Libya Country Facts

By | June 17, 2024
‎ Lībiyā
Capital city Tripoli
Surface 1,759,541 km²
Population 6,653,000
Road network length 47,590 km
Length of highway network 56 km
First highway ?
Motorway name ?
Traffic drives Right
License plate code LAR

Libya (Arabic: ليبيا, Lībiyā) is a large country in northern Africa. The country is approximately 44 times the size of the Netherlands and has more than 6 million inhabitants. The capital is Tripoli, Ṭarābulus in Arabic.


Libya is a large country in North Africa, located on the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered to the west by Tunisia and Algeria, to the south by Niger and Chad and to the east by Sudan and Egypt. Malta is located 330 kilometers north of Libya, Italy 440 kilometers and Greece 300 kilometers. The country measures 1550 kilometers from west to east and 1450 kilometers from north to south. This makes it the 15th largest country in the world. The capital Tripoli is located in the northwest on the coast. Libya has 1770 kilometers of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea.

By far the largest part of Libya is dominated by the Sahara. Not more than a strip of about 30 kilometers inland is cultivated, but in the east the Sahara runs straight to the sea. Large parts of Libya are relatively flat, with height differences of a few hundred meters at most. Isolated mountain ranges are located in the remote south of the country, but only the Tibesti Mountains on the border with Chad have high altitudes, with the 2266 meter high Bikku Bitti as the highest point.

The country has an extremely dry desert climate, precipitation only falls directly along the coast, the Libyan desert is one of the driest areas in the world, in some areas decades without precipitation follow. In the north, however, there is some seasonal variation, with relatively cool winters by Sahara standards. In Tripoli, the average maximum temperature is between 18°C ​​in January and 33°C in August. Temperatures of 40 – 45 °C, however, also occur periodically here.


Libya is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa, with a population density of only 4 inhabitants per km². This varies, however, the coastal strip has several cities and a somewhat cultivated countryside. In the interior, however, hardly anyone lives, except around a few oases. In 1960 Libya had only about 1 million inhabitants, this grew to 5 million around 2000. Libya is highly urbanized, a large part of the population lives in one of the cities on the Mediterranean Sea. The capital Tripoli has 1.2 million inhabitants, this is the largest city in the country. Benghazi is the second largest city with more than 700,000 inhabitants. In addition, there are 8 cities with between 100,000 and 350,000 inhabitants.

Libyans identify as Arab, making up about 97% of the population. In addition, there are small groups of labor migrants. The official language of Libya is Arabic, but a number of Berber languages ​​are also spoken.


Libya’s economy is largely based on oil. Oil accounts for half of the country’s GDP and almost all of the country’s exports. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa and has therefore been able to develop as one of the most prosperous African countries. The large oil revenues and small population size give a high GDP per capita. The Libyan government has in the past introduced a relatively comprehensive social security system. However, the strong orientation towards oil is also a disadvantage, the economy is not very diverse and employment is highly dependent on the government. In the mid-2000s, about 70% of the population worked for the government.

The oil is extracted in several areas, the largest oil fields are located in the interior of Eastern Libya, oil is also extracted in the interior of Western Libya. The oil is exported from various ports on the Mediterranean Sea.


The traditional inhabitants of the region are the Berbers. In ancient times, the Phoenicians and Greeks established trading posts and city-states on the coast. The coastal region has been under the rule of many empires, such as the Carthaginians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The region was originally Christian, but Islam was introduced to the region from the 7th century onwards. From 1551 the area was under the rule of the Ottomans. In 1911, it was occupied by Italy, who ruled it as a colony until 1947. During this period, the area’s first infrastructure was developed. Libya was an important battleground during World War II.

The country gained independence as a kingdom in 1951. In 1969, the king was overthrown in a coup d’état by Muammar Gaddafi. He was the country’s dictator until he was overthrown during the 2011 Libyan civil war. The country has been unstable ever since, with conflict and multiple administrations claiming to be Libya’s legitimate government.

Road Network

Because Libya does not have a large population, which is also highly concentrated in and around Tripoli, Libya does not have an extensive road network. However, almost all roads of any importance are paved, in relation to population Libya has the largest network of paved roads in Africa. The main road is the coastal route from the Tunisian border via Tripoli to the border with Egypt. A cut-off exists in the Cyrenaica region, which cuts through the desert inland. In addition, a number of roads lead further into the Sahara, especially in the west. These mainly serve a few villages and places where oil is extracted. Car ownership in Libya is the highest in all of Africa, there are 234 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants, about half of that in the Netherlands.

The east-west route along the coast has been extended over 900 kilometers with 2×2 lanes between the border with Tunisia and Bishr. This is not a motorway, there are at-grade intersections, although those outside the Tripoli area are sparse. Around Tripoli there are a number of roads that can be classified as motorways, approximately 40 kilometers in total, which have only grade separated intersections. Tripoli has a modern road network, with two ring roads, while a third ring road was under construction. The eastern approach road to the center is also a highway.

Motorways and Expressways in Libya
Libya Coastal Road • Second Ring Road • Third Ring Road • Airport Highway

Road numbering

There is no road numbering in Libya. Roads have names. Libya is one of the few countries in Africa that has no road numbering at all.


The signage consists of blue signs with white letters, and is often only in Arabic. However, there are also green signs with white letters. A distinction is made between green and blue signs. Fork plates after the German model are used in Libya. The highway symbol is also used. A distinction is also made between local, white targets.


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