|TRIPOLI -- |
CAPITAL OF LIBYA
Libya was always known and used as the
gateway to Africa,
In the north it has a beautiful Mediterranean coastline. In the east it borders onto Tunisia and Algeria. In the south is Niger and Chad and on their west Egypt.
The country is mainly covered by the Sahara Desert apart from the north where the fertile area is along the Mediterranean Sea. It has three provinces. Tripolitania in the north-west, Cyrenaica in the north-east and Fezzan in the barren south.
Libya's agricultural land is a narrow strip along the coast. Most of the population lives there too. After a nomadic life in the Sahara dessert they settled there to escape the hard life in the desert.
Near Tripoli, in the north-west, are the lower mountains of Jebel Nefusa. Opposite, along the north-eastern borders, near Benghazi, is the Jebel Akhdar or so called Green Mountains because they are covered with low growing trees and shrubs. In the south are the remote Tibesti Mountains with the highest range of 2280m is The Bette Peak. This mountain range also separates Libya from Chat
JABAL AL AKDHAR
The climate of Libya is hot during the day and cold at night. A typical desert climate. A record shows that in 1922 temperatures reached in the town of Aziza a 57oC (138oF) and that was only in the shade. In the southern desert is a wind called ghibili which is strong and dry. It collects fine sand and slowly carries it northward. This makes the sky look red. The little rain which Libya has falls only in the mountain ranges of Jebel Akhdarand Jebel Nefusa. The wildlife exists only of jackals, jerboas (dessert rodents) and gazelles. More common are eagles, vultures and hawks.
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Libya was, for centuries, considered as one of the poorer countries in the world until they discover in 1958 the oil. Nowadays Libya is the second-largest oil producer in Africa. 90 per cent of their export is oil and gas.
In 1983 began a Great Man Made River Scheme. It pumps water from under the Sahara desert and supplies the farmland near the coastal strip. After that, Libya was able to grow more food and could reduce the import. The import accounted for 80 per cent of the country needs. The main crop along the coast-line is olives, grapes, wheat, barley and almonds. In the desert oases dates and maize (corn) are grown.
The Sahara Desert which covers 90 per cent Libya was lush with green vegetation about 10,000 years ago. There were lakes, forest, wildlife and a Mediterranean climate. Archaeologists discovered that the coastal planes of Ancient Libya were inhabited by Neolithic Berbers in around 8000 BCE. Those tribes domesticated cattle and grew crops.
Rock painting by the Wadi Mathendous can be seen in the mountainous region of Jebel Acacus. It shows grassy plateaus and wildlife of Giraffes, elephants and crocodiles.
There are small groups of Berbers still living in today’s Libya.
Another Ancient civilization was the Garamates, based in Germa. They were a Saharan people and originated from the Berber. They had knowledge of an elaborated underground irrigation system and established a kingdom in the today's Frezzan area. It is thought they lived in around 1000 BCE and had local power between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
630 BC Ancient Greeks established a settlement there and founded a city Cyrene. During the 200 years they built four more important Greek cities -- Cyrenaica now Al Marj -- Euhespendes now Benghazi -- Teu Chira now Tukrah -- Apolionia now Susah.
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FOUND IN BENGHAZI
Cyrene became the greatest intellectual and artistic centre of the Greek World at that time. It had a famous medical school, academics and architectures. All the time the Greek managed to hold back the Egyptians in the east and the Carthaginians in the west.
However, in 525 BCE the Persian army lead by Cambyses II conquered Cyrene and kept it under their rules for 200 years.
Alexander the Great recaptured Cyrene in 331 BCE.
Libya is along the Mediterranean coastline and therefore was always attacked by invaders from powerful empires. The first settlers were Phoenicians. The city of Leptis Magna was one of three settlements in Tripolitania.
In the first century AD when the Romans invaded the country; Leptis Magna was one of the main centre of the Roman Empire's North African provinces.
In the 7th century the Arabs invaded Libya and brought with them Egyptians, Syrians and Spaniards.
It wasn't until the 16th century when the Ottoman Empire conquered Libya and they established proper rules and it became more settled. The Ottoman Empire controlled the country till the 20th century.
Italy invaded in 1911 the area, at the end of a period where many other European countries conquered much of Africa. Under the Italian rule the Tripolitania and Cyrenaica provinces were united in 1933 and with that Libya became established. The Italian ruled till 1951 and then gave the country independence and King Idris began to rule.
The king was dethroned by a young colonel, Muammar Gaddafi. He renamed the country the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (nation of the people).Gaddafi has a unique policy to say the least. He tried to bring socialism and Islam together. The West accused him a number of times of terrorism. In 1986 the USA bombarded Tripoli because of it.
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