Country Listing

Libya Table of Contents



In 1987 Libya had a modern telecommunications system that provided high-quality service between the country's main population centers. All telecommunications activities were carried out by the General Post, Telephone, and Telegraph Organization, a subsidiary of the Secretariat of Communications. In 1975 a microwave system connecting radio, telephone, and television signals along the coast was established; it was superseded in 1985 by a US$25 million highcapacity cable system and a submarine cable that linked the whole coastal strip with parts of the south all the way to the Chadian border. The transmission systems included microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, submarine cable, tropospheric scatter, and satellites. The system was capable of serving approximately 10 million telephone subscribers, including those along the densely populated Mediterranean coast.

Telecommunications in Libya were greatly improved in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The interior of the country was served by various systems. Radio relay and coaxial cable extended to numerous points and a domestic satellite system was constructed to serve areas not fully integrated into the ground-based networks. The number of telephone lines increased from 90,000 in 1978 to 215,000 in 1985--an average of 1 telephone for every 100 citizens. Switching was predominantly automatic.

International telecommunications links, like the domestic routes, were linked via multiple transmission systems. Submarine cables extended from Tripoli to Marseilles, France, and Catania, Italy, providing telephone and telegraph circuits between Libya and Western Europe. A satellite ground- station complex located near Tripoli operated through the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean satellites of the International Telecommunications Satellite (INTELSAT) organization. Additionally, Libya was a member of the regional Arab Satellite (ARABSAT) organization.

Radio broadcast transmissions were made by five high-power and numerous low-power AM stations for domestic service and by a highpower transmitter located at Sabratah, near Tripoli, for international shortwave service. FM broadcasting was expanded to reach most of the country.

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Many studies on the economy of Libya since the revolution tend to emphasize the political aspects of Libyan economic policy, giving scant attention to the economic ramifications of governmental policy choices. A major exception to this rule are the works of J.A. Allan, who has written several excellent analytical pieces on the Libyan economy. Allan's Libya, the Experience of Oil remains the principal source on the economy before 1980. Allan presents a useful summary of the problems facing Libyan agriculture in his chapter "Capital Has Not Substituted for Water in Agriculture," to be found in J.A. Allan (ed.), Libya Since Independence. Another good summary of the economy can be found in the chapter by Stace Birks and Clive Sinclair in Richard Lawless and Allan Findlay (eds.), North Africa. In addition to these analytical works, much information can be culled from the Economist Intelligence Unit's Quarterly Economic Review series on Libya, various issues of Middle East Economic Digest, and Africa Research Bulletin. The best source of government statistics is the Central Bank of Libya, Annual Report series, for various years. (For complete citations and further information, see Bibliography.)

Data as of 1987