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
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
- 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
The lack of available and reliable data on the country makes it difficult to assess the risk in Libya.
Political situation in Libya has been unstable since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime in August 2011. The internal security chaos has been leading to an institutional crisis in 2014 following the annulment by the Libyan Supreme Court of the election of the House of Representatives. Since then Libya has had two governments and two parliaments. On one hand, the Council of Deputies (CDR), recognised by the international community until March 2016, sits in Tobruk, in the far east of the country. On the other hand, the General National Congress (GNC) retains control of Tripoli. Following a number of failed attempts at dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, the two governments reached an agreement in Skhirat in December 2015. This agreement led to the creation of a transition government. This national union government, led by Fayez el-Sarraj, has found it difficult to govern, even though it is recognised and supported by major Western powers and the UN. In fact, it was subject to a failed coup d'état in October 2016, is not recognised by Marshall Khalifa Haftar (a figure growing in influence in the armed forces under the command of the CDR), and maintains strained relations with the CDR. Whilst this agreement seems to be a first step towards a solution to the Libyan crisis, Libya remains a land split into lawless areas, areas under tribal control and a proliferation of militias. Furthermore, the jihadist threat remains latent, despite Daech capturing Syrte in December 2016. The latter retains scattered combatants, notably in the south of the country.
The future of the Libyan economy depends on an upturn in oil and gas production which has suffered since 2014 in the country's worsening security and political situation. The capture of the "oil crescent" by K. Haftar to troops loyal to F. Sarraj further threatens the political balance of the region and by extension, the possibilities of exporting crude oil. The handover of a part of the production terminals to the National Oil Company by the Marshall bodes well for a moderate upturn in the oil sector. Even a slight increase in oil exports in 2017 would boost Libyan growth, in a context of the gradual rise in the price of a barrel of Brent. However, such a scenario remains dependant on developments between the armed factions loyal to the rival authorities. The fighting between the numerous militias controlling various parts of the country is causing lasting damage to oil and gas infrastructures and further delaying any prospect of a return to the production levels of 2010 (on average 1.6 million barrels/day, compared to 0.4 million barrels/day in 2016).
The weak currency, problems in obtaining and moving supplies as well as scarcity of goods are putting inflationary pressures on foodstuffs, property prices and transport costs. These pressures should increase in line with the end of subsidies on food products in 2016. These measures will greatly affect the standard of living of households already greatly tested by the political and security crisis.
After accumulating large financial reserves, Libya is now facing serious budget deficits. The acute reliance of public finances on the oil and gas sector has resulted in a collapse in budget revenue as oil output has contracted. In a bipolarised political context, the central bank has retained responsibility for the country's budgetary and monetary policy, allocating to each government, a share of the available financial resources. Faced with shrinking revenue, the central bank continues to finance what remains of the public institutions and services by dipping into the large currency reserves built up during the Gaddafi regime. The rise in prices of oil and gas will start an upsurge in oil revenue, which could help public accounts somewhat.
The recourse to loans from commercial banks has resulted in a significant increase in the level of public debt. The sovereign debt risk is increasing as the debt increases and reserves are exhausted. The funds of the Libyan Investment Authority, estimated at 67 billion dollars in 2015 have been frozen by the UN Security Council whilst awaiting a solution to the political crisis.
The rise in oil prices in 2017 and a possible increase in oil exports are favourable factors for improving the current account. However, the damage to oil and gas installations will prevent any marked rise in export volumes in the medium term. The current account deficit is also expected to grow in the coming years.