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Libya (/ˈlɪbiə/ (About this sound listen); Arabic: ليبيا‎),[dubious ] is a sovereign state in 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 country is made of three historical regions: 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 16th 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 second-largest 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 Carthaginians, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks before becoming a part of the Roman Empire. Libya was an early centre of Christianity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the area of Libya was mostly occupied by the Vandals until the 7th century, when invasions brought Islam to the region. In the 16th 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 Italian occupation of Libya resulted in the temporary Italian Libya colony from 1911 to 1943. During the Second World War, Libya was an important area of warfare in the North African Campaign. The Italian population then went into decline.

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Tripoli cityscape.jpg

Tripoli (Arabic: '‎طرابلس Ṭarābulus About this sound pronunciation , also طرابلس الغرب Ṭarā-bu-lus al-Gharb (meaning Western Tripoli to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon), Libyan vernacular: Ṭrābləs About this sound pronunciation ; derived from "Τρίπολη"; the Greek word for "three cities" in Greek: Τρίπολις Tripolis) is the largest and capital city of Libya.

Tripoli has a population of 1.69 million. The city is located in the northwest of the country on the edge of the desert, on a point of rocky land projecting into the Mediterranean Sea and forming a bay. Tripoli was founded in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, who named it Oea.

Tripoli is the largest city, the principal sea port, and the largest commercial and manufacturing centre in Libya. It is also the site of Al-Fateh University. Due to the city's long history, there are many sites of archaeological significance in Tripoli. The climate is typical Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers, cool winters and some modest rainfall.

"Tripoli" may also refer to the shabiyah (top-level administrative division in the current Libyan system), Tripoli District. (Read more...)

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Leptis Magna market place April 2004.jpg
Credit: Robert Bamler
The ancient marketplace of Leptis Magna, Libya.

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Did you know

... that the US first attacked Libya in 1815, then again in 1981, 1986, 1989 and now in 2011?

... that in 1963 the women of Libya were given the right to vote?

... that Libya became a member of the League of Arab States in 1953?

... that Tripoli is Libya's largest city?

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