Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents




Modern housing built on the outskirts of Tripoli

Housing was one of the major concerns of the revolutionary government from the beginning, and the provision of adequate housing for all Libyans by the 1980s has remained a top priority. The former regime had undertaken to build 100,000 units to relieve a critical housing shortage, but this project had proved an expensive fiasco and was abandoned after 1969. A survey at the time of the revolution found that 150,000 families lacked decent shelter, the actual housing shortfall being placed at upward of 180,000 dwellings.

Both the public and private sectors were involved in housing construction during the 1970s. Private investment and contracting accounted for a large portion of all construction until new property ownership laws went into effect in 1978 that limited each family to only one dwelling. Despite the decline of privately financed undertakings, the housing sector constituted one of the most notable of the revolution's achievements. By the late 1970s, the hovels and tenements surrounding Benghazi and Tripoli had begun to give way to modern apartment blocks with electricity and running water that stretched ever farther into what had once been groves and fields. These high-rise apartments became characteristic of the skylines of contemporary Benghazi, Tripoli, and other urban areas.

Between 1970 and 1986, the government invested some LD2.8 million (for value of the Libyan dinar (LD--see Glossary) in housing, which made possible the construction of 277,500 housing units, according to official sources. To reach these targets, the regime drew not only upon Libyan resources but also enlisted firms from France, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Spain, Italy, Turkey, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and Cuba. Since 1984, budget allocations for housing have fallen in keeping with a general decline in government spending. Many housing contracts have been suspended or canceled as a result, causing financial difficulties for foreign firms. A shortfall in new construction also raised the prospect of overcrowding and the creation of new shantytowns as the country's burgeoning population threatened to overwhelm the supply of housing.

Data as of 1987