Libya [Country Flag of Libya]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Libya]



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

Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 17 00 E

Map references: Africa

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

Area—comparative: slightly larger than Alaska

Land boundaries:
total: 4,383 km
border countries: Algeria 982 km, Chad 1,055 km, Egypt 1,150 km, Niger 354 km, Sudan 383 km, Tunisia 459 km

Coastline: 1,770 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
note: Gulf of Sidra closing line—32 degrees 30 minutes north

Climate: Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior

Terrain: 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%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 8%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 91% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 4,700 sq km (1993 est.)

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

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Desertification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea


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Population: 5,690,727 (July 1998 est.)
note: includes 144,363 non-nationals (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (male 1,399,354; female 1,351,442)
15-64 years: 49% (male 1,412,067; female 1,361,372)
65 years and over: 3% (male 81,711; female 84,781) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.68% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 43.95 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 7.15 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 55.81 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.44 years
male: 63.21 years
female: 67.78 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.18 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan

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

Religions: Sunni Muslim 97%

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.2%
male: 87.9%
female: 63% (1995 est.)


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

Data code: LY

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

National capital: Tripoli

Administrative divisions: 25 municipalities (baladiyah, singular—baladiyat); 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 1,500 communes in 1992

Independence: 24 December 1951 (from Italy)

National holiday: Revolution Day, 1 September (1969)

Constitution: 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

Suffrage: 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 (Premier) Muhammad Ahmad al-MANQUSH (since NA January 1998)
cabinet: General People's Committee established by the General People's Congress
elections: national elections are indirect through a hierarchy of peoples' committees; head of government elected by the General People's Congress; election last held NA (next to be held NA)
election results: Muhammad Ahmad al-MANQUSH elected head of government; percent of General People's Congress vote—NA

Legislative branch: unicameral General People's Congress (NA seats; members elected indirectly through a hierarchy of peoples' committees)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: none

Political pressure groups and leaders: various Arab nationalist movements with almost negligible memberships may be functioning clandestinely, as well as some Islamic elements

International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, CAEU, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OAU, OIC, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US: Libya does not have an embassy in the US

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US suspended all embassy activities in Tripoli on 2 May 1980

Flag description: plain green; green is the traditional color of Islam (the state religion)


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Economy—overview: The socialist-oriented economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contributes practically all export earnings and about one-third of GDP. Per capita GDP is the highest in Africa at $6,700, but disproportionately little of national income flows down to the lower orders of society. GDP growth fluctuates sharply in response to changes in the world oil market; GDP has either contracted or grown very sluggishly since 1992. Import restrictions and inefficient resource allocations have led to periodic shortages of basic goods and foodstuffs. The nonoil 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. Although agriculture accounts for only 5% of GDP, it employs 18% of the labor force. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit farm output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food requirements. The UN sanctions imposed in April 1992 do not have a major impact on the economy although they have increased transaction and transportation costs.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$38 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 0.5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,700 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 55%
services: 40% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 30% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1 million
by occupation: industry 31%, services 27%, government 24%, agriculture 18%
note: 3% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.)

Unemployment rate: 25% (1997 est.)

revenues: $10.4 billion
expenditures: $10.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.5 billion (1995 est.)

Industries: petroleum, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 4.6 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 17 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 3,239 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts; meat, eggs

total value: $9 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas
partners: Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Turkey, Greece, Egypt

total value: $6.2 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: machinery, transport equipment, food, manufactured goods
partners: Italy, Germany, UK, France, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Eastern Europe

Debt—external: $2.6 billion excluding military debt (1995 est.)

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: 1 Libyan dinar (LD) = 1,000 dirhams

Exchange rates: Libyan dinars (LD) per US$1—0.3902 (January 1998), 0.3891 (1997), 0.3651 (1996), 0.3532 (1995), 0.3596 (1994), 0.3250 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 370,000

Telephone system: modern telecommunications system
domestic: microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, tropospheric scatter, and a domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean); planned Arabsat and Intersputnik satellite earth stations; submarine cables to France and Italy; microwave radio relay to Tunisia and Egypt; tropospheric scatter to Greece; participant in Medarabtel

Radio broadcast stations: AM 17, FM 3, shortwave 0

Radios: 1 million (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 12 (1987 est.)

Televisions: 500,000 (1993 est.)


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note: Libya has had no railroad in operation since 1965, all previous systems having been dismantled; current plans are to construct a 1.435-m standard gauge line from the Tunisian frontier to Tripoli and Misratah, then inland to Sabha, center of a mineral-rich area, but there has been no progress; other plans made jointly with Egypt would establish a rail line from As Sallum, Egypt, to Tobruk with completion set for mid-1994; no progress has been reported

total: 83,200 km
paved: 47,590 km
unpaved: 35,610 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: none

Pipelines: crude oil 4,383 km; petroleum products 443 km (includes liquefied petroleum gas or LPG 256 km); natural gas 1,947 km

Ports and harbors: Al Khums, Banghazi, Darnah, Marsa al Burayqah, Misratah, Ra's Lanuf, Tobruk, Tripoli, Zuwarah

Merchant marine:
total: 30 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 615,505 GRT/1,044,175 DWT
ships by type: cargo 9, chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas tanker 3, oil tanker 9, roll-on/roll-off cargo 4, short-sea passenger 4 (1997 est.)

Airports: 145 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 60
over 3,047 m: 24
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 3 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 85
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 43
under 914 m: 20 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Command

Military manpower—military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 1,229,080 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 731,963 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 59,730 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $1.4 billion (1994 est.)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 6.1% (1994 est.)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: maritime boundary dispute with Tunisia; Libya claims about 19,400 sq km in northern Niger and part of southeastern Algeria