libya under King Idris, who was the first and only king to ever rule the country.

On 1 September 1969 a group of soldiers led by 27-year-old Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris. He then implemented Sharia law in Libya, created a system to spy on his own people, publicly execute dissidents and assassinate refugees who are critical of his rule.

The fall of the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, the immediate neighbors of Libya, quickly spread to Libya, and the country was seeing a full-scale revolt. As at time of writing (April 2011), Muammar Gaddafi is still clinging on to power.

Visiting Libya

Due to the political revolt engulfing Libya since March 2011, casual tourists are strongly discourage from visiting the country. A coalition of European powers, the United States, Canada and a handful of Arab states are grouping up to attack Libya, posing a high security threat to casual visitors.

Major Cities in Libya

  1. Tripoli
  2. Benghazi
  3. Gharyan
  4. Ghadamis
  5. Misratah
  6. Sabha
  7. Shahhat
  8. Surt
  9. Tobruk

Places of Interest in Libya

  1. Ghat prehistoric rock painting site

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Libya

  1. Archaeological Site of Cyrene
  2. Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna
  3. Archaeological Site of Sabratha
  4. Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus
  5. Old Town of Ghadamès

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