Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents



Population: Approximately 3.63 million inhabitants according to 1984 census, including at least 260,000 aliens. Indigenous population was increasing at one of world's highest annual growth rates, estimated variously at between 3.4 percent and 4.5 percent.

Languages and Ethnic Groups: Official language Arabic. Government policy discourages use of other languages, but English used extensively--even by government for some purposes--and ranks as a second language. Italian and French also spoken, and small minorities speak Berber dialects. Arabic-speaking Sunni Muslims of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry make up well over 90 percent of indigenous population. Most of remainder Berbers, Tuaregs, and black Africans, and small but long-settled Greek and Maltese communities. Expatriates, imported under government contract to meet labor shortages, largely citizens of other Muslim countries; many technical and professional positions filled by East and West Europeans. Altogether, representatives of more than 100 nationalities live in Libya.

Health: Number of medical doctors and dentists reportedly increased sevenfold between 1970 and 1985, producing in case of doctors ratio of 1 per 673 citizens. In 1985, about one-third of doctors Libyan natives, remainder expatriate foreigners. Number of hospital beds tripled in same time period. Among major health hazards endemic in country in 1970s were typhoid and paratyphoid, infectious hepatitis, leishmaniasis, rabies, meningitis, schistosomiasis, venereal diseases, and principal childhood ailments. Progress included eradication of malaria and significant gains against trachoma, tuberculosis, and leprosy. In 1985 infant mortality rate was 84 per 1000. Life expectancy for men 56 years, for women 59 years.

Literacy: In early 1980s, estimates of total literacy between 50 and 60 percent, about 70 percent for men and 35 percent for women, but gap narrowing because of increased female school attendance.

Religion: Islam official religion; nearly entire population adheres to Sunni branch of Islam.

Data as of 1987