Libya Table of Contents
Jewish colonies were firmly established in both Cyrenaica and Tripoli before the Christian era. The Jews lived amicably with the Muslims until increasing pressure for a Jewish homeland after World War II caused violent anti-Jewish reactions throughout the Arab world. During the late 1940s, most of the Jewish population departed, many to take up residence in the new state of Israel. Anti-Jewish violence erupted in Tripoli in 1967, and in 1970 the revolutionary government confiscated most remaining Jewish property , subject to compensation in government bonds. In the 1970s fewer than 100 members remained of a Jewish community that had numbered 35,000 in 1948.
A residual Italian community of nearly 30,000 continued to live in Libya during the 1960s, a majority in Tripoli and most of the remainder on farms in the surrounding area. A 1960 law had discouraged foreign residents by prohibiting their acquisition of additional land, and immediately after the 1969 revolution a number of new restrictions were imposed upon them. In 1970 the revolutionary government issued a declaration that it would "restore to the Libyan people" the properties taken by Italians during the colonial period. Assurances of personal safety were given to foreigners, but nearly all of the Italians departed immediately, although some returned later.
The European community in Libya in 1986 amounted to 40,000 persons, a decline of more than half from the levels of 1984-85. Included in this figure were 100 to 300 Americans, most employed in the oil industry.
Data as of 1987