- This article is about Libya, the country in North Africa. For the mythical character of the same name see: Libya (mythology).
The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or Libya (Arabic: ليبيا) is a country in North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, located between Egypt on the east, Sudan on the southeast, Chad and Niger on the south and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. Its capital city is Tripoli. The three traditional parts of the country are Tripolitania, the Fezzan and Cyrenaica.
The name "Libya" derives from the ancient Egyptian term "Lebu", referring to Berber peoples living east of the Nile, and adopted into Greek as "Libya". In ancient Greece, the term had a broader meaning, encompassing all of North Africa west of Egypt, and sometimes referring to the entire continent of Africa.
Main article: History of Libya
Tripoli and Cyrenaica were Roman colonies; and were conquered by Arab Muslims in the 7th century. By the 19th century it was an increasingly independent Ottoman province; and came under the control of Italy in 1912.
After the Second World War Libya was granted independence, as a condition of the Allied peace treaty with Italy. Since 1969 Libya has been ruled by Colonel Moammar al-Qadhafi, who came to power in a coup and deposed the Libyan monarchy of King Idris.
Qadhafi rejected both Soviet Communism and Western capitalism and claimed that he was charting an independent course, portraying himself as a champion of "oppressed peoples" and Third World nations seeking to assert their independence on the international stage.
U.S.-Libyan relations deteriorated when in December 2 1979, Libyan mobs sacked the United States embassy in Tripoli. Qadhafi referred to the incident it as a "spontaneous demonstration" and denied any involvement. It is suspected that he ordered the attack to show sympathy for Ayatollah Khomeini and the new government of Iran. In May 1980, the United States withdrew all United States diplomats but did not break off diplomatic ties with Libya.
In 1980, the Libyan government paid Jimmy Carter's brother, Billy Carter, $220,000 to persuade better diplomatic relations between the two nations.
On May 6, 1981, four and a half months after Ronald Reagan became president of the United States, the United States government blamed the Libyan government for sponsoring international terrorism. All Libyan diplomats were expelled from the United States and the United States officially broke diplomatic relations between the two nations. The Libyan embassy was also shut down.
The Reagan administration saw Libya as an unacceptable player on the international stage because of its backing of Palestinian liberation groups, its support for revolutionary Iran in its 1980-1988 war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq (see Iran-Iraq War), and its assistance for liberation movements in different parts of the world, many which were conducted by separatist groups such as: The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
In March 1982 the U.S. declared a ban on the import of Libyan oil and the export to Libya of U.S. industrial technology items, most of which were used for oil; Europe did not follow suit.
The U.S. attacked Libyan patrol boats from January to March 1986 during clashes over access to the Gulf of Sidra, which Libya claimed as territorial waters but was not recognized internationally. Qadhafi had long referred to it as the "line of death ". Later, on April 14, 1986, Reagan ordered major bombing raids against so-called "terrorist sites" Tripoli and Benghazi that killed approximately 60 people following U.S. accusations of Libyan involvement in a bomb explosion at the German La Belle nightclub frequented by U.S. servicemen on April 5, which had killed 3. Among the victims of the April 14 bombing raid was the adopted daughter of Qadhafi.
The United Nations imposed sanctions against Libya in 1992 following the Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie disaster. The sanctions were lifted on September 12, 2003, after Libya agreed to accept responsibility and make payment of US $2.7 billion to the families of those who died in the bombing. In the same vein, on February 26, 2004, the United States lifted its 23-year travel ban to Libya, and on September 21, 2004, eliminated remaining economic sanctions against the former pariah, lifting the prohibitions of the Libyan Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 550, and unblocking property and property interests previously blocked under those regulations.
Main article: Politics of Libya
The Libyan system of government is quite unusual. Qadhafi claims that Libya is a "pure socialist state", and as such the formal institutions of government are purposely quite vague. Qadhafi himself is not even technically the "President" or "Prime Minister" of the country, and instead describes himself as a sort of "guide" or a "leader" to help the Libyan people in socialism. To most people around the world, he is simply referred to as "Colonel Qadhafi". Libya has no constitution, and the laws of the land come from Islamic law, and Qadhafi's Green Book of political philosophy. The government is called a "jamahiriya," a modification of the Arabic word "jumhuriya" (republic) that translates loosely as "people's state."
In practice, however, Libya is essentially a dictatorship, with Qadhafi ruling by decree, assisted by a small clique of military and political officials. Libya has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, and state sponsored terrorism.
On December 19, 2003, Libya admitted having had a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program and simultaneously announced its intention to end it and dismantle all existing WMD to be verified by unconditional inspections. Libya also agreed to limit its long range missiles to 300 km. Some of the WMD included mustard gas, which was hidden in a turkey farm. The announcement came after clandestine diplomatic negotiations with the United Kingdom and United States since March 2003. On March 7, 2004, the White House confirmed that the last of Libya's nuclear weapons-related equipment had been sent to the United States.
About that same time, Libya was also caught secretly passing nuclear technology which originated in North Korea on to other countries. Furthermore, Pakistan and China were mentioned as contributors to the programs.
Egypt previously had obtained technology directly from Pyongyang, officials said, but the U.S. blocked a shipment of missiles in 2001. Nevertheless, the House subcommittee on terrorism learned a year later Egypt received 24 No-Dong missile engines from North Korea.
'We are still trying to understand the network, to see if other countries have received the [weapons-related] technology, the weapons designs,' IAEA director-general Mohamed El Baradei, who did not cite Egypt, said during a visit to Libya Feb. 23. 2004 'This is of course an important and urgent concern for us.'"
Main article: Geography of Libya
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia
Climate: Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, gypsum
Geographic regions: Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan.
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust-laden sirocco (known in Libya as the ghibli) is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms.
The Great Manmade River project is a large engineering project Libya has undertaken to supply water to the Sahara desert.
Main article: Economy of Libya
Libya's economy under the current Prime Minister (Ghanem) is undergoing an incredible business boom. Many socialist era government run industries are being privatized. UN sanctions have been mostly lifted (2004) and US sanctions are too. For example, Continental airlines now offers code-share travel to Libya.
Main article: Demographics of Libya
Main article: Culture of Libya