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Travel Info


Quick Facts
CapitalTripoli
GovernmentJamahiriya (a state of the masses) in theory, governed by the populace through local councils; in fact, a military dictatorship
CurrencyLibyan dinar (LYD)
Areatotal: 1,759,540 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 1,759,540 sq km
Population5,368,585
note: includes 662,669 non-nationals, of which an estimated 500,000 or more are Africans living in Libya (July 2002 est.)
LanguageArabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities
ReligionSunni Muslim 97%

Libya is a country in North Africa. In the north it has a Mediterranean Sea coast, with Egypt to the east and Tunisia to the west. It also has land borders with Algeria, Chad, Niger, and Sudan. More than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert.

Cities

Capital 
Leptis Magna - Another highlight is the old Roman city of Leptis Magna. In its time, this site was the second largest town of the Roman Empire, after Rome.

Understand

Climate

Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior

Terrain

Mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions

Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Sabkhat Ghuzayyil -47 m
highest point: Bikku Bitti 2,267 m
Natural resources 
petroleum, natural gas, gypsum
Land use 
arable land: 1.03%
permanent crops: 0.17%
other: 98.8% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
4,700 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms. More than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert
Environment - current issues 
desertification; very limited natural fresh water resources; the Great Manmade River Project, the largest water development scheme in the world, is being built to bring water from large aquifers under the Sahara to coastal cities

History

Independence 
24 December 1951 (from Italy)
National holiday 
Revolution Day, 1 September (1969)
Constitution 
11 December 1969, amended 2 March 1977

Since he took power in a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI has espoused his own political system - a combination of socialism and Islam - which he calls the Third International Theory. Viewing himself as a revolutionary leader, he used oil funds during the 1970s and 1980s to promote his ideology outside Libya, even supporting subversives and terrorists abroad to hasten the end of Marxism and capitalism. Libyan military adventures failed, e.g., the prolonged foray of Libyan troops into the Aozou Strip in northern Chad was finally repulsed in 1987. Libyan support for terrorism decreased after UN sanctions were imposed in 1992. Those sanctions were suspended in April 1999.

Disputes - international 
Chadian rebels from Aozou region reside in Libya; Libya claims about 19,400 sq km in Niger as well as part of southeastern Algeria in currently dormant disputes.

People

Population 
5,368,585
note: includes 662,669 non-nationals, of which an estimated 500,000 or more are Africans living in Libya (July 2002 est.)
Nationality 
noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan
Ethnic groups 
Berber and Arab 97%, Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, Tunisians

Get in

By plane

Tripoli is served by most major European and Arab airlines and of course by Libyan Airlines (http://www.ln.aero/en/index.php) which uses the airport as its main hub. Essentially one may expect daily flights to the major regional airports such as Heathrow, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome, Cairo and multiple flights per week to Milan, Manchester, Vienna, Alexandria, etc. Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of airlines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripoli_International_Airport#Airlines) that serve Tripoli.

A new private Libyan airline called "Afriqiyah" provides services to many European and African cities with Tripoli as a hub. It uses new Airbus aircraft and seems to be expanding its route map rapidly. http://www.afriqiyah.aero/

Another new private Libyan airline "Buraq" provides domestic services as well as some limited international flights (example to Istanbul).

There are also some international routes between Libya's second city Benghazi to destinations such as Alexandria and Cairo (according to the LAA website London and Casablanca are planned from Benghazi). These tend to be more seasonal and one should check schedules ahead of time.

Of course there are many direct flights from places such as Amsterdam to small oasis towns in the middle of the Sahara but these are operated by the oil companies for private purposes (i.e. to ferry the foreign oil workers directly to the oil fields).

By train

Libya has no international train connections and no significant domestic train infrastructure.

By car

One may travel to Libya overland. There are bus and "shared taxi" (accommodating 6 people in a station wagon) services from such places as Tunis, Alexandria, Cairo, Djerba, etc.

There are many online blogs showing people having done the trip in their own 4x4s or using their own dirt bikes, campervans, etc. It would seem that they encounter quite some difficulty at the border (1-2 days to clear paperwork type problem) but considerable hospitality once in the country.

By bus

There are bus services to both Tunisia and Egypt.

By boat

Get around

By plane

Libyan Airlines (http://www.ln.aero/en/index.php) has many domestic air routes and they are relatively inexpensive. The same goes for the new private Buraq airlines which actually seems to be more reliable.

By train

Libya has had no train system since 1965. There are various plans to rebuild some lines.

By road

As explained above there are many online blogs showing people having done the trip in their own 4x4s or using their own dirt bikes, campervans, etc. It would seem that they encounter considerable hospitality once in the country. In fact it is not uncommon to see SUVs with Texas plates on them in Tripoli (most likely US oil workers of which approx 5-10,000 live in Libya). It is also not uncommon to see convoys of European campervans on Libya's highways. One German citizen recently back from a dirt bike tour of the dessert explained how it was nearly impossible to get gas station attendants to accept payment for gas fill-ups since he was quite the novelty. In fact gasoline in Libya is typically cheaper than bottled water.

Some self-drive car rental services are available in the large cities but the rates are typically high and the cars unreliable.

There are many bus services between the major cities and it is certainly a cheap way to travel. The larger bus companies use modern air conditioned touring buses which are relatively comfortable. This is important on the longer journeys (such as Tripoli to Benghazi which takes about 14hours by bus). The buses make stops for meals and the very important tea (shahee) breaks along the way. A faster method is to take the "shared taxis" but some of the drivers tend to be more reckless in order to cut the travel time.

Respect

Religions 
Sunni Muslim 97%

Contact

Diplomatic representation in the US 
Libya does not have an embassy in the US but a new "liaison office" opened in 2005 in Washington DC. http://libyanbureau-dc.org/
Diplomatic representation from the US 
the US suspended all embassy activities in Tripoli on 2 May 1980, but on June 28, 2004, a U.S. Liaison Office opened in Tripoli. The State Department Website gives contact information.

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use 
500,000 (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
20,000 (1998)
Telephone system 
general assessment: telecommunications system is being modernized; mobile cellular telephone system became operational in 1996
domestic: microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, cellular, tropospheric scatter, and a domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat, NA Arabsat, and NA Intersputnik; submarine cables to France and Italy; microwave radio relay to Tunisia and Egypt; tropospheric scatter to Greece; participant in Medarabtel (1999)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 16, FM 3, shortwave 3 (2002)
Radios 
1.35 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
12 (plus one low-power repeater) (1999)
Televisions 
730,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
.ly
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
4 (2005)
Internet users 
20,000 (2001) but steadily growing. Many internet cafes in larger cities.