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Libya is home to 6,653,310 people (2017). The population density is extremely low at just over 3.5 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The natural population growth rate is 1.58%. (2017)
Birth rate per 1000 inhabitants is 17.5 (2017)
Death rate per 1000 inhabitants is 3.6 (2017)
Life expectancy is 76.7 years. (Men 74.9 and women 78.5 years (2017)

The majority of the population (97%) is of Arab or Berber origin and the majority live in the densely populated cities on the coast. About 150,000 non-Libyan guest workers reside in the country. These include Greeks, Italians, Maltese, Egyptians, Tunisians, Turks, Pakistanis, Indians and black Africans. Groups of Tuaregs live in south-west Libya, especially near the oases of Ghadamis and Ghat.


The official language of Libya is Arabic, furthermore, different Berber languages are spoken. In the cities English or Italian is occasionally spoken.

Some pronunciation rules of Arabic:

-all letters are pronounced
-A ' means that a letter is pronounced very briefly.
-the r is a rolling r
-The y is pronounced as sj
-the sh is pronounced as sj
-the gh is pronounced like a brew r or French r
-The kh is pronounced as a hard g.
-The ou is pronounced like the oe

There is no fixed Dutch spelling for Arabic words. The names are written as they are pronounced. So Aqaba can just as well be spelled as Akaba.

Arabic is written from right to left and consists of 28 consonants. Vowels are not written, which results in different Latin spellings for the same word. Arabic numerals are written from left to right.

Some words and phrases:

Onewahed, female: wahda
Sundayyom el had
Wednesdayyom el ’arba’
Where is the hotel?fen el fondok?
What time is it?essa’a kam?
What is your name?‘esm-ak ‘ak? (man)
What is your name?‘esm-ek ‘eh? (woman)
Do you have change?‘andokom fakka?


Islam is the official religion and is practised by almost the entire population. Libyans are generally Sunni.

Quran in Arabic script Quran in Arabic scriptPhoto: Public domain

The actions and words of the Prophet Muhammad caused Islam to spread rapidly in the 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula. Mohammed is said to have been visited by the archangel Gabriel, who solemnly read to him the holy word of Allah (God). These words of Allah were put in writing and we now know that as the Quran. Mohammed was the last of a series of prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, who had been sent to earth by Allah. The words of Muhammad thus took the place of the words of all previous prophets and the Quran also states how the people should live. Muhammad's message spread rapidly, eventually reaching the Atlantic coast in the west and the outlying islands of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, in the east.

Islam is based on five 'pillars', which should give structure to the daily life of Muslims. The first pillar (shahadah) is the Islamic testimony 'there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet'. The second pillar (salat) is the duty to pray five times a day in the direction of Mecca. The third pillar (zakat) is the giving of alms, in the United Arab Emirates 10% of the assets are taxed. The fourth pillar (saum) is the fasting month of Ramadan, during which no eating or drinking is allowed between sunrise and sunset. The fifth pillar (hajj) is the pilgrimage to Mecca, which must be accomplished at least once in the life of a Muslim.

The two major schools of Islam are Shia Islam and Sunnism. This dichotomy arose almost immediately after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD. and concerns the succession of Mohammed. Sunnis believe that Muhammad had not appointed a successor and therefore made their own choice between Muhammad's two fathers-in-law, and the choice fell on Abu Bakr, the father of Muhammad's favorite wife Aishah. Shites believe that Muhammad had indeed appointed a successor, namely Muhammad's husband daughter Fatima, and thus his son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali was murdered and his followers demanded that his descendants succeed him. According to the Sunnis, anyone can become a leader of the Muslim world if he sees to the proper exercise and interpretation of the rules of Islam. Shias live mainly in Iran, southern Iraq, Kuwait and as a minority in countries such as India, Pakistan, Lebanon and a number of Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates. Sunnis, about 85% of all Muslims anyway, live mainly in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and many countries in the Middle East.

As a place of pilgrimage, Mecca is always busyMecca is always crowded as a place of pilgrimagePhoto: Muhammad Mahdi Karim CC2.5 no changes made


Elmar Landeninformatie

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Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info