Libya History

BACK TO THE FRONT PAGE
BASIC INFO.
ECONOMY
GEOGRAPHY
GOVERNMENT
HISTORY
HUMAN RIGHTS
LINKS
NEWS
PEOPLE
shadow 
 

LIBYA

Libya's origins go back to the misty early eras of history. The conquerors of the coastal region included Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Berbers, Romans and Vandals until in the 4th century, the Byzantines claimed the coast. Nomadic tribes in the interior of the country were untouched by the coastal maneuvering. Early on (the 7th and 8th centuries) Islam came to Libya and in the beginning of the 16th century, the Ottomans arrived via their victory over Egypt. The Italians claimed Libya in 1911 but the country was unhappy under Italian control, mounting local resistance to the Italians. During World War II, the British ousted Italian and German forces from Libya (1943), opening the door for King Idris to return in 1944. Though a part of the country was placed under a British protectorate, a smaller portion was given to the French to administer. Independence was achieved in 1951. A mere 8 years later, oil was discovered and Libya went from poverty to great wealth seemingly overnight. In 1969, Muammar al-Qaddafi a colonel in the military, led a coup against the monarchy and established the Libyan Arab Republic. Quickly, nationalization of foreign assets was declared, foreign troops were expelled, foreign cultural centers closed down and Qaddafi claimed absolute powers. The country became a fervent backer of terrorist groups from radical Palestinian entities to European groups. In 1981, US planes shot down attacking Libyan fighters during naval exercises in the Gulf of Sidra, which the world views as international waters and Libya claims as its own. Five years later, sanctions were placed on Libya by the US, and the US government ordered all citizens to leave Libya. Libyan assets were frozen in institutions throughout the US. Libya continued to sponsor terror in Europe and, it is widely believed, sponsored the downing of a Pan Am flight in December 1988. Relations with the US have remained hostile and the US continues to officially cite Libya as a supporter of international terrorism. In 2004 Libya officially gave up its nuclear program and after agreeing to pay compensation to the victims of the Pan Am flight it has been removed from the terrorist list.

More History