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.
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 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.
The Libyan economy is largely reliant on oil earnings, which account for 80 percent of GDP and 97 percent of exports. Libya has Africa’s biggest known oil reserves and contributes significantly to the worldwide supply of light, sweet crude. Natural gas and gypsum are two additional natural resources besides petroleum. Libya’s real GDP grew by 122 percent in 2012 and 16.7% in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund, after a 60 percent drop in 2011.
Libya, along with just seven other African nations, is classified as a ‘Upper Middle Income Economy’ by the World Bank. Libya has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, thanks to substantial earnings from the oil industry and a tiny population. As a result, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya state was able to offer a high degree of social protection, especially in the areas of housing and education.
Libya suffers from a number of structural issues, including a lack of institutions, poor governance, and long-term structural unemployment. There is a lack of economic diversity in the economy, as well as a considerable dependence on foreign labor. To generate jobs, Libya has historically depended on unsustainable levels of public sector hiring. Around 70% of all national workers were hired by the government in the mid-2000s.
According to the most recent census data, unemployment has increased from 8% in 2008 to 21% now. According to an Arab League study based on 2010 statistics, women have an unemployment rate of 18 percent, while males have an unemployment rate of 21 percent, making Libya the only Arab nation with more jobless men than women. Libya has a lot of social inequity, a lot of young people unemployed, and a lot of regional economic inequalities. In 2000, 28 percent of the population did not have access to clean drinking water, indicating that water supply is an issue.
Libya imports close to 90% of its grain needs, with wheat imports projected to be over 1 million tonnes in 2012/13. Wheat output in 2012 was expected to be about 200,000 tonnes. By 2020, the government aims to boost grain output to 800,000 tonnes. Natural and environmental factors, on the other hand, restrict Libya’s agricultural output potential. Agriculture was the country’s primary source of income prior to 1958, accounting for about 30% of GDP. After the discovery of oil in 1958, the agricultural sector shrank dramatically, accounting for less than 5% of GDP by 2005.
In 1962, the nation became a member of OPEC. Libya is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), although it has been in talks to join since 2004.
Libya was one of the richest nations in the world in the early 1980s, with a GDP per capita greater than several industrialized countries.
Economic reforms were implemented by Jamahiriya authorities in the early 2000s to reintegrate Libya into the global economy. In September 2003, UN sanctions were removed, and Libya declared in December 2003 that it would stop developing weapons of mass destruction. Other measures have included seeking for World Trade Organization membership, cutting subsidies, and outlining privatization intentions.
After 2003, the government privatized more than 100 government-owned businesses in sectors like as oil refining, tourism, and real estate, with 29 of them being 100% foreign-owned. Many major oil firms, notably Shell and ExxonMobil, have returned to the country. Following the lifting of sanctions, aviation traffic gradually increased, reaching 1.5 million passengers per year by 2005. Due to strict visa restrictions, Libya has long been a notoriously difficult destination for Western visitors to enter.
In 2007, Muammar Gaddafi’s second-eldest son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, was engaged in the Green Mountain Sustainable Development Region, a green development initiative aimed at bringing tourists to Cyrene and preserving Greek antiquities in the area.
It was predicted in August 2011 that rebuilding Libya’s infrastructure would take at least ten years. Libya’s infrastructure was in bad shape even before the 2011 conflict, according to the NTC, owing to Gaddafi’s administration’s “total negligence.” The economy has recovered from the 2011 war by October 2012, with oil output nearing normal levels. Before the conflict, oil output was above 1.6 million barrels per day. By the end of October 2012, average oil output had exceeded 1.4 million barrels per day. The rapid return of big Western firms such as Total, Eni, Repsol, Wintershall, and Occidental allowed production to resume.