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The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks in the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when they were defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. Following a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar al-QADHAFI assumed leadership and began to espouse his political system at home, which was a combination of socialism and Islam. During the 1970s, QADHAFI used oil revenues to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversive and terrorist activities that included the downing of two airliners - one over Scotland, another in Northern Africa - and a discotheque bombing in Berlin. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically and economically following the attacks; sanctions were lifted in 2003 following Libyan acceptance of responsibility for the bombings and agreement to claimant compensation. QADHAFI also agreed to end Libya's program to develop weapons of mass destruction, and he made significant strides in normalizing relations with Western nations.


Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria

Natural Resources

petroleum, natural gas, gypsum

Population - distribution

well over 90% of the population lives along the Mediterranean coast in and between Tripoli to the west and Al Bayda to the east; the interior remains vastly underpopulated due to the Sahara and lack of surface water

Arabic (official), Italian, English (all widely understood in the major cities); Berber (Nafusi, Ghadamis, Suknah, Awjilah, Tamasheq)
TRIPOLI (capital) 1.126 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Conventional short form
Local long form
Local short form
in transition
Geographic coordinates
32 53 N, 13 10 E
Time difference
UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Libya's economy, almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports, has struggled since 2014 as the country plunged into civil war and world oil prices dropped to seven-year lows. In early 2015, armed conflict between rival forces for control of the country’s largest oil terminals caused a decline in Libyan crude oil production, which never recovered to more than one-third of the average pre-Revolution highs of 1.6 million barrels per day. The Central Bank of Libya continued to pay government salaries to a majority of the Libyan workforce and to fund subsidies for fuel and food, resulting in an estimated budget deficit of about 20% of GDP in 2016.
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -108,100,000
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 31,727,246,377
Exports of goods and services
US$ 8,500,942,029
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 725,667,000
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 179,900,000
wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans; cattle
petroleum, petrochemicals, aluminum, iron and steel, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, cement
crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas, chemicals
Italy 33.3%, Germany 11.7%, China 8.3%, France 8.3%, Spain 5.8%, Netherlands 5.7%, Syria 5.5% (2015)
machinery, semi-finished goods, food, transport equipment, consumer products
China 15.4%, Italy 13.4%, Turkey 11.5%, France 6.4%, Spain 4.8%, Syria 4.7%, Egypt 4.5%, South Korea 4.4%, Tunisia 4.4% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
The highest-risk political and economic situation and the most difficult business environment. Corporate default is likely.
Business Climate Rating
The highest possible risk in terms of business climate. Due to a lack of available financial information and an unpredictable legal system, doing business in this country is extremely difficult.
  • Extensive oil and gas reserves (estimated respectively at 76 and 94 years of "normal" production).
  • Economy highly concentrated and dependent on the oil and gas sector
  • Extremely uncertain political transition together with critical security problems
  • Very difficult business climate
  • Lack of modernization of the economy and the banking sector

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