We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!



Currency: Libyan Dinar (LYD)
Area: 1.76m sq km
Population: 6.4m
Capital City: Tripoli
People: 97% Arab and Berber
Language(s): Arabic. English and Italian understood in major cities
Religion(s): 97% Sunni Muslim
Currency: Libyan Dinar (LYD)
Major political parties: New political parties are now being created.
Government: The UK has recognised and is dealing with the Transitional Government as the sole governmental authority.
Membership of/ Participation in international groups/organisations: African Union, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ABEDA), African Development Bank (AfDB), Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD),Arab League (AL), Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), Customs Cooperation Council (CCC), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Group of 77 at the United Nations (G-77), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRM), International Development Association (IDA), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (Intelsat), International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Non Aligned Movement (NAM), Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Organisation of Saharan and Sahelian States (CENSAD), Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), United Nations (UN), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), World Health Organisation (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Tourism Organisation (WToO), World Trade Organisation (WTO - observer)

Back to the Top


Basic Facts

Libya is a major oil producer, with the oil sector contributing practically all export earnings and around 75% of GDP. The non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for about 20% of GDP, have expanded from processing mostly agricultural products to include the production of petrochemicals, iron, steel, and aluminium.

POPULATION: 6.42 million
GDP: US$37.4 billion (2011 IMF estimate)
Real GDP Growth: 60% (2011 IMF estimate)
Inflation: 14.1% (2011 IMF estimate)
GDP/Capita: $5,800 (2011 IMF estimate)
Major Industries: Oil and gas, petrochemicals
Major trading partners: Italy, France, Germany, Turkey, Spain and the UK.
Exchange rate: £1 = 1.97 Libyan dinar, $1 = 1.24 Libyan dinar (February 2012)

Back to the Top


Recent History

Beginning in February 2011, following popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya experienced a full scale revolt against Muammar Qadhafi, who had ruled Libya since 1969. By March large parts of Libya were outside of Qadhafi’s control, particularly in the east of the country. Qadhafi and his supporters responded brutally, with widely reported scenes of indiscriminate killing of Libyan citizens. In response, with the UK playing a leading role, the UN and EU passed measures imposing an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Qadhafi and his household.

A National Transitional Council (NTC), based in Benghazi, met on 5 March for the first time. The Council declared itself the sole representative of Libya. It has said that it would act as the face of the rebellion against Qadhafi’s rule, though making clear that it was not an interim government. The Chairman of the Council is Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1970, establishing an arms embargo on Libya, on 2 March. On 17 March, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 calling for a ceasefire, imposing a No Fly Zone to protect civilians and increasing the range of sanctions. The Foreign Ministers and leaders from over 40 countries and organisations then attended the London Conference on Libya on 29 March and agreed the first meeting of the Libya Contact Group would take place in Doha. At the Doha Contact Group meeting on 13 April, the Chairman’s statement described the NTC as “a legitimate interlocutor, representing the aspirations of Libyan people”.

At the fourth meeting of the Libya Contact Group in Istanbul on 15 July, the Contact Group reaffirmed that “the Qadhafi regime no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya” and in recognition of the NTC’s continually increasing legitimacy and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country, they agreed to “deal with the NTC as the legitimate governing authority in Libya”.

On 22 August 2011 Tripoli fell and on 23 October, the NTC announced that Libya had been freed and declared liberation.

On 22 November 2011, the Transitional Government was appointed. A new Elections Law issued on 9 February 2012, ahead of elections for a National Congress scheduled for June 2012.

Longer Historical Perspective

For most of their history, the peoples of Libya have been subjected to varying degrees of foreign control. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines ruled all or parts of Libya. Although the Greeks and Romans left impressive ruins at Cyrene, Leptis Magna and Sabratha, little else remains today to testify to the presence of these ancient cultures.

The Arabs conquered North Africa in the seventh century AD. In the following centuries, most of the indigenous peoples adopted Islam and the Arabic language and culture. The Ottoman Turks conquered the area in the 16th century. The provinces of Cyrenaica (now eastern Libya), Tripolitania (west) and Fezzan (south) remained part of their empire - although at times virtually autonomous - until Italy invaded in 1911. Italian control over territory outside Tripoli remained weak until the late 1920s and resistance subsided only after the 1931 execution of Omar Mukhtar.

In 1934, Italy adopted the name "Libya" (used by the Ancient Greeks for all of North Africa, except Egypt) as the official name of the colony. Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two World Wars was led by the Sanussiya religious brotherhood. Its head, Sidi Idris al-Senussi, was recognised by the Italians as Emir of Cyrenaica, but had lived in exile in Egypt since 1922. He returned to Libya in 1942, where he was subsequently invited to become Emir of Tripolitania. From 1943 to 1951, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were under British administration; the French controlled Fezzan. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty with the Allies, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.

On 21 November 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before 1 January 1952. Sidi Idris represented Libya in the subsequent UN negotiations. When Libya declared its independence on December 24, 1951, it was the first country to do so through the United Nations. Libya was proclaimed a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris I (formerly Sidi Idris).

The discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled what had been one of the world's poorest countries to become extremely wealthy, as measured by per capita GDP. King Idris ruled the Kingdom of Libya until overthrown in a military-led coup on 1 September 1969.

The new leadership, headed by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. Col. Muammar Qadhafi emerged as leader of the RCC and eventually as de facto head of state.

The ideological basis of Qadhafi was his own political philosophy, the Third Universal Theory, as set out in his ‘Green Book’. Drawing heavily on Islam, socialism and Bedouin tradition, the Third Universal Theory called for a system of direct rule by the people through a series of committees or ‘Jamahiriya’. Qadhafi intended this as an alternative to capitalism and communism, arguing that it is applicable to all countries.

An early objective of the Qadhafi regime was the withdrawal of all foreign military installations from Libya. Following negotiations, British military bases at Tobruk and nearby El Adem closed in March 1970, and U.S. facilities at Wheelus Air Force Base near Tripoli closed in June 1970. That July, the Libyan Government ordered the expulsion of several thousand Italian residents. By 1971, libraries and cultural centres operated by foreign governments were closed. Libya claimed leadership of Arab and African revolutionary forces and sought active roles in various international organisations. In the late 1970s, Libyan embassies were re-designated as "people's bureaus", and aided by Libyan religious, political, educational, and business institutions overseas, exported Qadhafi's revolutionary philosophy abroad.

In March 1979, Qadhafi renounced virtually all his positions in government and thereafter became known by the title “Leader of the Revolution and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.” There were at least six failed coup plots during Qadhafi’s period in power

BBC News Country Timeline: Libya (

Back to the Top


Libyan Relations with the International Community

Libya became a member of the United Nations in 1951. It held a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2008-2009.

On 28 February 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed, with unanimous support, resolution 1970 (2011), which demanded an immediate end to the violence and killing of protestors by the Qadhafi regime. The resolution also referred the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; and imposed a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo on the Libyan regime. The United Nations General Assembly suspended Libya from the Human Rights Council on 1 March, due to deep concerns about Qadhafi’s violent crackdown on anti-Government protestors. On 17 March, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1973 (2011), which allowed member states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Qadhafi regime, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.

On 29 March, the Foreign Ministers and leaders from over 40 countries and organisations including the UN, the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and NATO, met for the London Conference on Libya. Subsequent Contact Group meetings took place in Doha, Rome, Abu Dhabi and Istanbul.
The Paris Conference on 1 September sent a further united message of support to the new Libyan authorities. During the Conference, NTC Chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, set out his vision for a democratic and pluralistic Libya in which human rights, fundamental freedoms and justice would be guaranteed, and prosperity shared. He spoke of his plans for the formation of an inclusive interim government to manage the transitional period and rebuild Libya for the benefit of all Libyans.

The decision of the Arab League to allow the NTC to represent Libya at its meeting on 27 August, and the International Monetary Fund’s recognition of the NTC on 10 September, demonstrated the growing recognition of the NTC as the governing authority in Libya. The UN General Assembly’s decision on 16 September to welcome the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the Libyan delegation to the General Assembly, marked the re-entry of Libya into the international system.

On 16 December, the UN Sanctions Committee agreed to remove sanctions from the Central Bank of Libya and the Libya Arab Foreign Bank.

Africa has occupied a central position in Libyan foreign policy for some years. Libya hosted an extraordinary summit of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) in September 1999 and promoted the OAU and its successor organisation, the African Union. In 2009, Libya held the Chairmanship of the African Union. Libya set up the Organisation of Saharan and Sahelian States (CENSAD) in 1998 to foster regional integration and security co-operation.

Libya is the only Mediterranean rim country which does not have formal contractual relations with the European Union. After the lifting of sanctions in 2004, an informal dialogue started with a view to strengthening EU-Libya relations. In 2008, negotiations of an EU-Libya Framework Agreement started and ten rounds of negotiations took place until February 2011 when negotiations were suspended in response to the Qadhafi regimes indiscriminate attacks against its own people. During the conflict the EU was heavily involved in providing humanitarian assistance and has since been working closely with the UN and others on coordination of international assistance to the new Libyan authorities. Work on a formalised relationship and the full integration of Libya into the EU’s wide range of cooperation in the Mediterranean has begun.

World FactBook (https://World FactBook)


Due to the increasing violence in Libya, on 26 February 2011, the British Embassy in Tripoli temporarily suspended its operations. On 5 September 2011, the UK re-established a diplomatic mission in Tripoli, headed by the UK’s Special Representative. On 17 October 2011, the Foreign Secretary, during his visit to Tripoli, marked the reopening of the embassy with a flag raising ceremony, and announced that Sir John Jenkins would be the UK’s Ambassador to the new Libya. Sir Dominic Asquith has since replaced Sir John Jenkins as British Ambassador to Libya.

The Government has supported the National Transitional Council (NTC) since it was established on 5 March 2011. On 1 April 2011, the UK established a semi-permanent mission to Benghazi to establish links with the NTC. The Foreign Secretary announced on 1 May 2011 the decision to expel the Libyan Ambassador in London following an attack on British Embassy premises in Tripoli. On 12 May 2011 NTC Chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, visited the UK and met with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for International Development. The Government also invited the NTC to establish an office in the UK.

In the following weeks, the NTC continued to increase its legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country. On 27 July 2011, the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK recognised and would deal with the NTC as the sole governmental authority in Libya, inviting the NTC to appoint a new diplomatic envoy. On 4 August 2011 the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office accepted the appointment of Mahmud Nacua as NTC Chargé d’Affaires in London. On 23 October 2011, the NTC announced that Libya had been liberated. The Transitional Government was established on 22 November 2011.

The Government welcomes the commitment of the Transitional Government to work together to resolve a number of long-running crimes from the Qadhafi era. The Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation into the shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in St James’ Square in 1984 remains open. Although the Qadhafi regime accepted 'general responsibility' for the shooting of WPC Fletcher and made an apology and paid compensation to the Fletcher family in 1999, little progress was made in the investigation since 2007 due to the former regime’s refusal to allow the Metropolitan Police Service to return to Libya to complete their investigation. Chairman Abdul Jalil has assured the Foreign Secretary of Libya’s intention to co-operate with the investigation. The Dumfries and Galloway police investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988, over Lockerbie in Scotland, also remains open. The Government will continue to do what it can to support the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary’s investigation. There is also a private campaign for compensation from Libya for victims of IRA bomb attacks which used Libyan-supplied semtex. Since 2009, the campaign has been supported and advised by the FCO’s Libya-Northern Ireland Reconciliation unit.

British Council Libya (

Recent Visits

-- 29 March 2011: Dr Mahmud Jibril, National Transitional Council’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, for the London Conference on Libya.
-- 12 May 2011: National Transitional Council’s Chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and Health Minister, Dr Naji Barakat.
-- 16-18 May 2011: Muhammad Al-Allagi, National Transitional Council’s Justice Minister
-- 30 January - 5 February 2012: Fawzy Abdilal, Transitional Government’s Interior Minister
-- 05-09 February 2012: Dr Atia Lawgali, Transitional Government’s Deputy Culture Minister


-- 04 June 2011: William Hague, MP, Foreign Secretary and Andrew Mitchell, MP, International Development Secretary to Benghazi
-- 15 September 2011: David Cameron, MP, Prime Minister and William Hague, MP, Foreign Secretary to Tripoli and Benghazi.
-- 26 September 2011: Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Foreign Office Minister of State for Trade and Investment
-- 07 October 2011: Dr Liam Fox, MP, Defence Secretary to Tripoli and Misrata.
-- 17 October 2011: William Hague, MP, Foreign Secretary to Tripoli
-- 07-08 December 2011: Alistair Burt, MP, Foreign Office Minister to Tripoli
-- 15-18 January 2012: Lord Marland of Odstock, Chairman, Business Ambassadors Group, UKTI and Under Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change
-- 16 January 2012: Permanent Under Secretaries of State at Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development

Back to the Top


Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa. It lies on the north coast of Africa, on the Mediterranean Sea, and is bordered by Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Egypt. It is a low-lying country, much of which is desert.

There are mountainous regions in the South and North West and North East.

Back to the Top


The UKTI effort in Libya has been geared up and we now have a full team in place which is engaging with the new Libyan authorities and other key decision makers. Information, reports and business opportunities will be posted on this site as they emerge.

The UKTI team in Tripoli is “open for business” and ready to handle enquiries from companies with a genuine interest in doing business in Libya. All enquiries should be addressed to: ( and companies wishing to take part in future UKTI Business Advisory Webinars should indicate their wish to pre-register in their emails.

Companies may also wish to check the latest FCO travel advice ( for up to date information on the security situation and visa requirements.

UK Trade and Investment: Libya (

Back to the Top


On 23 October, the National Transitional Council (NTC) announced that Libya had been liberated. The NTC is led by the Chairman Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil. A Transitional Government (TG) was appointed on 22 November, as set out in the NTC’s Constitutional Declaration. Abdurrahim al-Kib was appointed Libya’s Prime Minister on 31 October.

The NTC, which was formed in Benghazi in the early days of the revolution and then expanded to include around 23 representatives of all major towns and ethnic groups, now has a function similar to a parliament, and will continue to exist until the election of a National Congress. The Constitutional Declaration foresees these elections within 240 days of liberation, ie June 2012. The National Congress will select a new Government, to take over from the Transitional Government. It will also appoint a Constitution-drafting committee, which will produce a draft Constitution to go to a public referendum. Full legislative elections will take place in April 2013.


The United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1970 was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on 2 March. UNSCR 1970 authorised an arms embargo on Libya and a ban on internal repression equipment. UNSCR 1973 authorised a ‘no fly zone’ over Libya and ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians and was adopted by the Security Council on 17 March. NATO was mandated to carry out the measures outlined in UNSCR 1973 under Operation Unified Protector (OUP) which was launched on 23 March.

A number of anti-Qadhafi militias were established during the revolution. The militias played a key role in providing security in NTC held areas of Libya and on the front line of the military campaign against the Qadhafi regime and represented groups based on regional, ideological and former regime members. Now that the conflict has ended, it is hoped that the militias can be rationalised under national command authority, managed from the Ministries of Defence and Interior.


Political parties were banned in Libya from 1972 until the collapse of the Qadhafi regime, and all elections were nonpartisan under law. However, the NTC has made the introduction of multiparty democracy a cornerstone of its agenda and the constitutional declaration enshrined the establishment of a “democratic political system based on political and party pluralism”. A number of new political parties have already been announced and as the country builds up to its first elections in over 42 years more parties are likely to be formed.

Human Rights

The National Transitional Council and the Transitional Government have made clear public commitments to upholding human rights. Prime Minister al-Kib gave a commitment the day after taking office to build a State based on human rights and “guarded by justice and equality before the law”. Reports of human rights violations and abuses including arbitrary detentions and the mistreatment of detainees, (specifically sub-Saharan Africans), have emerged. The Transitional Government and NTC have pledged to investigate the allegations. The Libyan Deputy Prime Minister announced on 31 January 2012 that all allegations of mistreatment of detainees across Libya would be investigated.

The UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry (CoI) was established under a Human Rights Council Resolution adopted on 25 February 2011. In June 2011, the Human Rights Council passed a unanimous resolution, extending the mandate of the CoI on Libya to March 2012. The CoI presented an oral update to the Human Rights Council in September 2011 and will present its final report to the UN Human Rights Council in March The National Transitional Council has stated that it will fully co-operate with the CoI and has offered it full access.

On 3 March 2011, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor opened a formal investigation into the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011. The ICC judges issued arrest warrants in June 2011 for Muammar Qadhafi, Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity charges, arising from the Court’s investigation.

The UN unanimously passed UN Security Council resolution 2009 regarding Libya on 16 September 2011. This resolution mandated a United National Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to support the efforts of Libya’s interim government in the reconstruction and stabilisation of the country. This includes preparing for elections and protecting human rights.

Back to the Top

Last Updated: March 2012

Libya Main Page Country Profiles Main Page


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(LD) Libyan Dinar (LYD)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map