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Libya Country Guide

Explore Libya in Africa

Travel warning information is updated daily: The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's advisory service has marked this country as DO NOT TRAVEL. This means that travelling this country can result in potentially life-threatening situations! If you really have to go: Check with your local authorities whether your exact destination is safe.

Libya with the capital city Tripoli is located in Africa (Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea). It covers some 1,759,541 square kilometres (slightly larger than Alaska) with 6,173,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Libya

The landscape offers mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions. The average density of population is approximately 4 per km². The notable climate conditions in Libya can be described as Mediterranean along coast with dry, extreme desert interior. Potential threats by nature are hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli being a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall or dust storms, sandstorms.

To reach someone in Libya dial +218 prior to a number. There are 1,101,000 installed telephones. And there are 5,004,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".ly". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 127/230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Libya

Three horizontal bands of red (top), black (double width), and green with a white crescent and star centered on the black stripe; the National Transitional Council reintroduced this flag design of the former Kingdom of Libya (1951-1969) on 27 February 2011; it replaced the former all-green banner promulgated by the QADHAFI regime in 1977; the colors represent the three major regions of the country: red stands for Fezzan, black symbolizes Cyrenaica, and green denotes Tripolitania; the crescent and star represent Islam, the main religion of the country.

The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks in the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. Following a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar al-QADHAFI assumed leadership and began to espouse his political system at home, which was a combination of socialism and Islam. During the 1970s, QADHAFI used oil revenues to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversive and terrorist activities that included the downing of two airliners - one over Scotland, another in Northern Africa - and a discotheque bombing in Berlin. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically and economically following the attacks; sanctions were lifted in 2003 following Libyan acceptance of responsibility for the bombings and agreement to claimant compensation. QADHAFI also agreed to end Libya's program to develop weapons of mass destruction, and he made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations. Unrest that began in several Middle Eastern and North African countries in late 2010 erupted in Libyan cities in early 2011. QADHAFI''s brutal crackdown on protesters spawned a civil war that triggered UN authorization of air and naval intervention by the international community. After months of seesaw fighting between government and opposition forces, the QADHAFI regime was toppled in mid-2011 and replaced by a transitional government. Libya in 2012 formed a new parliament and elected a new prime minister.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Africa
Neighbours: Chad, Niger, Algeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt
Capital: Tripoli
Size 1,759,540 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 679,362 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly larger than Alaska
Population 6,173,000
Currency Name: Dinar, Currency Code: LYD
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .ly
Telephone Country Prefix +218
Mobile Phone Connections 5,004,000
Landline Phone Connections 1,101,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 1,759,540 (sq km) 17

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 6,002,347 108
Population growth rate 4.85 (%) 1
Birth rate 18.74 (births/1,000 population) 99
Death rate 3.56 (deaths/1,000 population) 211
Net migration rate 33.32 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 1
Maternal mortality rate 58.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 102
Infant mortality rate 12.26 (deaths/1,000 live births) 128
Life expectancy at birth 75.83 (years) 88
Total fertility rate 2.09 (children born/woman) 112
Health expenditures 3.90 (% of GDP) 170
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.30 (%) 81
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 10,000 95
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 27.80 (%) 35
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 5.60 (%) 84


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 78,630,000,000 83
GDP - real growth rate 104.50 (%) 1
GDP - per capita (PPP) 12,300 104
Labor force 1,875,000 125
Unemployment rate 30.00 (%) 180
Investment (gross fixed) 3.70 (% of GDP) 152
Taxes and other revenues 69.4 (% of GDP) 3
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 6.70 (% of GDP) 9
Public debt 1.90 (% of GDP) 153
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 3.60 (%) 98
Central bank discount rate 3.00 (%) 106
Commercial bank prime lending rate 6.00 (%) 140
Stock of narrow money 38,210,000,000 52
Stock of broad money 42,390,000,000 71
Stock of domestic credit 41,410,000,000 66
Industrial production growth rate 2.70 (%) 101
Current account balance 33,320,000,000 14
Exports 51,480,000,000 58
Imports 16,310,000,000 84
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 130,300,000,000 21
Debt - external 5,054,000,000 115
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 17,150,000,000 73
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 17,470,000,000 49


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 28,600,000,000 (kWh) 65
Electricity - consumption 24,290,000,000 (kWh) 68
Electricity - exports 124,000,000 (kWh) 69
Electricity - imports 73,000,000 (kWh) 98
Electricity - installed generating capacity 6766000 (kW) 67
Electricity - from fossil fuels 100.0 (% of total installed capacity) 22
Crude oil - production 502,400 (bbl/day) 31
Crude oil - exports 1,039,000 (bbl/day) 15
Crude oil - proved reserves 48080000000 (bbl) 10
Refined petroleum products - production 309,000 (bbl/day) 44
Refined petroleum products - consumption 314,000 (bbl/day) 44
Refined petroleum products - exports 84,490 (bbl/day) 45
Refined petroleum products - imports 575 (bbl/day) 201
Natural gas - production 16,810,000,000 (cu m) 36
Natural gas - consumption 6,844,000,000 (cu m) 55
Natural gas - exports 9,970,000,000 (cu m) 22
Natural gas - proved reserves 1,495,000,000,000 (cu m) 23
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 60,600,000 (Mt) 56


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 1,000,000 78
Telephones - mobile cellular 10,000,000 77
Internet hosts 17,926 121
Internet users 353,900 124


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 144 39
Roadways 100,024 (km) 41
Merchant marine 23 91


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 3.10 (% of GDP) 39

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Archaeological Site of Cyrene
A colony of the Greeks of Thera, Cyrene was one of the principal cities in the Hellenic world. It was Romanized and remained a great capital until the earthquake of 365. A thousand years of history is written into its ruins, which have been famous si ...
Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna
Leptis Magna was enlarged and embellished by Septimius Severus, who was born there and later became emperor. It was one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire, with its imposing public monuments, harbour, market-place, storehouses, shops an ...
Archaeological Site of Sabratha
A Phoenician trading-post that served as an outlet for the products of the African hinterland, Sabratha was part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. ...
Old Town of Ghadamès
Ghadamès, known as 'the pearl of the desert', stands in an oasis. It is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities and an outstanding example of a traditional settlement. Its domestic architecture is characterized by a vertical division of functions: the ...
Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus
On the borders of Tassili N'Ajjer in Algeria, also a World Heritage site, this rocky massif has thousands of cave paintings in very different styles, dating from 12,000 B.C. to A.D. 100. They reflect marked changes in the fauna and flora, and also th ...