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The Libya Portal

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Libya (Arabic: ‏ليبياLībyā) 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.

With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa by area, and the 17th largest in the world. The largest city, Tripoli, is home to 1.7 million of Libya's 6.4 million people. The three traditional parts of the country are Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica.

In 2009 Libya had the highest HDI in Africa and the fourth highest GDP (PPP) per capita in Africa, behind Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world and the 17th-highest petroleum production.

Since the 2011 civil war and the collapse of the Gaddafi regime which had been in power for more than 40 years, Libya has experienced instability and political violence which has severely affected both commerce and oil production.

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Italo Balbo.jpg

Italian settlers in Libya (even called Italian Libyans) typically refers to Italians, and their descendants, who resided or were born in Libya.

Italian heritage in Libya can be dated back to Ancient Rome, when the Romans controlled and colonized Libya for a period of five centuries prior to the fall of the Roman Empire and its takeover by Arab and Turkish civilizations. But predominantly Italian heritage in Libya refers to modern-day Italians. In 1911, the Kingdom of Italy waged war on the Ottoman Empire and captured Libya as a colony. Italian settlers were encouraged to come to Libya and did so from 1911 to the outbreak of World War II.

In Libya, the Italians in less than thirty years (1911-1940) built significant amount of public works (roads, railways, buildings, ports, etc.) and the Libyan economy flourished. Italian farmers cultivated lands that were lost to the desert for centuries and improved Italian Libya's agriculture to international standards. Libya was considered the new "America" for the Italian emigrants in the thirties, substituting the United States.

The governor Italo Balbo is attributed with the creation of modern Libya in 1934, when he convinced Mussolini to unite the Italian colonies of Tripolitania, Cirenaica and the Italian Libyan Sahara in one single country named "Libia" in Italian.

The Italians in Libya numbered 108,419 (12.37% of the total population) at the time of the 1939 census. They were concentrated in the coast around the city of Tripoli (they constituted 37% of the city's population) and Bengasi (31%). (Read more...)

Selected picture

Leptis Magna Arch of Septimus Severus.jpg
Credit: Luca Galuzzi
The Arch of Septimius Severus, 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?