National Profiles > Regions > Northern Africa > Libya
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Region: Northern Africa
2015 Population1: 6,111,592
Total Area (sq.miles): 679,362
Life Expectancy at Birth2: 71.8
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2016 US $)2: ---
Official Religion(s) or Church(es)3: Sunni Islam

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Religious Regulation Index (2014)4:
RAS3 State Regulation of Majority or All Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 65/253

[Further Detail]
Religious Minority Discrimination Index (2014)4:
RAS3 State Discrimination of Minority Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 47/253

[Further Detail]
State Funding of Religions (2014)4:
RAS3 State Funding of Religion, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 96/253

[Further Detail]
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions (2014)4:
RAS3 Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 20/253

[Further Detail]


Libya, officially the State of Libya, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered 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 three traditional parts of the country are Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa, and is the 17th largest country in the world. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world. The largest city and capital, Tripoli, is located in western Libya and contains over one million of Libya's six million people. The other large city is Benghazi, which is located in eastern Libya. Libya has been inhabited by Berbers since the late Bronze Age. The Phoenicians established trading posts in western Libya, and Ancient Greek colonists established city-states in eastern Libya. Libya was variously ruled by Persians, Egyptians and Greek-Egyptians before becoming a part of the Roman Empire. Libya was an early center of Christianity. During the 7th Century, invasions brought Islam and Arab colonization. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish Empire and the Knights of St John occupied Tripoli, until Ottoman rule began in 1551. Libya was involved in the Barbary Wars of the 18th and 19th centuries. Ottoman rule continued until the twentieth-century Italian occupation of Libya and large-scale Italian immigration. Italian rule ended during the Second World War, during which Libya was an important area of warfare. The Italian population then went into decline. Libya became an independent kingdom in 1951. In 1969, a military coup overthrew King Idris I, beginning a period of improved living standards and brutal suppression of dissent. Within a year, the 20,000 remaining Italians and 37,000 Jews had been expelled. The most prominent coup conspirator, Muammar Gaddafi, was ultimately able to fully concentrate power in his own hands during the Libyan Cultural Revolution. Muammar Gaddafi remained in power until the Libyan Revolution of 2011 overthrew his regime. Protests in Benghazi on 15 February 2011 led to clashes with security forces and ultimately escalated into an armed conflict. The United Nations Security Council authorized the use of force in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. The subsequent intervention by NATO and some Arab states ensured the fall of Gaddafi. Since then, Libya has experienced instability and political violence which has severely affected both commerce and oil production. Libya is governed by two rival governments since August 2014, one in Tripoli and one in Tobruk. The House of Representatives elected in the June 2014 elections was dissolved by the Libyan Supreme Court in November 2014. The parliament's control of the country is severely limited by the current civil war against an Islamist rival government, which controls Tripoli. Officially, the House of Representatives took over from the General National Congress, which was elected in July 2012 to serve until January 2014. However, an Islamist minority of the General National Congress, having lost the elections, reconvened in August 2014. This New General National Congress meets in Tripoli, while the elected House of Representatives meets on a Greek car ferry in Tobruk harbour.5



1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

2.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

3.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

4.  The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. Its goal is to create a set of measures that systematically gauge the intersection between government and religion. Specifically, it examines government religion policy. Round 3 of the RAS dataset measures the extent of government involvement in religion (GIR) or the lack thereof for 183 states on a yearly basis between 1990 and 2014. This constitutes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states. This dataset, featuring this and other international measures highlighted on the country pages, may be previewed and downloaded here. Used with permission.

5.  Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

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