Flag of Libya

Libya

Libya (officially the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), is a country in North Africa, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. The name 'Libya' is derived from the Egyptian term 'Libu', which refers to one of the tribes of Berber peoples living west of the Nile. In Greek this became 'Libya', although 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.

With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), 90% of which is desert, Libya is the 4th largest country in Africa by area, and the 17th largest in the world. The capital, Tripoli, is home to 1.7 million of Libya's 5.7 million people. For a country that's been all but swallowed by the Sahara, visitors may be surprised to see how pleasantly Mediterranean it can be along its northern coast. Tripoli is as urbane as any place in Africa, whilst the Jebel Akhdar region to the east is reminiscent of verdant Crete.

The country is led by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, whose foreign policy has often brought him into conflict with the West and governments of other African countries. However, Libya publicly gave up any nuclear aspirations in the 2000s, and Libya's foreign relations today are less contentious. Gaddafi has of late been keen to renew ties with the outside world and is styling himself as a unifier and pacifier.

The Libyan people enjoy a well-earned reputation for kindness and hospitality toward visitors, and its streets and souqs are free of the hassles of touts and their hard sell.

Map of Libya