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It was around 8th century BC when the Libyan coastal plains first blossomed during the Neolithic era. The region flourished slowly but steadily, adopting living means like cultivation and domestication of cattle, till the 2nd century BC mark. It was then the Berbers (or the ‘fee men’) from south-western Asia invaded and took control of the region.
Libya’ population is close to 6.5 million people and the country is divided into 22 districts (Shabiyas or Baladiyats), derived from the three historical sub-divisions namely Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica. The districts are further split into Basic People’s Congresses for better governance. It is the 17th largest country (by size) and also the 17th highest producer of petroleum in the world.
The weather is mostly Mediterranean, with hot dry summers, cool winters and modest rainfall. Weather pattern in Libya mostly depends on the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea in close vicinity. Temperatures can reach a searing 50°C during summers, and as a result tourists mostly prefer to visit the country during the months of October to December when it’s much cooler.
Government and Politics :
Libya has been plundered into a political crisis of sorts ever since Muammar Gadhafi’ autocratic regime was brought down as a result of massive protests across the country, in the aftermath of the much publicised ‘Arab Spring’. It is currently governed under a temporary Constitutional Declaration led by the General National Congress.
Education in Libya is broadly classified as - Primary, Middle, Secondary, Vocational and Tertiary. Study up to the primary level is free for all children aged between 6-15 years, and thereafter compulsory up to the secondary level. The major universities for higher education are - University of Omar Almukhtar (Al Bayda), Al Fateh University (Tripoli) and Garyounis University (Benghazi).
Despite the recent political upheavals, Libyans should be proud of a healthy literacy rate of 86% - a high mark when compared to the nearby countries in northern Africa. It is a direct result of allocating considerably huge allocations of (about 30%) country’ total GDP into the education sector.
Tourism has taken a huge hit owing to the political situation in Libya and adjoining areas. The number of tourists visiting the country has been dwindling with every passing month - contributing just over 1% country’ total GDP - a real shame considering there’s lots to explore and marvel at.
Libya is dotted with ancient Greek and Roman ruins and Sahara desert landscapes. Major sightseeing avenues include Leptis Magna - known for its unspoiled Roman ruins along the Mediterranean and Cyrene – an archaeological site with remains of Greek settlement from centuries back. With over 92% of area coverage, no visit to Libya is complete without a date with the vast expanses of the Sahara desert - an ideal destination of ‘desert tourism’.
Culture and Traditions :
Most traditional Libyans are devout Muslims and practice a simple and deeply personal religion. Strict government regulations have limited the Libyans quite a lot when it comes to enjoy the modern means of entertainment, namely television (only Arabic tellies with a 30-minute news broadcast each evening in English and French) visiting clubs for partying, etc (alcohol is banned in Libya in accordance with Islamic laws).
Libyan cuisine is a stand out feature thought amidst all the doom and gloom – an eclectic mix of North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern traditions. Dishes like ‘Shorba Arabiya’ (Arabian soup) and ‘Batatan Mubatana’ (filled potato) have found prominence across the globe for their high spice content.
Strangely enough Libya was elected to chair the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2003! Also, the full name of Libya is ‘Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’. It is also a major source of oil in North Africa - something that usually goes amiss.
Post-Gadhafi Libya is also clawing back to its proud Berber routes and has cleared the way for a renaissance of their ancient language and culture that were brutally suppressed earlier. Roughly 10% of the current generation traces its routes to the ancient ideology and feeling a lot more upbeat about the future now. Once the situation stabilizes a bit more, it’s most definitely a country to visit and rejoice.
Last Updated : December 06, 2013
Facts about Libya
Latitude and Longitude29.9569° N, 15.7461° E
Area 1,759,541 sq km ( 679,359 sq miles)
Time Zone CET (UTC+1)
International AirportTripoli International Airport, La Abraq International Airport, Benina International Airport, Ghadames Airport
Points of InterestTheatre at Leptis Magna, Temple of Zeus in Cyrene, Gurgi Mosque, Martyr's Square , Meditarranean rocky coast lof Libya, Ghadames, Lake in Ubari in the Libyan Desert