Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents



Form: Jamahiriya (newly coined Arabic word, roughly translated as "state of the masses," "people's power," or "people's authority"). Nearest English equivalent is "republic." In late 1987, de facto head of state and government and commander in chief of armed forces was Colonel Muammar al Qadhafi, who led 1969 Revolution against Sanusi monarchy. Application of his innovative and revolutionary Arab-socialist philosophy to Libyan nation has resulted in fundamental changes in political representation, property ownership, legal system, and commercial transactions.

Executive and Legislature: General People's Congress (GPC), both an executive and legislative body that convenes several times annually, primary formal instrument of government; membership of more than 1,000 delegates drawn from subnational-level people's committees, people's congresses, and revolutionary committees. Leadership of GPC vested in General Secretariat headed by secretary general, official chief of state. Cabinet functions performed by national-level General People's Committee. Subnational Governmental

Divisions: After Governorates abolished in 1975, Libya divided into between seven and ten military districts (number varies with frequent reorganizations). Each military district divided into several municipalities, subdivided into villages or urban wards.

Legal System: Since 1969 Revolution, sharia (Islamic law) has replaced other jurisprudence. Regular court system adjudicates personal, criminal, civil, and commercial law. People's Courts, Revolutionary Courts, and Military Courts handle political transgressions and threats against state.

Political Parties: Political parties banned; mass organization accomplished primarily through Arab Socialist Union, which includes geographically and functionally based membership.

Foreign Relations: Libya under Qadhafi a staunch proponent of pan-Arab unity, both in theory and in practice. Libyan regional policy predicated on intractable opposition to Israel and support of Palestinian cause. In 1980s, Qadhafi made bid for worldwide recognition and Third World leadership by espousing normative philosophy known as Third Universal Theory, which rejects both communist and capitalist models of government and calls instead for nonalignment, "people's power," and "new economic order" based on more equitable division of wealth between developed and underdeveloped countries. In accordance with this ideology, Libya has pursued activist and aggressive foreign policy, which includes alleged support and sponsorship of numerous terrorist and guerrilla movements throughout world. Member of United Nations (UN) and most of its specialized agencies, League of Arab States (Arab League), Organization of Arab Unity (OAU), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).

Data as of 1987