macrohistory & world report


map of Libya

Libya (its capital Tripoli) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "Libya's economy is structured primarily around the nation's energy sector, which generates about 95% of export earnings, 80% of GDP, and 99% of government income. Substantial revenue from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but Tripoli largely has not used its significant financial resources to develop national infrastructure or the economy, leaving many citizens poor. In the final five years of QADHAFI's rule, Libya made some progress on economic reform as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and after Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction. The process of lifting US unilateral sanctions began in the spring of 2004; all sanctions were removed by June 2006, helping Libya attract greater foreign direct investment, especially in the energy and banking sectors. Libyan oil and gas licensing rounds drew high international interest, but new rounds are unlikely to be successful until Libya establishes a more permanent government and is able to offer more attractive financial terms on contracts and increase security. Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing its primarily socialist economy, but the revolution has unleashed previously restrained entrepreneurial activity and increased the potential for the evolution of a more market-based economy. The service and construction sectors expanded over the past five years and could become a larger share of GDP if Tripoli prioritizes capital spending on development projects once political and security uncertainty subside. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 80% of its food. Libya's primary agricultural water source is the Great Manmade River Project."

Libya emerged from the Second World War as one of the poorest in the world.

Labor force in agriculture
2010: 17%

Unemployment rate
2004: 30%


Living in an urban area
2010: 78%
2008: 78.7%, compared to 43% for Egypt

Ethnic groups
Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)

Sunni Muslim (official) 97%, other 3%

Net migration rate
2012: zero.


North Africa. Coastline: 1,770 kilometers. Much desert. Capital: Tripoli.


Independence from Italy on December 24, 1951.

Recent History

In 1996 "Purification" Committees were created to enhance correct behavior among the people.

Feb 12, 2011: Yesterday in Egypt, Murbarak fell from power. In the Libyan newspaper al-Watat, Sulyaman al-Warfali compared Mubarak's politics with politics in Libya:

Had President Mubarak adopted the brother leader's theory and applied direct democracy for the people through people's congresses this chaos would not have engulfed Egypt.

Feb 22, 2011: At last a little background in the press to the uprising in Libya. George Joffe, writing for the BBC, describes the "anti-regime demonstrations" as "first confined to the region of Cyrenaica in the east of the country."

"Eastern Libya," continues Joffe, "has long been hostile to the jamahiriyah, Colonel Gaddafi's "state-of-the-masses" based on "direct popular democracy." Joffe describes various reasons for hostility toward the Gaddafi regime in the eastern city of Benghazi, one of them being an attack by security forces there in 2006 on people demonstrating against Italy for supporting Denmark in the cartoons crisis. Demonstrators were killed. Benghazi in recent days is where the demonstrations have been greatest. When Gaddafi's forces attacked and killed young people there, the ranks of the protesters swelled to great numbers, and the army there went over to the side of the protesters.

Feb 24, 2011: Lisa Anderson, president of American University in Cairo says,

Years of artificially induced scarcity produced widespread corruption, decades of capricious cruelty led to generalized and deep-seated suspicion. There are a lot of scores to settle in Libya, many informers to expose, much revenge to be taken. This is not auspicious terrain for government of any kind, much less democracy.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.