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Libya: ancient Roman cities, desert and petroleum

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Libya (Libīya) is a people’s republic in North Africa, of which Tripolis is the capital. It used to be an Italian colony. The country is limited to the north by the Mediterranean Sea and bordered to the north-west by Tunisia, to the west by Algeria, to the south by Niger and Chad, to the south-east by the Sudan and to the east by Egypt. The coast line of the country is dry and narrow and has a length of 1,770 km. This low-lying and sandy area hosts the main population centres of the country like Tripolis, Homs, Misurata, Sirte, Agedabja, Benghazi, Cyrene, Derna and Tobruk.


Not far from the coast is the depression of Sabkhat Ghuzayyil, being the lowest point of Libya with 47 meters below sea level. A short distance from the coast is a hilly area in Tripolitania to the west: Gebel Nefusa, which reaches 980 meters, while in Cyrenaica to the east you find the Gebel el Achdar, which reaches 600 meters.

Alongside these hills lies the immense Libyan desert, which occupies about 95% of the territory of the country. It is mainly made up of sandy and rocky desert areas and is sometimes interrupted by rare oasis like Kufra, Gialo and Giarabub.

Situated in the south of the country near the border with Chad are the slopes of the northern mountains of the Tibesti Massif, the highest mountains of the Sahara desert, which in Chad largely exceed 3.000 meters, but reach in Libya the maximum height of 2,267 meters with Mount Bikku Bitti.


Libya is rich in oil and natural gas, which in recent decades have contributed greatly to the rising wealth of the country. It presents the highest annual per capita income of the African continent. Most industries are linked to the food and petrochemical sectors.*

The agriculture produces cereals, olives, tomatoes, grapes, almonds, tobacco, citrus fruits and dates. Other activities include the breeding of sheep and goats and the fishing of tuna, sardines and sponges.*

Thanks to the ruins of archaeological areas like Leptis Magna, Cyrene and Sabratha. The desert landscape of Tadrart Acacus and the oasis of Ghadāmes tourism is rapidly developing.*

* The recent events of the civil war have upset the Libyan economy

The climate of Libya.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 1,775,500 sq km: arable land 1,2%, pastures 7,6%, forests and bushland 0,5%, uncultivated and unproductive land 90,7%
  • Population: 6.600.000 (as for 2018): Arabs 97%.
  • State Capital: Tripolis
  • Official Language: The official language is Arabic. English and Italian are also spoken.
  • Religion: Muslims 99,5%, Christians 0,5%.
  • Currency: Dinar (LYD)
  • Time Zone: UTC+2 hours.

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