Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents



Figure 5. Ethnic Groups

Peoples of Libya


Tribal elders in a rural village engage in a traditional game
Courtesy United Nations

The present population of Libya is composed of several distinct groups. By far the majority identify themselves as Arabs. Arab invaders brought the Arab language and culture to Libya between the seventh to the eleventh centuries, but intermarriage with Berbers and other indigenous peoples over the centuries has produced so mixed a strain that few Libyans can substantiate claims to pure or even predominantly Arab ancestry. These Arabic-speaking Muslims of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry make up 90 percent of the country's population. Berbers, other indigenous minority peoples, and black Africans make up most of the remainder, although small scattered groups of Greeks, Muslim Cretans, Maltese, and Armenians make up long-established communities in urban areas.

Data as of 1987