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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
There is evidence that the Berbers have inhabited Libya since 8000 B.C.E. Libya has seen a considerable amount of occupation, most notably by the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottoman Empire, and the Italians. Ruins of several Greek and Roman cities still dot the Libyan coast.
Libya did not gain independence until 1951, when it obtained that status from the United Nations Trusteeship; it had been occupied by Italy until 1947. Ninety-seven percent of the population is Berber and Sunni Muslim, despite the history of occupation.
In 1969, after a military coup, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi began ruling Libya. He promoted his own combination of socialism and Islam, funded mostly by oil and gas money. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the U.N. sanctioned Qadhafi because of various terrorist activities and bombings. In the 2000s, sanctions were lifted after Libya acknowledged responsibility for the 1992 downing of Pan Am Flig
ht 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Since then Qadhafi has taken great pains to improve relations with the United Nations and the West.
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1. The Saharan desert constitutes 90 percent of Libyan territory (though the percentage threatens to become higher owing to desertification) and is home to some splendid natural oases, classical ruins, and Neolithic rock art.
2. Arabic, Italian, and English are all spoken throughout the city of Tripoli, the capital of Libya.
3. Libya is home to the largest irrigation project in the world, known as the Great Manmade River, which supplies water to Tripoli residents from an aquifer below the Sahara.
4. A dusty southern wind, known as the ghibli, comes twice a year, in the fall and the spring, and lasts for a few days. Dust storms are also very common in the desert.
5. The full name of Libya is the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.