Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents



Well into the postindependence period, tradition and traditional values dominated social life. Established religious and tribal practices found expression in the policies and personal style of King Idris and his regime (see Independent Libya , ch. 1). The discovery of oil, however, released social forces that the traditional forms could not contain. In terms of both expectation and way of life, the old order was permanently disturbed.

The various pressures of the colonial period, independence, and the development of the oil industry did much to alter the bases of urban society and to dissolve the tribal and village social structure. In particular, as the cash economy spread into the countryside, rural people were lured out of their traditional groups and into the modern sector. Values, too, began to change under the impact of new prosperity and the arrival of large numbers of foreigners. Since 1969 the pace of change has greatly quickened. Yet, for all the new wealth from petroleum and despite relentless government-inspired efforts to remake Libyan society, the pace of social change was slow, and the country remained one of the most conservative in the Arab world.

Data as of 1987