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Monday 24th June
Libya Information - Page 1
Libya is situated on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. Its land borders are with Egypt to the east, Algeria and Tunisia to the west, and Chad, Niger and Sudan to the south. Its capital is Tripoli which is also the largest city and one of the country's two major ports. Benghazi is the other major port.

Libya is a very large country (nearly six hundred and eighty thousand square miles) and the majority of it is desert merging with the Sahara to the south. Most of the arable land is along the coast in a strip. In the interior there are a few oasis towns.

There are three mountainous regions: the low Jebel Nefusa range in the north west, the Jebel Akhdar (the Green Mountains) in the north east behind Benghazi and the Tibesti Mountains, the highest of the three on the southern border with Chad.

The climate differs region by region. The desert is hot and arid while the coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate: dry and hot in summer rainy and warm in winter.

Libya's desert has little flora except in its oases. Date palms, olives, figs, oranges and wild pistachio nut trees grow where the oases provide water.

There are enough resources for the usual desert creatures such as snakes, scorpions and rodents. Larger animals such as porcupines, gazelles, hyenas and camels are also present. The bird-life includes eagles, hawks, and some migratory birds.

As with other countries in North Africa Libya shows evidence in rock carvings and geological records of a time when its environment supported a wide range of flora and fauna and was not a desert. The outward spread of the desert caused by climate change may perhaps be halted by the Great Manmade River Project which aims to make use of the huge underground water supplies in the high lands to the south.

Libya's past as a Roman province and before that as the site of a number of Greek colonies has left a great legacy of classical architecture particularly well preserved because of the lack of subsequent development. The temples and amphiteatres of Leptis Magna and Sabrata are especially notable.

Islamic architecture and the influence of the Ottoman Empire provide the main characteristics of traditional Libyan cities with the oasis towns (particularly Ghadames) perfect examples of desert settlements. Evidence of the Italian colonial era can be seen in the influence left by Italian architecture.

Benghazi and Tobruk suffered major destruction in the Second World War and have been largely rebuilt in modern style. With the arrival of oil revenues Libya has been able to afford modern housing commercial and industrial development.

The population of Libya was estimated at 6,597,960 (2011) ranking Libya at 101 in world population tables.

Most of the people are of Arab or mixed Arab-Berber descent with some Berbers in the west and black African people in the south. The majority of the population lives along the Mediterranean coast.

Arabic is the official language; the Berber dialect is used by some of the population.

Libya is an Islamic country. The majority of Libyans are Sunni Muslims. There are some non-Libyan Christians who live in the country.

Libyan food is a mixture of Arabic and Mediterranean cuisine. The Italian occupation left its influence with the use of pasta. Couscous is eaten with lamb or chicken and flavoured with cumin and fenugreek. During Ramadan the diet consists of soup, rice, spinach and feta turnovers and pastries.

Alcohol is not allowed. The favourite drink is mint tea.

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