Sunday, December 3, 2023
Libya Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


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Libya is a nation in North Africa’s Maghreb area, bordered to the north by the Mediterranean Sea, to the east by Egypt, to the southeast by Sudan, to the south by Chad and Niger, and to the west by Algeria and Tunisia. Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica are the three traditional regions of the nation. Libya is the fourth biggest country in Africa and the 16th largest country in the world, with an area of over 1.8 million square kilometers (700,000 square miles). Libya has the world’s tenth-largest proven oil reserves of any country.

Tripoli, Libya’s main city and capital, is located in western Libya and is home to about one million of the country’s six million inhabitants. Benghazi, located in eastern Libya, is the other major city.

Berbers have been in Libya since the late Bronze Age. The Phoenicians built commercial stations in western Libya, while Ancient Greek immigrants founded city-states in eastern Libya. Libya was governed by Carthaginians, Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks before joining the Roman Empire. Libya was an early Christian center. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Vandals dominated the territory of Libya until the 7th century, when invasions brought Islam and Arab colonization. The Spanish Empire and the Knights of St John held Tripoli in the sixteenth century, until Ottoman authority began in 1551. Libya was a participant in the 18th and 19th century Barbary Wars. The Ottoman Empire ruled Libya until the Italian conquest culminated in the brief Italian Libya colony from 1911 to 1943. During World War II, Libya played an essential role in the North African Campaign. The Italian population then declined. Libya gained independence as a monarchy in 1951.

In 1969, a military coup deposed King Idris I, ushering in a period of profound social transformation. During the Libyan Cultural Revolution, the most notable coup figure, Muammar Gaddafi, was eventually able to entirely centralize power in his own hands, remaining in power until the Libyan Civil War of 2011, in which the rebels were supported by NATO. Libya has been in an unstable state since then. The European Union is taking part in an effort to dismantle human trafficking networks that exploit migrants fleeing African violence for Europe.

At least two political parties claim to constitute Libya’s government. The Council of Deputies is globally recognized as the legal government, however it does not have territory in Tripoli and instead meets in Tobruk, Cyrenaica. Meanwhile, the 2014 General National Congress claims to be the legal continuation of the General National Congress, which was elected in the 2012 Libyan General National Congress election and disbanded after the June 2014 elections but subsequently reconvened by a minority of its members. In November 2014, the Supreme Court in Tripoli, controlled by Libya Dawn and the General National Congress, ruled the Tobruk government illegal, but the internationally recognized government rejected the judgment as issued under fear of violence.

Parts of Libya are not under the jurisdiction of either government, with different Islamist, rebel, and tribal militias running several cities and districts. The United Nations is facilitating peace negotiations between groups stationed in Tobruk and Tripoli. On December 17, 2015, an agreement to establish an united temporary government was struck. The accord calls for the formation of a nine-member Presidency Council and a seventeen-member temporary Government of National Accord, with the goal of conducting new elections within two years. On April 5, 2016, the leaders of the new administration, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), arrived in Tripoli. The GNC, one of the two competing administrations, has since disbanded in order to support the new GNA.

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Libya - Info Card




Libyan dinar (LYD)

Time zone



1,759,541 km2 (679,363 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Libya - Introduction


There are as many as five distinct climate zones in Libya, although Mediterranean and Saharan influences are the most prevalent. The climate is Mediterranean throughout much of the coastal lowland, with warm summers and moderate winters. Rainfall is in short supply. The temperature in the highlands is colder, and frosts may be seen at the highest altitudes. Summers in the desert interior are very hot, with significant diurnal temperature swings.


Libya is the world’s 17th biggest country, with 1,759,540 square kilometers (679,362 square miles). Libya is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Tunisia and Algeria to the west, Niger to the southwest, Chad to the south, Sudan to the southeast, and Egypt to the east. Libya is located between 19° and 34° north latitude and 9° and 26° east longitude.

Libya’s coastline, at 1,770 kilometers (1,100 miles), is the longest of any African nation bordering the Mediterranean. The Libyan Sea refers to the area of the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya. The environment is mainly desert-like and very dry. The northern areas, on the other hand, have a more temperate Mediterranean climate.

The sirocco, which is hot, dry, and dusty, is a natural danger (known in Libya as the gibli). In the spring and fall, this is a southern breeze that blows for one to four days. Dust storms and sandstorms are also common. The most significant of them are Ghadames and Kufra, which are spread across Libya. Due to the existence of a desert environment, Libya is one of the sunniest and driest nations on the planet.


Libya is a vast nation with a tiny population, with the majority of the people located around the coast. In the two northern areas of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, population density is about 50 people per km2 (130 people per square mile), while elsewhere it is less than one person per km2 (2.6 people per square mile). 90% of the population lives in less than 10% of the area, mainly near the shore. About 88 percent of the population lives in cities, with the three biggest cities, Tripoli, Benghazi, and Misrata, accounting for the majority of the population. Libya has a population of 6.5 million people, with 27.7% of them under the age of 15. The population of the city was 3.6 million in 1984, up from 1.54 million in 1964.

Libya is home to around 140 tribes and clans. For Libyan families, family life is essential, since the majority of them live in apartment blocks and other self-contained housing units, with certain housing types based on their income and wealth. Despite their previous nomadic lives in tents, Libyan Arabs have now settled in a variety of towns and cities. As a result, their traditional ways of life are progressively disappearing. Unknown numbers of Libyans continue to live in the desert, as their forefathers did for generations. The majority of the population works in industry and services, with agriculture accounting for a minor proportion of the population.

In January 2013, the UNHCR reported that there were about 8,000 registered refugees, 5,500 unregistered refugees, and 7,000 asylum seekers of different backgrounds in Libya. In addition, 47,000 Libyan nationals were internally displaced, with 46,570 returning to their homes.

Immigrant labour

According to the UN, foreign migrants made up about 12% of Libya’s population (around 740,000 people) in 2013. Official and unofficial estimates of migrant labor before to the 2011 revolution vary from 25% to 40% of the population (between 1.5 and 2.4 million people).

The overall number of immigrants in Libya is difficult to determine since census statistics, official counts, and generally more accurate unofficial estimates frequently vary. Libya has approximately 359,540 foreign nationals living there in 2006, out of a population of around 5.5 million (6.35 percent of the population). Egyptians made up almost half of the immigrants, followed by Sudanese and Palestinians. According to the IOM, 768,362 immigrants left Libya after the 2011 revolution, accounting for approximately 13% of the population at the time, but many more remained in the country.

If consular data from before the revolution are utilized to estimate the immigrant population, the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli reported as many as 2 million Egyptian migrants in 2009, followed by 87,200 Tunisians and 68,200 Moroccans. Before the revolution, there were around 100,000 Asian immigration (60,000 Bangladeshis, 18,000 Indians, 10,000 Pakistanis, 8000 Filipinos as well as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and other workers). This puts the immigrant population at almost 40% before the revolution, which is more in line with official figures from 2004, which placed the number of regular and illegal migrants at 1.35 to 1.8 million (25–33 percent of the population at the time).

As of 2014, Libya’s native population of Arabs and Berbers, as well as Arab migrants of different nationalities, accounted for 97 percent of the country’s population. Bangladeshis, Greeks, Indians, Italians, Maltese, Turks, and Ukrainians, among other ethnicities, make up the remaining 3% of the population.

Local demographics and ethnic groups

The ancient inhabitants of Libya were mostly Berber ethnic groups; nevertheless, a lengthy sequence of foreign invasions, especially by Arabs and Turks, has had a significant and long-lasting impact on the country’s demography. Apart from Turkish and Berber ethnicities, the bulk of Libyans are Arabs, mostly from the Banu Sulaym clan. The Turkish minority, known as “Kouloughlis,” lives mostly in and around villages and towns. There are also certain ethnic minorities in Libya, such as the Berber-speaking Tuareg and the Tebou.

Following the independence of Italian Libya in 1947, the majority of Italian settlers departed. Following Muammar Gaddafi’s ascension in 1970, more people were returned.


In Libya, Muslims make up around 97 percent of the population, with the majority of them belonging to the Sunni branch. There are also a few Ibadi Muslims, Sufis, and Ahmadis in the nation.

The Senussi Movement was Libya’s main Islamic movement prior to the 1930s. This was a desert-friendly religious resurgence. Senussi zawaaya (lodges) were found throughout Tripolitania and Fezzan, although Cyrenaica was the epicenter of Senussi influence. The Senussi movement provided the Cyrenaican tribal people a religious connection as well as sentiments of solidarity and purpose, rescuing the area from turmoil and chaos. This Islamic organization, which was ultimately crushed by both the Italian invasion and the Gaddafi regime, was extremely conservative and distinct from the Islam that exists now in Libya. Gaddafi claimed to be a devoted Muslim, and that his government was sponsoring Islamic organizations and proselytizing for Islam throughout the globe.

Ultra-conservative Islamic elements have reasserted themselves in areas after Gaddafi’s demise. In 2014, militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control of Derna in eastern Libya, which had previously been a center of jihadist ideology. As a consequence of the Second Libyan Civil War, jihadist groups have expanded to Sirte and Benghazi, among other places.

There are a few tiny Christian communities in other countries. The Christian Church of Egypt, or Coptic Orthodox Christianity, is Libya’s biggest and most historically significant Christian denomination. In Libya, there are approximately 60,000 Egyptian Copts. Egyptian Copts live in Libya. In Libya, there are three Coptic churches: one in Tripoli, another in Benghazi, and still another in Misurata.

Due to the increasing immigration of Egyptian Copts to Libya, the Coptic Church in Libya has expanded in recent years. Due to the fact that all Christians in Libya are immigrants who entered the nation on work visas. Two bishops, one in Tripoli (covering the Italian population) and the other in Benghazi, serve an estimated 40,000 Roman Catholics in Libya (serving the Maltese community). In Tripoli, there is a tiny Anglican community, mostly made up of African immigrant laborers, which is part of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt. Proselytizing is prohibited, thus people have been jailed on suspicion of being Christian missionaries. In certain areas of the nation, Christians have also been threatened by radical Islamists, with a well-publicized video produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in February 2015 showing the mass execution of Christian Copts.

Libya was formerly home to one of the world’s earliest Jewish communities, going back at least to 300 BC. Italian Fascist authorities established forced labor camps for Jews south of Tripoli in 1942, including Giado (approximately 3,000 Jews), Gharyan, Jeren, and Tigrinna. Approximately 500 Jews died at Giado due to exhaustion, hunger, and illness. In 1942, Jews who were not in concentration camps had their economic activities severely limited, and all males aged 18 to 45 were recruited for forced labor. Jews from Tripolitania were imprisoned in a concentration camp at Sidi Azaz in August 1942. In the three years after November 1945, a series of pogroms resulted in the deaths of over 140 Jews and the injuries of hundreds more. By 1948, there were just approximately 38,000 Jews left in the nation. The majority of Libya’s Jewish population fled after the country’s independence in 1951.


The official language is Standard Arabic, although Libyan Arabic is the native tongue. It’s essential to remember that Arabic and Chinese languages are mutually incomprehensible, but since Libyans study Standard Arabic in school, international Arabs should be able to communicate. Because of access to Italian television, English is widely understood, particularly among young residents of Tripoli. Older people are more likely to speak Italian as a result of Libya’s Italian colonial past, and even among younger people, Italian is the second most widely spoken foreign language after English. Italian influences Libyan Arabic, as shown by words like “semaforo” (traffic light) and “benzina” (gasoline).

In many tiny cities, other languages, like as Berber and Touareg, are spoken. Multilingual speakers of such languages will frequently be able to communicate in Libyan Arabic as well as Standard Arabic.

Internet & Communications

Due to civil war hostilities, several foreign embassies in Libya remain closed or have extremely limited consular services available; others have been damaged or shuttered and have yet to reopen; and the issue of diplomatic recognition during the transitional government remains unclear.

Rebel troops stormed and robbed the Venezuelan embassy in Tripoli, and other embassies, notably the UK mission, were also destroyed. Many areas of Libya are now under the de facto government of the National Transitional Council (NTC), while others have no administration or are making do with impromptu arrangements. Some countries have accorded the NTC the same degree of recognition as a nation state’s government; others have recognized the state of Libya and accepted the NTC’s representative of that state; and still others have consented to participate in conversation with the NTC. Some countries have refused to recognize the NTC at all, preferring to maintain diplomatic ties with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or suspending diplomatic relations while waiting for the establishment of a Libyan interim government.

Countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom never recognize governments and only recognize nations, thus to make their position less confusing, they have accepted diplomatic envoys from the NTC to replace prior diplomatic personnel. The encumbrant representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya government is still recognized by the host nation in some Libyan foreign missions and at the UN, but now represents the Libyan nation in transition, providing either formal or quasi-formal recognition of the NTC as a provisional administration. If you need to go to Libya, make sure you know the status of the Libyan foreign mission you’re working with and make sure any necessary paperwork is acceptable for travel to Libya, entrance into the nation, and any future travel to the area of Libya you want to visit.

If you need help from your country’s consular officials, you may be able to find them in a country bordering Libya or in a linked country if you are a citizen of an EU country.

Embassies, other foreign embassies, and temporary offices are situated in Tripoli; Benghazi has some additional presence.

Libyan Desert

The Libyan Desert, which spans most of Libya, is one of the world’s driest and sunniest regions. Rainfall may not fall for decades in certain areas, and even in the highlands, rainfall occurs only once every 5–10 years. The most recent rainfall in Uweinat, as of 2006, was in September 1998.

Similarly, the temperature in the Libyan Desert may be severe; on September 13, 1922, the village of ‘Aziziya, southwest of Tripoli, reported an air temperature of 58 degrees Celsius (136.4 degrees Fahrenheit), which is regarded a world record. The Global Meteorological Organization, however, overturned the previous world record of 58 degrees Celsius in September 2012.

Water may be discovered by excavating to a depth of a few feet in a few scattered deserted tiny oases, which are typically connected to the larger depressions. The Kufra group, which includes Tazerbo, Rebianae, and Kufra, is a widely scattered collection of oases in interconnected shallow depressions in the west. A series of plateaus and massifs in the center of the Libyan Desert, along the confluence of the Egyptian-Sudanese-Libyan borders, are the only exceptions to the overall flatness.

The Arkenu, Uweinat, and Kissu massifs are a little farther south. These granite mountains date back far further than the sandstones that surround them. The ring complexes Arkenu and Western Uweinat are remarkably similar to those found in the Ar Mountains. Eastern Uweinat (the Libyan Desert’s highest point) is an elevated sandstone plateau next to the granite section farther west.

To the north of Uweinat, the plain is studded with degraded volcanic structures. With the discovery of oil in the 1950s, a huge aquifer underneath most of Libya was discovered. This aquifer’s water predates both the last ice age and the Sahara Desert. The Arkenu formations, which were previously believed to represent two impact craters, are also located in this region.

Entry Requirements For Libya

Visa restrictions

Entry will be refused to citizens of Israel and to those who show stamps and/or visas from Israel.

Visa & Passport

All nations, with the exception of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey, need passports and visas to enter Libya. Those with passports that list Israel as a destination will be denied entry.

Libyan immigration regulations change often and without notice. A certified Arabic translation of your passport’s biological data page is required for getting a visa and entering the country, according to the US State Department. Libyan authorities no longer need an Arabic translation of the ID page as of December 2010.

The assignment of diplomatic representation outside Libya has been somewhat muddled as a result of the turmoil in Libya in 2011. If travel paperwork to visit Libya must be obtained through a Libyan Embassy or Consulate, it is important to pay close attention to the current status of the foreign mission and its designated officials.

Although it is again allowed for Americans to go to Libya, obtaining visas for US residents remains challenging. Visa applications are now being accepted at the Libyan Embassy in Washington, DC, but you will require a letter of invitation from a Libyan sponsor who will apply for you in Libya. Unless the applicant is part of a tour or applying on behalf of a Libyan tour operator, tourist visas are often denied at all embassies. If you are an American, contact the Libyan Embassy in Washington, DC for further information. [www] A visitor will require US$400 (as a bare minimum) in a convertible currency, according to the Libyan Embassy in Washington, DC, USA, with the following exceptions:

  1. Tourists that arrive in a group as part of a package organized by travel and tourism bureaus, organizations, or businesses that covers their living costs while they are there.
  2. Those who are on official missions and have entrance visas
  3. Those who have student visas with the Libyan government covering their costs.
  4. Those who want to join a Libyan resident on the condition that the latter gives a stipend to pay the costs of the guest’s lodging, medical care, and other necessities.

How To Travel To Libya

By plane

Roberts International Airport (IATA: ROB) (also known as Roberts International Airport or RIA) is situated in Robertsfield, about 60 kilometers from the city center.

Delta Air Lines flies from the United States. This flight departs from Atlanta straight. Ethiopian Airlines has an Addis Ababa layover. Royal Air Maroc flies from Casablanca to London.

On Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Brussels Airlines offers flights. Air France flies from Paris to Conakry on Tuesdays and Fridays. You may check in at their city center facility on the day of your flight. Checking in at the airport is more difficult and time consuming.

Once upon a time, the journey from the airport to the city was notorious. With the return of peace and order, the situation has considerably improved. UNMIL has now completely safeguarded and made the road safe.

By helicopter

Although helicopter flights are by far the most convenient mode of transportation, they are only available to UN officials. During the rainy season, bad weather compels helicopters to return, particularly from Voinjama.

Accommodation & Hotels in Libya

There are a variety of lodgings accessible in major cities, ranging from modest hotels to four-star facilities. As a result, prices differ.

There are four international-standard hotels in Tripoli: the Radisson Blu, Al Waddan, and Rixos Al Nasr are brand-new (opened in 2009/2010) and offer excellent accommodations and services, while the older Corinthia Hotel is located adjacent to the old city and offers excellent accommodations and services (The Medina or “Al Souq Al Qadeem”). Bab-Al-Bahr, Al-Kabir, and El-Mahari are some of the other hotels. Several smaller hotels have developed throughout town, such the Zumit Hotel in Bab-Al-Bahr, which is an ancient, nicely restored hotel adjacent to the Old Roman Arch.

The Manara Hotel, a well-kept four-star establishment in Jabal Akhdir, east of Benghazi, is located close to the Appolonia Port ancient Greek ruins.

While it seems to be dwindling as more tourists arrive each year, Libyans have a long history of welcoming visitors into their homes and lavishing hospitality on them. In smaller towns and villages, this is especially true.

The Marhaba hotel, in Tripoli’s Dhahra neighborhood, is one of many excellent hotels close the church.

Things To See in Libya

Tripoli, Libya’s vibrant capital, is a wonderful place to start seeing the nation, since it still has its ancient walled medina to visit, as well as the fascinating Red Castle Museum, which contains exhibits on many aspects of the region’s history. Despite its growth as a tourist attraction, this is still a distinctively North African city, with a variety of magnificent mosques and spectacular fountains and sculptures to remind visitors of its historic significance in the Ottoman Empire.

Leptis Magna (‘Arabic: ), formerly a major Roman city, is located 130 kilometers from the capital. Its remains may be seen at Al Khums, near the mouth of the Wadi Lebda, on the seashore. The location is one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful and pristine Roman remains. Cyrene, a historic colony established in 630 BC as a settlement of Greeks from the Greek island of Theraand, is another must-see. In the reign of Sulla (c. 85 BC), it was a Roman city, and it is today an archaeological site between the villages of Shahhat and Albayda.

The wide Sahara offers some incredible natural experiences, including picture-perfect oasis such as Ubari. Ghadames, a Unesco World Heritage Site, was originally a Phoenician trading town, and the remains of its ancient theatre, church, and temples are still popular tourist destinations today. The Acacus Mountains, a desert mountain range with sand dunes and dramatic ravines, provide breathtaking scenery. The region has also been designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site due to the many cave paintings of animals and mankind discovered here.

Food & Drinks in Libya

Food in Libya

It’s amazing how difficult it is to locate a genuine Libyan restaurant in Tripoli. The majority of the restaurants offer western food, with a few Moroccan and Lebanese eateries tossed in for good measure. There are also many excellent Turkish restaurants, as well as some of the finest coffee and gelato outside of Italy. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a Libyan dinner party or wedding, you should try some of the delicious Libyan delicacies (be prepared to get overfed!). The seafood restaurant in the souq is a popular hangout for the local expat population. A delicious seafood couscous may be had for the equivalent of a few US dollars. The stuffed calamari is a local specialty.

Also recommended is Al-Saraya: the food is OK, but the location, located in Martyr’s Square, is appealing (Gaddafi name: Green Square). Al-Morgan, on 1st of September Street and close to the Algiers Mosque, is another excellent seafood restaurant. Excellent cuisine, live entertainment, and a rustic environment await you at Al-Sakhra restaurant on Gargaresh Road. The bright, large fast-food restaurants are a new addition to Tripoli’s landscape. These aren’t exact replicas of global corporations, but they’re close! They’re sprouting up in the Gargaresh Road region, a major retail district in Tripoli’s western suburbs.

Try one of the finest local catch fish, “werata,” on the grill or baked with local herbs and spices, and you will not be disappointed.


Libyan cuisine is a vivacious mix of Italian, Bedouin, and traditional Arab culinary influences. In the western part of Libya, pasta is the mainstay, while rice is the mainstay in the eastern part.

Several variations of red (tomato) sauce based pasta dishes (similar to the Italian Sugo all’arrabbiata dish); rice, usually served with lamb or chicken (typically stewed, fried, grilled, or boiled in-sauce); and couscous, which is steam cooked while held over boiling red (tomato) sauce and meat (sometimes also containing courgettes/zucchini and chickpeas).

Bazeen, a barley flour meal served with red tomato sauce, is traditionally served communally, with many people sharing the same plate, which is typically done by hand. This is a meal that is often served during traditional weddings or celebrations. Asida is a sweet variant of Bazeen that is baked with white flour and served with a honey, ghee, or butter mixture. Rub (fresh date syrup) with olive oil is another popular method to serve Asida. Usban is stuffed animal tripe with rice and veggies and served in a tomato-based broth or steamed. Shurba is a red tomato-based soup that is typically served with tiny pasta grains.

Khubs bi’ tun, literally “bread with tuna fish,” is a popular Libyan snack that consists of a baked baguette or pita bread filled with tuna fish that has been combined with harissa (chili sauce) and olive oil. These sandwiches are prepared by a variety of snack sellers across Libya. International food is available at Libyan restaurants, as well as more traditional dishes like as lamb, poultry, vegetable stew, potatoes, and macaroni. Many underdeveloped regions and small towns lack restaurants due to a severe lack of infrastructure, and grocery stores may be the sole source of food items. Alcohol use is prohibited across the nation.

Traditional Libyan cuisine consists of four major ingredients: olives (and olive oil), dates, cereals, and milk. Bread, cakes, soups, and bazeen are all made using roasted, ground, and sieved grains. Dates are collected, dried, and eaten raw, as a syrup, or gently fried and served with bsisa and milk. Libyans often drink black tea after meals. This is usually done a second time (for the second glass of tea), and the third round of tea is served with shay bi’l-luz (roasted peanuts or almonds) (mixed with the tea in the same glass).

Drinks in Libya

In Libya, tea is the most popular beverage. Green and “red” tea are offered in tiny glasses nearly everywhere, typically sweetened. Mint is sometimes added to tea, particularly after a meal.

Turkish coffee is usually served strong, in tiny cups, with no cream. In the bigger cities, most coffee shops feature espresso machines that can create espresso, cappuccino, and other drinks. Quality varies, so ask around for recommendations.

Although alcohol is legally prohibited in Libya, it is easily accessible on the local illicit market (anything from whiskey to beer to wine). It should be reminded that the consequences of making an illegal purchase may be severe. Travellers should always use caution while dealing with local laws, cultural sensitivities, and customs.

Money & Shopping in Libya

In Tripoli and adjacent regions, ATM cards are extensively utilized, and most big-name businesses and several coffee shops take major cards. Before leaving large cities, double-check that your card will function, since prior networks and ATMs may be destroyed or unavailable.

Culture Of Libya

Libyans see themselves as members of a larger Arab community. The fact that Arabic is the state’s sole official language adds to this. The regime prohibited the teaching of previously taught foreign languages in academic institutions, as well as the usage of the Berber language, leaving whole generations of Libyans with little English understanding. Despite the fact that the dialect and language are Arabic, there are certain terms from the Italian colonial period that are still commonly used today.

Libyan Arabs have a history steeped in the traditions of the formerly nomadic Bedouin and Amazighi tribes, and most Libyans would identify with a specific surname derived from tribal or conquest-based ancestors, usually Ottoman.

The state of Libya just made it to the top 20 on the global giving index in 2013, reflecting the “nature of giving” (Arabic: Ihsan) among the Libyan people as well as the feeling of hospitality. According to CAF, almost three-quarters (72%) of all Libyans assisted someone they didn’t know in a normal month, the third highest rate among the 135 nations studied.

Due to decades of cultural persecution during the Qaddafi government and a lack of infrastructural development under the dictatorship, there are few theaters or art galleries. For many years, there were no public theaters and just a few foreign-language theatres. Folk culture is still alive and well in Libya, with troupes performing music and dance at festivals both at home and abroad.

Political analysis, Islamic issues, and cultural phenomena are all covered by a wide number of Libyan television channels. A number of television channels broadcast traditional Libyan music in different forms. In Ghadames and the surrounding areas, Tuareg music and dancing are quite popular. Libyan television transmits mostly Arabic-language programming, with time periods reserved for English and French programming. Libya’s media was the most closely regulated in the Arab world under the dictatorship, according to a 1996 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Due to the fall of the previous regime’s censorship and the emergence of “free media,” hundreds of TV stations have started to broadcast as of 2012.

Many Libyans visit the country’s beaches and ancient sites, particularly Leptis Magna, which is generally regarded as one of the best-preserved Roman archaeological sites in the world. Although many individuals commute by car, the bus is the most popular mode of public transportation between cities. Libya currently lacks railway services, although they are expected to be built in the near future.

Tripoli, Libya’s capital, is home to many museums and archives. The Government Library, Ethnographic Museum, Archaeological Museum, National Archives, Epigraphy Museum, and Islamic Museum are among them. The Red Castle Museum, constructed in collaboration with UNESCO and situated near the shore and directly in the city center of the capital, may be the country’s most renowned.

History Of Libya

Ancient Libya

From as early as 8000 BC, Neolithic peoples lived in Libya’s coastal plain. By the Late Bronze Age, the Berber people’s Afroasiatic forebears are said to have expanded across the region. The Garamantes, who were located in Germa, are the oldest recorded name for such a tribe. In Libya, the Phoenicians were the first to set up trade stations. By the 5th century BC, Carthage, the most powerful of the Phoenician colonies, had expanded its dominion over most of North Africa, spawning a separate culture known as Punic.

The Ancient Greeks invaded Eastern Libya around 630 BC, establishing the city of Cyrene. In the next 200 years, the region that became known as Cyrenaica would see the establishment of four more major Greek towns. Cambyses II’s Persian army conquered Cyrenaica in 525 BC, and it remained under Persian or Egyptian control for the following two centuries. When Alexander the Great arrived in Cyrenaica in 331 BC, he was welcomed by Greeks, and Eastern Libya was once again ruled by the Greeks, this time as part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

The Romans did not immediately invade Tripolitania (the area surrounding Tripoli) when Carthage fell, instead leaving it under the authority of the Numidian monarchs until the coastal towns begged for and received its protection. Ptolemy Apion, the last Greek king, left Cyrenaica to Rome, which conquered it in 74 BC and merged it with Crete as a Roman province. Tripolitania prospered as part of the Africa Nova province, and had a golden period in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, when the city of Leptis Magna, seat of the Severan dynasty, was at its peak.

On the eastern side, Cyrenaica’s first Christian communities were established by the time of Emperor Claudius, but it was heavily devastated during the Kitos War and nearly depopulated of Greeks and Jews alike, and, despite being repopulated by Trajan with military colonies, the decadence began from then. Libya was one of the first countries to convert to Nicene Christianity, and it was home to Pope Victor I; yet, Libya was also a hotspot for early heresies like Arianism and Donatism.

The Vandals’ devastating march across North Africa in the 5th century accelerated the collapse of the Roman Empire, which saw the classical towns fall into ruin. When the Empire (now known as the East Romans) returned in the 6th century as part of Justinian’s reconquests, attempts were made to fortify the ancient cities, but it was just a final gasp before they fell into neglect. During the Vandal era, Cyrenaica, which had remained a Byzantine outpost, took on the features of an armed camp. To cover military expenses, unpopular Byzantine rulers levied high taxes, while cities and basic services—including the water system—were neglected. By the early seventh century, Byzantine authority over the area had weakened, Berber rebellions had become more common, and there was nothing to stop Muslim invasion.

Islamic Libya

The Rashidun army captured Cyrenaica under the leadership of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. In 647, a force headed by Abdullah ibn Saad successfully reclaimed Tripoli from the Byzantines. Uqba ibn Nafi conquered the Fezzan in 663. The hinterland Berber tribes embraced Islam, but they opposed Arab governmental authority.

Libya was ruled by the Umayyad Caliph of Damascus for the next few decades, until the Abbasids defeated the Umayyads in 750, and Baghdad took control. Libya had significant local autonomy during the Aghlabiddynasty when Caliph Harun al-Rashid designated Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab as his administrator of Ifriqiya in 800. The Shiite Fatimids dominated Western Libya by the end of the ninth century, and in 972, they governed the whole area and named Bologhine ibn Ziri as governor.

Ibn Ziri’s Berber Zirid dynasty eventually split from the Shiite Fatimids and recognized Baghdad’s Sunni Abbasids as legitimate Caliphs. In response, the Fatimids forced tens of thousands of Arab Bedouins from the Banu Sulaym and Banu Hilal tribes to migrate to North Africa. This event changed the fabric of the Libyan countryside forever, cementing the region’s cultural and linguistic Arabization.

However, Zirid authority in Tripolitania was short-lived, as the Banu Khazrun Berbers rebelled in 1001. Tripolitania remained under their authority until 1146, when the Normans of Sicily overtook the area. Abd al-Mu’min, the Moroccan Almohad commander, did not reclaim Tripoli from European control until 1159. Tripolitania was the site of many conflicts between Ayyubids, Almohad monarchs, and Banu Ghaniya rebels during the following 50 years. Later, from 1207 until 1221, an Almohad commander, Muhammad ibn Abu Hafs, controlled Libya before the formation of a Tunisian Hafsid dynasty independent of the Almohads. For almost 300 years, the Hafsids controlled Tripolitania. The Hafsids were more involved in the power struggle between Spain and the Ottoman Empire by the 16th century.

Before the Ottoman invasion in 1517, Cyrenaica was ruled by Egyptian-based kingdoms such as the Tulunids, Ikhshidids, Ayyubids, and Mamluks. After Kanem’s reign, Fezzan gained independence under the Awlad Muhammad dynasty. Between 1556 to 1577, the Ottomans ultimately occupied Fezzan.

Ottoman Tripolitania (1551–1911)

In 1551, the Ottoman admiral Sinan Pasha seized control of Libya after a victorious conquest of Tripoli by Habsburg Spain in 1510 and its surrender to the Knights of St. John. Turgut Reis, his successor, was appointed Bey of Tripoli and then Pasha of Tripoli in 1556. By 1565, a pasha chosen directly by the sultan in Constantinople/Istanbul had administrative power in Tripoli as regent. Although Ottoman authority was absent in Cyrenaica, a bey was stationed in Benghazi late in the following century to serve as an agent of the government in Tripoli after the rulers of Fezzan pledged their allegiance to the sultan in the 1580s. Slaves from Europe and a significant number of enslaved Blacks brought from Sudan were also common sights in Tripoli. Turgut Reis imprisoned almost the entire inhabitants of the Maltese island of Gozo, a total of 6,300 persons, and sent them to Libya in 1551.

With time, the pasha’s janissary corps grew to wield actual authority. Dey Sulayman Safar was chosen as head of administration when the deys launched a coup against the pasha in 1611. A succession of deys essentially controlled Tripolitania for the following hundred years. Mehmed Saqizli (r. 1631–49) and Osman Saqizli (r. 1649–72) were the two most powerful Deys, both Pashas who controlled the area successfully. Cyrenaica was likewise captured by the latter.

Due to a lack of direction from the Ottoman administration, Tripoli descended into a state of military chaos, with coup after coup and few deys being in power for more than a year. Turkish soldier Ahmed Karamanli launched one such coup. From 1711 until 1835, the Karamanlis governed mostly in Tripolitania, although they also had power in Cyrenaica and Fezzan by the mid-eighteenth century. Ahmad’s successors proved to be less competent than he, but the Karamanli were able to take advantage of the region’s fragile power balance. Those were the years of the Tripolitanian civil war, which lasted from 1793 to 1795. Ali Benghul, a Turkish commander, ousted Hamet Karamanli in 1793 and temporarily restored Ottoman control to Tripolitania. Yusuf (r. 1795–1832), Hamet’s brother, restored Tripolitania’s freedom.

War broke out between the United States and Tripolitania in the early nineteenth century, resulting in a series of conflicts known as the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War. By 1819, the Napoleonic Wars’ numerous treaties had driven the Barbary nations to almost completely abandon piracy, and Tripolitania’s economy had begun to collapse. As Yusuf’s health deteriorated, rivalries arose among his three sons. Civil war broke out shortly after.

The Karamanli dynasty and an autonomous Tripolitania were both put to an end when Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II brought in soldiers purportedly to restore order. Order was not quickly restored, and the Libyan rebellion led by Abd-El-Gelil and Gûma ben Khalifa continued until the latter’s death in 1858. Administrative improvements and improved order in the administration of Libya’s three provinces marked the second era of direct Ottoman control. Between 1850 to 1875, Ottoman authority was re-established in Fezzan in order to profit from Saharan trade.

Italian Libya (1911–1943)

Following the Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912), Italy made the three areas into colonies at the same time. The area of Libya was known as Italian North Africa from 1912 to 1927. Between 1927 and 1934, the area was divided into two colonies, Italian Cyrenaica and Italian Tripolitania, both of which were governed by Italian governors. Around 150,000 Italians have settled in Libya, accounting for around 20% of the entire population.

The term “Libya” (used by the Ancient Greeks for all of North Africa save Egypt) was chosen by Italy as the official name of the colony in 1934. (made up of the three provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan). Despite his arrest and death on September 16, 1931, Omar Mukhtar became a national hero as a resistance commander against Italian colonialism. In honor of his patriotism, his image is now emblazoned on the Libyan ten dinar note. Between the two world wars, Emir of Cyrenaica Idris al-Mahdi as-Senussi (later King Idris I) led the Libyan resistance against Italian control. According to Ilan Pappé, the Italian military “killed half the Bedouin population (directly or via illness and hunger in camps)” between 1928 and 1932. According to Emilio Gentile, an Italian historian, the suppression of resistance resulted in 50,000 fatalities.

Italy joined World War II in June 1940. The hard-fought North African Campaign, which culminated in defeat for Italy and its German allies in 1943, was staged in Libya.

Libya was occupied by the Allies from 1943 until 1951. The former Italian Libyan provinces of Tripolitana and Cyrenaica were governed by the British troops, while Fezzan was managed by the French. Idris returned from exile in Cairo in 1944, but he did not return to Cyrenaica permanently until 1947, when certain elements of foreign rule were removed. Italy renounced all claims to Libya under the provisions of the 1947 peace deal with the Allies.

Independence, Kingdom, Gaddafi (1951–2011)

Libya proclaimed independence on December 24, 1951, as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy led by King Idris, Libya’s only monarch. The discovery of substantial oil reserves in 1959, as well as the following revenue from petroleum sales, allowed one of the world’s poorest countries to become very rich. Despite the fact that oil significantly helped the Libyan government’s finances, anger among certain groups grew as the nation’s riches was more concentrated in the hands of King Idris.

The Al Fateh Revolution began on September 1, 1969, when a small number of military officers headed by Muammar Gaddafi, a 27-year-old army officer, launched a coup against King Idris. In government pronouncements and the official Libyan press, Gaddafi was referred to as the “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution.”

Libya established the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” on March 2, 1977. Gaddafi handed up authority to the General People’s Committees and claimed to be nothing more than a symbolic figurehead from then on. Opposition to the new system was not allowed. Gaddafi ordered the death of twenty-two officers who had participated in a 1975 failed military coup, as well as the execution of many civilians, around the same time the Jamahiriya was founded. Though the government refused to disclose election results, the new “jamahiriya” governing system he created was publicly referred to as “direct democracy.”

During the Jamahiriya period, Libya’s administration was founded on Gaddafi’s ideas articulated in his 1975 book The Green Book. Political problems were debated at the local level across the nation under the Jamahiriya system, which was convened by one of the approximately 2,000 local “people’s committees.” The committees would then forward their votes to a central general committee made up of elected individuals, with votes from local congresses ultimately influencing national decisions.

Libya began sending military supplies to Chad’s Goukouni Oueddei and the People’s Armed Forces in February 1977. When Libya’s backing for rebel troops in northern Chad turned into an invasion, the Chadian–Libyan war started in earnest. Later that year, Libya and Egypt fought a four-day border battle that became known as the Libyan-Egyptian War, after which both countries agreed to a truce via Algerian President Houari Boumediène’s mediation. Hundreds of Libyans died in Gaddafi’s attempt to rescue his buddy Idi Amin during the conflict with Tanzania. Gaddafi has funded a variety of different organizations, ranging from anti-nuclear protests to Australian labor unions.

Since 1977, the country’s per capita income has risen to more than US $11,000, the fifth highest in Africa, and its Human Development Index has risen to the highest in Africa, surpassing that of Saudi Arabia. This was accomplished without the need of any foreign loans, allowing Libya to remain debt-free. The Great Manmade River was also constructed to provide unrestricted access to fresh water throughout most of the nation. Financial assistance was also given for university scholarships and work programs.

Libya’s oil revenues, which surged in the 1970s, were mostly spent on weapons purchases and the sponsorship of hundreds of paramilitaries and terrorist organizations throughout the globe. In 1986, an American airstrike failed to kill Gaddafi. Following the bombing of a commercial aircraft that killed hundreds of people, Libya was ultimately sanctioned by the United Nations.

Colonel Gaddafi was given the title “King of Monarchs of Africa” by a gathering of more than 200 African kings and traditional rulers who met on August 27, 2008 in the Libyan town of Benghazi. Traditional rulers, according to Tanzanian Sheikh Abdilmajid, have greater power in Africa than their own governments.

2011 Civil War

Libya witnessed a full-scale revolution on February 17, 2011, after the Arab Spring movements overthrew the governments of Tunisia and Egypt. The turmoil had extended to Tripoli by the 20th of February. The National Transitional Council was formed on February 27, 2011, to govern the regions of Libya under rebel control. France was the first country to recognize the council as the genuine representation of the Libyan people on March 10, 2011.

Pro-Gaddaffi troops were able to militarily reverse rebel advances in Western Libya, launching a counter-offensive down the coast into Benghazi, the de facto epicenter of the revolt. The town of Zawiya, 48 kilometers (30 miles) south of Tripoli, was bombed by air force aircraft and army tanks before being captured by Jamahiriya forces, who “executed a degree of cruelty rarely seen in the war.”

The UN Human Rights Council, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Human Rights Council, have denounced the crackdown as a violation of international law, with the latter body expelling Libya outright in an extraordinary move requested by Libya’s own representation to the UN.

Resolution 1973 was approved by the United Nations Security Council on March 17, 2011, with a 10–0 majority and five abstentions, including Russia, China, India, Brazil, and Germany. The resolution authorized the creation of a no-fly zone in Libya and the use of “all necessary measures” to protect people. On March 19, NATO partners took the first step toward securing the no-fly zone by destroying Libyan air defenses when French military aircraft flew into Libyan airspace on a reconnaissance mission ahead of strikes on enemy targets.

American troops were in the vanguard of NATO operations against Libya in the weeks that followed. Over 8,000 American troops, including warships and planes, were stationed in the region. In 14,202 strike sorties, at least 3,000 targets were hit, including 716 in Tripoli and 492 in Brega. B-2 Stealth bombers, each equipped with sixteen 2000-pound bombs, flew out of and returned to their base in Missouri, in the continental United States, as part of the American air assault. The air assistance supplied by NATO was critical to the revolution’s eventual triumph.

By August 22, 2011, rebel forces had seized Green Square in Tripoli, renaming it Martyrs’ Square in honor of those murdered since February 17, 2011. On the 20th of October 2011, the uprising’s last hard combat came to a conclusion in Sirte, where Gaddafi was arrested and murdered. On the 23rd of October 2011, three days after the fall of Sirte, loyalist troops were defeated.

The civil war in Libya claimed the lives of at least 30,000 Libyans.

Post-Gaddafi era

Since the loss of loyalist troops, Libya has been split apart by a slew of competing armed militias linked to various regions, towns, and tribes, while the central government has remained weak and unable to exercise control over the nation. In a political battle between Islamist leaders and their opponents, competing militias have positioned themselves against each other. Libyans conducted their first parliamentary elections following the fall of the previous government on July 7, 2012. The National Transitional Council formally turned authority over to the fully elected Public National Congress on August 8, 2012. The General National Congress was then charged with forming an interim administration and writing a new Libyan Constitution, which would be adopted in a general vote.

Unnamed organized attackers demolished a Sufi mosque with tombs in broad daylight in the Libyan capital Tripoli on August 25, 2012, in what Reuters called “the most brazen sectarian assault” since the conclusion of the civil war. It was the second time in two days that a Sufi shrine had been desecrated. Suspected Islamist militants have committed many acts of vandalism and heritage damage, such as the demolition of the Nude Gazelle Statue. Other well-known vandalism incidents include the desecration and destruction of second-world-war British burial sites in Benghazi. Many additional instances of heritage vandalism were alleged to have been carried out by Islamist-affiliated extremist militias and mobs that damaged, plundered, or looted a number of historic monuments that are still in risk today.

On September 11, 2012, Islamist terrorists carried out a surprise assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, killing J. Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three others. In both the United States and Libya, the event sparked anger.

Libya’s Prime Minister-elect Mustafa A.G. Abushagur was deposed on October 7, 2012, after failing for the second time to get parliamentary approval for a new government. Ali Zeidan, a former GNC member and human rights lawyer, was chosen prime minister-designate by the General National Congress on October 14, 2012. After the GNC accepted Zeidan’s cabinet, he was sworn in. Prime Minister Zeiden stepped down on March 11, 2014, after being removed by the GNC for failing to stop a rogue oil shipment. He was succeeded by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani. In the midst of increasing instability, al-administration Thani’s briefly considered the idea of restoring the Libyan monarchy on March 25, 2014.

Elections for the Council of Deputies, a new legislative body designed to succeed the General National Congress, were conducted in June 2014. The elections were plagued by violence and poor voter participation, with polling booths in certain regions being shuttered. Secularists and liberals performed well in the elections, much to the chagrin of Islamist legislators in the GNC, who reconvened and proclaimed the GNC to have a continuous mandate, refusing to recognize the new Council of Deputies. Tripoli was seized by armed supporters of the General National Congress, forcing the newly elected parliament to escape to Tobruk.

Since mid-2014, Libya has been torn apart by a war between competing parliaments. The power vacuum has been exploited by tribal militias and terrorist organizations. In the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, hardline Islamist militants captured Derna in 2014 and Sirte in 2015. Egypt conducted airstrikes against ISIL in support of the Tobruk government in early 2015.

Meetings were conducted in January 2015 with the goal of reaching a peaceful deal between Libya’s opposing parties. The so-called Geneva-Ghadames negotiations were intended to bring the GNC and the Tobruk administration together at a negotiating table to resolve the internal crisis. The GNC, on the other hand, never took part, indicating that internal divisions impacted not just the “Tobruk Camp,” but also the “Tripoli Camp.” Meanwhile, terrorism in Libya has been gradually rising, impacting neighboring nations as well. Two Libyan-trained terrorists are said to have carried out the terrorist assault on the Bardo Museum on March 18, 2015.

The United Nations sponsored a series of diplomatic talks and peace negotiations in 2015, led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon. In addition to the UN Support Mission in Libya’s regular operations, the UN continued to support the SRSG-led discussion process (UNSMIL).

In July 2015, SRSG Leon briefed the UN Security Council on the progress of the negotiations, which had just reached a political agreement on the 11th of July that established “a comprehensive framework…includ[ing] guiding principles…institutions and decision-making mechanisms to guide the transition until the adoption of a permanent constitution.” “…designed to culminate in the establishment of a modern, democratic state founded on the principles of inclusiveness, the rule of law, separation of powers, and respect for human rights,” according to the process’ stated goal. “The Libyan people have clearly spoken themselves in favor of peace,” the SRSG said, praising the parties for reaching an accord. Following that, the SRSG informed the Security Council that “Libya is at a critical juncture,” he said, urging “all parties in Libya to continue to engage constructively in the dialogue process,” adding that “a peaceful resolution of the conflict can only be achieved through dialogue and political compromise.” In Libya, a peaceful transition can only be possible if a large and concerted effort is made to assist a future Government of National Accord “.. Throughout mid-2015, talks, discussions, and conversation took place at different international locations, concluding in early September in Skhirat, Morocco.

In 2015, the UN Human Rights Council requested a report on Libya’s situation, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, established an investigative body (OIOL) to report on human rights and the rebuilding of Libya’s justice system as part of the international community’s ongoing support.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Libya

Stay Safe in Libya

Libya’s security situation has substantially improved. However, caution is advised, and certain places should be deemed off-limits to visitors. It is still recommended to avoid non-essential travel to Libya, particularly outside of Tripoli. Because homosexuality is illegal in Libya, gay and lesbian visitors should exercise caution and self-awareness.

As far since possible, avoid wearing green clothing or anything similar, as this hue conjures up images of the former government, particularly in Misurata.

Stay Healthy in Libya

In Libya, not all bottled water is safe. Inquire about the safest brands on the market. When you need to buy anything, you can usually get it from a distant country.



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Tripoli is Libya’s capital, largest metropolis, primary port, and leading commercial and industrial center. Tripoli is located in northern Libya, on the Mediterranean Sea....