History Podcasts

Libya History - History

Libya History - History


Libya's origins go back to the misty early eras of history. The conquerors of the coastal region included Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Berbers, Romans and Vandals until in the 4th century, the Byzantines claimed the coast. Nomadic tribes in the interior of the country were untouched by the coastal maneuvering. Early on (the 7th and 8th centuries) Islam came to Libya and in the beginning of the 16th century, the Ottomans arrived via their victory over Egypt. The Italians claimed Libya in 1911 but the country was unhappy under Italian control, mounting local resistance to the Italians. During World War II, the British ousted Italian and German forces from Libya (1943), opening the door for King Idris to return in 1944. Though a part of the country was placed under a British protectorate, a smaller portion was given to the French to administer. Independence was achieved in 1951. A mere 8 years later, oil was discovered and Libya went from poverty to great wealth seemingly overnight. In 1969, Muammar al-Qaddafi a colonel in the military, led a coup against the monarchy and established the Libyan Arab Republic. Quickly, nationalization of foreign assets was declared, foreign troops were expelled, foreign cultural centers closed down and Qaddafi claimed absolute powers. The country became a fervent backer of terrorist groups from radical Palestinian entities to European groups. In 1981, US planes shot down attacking Libyan fighters during naval exercises in the Gulf of Sidra, which the world views as international waters and Libya claims as its own. Five years later, sanctions were placed on Libya by the US, and the US government ordered all citizens to leave Libya. Libyan assets were frozen in institutions throughout the US. Libya continued to sponsor terror in Europe and, it is widely believed, sponsored the downing of a Pan Am flight in December 1988. Relations with the US have remained hostile and the US continues to officially cite Libya as a supporter of international terrorism. In 2004 Libya officially gave up its nuclear program and after agreeing to pay compensation to the victims of the Pan Am flight it has been removed from the terrorist list.


Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi is killed

On October 20, 2011, Muammar al-Qaddafi, the longest-serving leader in Africa and the Arab world, is captured and killed by rebel forces near his hometown of Sirte. The eccentric 69-year-old dictator, who came to power in a 1969 coup, headed a government that was accused of numerous human rights violations against its own people and was linked to terrorist attacks, including the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Qaddafi, who was born into a Bedouin family in June 1942, attended the Royal Military Academy in Benghazi as a young man and briefly received additional military training in Great Britain. On September 1, 1969, he led a bloodless coup that overthrew Libya’s pro-Western monarch, King Idris, who was out of the country at the time. Qaddafi ਎merged as the head of the new revolutionary government, which soon forced the closing of American and British military bases in Libya, took control of much of the nation’s oil industry, and tortured and killed political dissenters. It also made unsuccessful attempts to merge Libya with other Arab nations. Qaddafiꂾgan funding terrorist and guerilla groups around the globe, including the Irish Republican Army and the Red Army Faction in West Germany. Additionally, in the mid-1970s, Qaddafi, whose followers referred to him by such titles as 𠇋rother Leader” and “Guide of the Revolution,” published his political philosophy, which combined socialist and Islamic theories. Known as the Green Book, the manifesto became required reading in Libyan schools.

During the 1980s, tensions increased between Qaddafiਊnd the West. Libya was linked the April 1986 bombing of a West Berlin, Germany, nightclub frequented by American military personnel. Two people, including a U.S. soldier, were killed in the attack, while some 155 others were wounded. The United States swiftly retaliated by bombing targets in Libya, including Qaddafi&aposs compound in Tripoli, the nation”s capital. President Ronald Reagan called Qaddafi “the mad dog of the Middle East.”

On December 22, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, traveling from London to New York, was blown up over Lockerbie, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. The U.S. and Britain indicted two Libyans in the attack, but Qaddafi initially refused to turn over the suspects. He also declined to surrender a group of Libyans suspected in the 1989 bombing of a French passenger jet over Niger that killed 170 people. Subsequently, in 1992, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Libya. These sanctions were removed in 2003, after the country formally accepted responsibility for the bombings (but admitted no guilt) and agreed to pay a $2.7 billion settlement to the victims’ families. (Qaddafi&aposs government had turned over the Lockerbie suspects in 1999 one was eventually acquitted and the other convicted.) Also in 2003, Qaddafiਊgreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction. Diplomatic relations with the West were restored by the following year.

Qaddafi remained a deeply controversial figure, who traveled with a contingent of female bodyguards, wore colorful robes and hats or military uniforms covered with medals, and on trips abroad set up a Bedouin-style tent to receive guests.

After more than 40 years in power, Qaddafi saw his regime begin to unravel in February 2011, when anti-government protests broke out in Libya following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia earlier that year. Qaddafi vowed to crush the revolt and ordered a violent crackdown against the demonstrators. However, by August, rebel forces, with assistance from NATO, had gained control of Tripoli and established a transitional government. Qaddafi went into hiding, but on October 20, 2011, he was captured and shot by rebel forces.

Hundreds of millions of years ago the Sahara desert was covered by great seas. As the seas drifted away, land slowly gave way to a great desert, much larger than the one we have now – around five times bigger than it is today (when Africa and Asia were still joined together). Since then, the Sahara comes and goes, just as ice ages do nearby. One of these most recent cycles brought heavy rainfalls to the area, and slowly turned the Sahara to wet green land, covered with lakes and rivers, most suitable for water-thirsty animals like hippopotami, rhinoceroses, crocodiles, elephants, and primates.

During Europe's merciless Ice Ages, the Sahara was a warm shelter for many European refugees, who fled their homes for the luxurious and exotic paradise of North Africa. This lost paradise was the home of several extinct civilisations, traces of which still are preserved across the Sahara’s cave galleries. The cultures were so advanced of anything known elsewhere. Some of these prehistoric art engravings and drawings show "dramatic anthropomorphic symbolism"! Such civilisations now are the focus of many scientific disciplines from around the world, in search of human’s primeval past. This means that the history of Libya is of paramount importance to the whole world and not just to the Berbers and yet it is possibly the least explored and probably the most neglected.

55,000,000 To 5,000,000 Years Ago

The 55 million years old fossil of a primate found in Morocco, and the 35 million years old Aegyptopithecus found in Fayyum, in Egypt, are considered the oldest primate remains ever found in Africa. The earliest known hominoid (man-like) fossil, dubbed Oligopitchecus Savagei and which was also found in Fayyum, is 33 million years old. About seven million years ago, proto-humans diverged into a separate evolutionary tree, and soon afterwards, about five million years ago, Africa itself began to crack along its eastern ridge, leading to the formation of the Red Sea and the emergence of the great Rift Valleys: one running from Abyssinia to Lake Victoria, and the other from Victoria to the Zambesi. It was suggested that the subsidence is continuously creating new lakes, which by trapping more sediments preserves more fossils and hence the abundance of fossil records in East Africa.

5,000,000 To 2,000,000 Years Ago

About 3.7 million years ago, the Australopithecus evolved to become the first ancestor who marked the beginning of human culture, symbolised by tool making, the use of fire, and organised settlements into perhaps what we now know as "society". The discoveries at Ain Hanech in North Africa, when most archaeologists believed no human artifacts older than the Pleistocene can be found, confirmed that tool-making (early) humans had lived in North Africa in the Pliocene. They made hand-axes, and polygonal nodules and cores of limestone with many flakes removed. Stone tools connected with the east African Olduvai Gorge, from Tanzania, were said to be the same as those found in Ain Hanech suggesting a link with East Africa.

2,000,000 To 1,000,000 Years Ago

Until now, Africa was considered the only continent our early ancestors inhabited. Around 2 million years ago, they were advanced enough to initiate the greatest journey of all times: the exploration of planet earth. The Homo Erectus stood up and left Africa to colonise Asia and Europe. Their bones were found in North Africa, as far west as Casablanca, Rabat and Ternifine, and in Asia, as far as China. Since their earliest remains in Europe and Asia date back to about 700,000 years ago, anthropologists have concluded that their journey must took them more than half a million years. Those ancestors who remained in Africa evolved into our own species, the Homo Sapiens, who also went on to colonise Asia and Europe.

1,000,000 To 100,000 Years Ago

Around 800,000 years ago, the Sahara was hot, tropical, very damp and covered with swamps, lakes and rivers. There were herds of elephants and antelopes, hippopotami in the lakes, crocodiles in the rivers, and vegetation everywhere. This period of heavy rain lasted for hundreds of thousands of years. Then around 450,000 years ago, the earliest type of pebble-toolin Tokra (Cyrenaica) and Bir Dufan (Tripolitania) was replaced by the hand-axe. About 200,000 years ago, the Neanderthals evolved, and were still in existence when modern humans emerged about 50,000 years ago. It was initially said that the two species did not co-exist and thus the Neanderthals went extinct about 29,000 years ago. But, as always is the case with premature research, scientists now say they never went extinct, but mingled and intermarried with the new comers, just as humans still do. About 125,000 years ago the hand-axe was replaced by the Levallois or Prepared-Core technique. Evidence from this period indicates humans were well familiar with fishing techniques, and painted their faces with red ochre.

100,000 Years Ago

The most important Neanderthal site from Libya is the Cave of Haua Fteah', near Marsa Sousa, in eastern Libya other North African sites include Jebel Irhoud, Temara and Tangier. The Neanderthals were fairly short and had long skulls, protruding at the back, and heavier brows and jaws. They were the first humans to design clothes out of animal skin and the first in line to bury their dead. The Haua Fteah in eastern Libya is one of the largest prehistoric cave-sites in the world and certainly the largest in the Mediterranean basin. A super-massive structure, providing continuous archaeological record from 100,000 years ago to the present. It was suggested that the cave was possibly inhabited 200,000 years ago [see Haua Fteah for source]. According to C.B.M McBurney (Libya in History, p. 7), "During the Last Interglacial period some 90,000 years ago Cyrenaica was occupied by an exceptionally inventive and advanced group of Paleolithic hunters, among the most technologically progressive communities so far known to have existed at the time.” These ancient Libyan hunters lived on wild cattle, gazelle, snails and marine molluscs, and made tools far in advance of anything known at the time, including a bone flute. This hardly known discovery, which McBurney brought to the attention of the international community way back in the 1950s, is stark evidence that humans have existed continuously in one site in Libya for 100,000 years.

50,000 BC to 30,000 BC

About 37,000 years ago, Libya, and much of North Africa, was occupied by tall, large-brained, and powerfully built humans, known as the Cro-Magnon. The remains of this type were found to be older than other Cro-Magnon samples from other sites (Europe and Middle East), and it was widely believed that they were the direct ancestors of the Berbers and the Iberians. Cultural evidence from Fezzan, the home of the classical Garamantes Kingdom, then the most advanced people in the Sahara, goes back to more than 30,000 years. Stone implements dated to the late Acheulean and the Aterian (named after Bir el-Ater) cultures (100,000-30,000 BC) were found in numerous sites from the Fezzan area, and, according to most sources, many more await discovery. Rüdiger and Gabriele Lutz (1955) recall the cultures of Fezzan to have evolved over the past hundreds of thousands of years and vanished under adverse conditions. “Stone tools of bygone eras are lying about in millions, from the relics of early and late Acheulian (up to 500.000 years), Levalloisian (100.000 years) and Mousterian (50.000 years) to Aterian (40.000-20.000 years).” Many of the ancient Egyptian and Berber mythical gods and goddesses are still represented on the rock art of the Sahara, in what is known as the largest collection of prehistoric art in the world: well over one hundred thousand sites. The dating of Fezzan's rock drawings to 12,000 BC is widely disputed, and many scholars now call for pushing this date farther back in time on the light of the recent discoveries, and also strongly criticised the old techniques originally used to date the work some 40 or 50 years ago.

20,000 BC to 5,000 BC

Around 20,000 years ago humans began migrating out of the area and, according to the latest genetic evidence, headed for Iberia, Egypt, and the Middle East, where they spread the new culture all around the Mediterranean sea. Recent archaeological research has confirmed that the so called Ibero-maurusian culture (22,000 BC), was in fact purely Berber culture, and that the name Ibero- was added by Aryanists for political reasons. The skeletal remains of a population anthropologists named "Mouillans" were said to date between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. These settlements were typically small, of about 100 individuals, mostly of women and children! They posed the largest cranial capacity of any population the world has ever seen indicating, perhaps, their relation to the earlier, large-brained Cro-Magnons. Dr Carleton Coon has pointed out that the Mouillan features have never before evolved in such combinations in any race at that time in human history.

Libya History

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 Libya in the seventh century A.D. In the following centuries, most of the indigenous peoples adopted Islam and the Arabic language and culture. The Ottoman Turks conquered the country in the 16th century. Libya remained part of their empire--although at times virtually autonomous--until Italy invaded in 1911 and, after years of resistance, made Libya a colony.

In 1934, Italy adopted the name "Libya" (used by the Greeks for all of North Africa, except Egypt) as the official name of the colony, which consisted of the Provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan. King Idris I, Emir of Cyrenaica, led Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two World Wars. From 1943 to 1951, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were under British administration the French controlled Fezzan. In 1944, Idris returned from exile in Cairo but declined to resume permanent residence in Cyrenaica until the removal in 1947 of some aspects of foreign control. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty with the Allies, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.

On November 21, 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before January 1, 1952. King Idris I represented Libya in the subsequent UN negotiations. When Libya declared its independence on December 24, 1951, it was the first country to achieve independence through the United Nations. Libya was proclaimed a constitutional and a hereditary monarchy under King 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 he was overthrown in a military-led coup on September 1, 1969. The new regime, headed by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi emerged as leader of the RCC and eventually as de facto chief of state, a position he currently holds. He has no official position.

Seeking new directions, the RCC's motto became "freedom, socialism, and unity." It pledged itself to remove backwardness, take an active role in the Palestinian Arab cause, promote Arab unity, and encourage domestic policies based on social justice, non-exploitation, and an equitable distribution of wealth.

A Brief History of Libya

At first, Libya was inhabited by Berber tribes. After 1,000 BC a people from Lebanon called the Phoenicians settled in Tripolitania (western Libya). They founded Tripoli. Later the ancient Greeks settled in Cyrenaica (eastern Libya).

Later both areas of Libya became part of the Roman Empire. A Roman Emperor called Septimius Severus (193-211) was a native of the great city of Leptis Magna in Roman Libya. Unfortunately, Leptis Magna was severely damaged by an earthquake in 365.

Then in the 4th century, the Roman Empire split in two. Cyrenaica became part of the eastern Roman Empire while Tripolitania was part of the Western Empire. In 431 a Germanic people called the Vandals captured Libya but Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Empire forced them out in 533.

Then in 642-44, the Arabs conquered Libya. During the 16th century, Libya became part of the Turkish Empire. It remained part of the Turkish Empire for centuries although it was a haven for pirates.

However, in 1911 the Italians invaded Libya. The Turks surrendered Libya to Italy in 1912. However, resistance from the people of Libya continued for many years.

Until 1922 the Italians only controlled the coastal region. However, the Fascist regime in Italy was determined to subdue all of Libya and by 1932 it was in control of the whole country. The conquest of Libya by Fascist Italy was extremely brutal and many Libyans died as a result. Mussolini, the Italian dictator encouraged Italians to emigrate to Libya and by 1939 there were 150,000 of them living in the country.

In 1940 Italy joined the Second World War on Germany’s side and Italian forces based in Libya fought the British in Egypt. However in 1943, the British took Libya. After the war, Libya was controlled by the British and French.

By a peace treaty of 1947, Italy gave up all claim to Libya. Then in 1949, the UN decreed Libya must become independent by 1 January 1952. A constitution was for Libya was drawn up and Muhammad Idris al Sanusi was chosen as king. King Idris, I declared Libya independent on 24 December 1951.

At first, Libya was an impoverished country. However, Libya was changed forever in 1959 when oil was discovered. Oil brought new wealth to the country and by the mid-1960s Libya was one of the most important oil-producing countries in the world.

However, on 1 September 1969, a group of army officers led by Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup in Libya. The monarchy was abolished. Gaddafi became the dictator of Libya and remained in power for 42 years.

In 1984 the UK broke off diplomatic relations with Libya after a policewoman was killed outside the Libyan embassy in London. In 1986 a bomb exploded in a German nightclub. The USA believed Libyans were involved so they bombed Libya.

In 1992 and 1993 the UN imposed sanctions on Libya because of its involvement in destroying a passenger plane over Lockerbie in 1988. In 1999 Gaddafi finally surrendered 2 men suspected of involvement. The UN sanctions were suspended but they were not formally lifted until 2003.

Meanwhile, in 1999, the Italian government apologized for the brutal conquest of Libya decades earlier.

However, in 2011, there was a revolution in Libya, and Gaddafi was killed.

In the early 21st century Libya was still dependent on oil. Libya still has very large reserves of oil. However, Libya suffered high unemployment. In 2020 the population of Libya is 6.8 million.



Libya, country located in North Africa. Most of the country lies in the Sahara 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 comprises three historical regions&mdash Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest. The Ottoman authorities recognized them as separate provinces. Under Italian rule, they were unified to form a single colony, which gave way to independent Libya. For much of Libya&rsquos early history, both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were more closely linked with neighbouring territories than with one other.

Before the discovery of oil in the late 1950s, Libya was considered poor in natural resources and severely limited by its desert environment. The country was almost entirely dependent upon foreign aid and imports for the maintenance of its economy the discovery of petroleum dramatically changed this situation. The government long exerted strong control over the economy and attempted to develop agriculture and industry with wealth derived from its huge oil revenues. It also established a welfare state, which provides medical care and education at minimal cost to the people. Although Libya&rsquos long-ruling leader Muammar al-Qaddafi espoused an idiosyncratic political ideology rooted in socioeconomic egalitarianism and direct democracy, Libya in practice remained an authoritarian state, with power concentrated among members of Qaddafi&rsquos inner circle of relatives and security chiefs. Opposition to the Qaddafi regime reached an unprecedented level in 2011, developing into an armed revolt that forced Qaddafi from power. (Britannica)


Libya is the fourth largest Arab nation in the world. It is 1.7 million square miles in area, making it larger than the U.S. state of Alaska. It is known to Libyans as the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Republic). Libya's population is nearly five million people. Its population is growing at 2.4 percent, and 97 percent of Libyans are Sunni Muslims. Over half of all Libyans are less than 15 years of age. Education, especially free education, is a major issue for this youthful population. Ninety-seven percent of Libyans are Berber and Arab in ethnic makeup the remaining population is Tuareg and indigenous African. The average life expectancy is 74 years for men and 78 years for women. There is 1 doctor for every 948 people, and, since most people live in cities, hospitals and doctors are within easy reach. Education is free and compulsory between the ages 6 and 15 years of age. It is free if students decide to continue their studies thereafter. Adult literacy is high at 76.2 percent this approaches levels seen in developed nations. The capital Tripoli has a population of 1.6 million people. Roughly one out of every four Libyans lives in the capital city.

Libya is a highly urban society in which 86 percent of its citizens live in cities along the Mediterranean coast. The north is cool and provides many employment opportunities, while the south is hot and dry, sparsely populated, and offers few jobs. Libya is a largely barren, flat, undulating land. It has flat plains and plateaus, as well as depressions. Fertile oases punctuate this landscape that is dry and, in most places, extreme desert. There is a long Mediterranean coast along which most Libyans live. The Cyrenaica province is one of three major provinces that divide Libya. Like the other two provinces, Tripolitana and Fezzan, it has a narrow coastline behind which rises a plateau called the Jabal al-Akhdar or "Green Mountain." Here lies the city of Benghazi, one of Libya's largest cities. This is an industrial seaport. Libya's coast has 13 other major cities. Libya is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa and the Middle East. This province shares its eastern border with Egypt. On the west lies the province of Tripolitana, which is anchored by the city of Tripoli, Libya's capital. Sandwiched between these two great provinces lies the province of Fezzan and Libya's rich, low sulfur oil fields. Here also lie the country's rich uranium fields that extend into neighboring Chad. This province also borders Algeria, Niger, and the Sudan. Libya is the largest producer of oil in Africa, and one of the largest producers in the world. Oil income has transformed Libya from a poor nation into a rapidly developing nation. It has one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa. The principal languages are Arabic, English, and Italian.

Before the 1969 revolution almost 40 percent of Libyans lived in tents or shanty towns. There were 300,000 houses and 365,000 families. Thus, 65,000 families were homeless and an additional 120,000 lived in caves and shacks. Between 1969 and 1974 over 110,000 new homes were built.

Early History: Until recently Libya had no separate identity. It had always been part of some other nation or empire, except in ancient times when Libyans warred with the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Many foreigners, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans, Italians, British, and the French have dominated Libya. The Tripoli Tania province has always looked seaward to the north for salvation, trade, and cultural ties with Europe. The Cyrenaica province has always looked east for trade and cultural ties with Egypt and the Arab world. The Fezzan is African and looks south for trade, political and military links, and African cultural influences. Before the 1969 revolution, these provinces looked outward more than inward. This made national unity difficult and foreign influence great. Libyan fear of external domination is firmly rooted in experience and justified by their history with outsiders.

Having been divided often, Libya had little sense of a common national identity until 1951. The Sanusiya movement unified eastern Libya. This was a movement dedicated to purifying and reforming Moslems and leading its followers back to a simple community of faith ruled by just leaders. Of all of Libya's invaders, the Arabs have had the most enduring influence by forcing their religion onto Libyan culture. This movement began in the nineteenth century.

History of Education in Libya: The Ottoman empire encouraged Koran schools from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries in Libya. Small kuttabs, or Arab Koran schools, were affiliated with mosques and taught children to read the holy Koran and write Arabic script. Higher order religious training was available through institutes, such as Murad Pasha and Darghut Pasha. Here students could also study law (figh). Zawiya stressed the study of astronomy, science, geography, history, mathematics, and medicine, as well as religion. Some zawiya also taught military arts to defend the faith.

Italy expanded educational opportunities as compared with the Ottomans. By 1939, Libya had 93 Italian schools. However, these were for the exclusive education of Italian settlers and children of administrators. These schools rivaled schools in Rome, but Arabs and Bedouins could not attend them. In addition to the Italian schools for Italian youth, there were 16 Jewish schools, 1 Greek school, and 418 Arab schools, which were religious schools or Kuttabs for the most part. Libyans graduating from these kuttab schools were not able to compete with Italians. The only secondary schools in the country were built to educate Italian children Arabs and Bedouins were again not allowed to attend.

Under Italian rule, Libyans were denied education beyond the fourth grade and discouraged from learning either the Bedouin or Arabic language. They were taught Italian, to love Italy, and not to trust Arabs or Bedouins. Poor Italians did menial labor, semi-skilled, and skilled work. Little was left for the Libyans.

Italian schools continued to function, but Libyan Arab education was added. Textbooks and syllabi were rewritten in Arabic. Government primary and secondary schools were built throughout Libya and it reopened Koran schools that had closed during the independence struggle. This gave education a strong religious element. A shortage of qualified Libyan teachers led to rote learning, rather than reasoning. Despite these limitations, school enrollments rose rapidly, especially primary education. Jewish schools declined and closed as Jews migrated to the new state of Israel. Vocational education was added, and Libya's first university was opened in 1955 at Benghazi. Women began to attend school in growing numbers, and adult education was added to the system. Total school enrollment at the end of the colonial era was 34,000. Between 1951 and 1962 enrollment increased to 150,000 and by 1969, just before the revolution, enrollment had increased to 360,000 students. Mobile classrooms became common, as did prefabricated classrooms. Classes were even held in tents in desert oases. Through these efforts, enrollments totaled 1.2 million students by 1986. There were 670,000 males (54 percent) and 575,000 females (46 percent). One third of the Libyan population was enrolled in school or in some other form of educational endeavor. Between 1970 and 1986, Libya built 32,000 new classrooms for primary, secondary, and vocational schools. The number of teachers rose from 19,000 to 79,000 during the same time period. The student teacher ratio also rose and the quality of education suffered.

In 1951, about 10 percent of Libyans were literate. At that time there were no female teachers. Secondary school teachers numbered 25, and only 14 Libyans held university degrees. A national education system was built virtually from scratch. By 1977, literacy rose to 51 percent. The literacy rate for women during the same time-frame rose from 6 percent to 31 percent. By the late 1980s more than 70 percent of men were literate as compared to 35 percent of women.

In the early twenty-first century, education at all levels is free, and university students are given very generous stipends to encourage them to pursue higher education and modernize the workforce. For students ages 6 through 15 years of age, education is compulsory. Roughly 8 percent of Libya's entire budget is dedicated to supporting education up through university level. The revolutionary regime has considerably expanded the educational system that it inherited from the monarchy. All types of education are seen as equal, since human knowledge is viewed as inherent to building a modern civilization. Many schools are needed to fulfill these aims.

Libya still suffers from a shortage of qualified Libyan teachers at all levels, and female attendance at the secondary and higher levels is low. Attempts to close all private and religious schools since 1970 has created problems. Vocational and technical training lag the rest of the system. In 1977, fewer than 5,000 students were enrolled in 12 technical high schools. By 1990, most doctors, dentists, and pharmacists were expatriates, despite having nearly 17,000 Libyan students studying for degrees in these disciplines. Libyan youth avoid scientific and technical training, preferring white-collar jobs associated with prestige and high social status. Reliance on foreign technicians will characterize Libya's economy well into the foreseeable future.

From 1981, compulsory military education for males and females formed part of the curriculum for all secondary schools and universities. Male and female students must wear uniforms to class and attend daily military exercises and physical training. University students are not forced to wear uniforms, but they must attend military camps for training. Females are encouraged to attend special female military academies. These measures are not popular, especially among the families of many females. A backlash might be expected in the future. The increase in female enrollment is remarkable, considering the fundamentally conservative and religious nature of Libya society on gender issues.

Libya's first university was founded at Benghazi in 1955, and it had a branch in Tripoli. These two campuses became separate universities in 1973. In 1976, they were renamed Gar Yunis University and Al Fatah University, respectively. A technical university, specializing in engineering and petroleum, opened at Marsa al Burayqeh in 1981. Al Fatah added schools of nuclear engineering, electronic engineering, and pharmacy during the 1980s. An agriculture college was constructed at Al Bayda and technical institutes exist at Birak, Hun, and Bani Walid. The expansion of opportunities in higher education is seen as vital to meeting personnel requirements by the revolutionary regime. Eventually, many secondary schools will be converted into special training institutes whose curriculums dovetail with those of vocational, technical, and universities.

Technically trained students are compelled to work in the areas of their training, which causes some discontent. The idea is to end dependence on foreign technical workers, but this is unlikely in the near future, especially in light of recent cutbacks in spending on technical education. Enrollment trends for higher education have moved steadily upward from independence to the present. There were 3,000 university students in 1969. By 1975 this number increased to 12,000, and by 1980, it reached 25,000. In 1992, this figure soared to 72,899, of whom 46 percent were female. The increase in female university enrollment is especially impressive, considering that in 1970 females were only 9 percent of the university student population.

Libya formerly paid totally for students to attend foreign universities and, by 1978, some 3,000 Libyans were studying in America. But in 1985, Libya cut back on fellowships for foreign study, forcing many Libyan students to continue their education locally. University students were among the few groups to openly express dissatisfaction with that. Students feel that university education is the path to personal and social advancement best left free from government interference. They resent constant efforts to control their thought and to politicize education at every level. For example, in 1976, university students mounted violent protest in Benghazi and Tripoli over compulsory military training. Students studying French and English at Al Fatah University frustrated efforts to close their departments and destroy their libraries.

Libya Culture

Religion in Libya

Social Conventions in Libya

Although Libya is a deeply conservative country, people are friendly and generally like to enjoy life. This is all the more true since the revolution, when many people seemed to break free from the shackles imposed by the Gaddafi regime. Young men drive fast cars through the streets of Benghazi, showing off the tinted windows that were banned under the late leader's administration. And while there are no nightclubs or bars in the country yet, young people like to enjoy music and hang out in shisha cafes and shwarma joints. It's important to dress modestly wherever you go, particularly if you are female. Alcohol is forbidden and most people get married at a young age, often through arranged agreements. Weddings tend to be a three-day affair with lots of singing and emphasis on beautiful outfits.

In this sparsely-populated country, expect most of your shots to be of the landscapes. As in other places, it's wise to ask before photographing someone, and to keep your camera away from military sites or groups of militia.

A History of Modern Libya

This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Online publication date: June 2012
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online ISBN: 9780511986246
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511986246
  • Subjects: Middle East Studies, Area Studies, History, Middle East History, Twentieth Century Regional History

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Book description

Libya is coming in from the cold, but for most of the three decades following the 1969 revolution, the country was labelled a pariah state by the West. Dirk Vandewalle, one of only a handful of western scholars to visit during the time, is intimately acquainted with the country. This history - based on original research and his interviews with Libya's political elite - offers a lucid account of Libya's past, and corrects some of the misunderstandings about its present. The author takes the story from the 1900s, through the Italian occupation, the Sanusi monarchy and Qadhafi's self-styled revolution. The final chapter is devoted to the events which brought Libya back into the international fold. As the first comprehensive history of Libya over the last two decades, this book will be welcomed by students of the region, professionals and those who are visiting Libya for the first time.

Libya: History and Revolution

After four decades of tyrannical, erratic—and pioneering—changes fueled by oil wealth, Muammar Gaddafi's government fell in 2011, and Libya embarked on a new course without known charts. Libya: History and Revolution covers the nation from its origins as independent land masses and kingdoms to its present as a consolidated nation. The work does not focus on the "old" Libya, but aims to bridge yesterday's Libya with tomorrow's, looking at the nation as a regional economic power and military player in North Africa and the Middle East. The result is a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand introduction to the political, economic, and military history and events that led to Gaddafi's downfall, coupled with a consideration of Libya's past and present.

Opening with historical underpinnings, the book focuses on the conflict and revolution in Libya during the Arab Spring that brought Gaddafi down, a change that opened a new future for the oil-rich nation. The book closes with a thoughtful discussion of what may be next for Libya and of possible perils for the nation, the region, and the world, as Libya matures as an independent, representatively governed country.

Watch the video: Η ιστορία της Μεσοποταμίας (January 2022).