Libya, a mostly desert and oil-rich country with an ancient history, has more recently been known for the 42-year rule of the mercurial Col Muammar Gaddafi – and the chaos that followed his departure.
Libya was under foreign rule for centuries until it gained independence in 1951. Soon after oil was discovered and earned the country immense wealth.
Col Gaddafi seized power in 1969 and ruled for four decades until he was toppled in 2011 following an armed rebellion assisted by Western military intervention.
In recent years the country has been a key springboard for migrants heading for Europe. Concerns have also been raised over the rise of Islamist militancy there.
- State of Libya
- Capital: Tripoli
- Population 6.4 million
- Area 1.77 million sq km (685,524 sq miles)
- Major language Arabic
- Major religion Islam
- Life expectancy 73 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
- Currency Libyan dinar