Country Profiles:
Libya

Libya lies in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chadand Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisiato the west. Libya is mostly desert and much of its population is concentrated along the coast and its immediate hinterland, where Tripoli (Ṭarābulus), the de facto capital, and Banghāzī (Benghazi), another major city, are located. Libya is the fourth largest country on the continent, and is the 16th largest country in the world. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world.

Once part of the Roman province of New Africa, it was subsequently controlled by the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. In modern times it was occupied by the British and French. There are six distinct historical periods of Libya: Ancient Libya, the Roman era, the Islamic era, Ottoman rule, Italian rule, and the Modern era. The country is made of three historical regions, TripolitaniaFezzan and CyrenaicaThe Ottoman authorities recognized them as separate provinces. Under Italian rule, they were unified to form a single colony, which resulted to independence on December 24th 1951 under King Idris al-Sanusi.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Libya include:

1. Archaeological Site of Cyrene

The formerly Greek colony was Romanized and transformed into a capital, until it was destroyed by the 365 Crete earthquake. The thousand-year-old ruins have remained renowned since the 18th century.

2. Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna

The Roman city of Leptis Magna was enlarged by Emperor Septimius Severus, who was born there. Public monuments, a harbour, a marketplace, storehouses, shops, and homes were among the reasons for its induction into the list.

3. Archaeological Site of Sabratha

A Phoenician trading-post that served as an outlet for the products of the African hinterland, Sabratha was part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

4. Old Town of Ghadamès

Located in an oasis, Ghadames is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities and represents a traditional architecture with vertical division of functions.

5. Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus

Thousands of cave paintings are visible in different styles, dating from 12,000 BCE to 100 CE.

In 1969, Col Muammar Gaddafi, aged 27, deposes the king in a bloodless military coup.

By 1977, Gadhafi had passed all power down to the General People’s Committees, claiming that he was only to be known as a symbolic figurehead and nothing more. Libya then officially became known as the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Although Gadhafi claimed to have released power, critics proclaimed that he in fact had given himself virtually unlimited power, and ultimately Gaddafi assumed the title of “King of Kings of Africa” in 2008. Gaddafi ruled for 42 years; until 2011 when the citizens of Libya sparked a full-scale revolt on February 17, 2011 against the Gadhafi regime. Taking a lead from their neighbors to the west and east, as rulers of both Tunisia and Egypt were overturned. A violent civil war followed, and ultimately resulted in the ousting and death of Muammar Gaddafi, as well as the collapse of his 34-year-old Jamahiriya state. Libyans voted in a first ever parliamentary election, since Gadhafi’s dictatorship, on July 7, 2012. A few weeks later, the General National Congress was given the task of forming an interim government and drafting a new constitution. chief of state: Chairman, Presidential Council, Fayiz al-SARAJ (since December 2015) head of government: Prime Minister Fayiz al-SARAJ (since December 2015). In recent years the country has been a key springboard for migrants heading for Europe. Libya, unfortunately has used this as an opportunity to enslave them. A video footage  showed shocked the world and focused international attention on the exploitation of migrants and refugees. As a result, European and African leaders immediately took action to stop the abuses. Most of the African countries has already begun to evacuate thousands of migrants stuck in Libyan detention camps.

In 1959, oil reserves were discovered, and the income generated from petroleum sales pushed Libya into an extremely wealthy state. Libya’s proven oil reserves represent a large part of Africa’s total reserves and about 3 percent of the world’s total reserves. Libyan crude oil is low in sulfur content and therefore causes less corrosion and less pollution than most crude oils, which has made it popular in countries that have imposed stringent emissions standards. Apart from petroleum, the other natural resources are natural gas and gypsum. Oil and natural gas together accounted for almost three-fourths of the national income and nearly all of the country’s export earnings.

The majority of the Libyan population is today identified as Arab, that is, Arabic-speaking and Arab-cultured. They claim descent from the Bedouin Arab tribes of the Banū Hilāl and the Banū Sulaym. However, according to DNA studies, 90% of that Arab Libyan population is, in fact, Arabized Berbers, while Berber Libyans, those who retain Berber language and Berber culture, comprise a minority. There are about 140 tribes and clans in Libya.

Cuisine in Libya is one of the most important activities of any Libyan family. The Libyans always say: one must eat well. Olive oil is the main ingredient of nearly any dish or meal in Libya, and it is almost impossible to prepare any Libyan food without it. Its use in North Africa goes back thousands of years, and its healing goodness and life-prolonging properties were well known to the ancient Libyans and Egyptians. Offering of the olive branch to the Libyan oracle of Siwa’s God Amon indicates its sacred nature and antiquity. Its use in Mediterranean diets has always been associated with good health and preventing major diseases like stroke, heart disease and lung cancer. The healing properties are found mainly in the extra virgin olive oil (and virgin olive oil), which is naturally produced, unrefined oil (also called “cold pressed”); while the active ingredients of the second type, known as “pure oil” or “olive oil”, were badly destroyed by the chemical processes used to extract the oil. According to recent research extra-virgin olive oil contains a natural painkiller similar to ibuprofen (found in headache tablets), and its active ingredient oleocanthal inhibits the activity of enzymes involved in inflammation just as ibuprofen does. here are four main ingredients of  traditional Libyan food: olives (and olive oil), palm dates, grains and milk. Popular dishes includes: Utshu, A’eish or Bazin (dish made of dough and sauce); Z’ummeeta or zumita(doughy dish made of mixing water with flour); Couscous ((Kesksoo) the couscous, made of wheat or barley, ground into coarse flour); Ikerkoushen (cubes of sun-dried meat fried in oil); Ghadames (Baking Bread in Hot Sand); Mb’atten (is really a Libyan specialty dish made of slicing potato lengthwise into thin slices and keeping each two slices joined together at the base, to form a sandwich, which will be stuffed with minced meat and herbs and then fried); Libyan Black & Green Tea.

Various kinds of Arab music are popular such as Andalusian music, locally known as Malouf, Sha’abi and Arab classical music. The Tuareg live in the southern, Saharan part of the country, and have their own distinctive folk music. There is little or no pop music industry. Among the Tuareg, women are the musicians. They play a one-stringed violin called an Anzad, as well as a variety of drums. Two of the most famous musicians of Libya are Ahmed Fakroun and Mohammed Hassan. Among Libyan Arabs, instruments include the Zokra (a bagpipe), flute (made of bamboo), tambourine, Oud (a fretless lute) and Derbakki, a goblet drum held sideways and played with the fingers. Complication clapping is also common in folk music. Traveling Bedouin poet-singers have spread many popular songs across Libya. Among their styles is Huda, the camel driver’s song, the rhythm of which is said to mimic the feet of a walking camel.

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