Libya is an independent Arab republic which lies on the on the Mediterranean coast of Africa and forms part of the North African Region. The capital city is Tripoli. Other major towns are Sabha and the ports of Benghazi, Tubruq, Mersa Brega and Misrata.

The official language is Arabic. The local currency is the Libyan dinar (LD). (US$ / LD – current exchange rate).

The Libyan oil industry is key to the economy of the country. Despite UN and US oil sanctions, Libya’s upstream oil industry is the country’s major source of foreign exchange. The country has 3 oil refineries and another 20,000 bpd refinery is in the project phase.

In addition to its oil industry, Libya has an active chemicals industry, as well as being one of the larger markets in the African lubricants industry. Libya also has other mineral resources and its mining industry is an important sub-sector in its economy.

The manufacturing and construction sectors have grown in Libya and the agricultural sector employs a large portion of the population. However, a shortage of arable land and poor climatic conditions leading to droughts with hot dry winds (Ghibli) blowing across the desert, place severe limitations on the agricultural output possible. Libya is consequently forced to import a large portion of its food needs. Croplands under irrigation exist around the oases in the Sabha region.

The international time zone for Libya is GMT +1 and the international dialling code is +218. The airlines that fly to Libya are the national carrier, Jamahiriya Libyan Arab Airlines and some regional airlines. The international airport is near Tripoli and other main airports exist at Benghazi, Misrata and Sabha. Plans have been made for an international airport at Ras Lanuf to serve the oil producing region. Few foreign airlines fly to the country owing to the United Nations sanctions against the country. All visitors to Libya require visas.

The road network in Libya is growing and major ports are being reconstructed or expanded.

The health situation in Libya is fairly precarious and precautionary measures need to be taken. Only bottled or boiled beverages should be consumed and roadside stands and street vendors should be avoided. Swimming should only take place in water that is pollution free and reduced exposure to sun is recommended. Specific health concerns include AIDS as well as risk presented by scorpions and snakes. Immunisation against Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Typhoid is recommended. The current health situation in Libya leads to the risk of contraction of dengue fever, leishmaniasis, relapsing fever, Rift Valley fever, sandfly fever and Typhus. Water and food borne illnesses are also fairly common in Libya and in certain areas there is risk of malaria (in the South West regions), trachoma and influenza (between Nov and April).

Shaun Bakamoso

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