Around 2000 years before the beginning of the Christian era, members of Berber tribes lived in the region of what is now Libya; these were already referred to as Libyans in Egyptian hieroglyphic texts. From around 1200 BC Phoenicians, who became the leading naval power in the western Mediterranean, founded commercial branches along the Libyan coast. After the three largest settlements Leptis, Oea and Sabratha, the area was called Tripolitania by the Greeks.
From the 7th century, Greeks founded several colonies in eastern Libya, including around 630 BC. the city of Cyrene (the area of Cyrenaica was named after it). After the conquest of Cyrenaica by Alexander the Great and his death, the area fell to Egypt.
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In the middle of the 2nd century BC. Tripolitania fell into the hands of the Romans, around 50 years later the fertile north-east, the Cyrenaica, was incorporated into the Roman province of “Africa”. The Latin language and Christianity spread as well as the Roman culture. Only the Berber tribes in the Fessan desert were able to maintain independence.
After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD Tripolitania fell to the Western Roman Empire, Cyrenaica to the Eastern Roman Empire. After the expulsion of the vandals, the 450 AD. invaded Tripolitania, this area also belongs to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire from 533.
From the 7th century, Islamic Arabs, coming from Egypt, invaded what is now Libya and conquered and Islamized the country. The still resisting Berber tribes in the south also adopted Islam and the Arab way of life and contributed to the spread of the new religion on the African continent. Over the next nine centuries, various Arab dynasties (such as Aghlabids, Fatimids, Almoravids, Almohads) ruled the area.
Tripoli was conquered by the Spanish at the beginning of the 16th century. Except for this city, the rest of what is now Libya came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 (from 1551 also Tripoli). Turkish-born governors took over the administration of this part of the great Ottoman Empire, with the areas having extensive autonomy.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Islamic Brotherhood of Sanussi took power in Cyrenaica. According to AbbreviationFinder, this brotherhood became the nucleus of resistance to the European influences to which the country was increasingly exposed. France tried several times to conquer Tripoli in the 19th century. In 1911, Tripolitania and the Cyrenaica were occupied and annexed by Italian troops. The Sanussi offered bitter resistance to the European colonialists. In 1939, Cyrenaica, Fessan and Tripolitania were combined into the Italian province of Libia. After the invasion of Allied troops in 1942 (Italy had allied itself with Germany in the Second World War), the areas of today’s Libya came under the administration of the victorious powers.
After the end of World War II, the United Nations Assembly decided to quickly release Libya as a federal kingdom into independence. A government under Idris as-Sanussi gradually took over the administration of the country from 1951. In the same year the country was declared an independent kingdom under Idris I.
At that time, Libya, which is almost 90% desert, was one of the poorest countries in the world and was dependent on foreign aid and assistance. 90% of the population were illiterate, so the Italians living in the country soon became the country’s political and economic elite. This led to unrest and social tensions. In 1953 Libya became a member of the “Arab League”, founded in 1945, which sought to improve the cultural, economic and political cooperation between the member states.
The economic situation in Libya changed when the first oil deposits were discovered in the late 1950s. Funding started in the early 1960s. Thanks to the high quality of the oil, Libya quickly became one of the most important oil-exporting countries in the world and became one of the richest countries on the African continent. There was a large decline in prosperity in the country since the proceeds from the oil sales initially benefited only a few. In 1969, King Idris I was overthrown by a bloodless military coup and fled abroad. Power was taken over by a “Revolutionary Command” under the officer Muamar al-Gaddafi, who had led the revolting “Free Officers”. Muamar al-Gaddafi called the “Libyan Arab Republic” and pursued a radical Arabization of the country: Europeans were expropriated and exposed, the United States had to vacate its military bases in Libya. The oil companies were gradually nationalized. In terms of foreign policy, Muamar al-Gaddafi was pursuing the goal of a pan-Arab Union under Libyan leadership, which however did not materialize. The “Federation of the Arab Republics”, founded in 1971 with Egypt and Syria, also only lasted just under three years due to Gaddafi’s absolute claim to leadership. After their breakup, the Libyan leader proclaimed the “People’s Revolution” in 1973. In 1977 Gaddafi proclaimed the “Declaration of Transfer of Power to the People”: In theory, the people should exercise state authority directly through the rapidly forming “People’s Committees”.The country’s official name became “Great Socialist Libyan Arab People’s Djamahiriya” (Djamahiriya means “mass state”). The “People’s Congress” with over 1,000 delegates, with Muamar al-Gaddafi as Secretary General, became the highest political authority in the country.
In 1975 the Libyan leadership signed an economic and military cooperation agreement with the USSR. In 1977 there was a military conflict with Egypt because of its peace policy towards Israel. Libya gradually became isolated due to its uncompromising stance in the Middle East conflict among the Arab countries, many of whom have now pleaded for a peaceful solution. After the failure of his pan-Arab goals, Muamar al-Gaddafi changed his target group to black African nations with a predominantly Muslim population. From now on, in addition to the radical Palestinians, he specifically supported terrorist organizations, for example in Uganda, Niger and Somalia, and granted their supporters protection in their own country. The Libyan government built up a well-functioning social system for its own population with comprehensive health and old-age provision.
In 1979, Muamar al-Gaddafi resigned from the post of chairman of the People’s Congress, but remained commander-in-chief of the armed forces and de facto the “revolutionary leader” the politically decisive man in the country. When Libyan troops intervened in Chad in 1980 and occupied areas rich in natural resources, there was a military confrontation with France and the United States. With the Libyan support of international terrorism (eg 1986 attack on the “La Belle” discotheque in Berlin, which was mainly visited by American soldiers), the United States ended all economic relations with Libya. In retaliation, the American Air Force launched attacks on the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
In 1992, the United Nations Security Council imposed an air and trade embargo on Libya after the Libyan leadership refused to surrender the two suspected Lockerbie attackers who were classified as Libyan intelligence (bombing an American passenger plane in December 1988). The Libyan government officially renounced all terrorist activities in 1993, but continued to refuse to extradite the alleged assassins. Internally, Muamar al-Gaddafi had to deal with opposition groups, since the austerity measures necessitated by the embargo led to dissatisfaction. At the end of 1993, he had to put down a military revolt in Tripoli.
In 1994 the Libyan troops withdrew from northern Chad, and the heads of state of the two countries signed a peace treaty. In 1998, the UN Security Council approved a suspension of the trade embargo and economic sanctions, provided that Libya transfers the two suspected Lockerbie attackers to the International Court of Justice; the state complied with this request in April 1999. In January 2001, one of the two extradited suspected agents of the Libyan secret service was found guilty by a Scottish court and asked the Libyan leadership to pay compensation to the victims’ families. Muamar al-Gaddafi accepted the verdict, but denied Libya any responsibility for the attack. Britain and the United States continued to sanction Libya. Libya agreed with the United States in 2008 on a settlement for the compensation demanded by the United States.
In June 2001, Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria decided to establish a free trade area to improve their economic cooperation. Important contracts in the fields of nuclear energy, oil production and military technology, especially with European countries, were concluded in 2008.
In August 2003, Libya assumed responsibility for the Lockerbie attack against the UN. International observers saw this as a clear sign that the Libyan leader was trying to normalize relations with the United States and the western states. For the same reason, Muamar al-Gaddafi would also have taken on the mediation for the hostage drama in the Philippines in the summer of 2000. Following the terrorist attacks on the United States’ World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, al-Gaddafi condemned the attacks and explicitly recognized America’s right to self-defense. Al-Gaddafi announced in December 2003 that his country would no longer use weapons of mass destruction. The government also released intelligence information on Islamist terrorist groups.The United States largely lifted its sanctions against Libya in April 2004 after 18 years. However, the import of goods that could possibly be used for weapons programs remains prohibited and economic aid to the country is limited. In October 2007, Libya was elected to the UN Security Council for two years.
Since February / March 2011, open protests against the rule of Gaddafi have taken place in Libya in the course of the Arab Spring, which escalated more and more in violent clashes. Finally, Gaddafi used his military against the demonstrators to source the protests. Subsequently, Gaddafi and his followers were in open civil war with the democratic opposition, Libya was de facto a divided country. On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973, thereby deciding the West to intervene militarily to protect the civilian population. After around half a year of civil war, the country was largely in the hands of the rebels, with the exception of the south of the country and Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte. On the 21stIn August 2011, the rebels also took control in the capital, Tripoli, so that Gaddafi’s regime is overthrown.
With the declaration of liberation across Libya on October 23, 2011, Libya has opened a new chapter in its history. The General National Congress, elected in July 2012, elected Mohammed Magarief as President of Parliament and de facto head of state, and (after several failed attempts to form a government) Ali Seidan as Prime Minister of the new interim government. After the resignation of Mohammed Magarief, Parliament elected Nuri Abu Sahmein as the new President in June 2013. One of the most pressing tasks of the parliament is to develop an electoral law for the planned direct election of the members of the constitutional convention. The convention is to draft a constitution and submit it to the people for voting in a referendum. Based on the new constitution, new elections to a regular parliament are to be held.