Libya History Timeline

Libya is a country in North Africa. It lies along the Mediterranean coast to the north, and borders Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. With its 1.8 million km², Libya is Africa’s fourth largest country in terms of area, and the 16th largest in the world. Of Libya’s 5.7 million residents, 1.7 million live in the capital Tripoli. The country is traditionally divided into Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica.

According to franciscogardening, Libya has the third largest GDP (GDP) per capita. per capita in Africa, only the Seychelles and South Africa have higher. An important reason for this is the country’s large oil reserves and low population numbers.

Libya has been led by Muammar al-Gaddafi since 1969, whose foreign policy has often brought him into conflict with the Western world and the governments of other African countries. Libya, however, abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and Libya’s relations with the outside world are currently less inflamed.

The flag of Libya is the only national flag in the world with only one color and without any pattern, symbols or other details.

Archaeological finds suggest that the plains along the coast of Libya were inhabited as early as the 8th millennium BC. of a Neolithic people who both established livestock of cattle and farmed. The area known today as Libya has been subject to a number of different ethnic groups. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines all ruled over all or part of the area. Apart from the ruins of the Cyrus, Leptis Magna and Sabratha, left by the Greeks and Romans respectively, there are few traces of these ancient cultures.

The Phoenicians were the first to establish trading posts in Libya when Tyr trade travelers (in present-day Lebanon) developed trade relations with Berber tribes and made agreements with them to secure their cooperation in the extraction of raw materials.

By far the most widespread religion in Libya is Islam, and as many as 97% of the population belong to it. The vast majority of Libyan Muslims are Sunni Muslims, and Sunni Islam has become both a spiritual guide for each individual and a cornerstone of government policy. A minority of the Muslims in the country (between 5 and 10%) belong to Ibadism (a branch of kharijitism), and virtually all of them live in Jebel Nefusa and in Zuwarah.

An exciting website with pictures from cave paintings in the Libyan desert that can be dated back to 30,000 BC. can be seen here.


140 million years ago – The Arkenu craters are a pair of eroded impact craters in Libya. They are 10 km and 6.8 km in diameter. The craters are thought to have occurred at the same time as a double impact less than 140 million years ago (Jurassic or younger). Both are visible on the surface.

1100 BCE – The ruined city of Leptis Magna (or Lepcis Magna; Arabic Lebda) is located approx. 120 km east of Tripoli in present-day Libya. The city was probably founded by the Phoenicians, and gained a more significant role after Carthage became a power factor in the Mediterranean in the 300s BCE. The city lost its importance in the 200s as trade declined during an economic downturn. By the middle of the 300s, large parts of the city were abandoned, and in 439 the city and the rest of the Tripolitania area ended up in the power of the vandals, and the city walls were torn down at the behest of Emperor Geiserik. In 523, the city was further destroyed by the Berbers, before the Byzantine emperor Belisar took control of the area ten years later. I ca. 120, the city was a modest Byzantine provincial capital before being abandoned around 650.

1075 – 715 BCE – 3rd Intermediate Period:
Inversion from Libya. The capital moves around between Tanis, Libya, Nubia and Thebes.

630 BCE – The Greeks conquered eastern Libya when, according to tradition, emigrants from the overpopulated island of Thera were ordered by the oracle in Delphi to find a new home in North Africa. In 631 BCE, they founded the city of Cyrene. Before 200 years, four more important Greek cities had been established in the area: Barka (Al Marj), Euhesperides (later known as Berenike, today Benghazi), Teuchira (later Arsinoe, today Tukrah) and Apollonia (Susah), which was the port city of Cyrene. Together with the Cows, they became known as Pentapolis (The Five Cities).

500s BCE – During the 5th century BC. Carthage, the largest of the Phoenician colonies, had extended its hegemony over large parts of North Africa, from which the Punic emerged as a separate civilization. Punic settlements along the coast of Libya included Oea (Tripoli), Libda (Leptis Magna) and Sabratha. All of these were in an area that was later called Tripoli, or “The Three Cities”. Libya’s current capital Tripoli is named after this area.

300s BCE – The Romans united the regions of Libya, and for more than 400 years Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were prosperous Roman provinces. Roman ruins, such as those found in Leptis Magna, testify to a vibrant region where populous cities and also the people of smaller cities could enjoy the comforts of city life. Traders and artisans from many parts of the Roman world established themselves in North Africa, but the cities of Tripolitania retained their Punic features, and Cyrenaica its Greek.

120 – Africa was a Roman province that roughly included what is now Tunisia, as well as parts of Libya’s Mediterranean coast. The Arabs later called the same area Ifriqiya. Africa terra (the land of the Africans) was originally (from around the 3rd century BCE) the name of the Romans in the area around Carthage in North Africa, and was first used in the imperial period as the name of the entire African continent.

700 – During the reign of Caliph Uthman, the Arabs, led by General Abdullah ibn Saad, conquered Libya. In the following centuries, a large part of the population of Libya embraced Islam, including the Arabic language and culture.

16th century – Ottoman Turks conquered the country in the middle of the century, and the three provinces, or the Wilayas, Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica (which together form Libya), remained part of the Ottoman Empire, with the exception of a period of autonomy during the Karaman dynasty ( eng. wiki).

1902 – Franco-Italian agreement: Italy recognizes France’s right to Morocco and France’s right to Tripoli (Libya).

1941 – Ajdabiya City is probably best known under the name El Agheila. The town is a coastal town at the bottom of Sidra Bay. During World War II, the city was the setting for a series of battles in the Desert War. In February 1941, it was captured by British troops after their defeat of the 10th Italian Army in Operation Compass.. The British forces made stops here, while the bulk of the British force was sent to Greece to fight against the Axis powers during the Invasion of Greece. It gave the German Africa Corps under Erwin Rommel time to arrive and launch an offensive, in which El Agheila was recaptured in March and which continued all the way to Tobruk and on to the Egyptian border. Rommel expanded the defense of the city and used it as a base for his operations during the Siege of Tobruk. After being driven back from Tobruk in Operation Crusader in December 1941, the African Corps dropped back to El Agheila, where they stopped the retreat and stopped the British advance.

1942 – In January, Rommel launches a new offensive at El Agheila, which in turn drives the British back to Tobruk, this time captured, and further into Egypt before stopping the advance in the First Battle of el-Alamein in July.

1942 – Rommel is decisively defeated in the Second Battle of El-Alamein in November, and Axis powers abandon El Agheila for the last time at the end of December 1942.

1949 – On November 21, the UN General Assembly adopts a resolution declaring Libya to become independent before January 1, 1952.

1959 – The discovery of significant oil reserves, and the consequent revenue from the sale of oil, causes Libya to go from being one of the poorest nations in the world to becoming a very prosperous state.

1969 – September 1. Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi overthrows King Idris I´’s regime in Libya. This became Libya’s national day. Gaddafi, who proclaimed Libya as the new Libyan Arab Republic, continues to be described as the “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” in official statements and the press.

1978 – 1987 – The conflict between Libya and Chad is a state of sporadic warfare that lasts about nine years. Four times these years, interventions were made by the Libyan side. The original intention of Gaddafi’s intervention in Chad was his ambitions to occupy the Aouzo Strait, the northernmost part of Chad bordering Libya, on the basis of an unratified colonial-era agreement.

1980s – Libya gradually distances itself from the West, and is accused of being behind large-scale state-sponsored terrorism.

1984 – The Norwegian cargo ship Germa Lionel is arrested in Libya. The ship, which had a crew of 14 Norwegian sailors, was kept under strict guard in the port area for 67 days. The sailors who worked on board the ship were accused of espionage and were not allowed to leave the ship. The sailors were guarded by armed guards, who were sometimes heavily intoxicated. Several of the crew were taken in for questioning, and also subjected to torture. Sailor Bjørn Pedersen was tortured to death, chief mate Bjørn Ivar Johansen was severely abused, while Arnold Kiil was imprisoned.

1987 – Following the expulsion of Libya from the territory, the countries have normalized relations with each other, and the conflict over the Aouzo Strait was finally settled by the International Court of Justice in The Hague on 3 February 1994.

1988 – Early in the evening of December 21, Pan Am 103 took off from Heathrow Airport to fly across the Atlantic to New York. The plane was on the wings at 18.25. 38 minutes later it exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The explosion was so powerful that the cockpit was torn off in one fell swoop. The air pressure 10,000 meters above the earth’s surface caused the passengers’ lungs to dilate and they lost consciousness. Some survived until they hit the ground. Pieces of the plane and the bodies of the passengers fell against fields, rooftops and backyards. The nose of the plane landed almost intact on a field six kilometers outside the city. 270 people died. 11 on land and all 259 on board the aircraft. 13 years had to pass before the former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted of the massacre in Lockerbie. Finally, the case was closed. Read the rest of the article from

1991 – Two Libyan intelligence agents in the United States and Scotland are indicted for their roles in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Six other Libyans were tried in absentia for the bombing of UTA Flight 772. The UN Security Council demanded that Libya extradite the suspects., cooperate in the investigation of the airstrikes, pay compensation to the families of the victims and stop all support for terrorism. Libya refused to provide a response to the demands leading to Resolution 748 being adopted, something like significant sanctions against the country created with the aim of forcing a response from Libya. Libya’s continued resistance led to further UN sanctions in November 1993.

1999 – Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor are charged with deliberately infecting 426 Libyan children with HIV at a children’s hospital in Benghazi, as part of an alleged conspiracy by the West to destabilize the regime. Initially, 23 Bulgarians and several Libyan hospital staff were indicted, but the investigation limited the number to five nurses, two doctors, one Bulgarian and one Palestinian, and several Libyan hospital staff.

2002 – In November, it emerged from the French intelligence service that the British intelligence service paid an al-Qaeda cell in Libya to assassinate Gadaffi in 1996 and they managed to get a stick in the wheel when Osama Bin Laden went to court… Read more here (in English).

2003 More than a decade after the imposition of sanctions on Libya, Libya changed its political course with a view to the Western world, with an open intention for a better relationship between Libya and the West. The Libyan government announced its decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program and to pay nearly $ 3 billion in compensation to the families of the victims of the airstrikes in the late 1980s. The decision was welcomed by many Western countries, and was seen as an important step towards Libya once again becoming part of the international community. Since 2003, the country has been working towards a normalized relationship with the EU countries and the United States, and is also behind the term “Libya model”,

2005 – Freedom House ranks Libya’s political and civil rights at 7 on a scale of one to 7, with 7 being the least free, giving the nation a “not free” rating.

2006 – January 29. In protest against the Muhammad cartoons, Libya closes its embassy in Denmark. In the Middle East, angry Muslims are set on fire for the first time in Dannebrog. All Danes, Norwegians and Swedes are encouraged to leave Gaza within 72 hours.

2006 – February 18. At least nine people were killed and 55 wounded on Friday during riots in Libya in connection with protests over the Muhammad cartoons.

May 15, 2006 The US State Department announced that it would resume full diplomatic relations with Libya as the country ended its arms program. The State Department also removed Libya from its list of states that support terrorism, where Libya had been for 27 years.

Libya History Timeline