97% of the population is Muslim, while the rest include small minorities of Christian and Buddhists.


Within Libya as many as five different climatic zones have been recognized, but the dominant climatic influences are Mediterranean and Saharan. In most of the coastal lowland, the climate is Mediterranean, with warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall is scanty. The weather is cooler in the highlands, and frosts occur at maximum elevations. In the desert interior the climate has very hot summers and extreme diurnal temperature ranges.



Archaeological evidence indicates that from as early as 8,000 BC, the coastal plain of Ancient Libya was inhabited by a Neolithic people, the Berbers, who were skilled in the domestication of cattle and the cultivation of crops. Later, the area known in modern times as Libya also was occupied by a series of other peoples, with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Persian Empire, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Turks and Byzantines ruling all or part of the area.


From 1912-1927, the territory of Libya was known as Italian North Africa. From 1927-1934, the territory was split into two colonies, Italian Cyrenaica and Italian Tripolitania, run by Italian governors. During the Italian colonial period, between 20% and 50% of the Libyan population died in the struggle for independence, and some 150,000 Italians settled in Libya, constituting roughly one-fifth of the total population.

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 made up of the three provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan. King Idris I, Emir of Cyrenaica, led Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two world wars. Following Allied victories against the Italians and Germans, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were under British administration, from 1953-1951, while the French controlled Fezzan. In 1944, Idris returned from exile in Cairo but declined to resume permanent residence in Cyrenaica until the removal of some aspects of foreign control in 1947. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty with the Allies, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.


On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by then 27 year old army officer Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris. At the time, Idris was in Europe for medical treatment. His nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, became King. It was clear that the revolutionary officers who had announced the deposition of King Idris did not want to appoint him over the instruments of state as King. Gaddafi was at the time only a captain and his co-conspirators were all junior officers. With the assistance of the headquarters army personnel the group seized the Libyan military headquarters and the radio broadcasting station with only 48 rounds of revolver ammunition. Before the end of 1 September, Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida had been formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and put under house arrest. Revolutionary officers then abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi was at various times referred to as the "Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution" in government statements and the official press. In the final years leading up to the 2011 civil war the nation was formally titled the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Arabic phrasebook: الجماهيرية العربية الليبية الشعبية الاشتراكية العظمى‎ al-Jamāhīriyyah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah ash-Sha‘biyyah al-Ishtirākiyyah al-‘Uẓmá and it embodied the legacies of a system of governance that had been in power for more than 40 years. During the period 1977 to 2011, Libya was known as the "Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" at the United Nations rather than by the longer official name.

In early 2011 the authority of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya government was challenged by protesters, leading to a civil war.

In March 2011 NATO led forces intervened with airstrikes, military training and material support to the rebels. By late August Libyan government rule was being seriously challenged in many parts of Libya, including direct threats to the government's seat of power in Tripoli. By 28 August 2011 rebel fighters, backed by NATO air cover and limited NATO supplied ground support including special forces detachments, entered Tripoli and seized control of the city after intensive urban fighting between the opposing forces. In late July the UK government recognised the NTC rebels as the sole representatives of the Libyan state. The day after Major-General Abdel Fatah Younes, the rebels military leader, was killed by NTC fighters suspected to be supporters of Khalifa Haftar, a former army officer who also claimed to be the rebel armed forces leader and had been operating a parallel chain of command.

Attacks by rebel fighters, NATO special forces detachments, airstrikes, shelling and rocket barrages where sustained upon Libyan urban areas and infrastructure. In September 2011 the country remained highly dangerous and unstable with normal civil structures either seriously disrupted or destroyed in many parts of the country. Remnants of the Libyan army and Libyan government supporters continued to mount fierce resistance to the NTC attempts to take over the country and much of the nation remained a war zone.

On 16 September 2011, the United Nations recognised the National Transition Council as the sole legal representative of the country. In late September fighting was still widespread in Libya and on 29 September NTC leader Mahmud Jibril cancelled the planned announcement of a cabinet of ministers for a Libyan government, stating, “The announcement of a new transitional government has been postponed indefinitely in order to finalise consultations.” The principal leadership figure of the NTC was Mahmoud Jibril however he announced his plane to step down from a leadership role in late October and prior to the killing of announced he was quitting announcing that the situation in Libya had moved into "a political struggle with no boundaries", he stated that the political struggle was requiring finances, organisation, arms and ideologies that he felt unable to provide.

In late October 2011, after an eight month civil war, the transitional government of Libya and an assortment of informally aligned armed groups launched an intensive and highly destructive assault in the city of Sirte, known as the Battle of Sirte.

On 20 October 2011 Muammar Gaddafi was killed by elements of the National Transition Council following his capture on a roadside in his hometown of Sirte. He was filmed wounded and bleeding and in the custody of NTC fighters, later reports emerged that he was subsequently beaten and killed. His body was removed to a morgue on Friday 21 October whilst a final clarification of his death was awaited by way of DNA identity confirmation. His body was displayed in a supermarket meat locker prior to being interned at an unannounced location.

On 23 October the liberation of Libya was pronounced by the National Transition Council. Mahmoud Jibril then stepped down from the leadership role of the transitional authority and was succeeded by another principal NTC leadership figure, Ali Tarhouni who assumed the role of new leader in the period awaiting the formation of an interim government. Mahmoud Jibril had served as the leader of the NTC's provisional administration from 5 March 2011 through the end of the civil war

At the time the liberation was pronounced on 23 October 2011 the NTC leadership re-affirmed their previous undertakings to facillitate the forming of an interim national government and stated that this would happen within one month, followed by elections for a constitutional assembly within eight months with parliamentary and presidential elections to be held within a year after that.