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Libya Culture and Traditions

Customs and traditions

Libya is a conservative but hospitable country, where those who adhere to the prevailing traditions tend to be well received. For several decades, the country was marked by Gaddafi's rule and it is as yet unclear which new symbols and holidays will replace the fallen regime. The feasts of Islam have the stronger tradition.

Libya is characterized by Islam and customs from the Bedouin culture. At the same time, development has been very fast since oil was discovered in the 1960s. Old and new now live side by side - not always problem-free.

  • Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Libya, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.

Religion is very important to most Libyans. Those who visit the country should respect it and be aware that criticism of Islam, or atheistic criticism of religions in general, can hurt and provoke.

Hospitality is a highly valued tradition, strangers are usually warmly welcomed, and many Libyans are happy to invite visitors to the home. However, it is common for men and women to be separated if they do not belong to the same family. It is also unusual for men and women to greet with a handshake, and many conservative Muslims prefer not to greet non-Muslim women in this way either. This has its roots in Libyan and Islamic customs, and should not necessarily be seen as a sign of disrespect. Homosexuality is illegal and strongly taboo.

During Gaddafi, Libya was considered safe to visit, as the police state kept crime and riots in check. Crime and violent crime have now spread due to the collapse of the judiciary. In large parts of the country, lawless conditions exist, with armed militias vying for power. This is a situation that the Libyans themselves feel deeply uncomfortable and strange.

Culture and Traditions of LibyaModern western clothing is the norm in cities, especially among men, but is also mixed with traditional garments. Women wear Muslim veil (hijab) over hair, neck and shoulders, and in more conservative families, the veil also covers the face (niqab). Non-Muslim female visitors are not expected to cover their hair, but should dress conservatively. In a business context, formal attire usually applies to men's suits.

Alcohol is prohibited in Libya, in accordance with Muslim practices. Many Libyans associate alcohol with a lack of morals, abuse and crime, much like drugs are considered in Sweden.

The holidays of Islam fall according to the lunar calendar, which is shorter than the solar year, and thus moves over the year; they fall a few days earlier for each year. During the fasting month of Ramadan, a Muslim may not eat, drink or smoke as long as the sun is up, but this is taken again after the breaking of fasting (iftar). The fasting and the night wakes can be very tiring, especially in the years when the Ramadan falls in the summer heat. Non-Muslims should respect this by discreetly managing or consuming day-to-day consumption. The most important Islamic celebrations are id al-fitr, which concludes the Ramadan, and the major sacrificial feasts id al-adha, which is celebrated by the slaughter of a sheep. Prophet Muhammad's birth (mawlid) is also celebrated, but some so-called Salafists (ultra-Orthodox Sunni Muslims) oppose it.

Libya's independence was proclaimed on Christmas Eve 1951, after which it was celebrated National Day on December 24. The revolt against Gaddafi in 2011 and its consequences resulted in a couple of holidays. After Gaddafi, they also continued to pay attention on May 1 as a holiday.

2014

December

Attack on oil terminals

Forces loyal to Libya's dawn launch the attack on the country's most important oil terminals, Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra. The ports controlled by the Tobruk government and account for about half the oil exports are closed.

IS is said to have training camps in eastern Libya

The information comes from the US military.

November

Activists murdered

Three young activists who were kidnapped are found beheaded in the port city of Darna (see October 2014). The three had reported on the situation in the city via social media. Several Islamist groups are fighting over Darna, which the government has not controlled since 2012.

Struggles in southern Libya

The Tebu and Tuareg (see Population and Languages) are reported to have collapsed in the area around the city of Obwari.

Offensive in Benghazi

Khalifa Haftar has been running since October to try to recapture areas occupied by Islamists. More than 200 people are reported to have been killed.

October

Caliphate is proclaimed in Darna

An Islamic state is proclaimed by a group that claims to be loyal to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which is primarily active in Iraq and Syria.

Nearly half a million refugees

According to the UN, over 331,000 people in Libya are in need of help, of which 287,000 are internally displaced around Tripoli and Benghazi. Another 100,000 have fled to neighboring countries from the fighting.

Bloody battles in Benghazi

Up to 100 people die in connection with two car bombs followed by fighting.

September

UN mediation

UN Special Envoy Bernardino León leads a meeting in the oasis city of Ghadamis between members elected to Parliament (in Tobruk) but so far boycotted the work, and those parliamentarians who have taken office.

Abuse in Tripoli

The militia groups that have been fighting Tripoli have probably committed war crimes, reports Human Rights Watch. Libya's dawn has continued with abuses against journalists, government officials and ordinary civilians, it says.

Tripoli government is presented

Omar al-Hassi, who has been appointed prime minister by the militia groups now controlling Tripoli, presents his government. Libya's dawn essentially controls the capital.

al-Thani reinstated in Tobruk

64 out of 106 current members of Tobruk vote for him.

August

Call for ceasefire

Libya's UN ambassador has warned of full-scale civil war and the UN Security Council is now adopting sanctions against people who have been guilty of human rights violations, attacks on ports, foreign missions and government buildings, and illegal oil exports. Many residents are said to have moved from Tripoli.

Misratamilis questions the legitimacy of Parliament

The militia alliance, which now calls itself the dawn of Libya (Fajr Libya), questions the legitimacy of the new House of Representatives. Parliament, in turn, calls Libyan dawn a terrorist organization.

Misratamilis takes control of Tripoli airport

In collaboration with other militia groups, Misratamilisen manages to drive away the Zinan militia, after a month of fighting. The airport is largely destroyed after the fighting. The Misrata Alliance, which is considered Islamist, now largely has control over the capital.

Parliament is assembled - in Tobruk

The newly elected House of Representatives is assembled for the first time. It would have happened in Benghazi but it is considered too dangerous. Around 170 members participate in the meeting. Representatives of the Arab League and the Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC) are present.

Britain closes embassy

Thus, almost all Western countries have left Tripoli. The British fleet is on its way with a ship to evacuate the British.

July

New battles in Benghazi

About 40 people die fighting in the battles between Haftar's forces and Islamists. A militia group occupies an army base where a special force has been placed.

Fuel dumps are burning

The very large depot in Tripoli has been hit by a rocket. The government is fearing a disaster and is calling for support from the outside world.

Continued escalation

The fighting in the capital is soon described as the most serious since 2011. Around 100 people have been killed and around 400 injured in the battle for the airport.

Foreigners are evacuated

UN personnel are relocated to Tunisia and all air traffic to the capital is canceled. The US evacuates all remaining employees at the Tripoli embassy. More and more countries are gradually calling on their citizens to leave Libya.

Fighting in Tripoli

Following a minor incident at a UN facility, armed clashes occur around the capital. At the airport, the Zintan militia that has controlled the area since Gaddafi was overthrown against the rival Misratamilis in collaboration with other militia groups.

Oil terminals pass to the government

The two remaining terminals, in Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra, return to government control (see April 2014). al-Thani and the leader of the militia group that previously held the ports appear in a joint press conference and give the message.

June

Kidnapped Tunisians are released

A Tunisian diplomat and another embassy employee are released after being held for two and three months, respectively.

Parliamentary elections are held

June 25

On June 25, the second election is held since Gaddafi was overthrown. The election applies to 200 seats in Parliament, but only 188 are added - in other cases, boycotts or a lack of security means that no candidate is elected. A total of more than 1,600 candidates stand, all individually; no party lists appear this time. Voter turnout is 18 percent.

Prime Minister Maitiq resigns

The decision of the acting head of government will since the Supreme Court annulled the election of him. In practice, the country has had two prime ministers, since the representative Thani is one of those who refused to approve his election and therefore never formally resigned.

Suicide bombings against Haftar

Four people are killed and several are injured in the attack on Haftar's headquarters in Benghazi. Hooks are on the scene but escape.

New battles in Benghazi

Around 20 lives are needed in a clash between Haftar's militia and Islamist groups.

May

The United States is evacuating

Due to the precarious situation, the United States urges its citizens to leave Libya immediately.

Unclear about Haftar

Exgeneral accuses from its base in Benghazi government of encouraging terrorism and betraying Libya's confidence. He calls on the country's highest court to set up a "crisis government" and organize elections. Some high-ranking military, several ministers, the Libyan UN ambassador and a number of other representatives of government agencies express their support for Haftar. The government calls him a coup maker.

Parliamentary elections are announced

Despite the chaotic circumstances and warnings that Libya is on its way to civil war, the Election Commission announces that elections will be held on June 25.

Fighting in Tripoli

The Libyan National Army (LNA) attacks, among other things, the parliament building and says it wants to drive away Islamists. Two are killed and about 100 are injured. Several countries close their embassies in Tripoli because of the security situation.

Hard fighting in Benghazi

At least 80 people are killed in fighting erupting when an armed force known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) attacks an Islamist militia for the purpose of driving it out of the city. LNA is led by former army general Khalifa Haftar who broke up with Gaddafi and had a leading role in the 2011 uprising.

Kidnapped ambassador is released

Jordan's ambassador is released after being detained for a month. He is unharmed. It is unclear if the kidnappers have been heard demanding that an imprisoned Islamist be released in exchange.

New Prime Minister is appointed

After a stormy process, Parliament appoints businessman Ahmed Maitiq as new acting prime minister. He is given two weeks to appoint a government.

April

The parliament building is stormed again

Armed men storm the parliament building as members try to vote for a new prime minister. Several are damaged.

al-Thani wants to leave

Parliament votes for Abdullah al-Thani (see March 2014) to form government. Just days later, he announces that he wants to retire, following an armed attack on him and his family. But Thani and the government remain until a new head of government has been appointed. The political stalemate seems to persist.

Oil terminals are reopened

The Zuwaytina and Hariga terminals, which have been blocked since July, can be opened when the authorities regain control. A deal has been reached with the rebels following the failed attempt in March to sell oil illegally. According to the settlement, the rebels, who demanded a larger share of the country's oil revenues, should receive some compensation and avoid prosecution.

March

UN ban on illegal oil exports

The Security Council adopts a resolution condemning all attempts to illegally export crude oil from Libya, and imposing sanctions on vessels participating in any attempt to do so anyway.

Prime Minister Zidan is dismissed

A vote of no confidence is carried out as a result of the failure to force the oil tanker. Defense Minister Abdullah al-Thani becomes acting prime minister.

Zidan threatens to bomb oil tanks

The threat from Prime Minister Zidan then comes rebels who control three major ports in the east planned their own oil exports with a North Korea flagged ship. The oil tanker must have taken at least 234,000 barrels of crude oil on board. This is the first time an attempt has been made to export oil from the rebel-controlled ports. The oil tanker manages to get through the barricades and out into the Mediterranean but after a week the US military takes control of it, on behalf of the governments of Libya and Cyprus. The intention is to return it to Libya. It is unclear where the ship was heading, and who owns it.

al-Saadi Gaddafi extradited from Niger

Gaddafison is handed out despite having previously been granted asylum (see November 2011). He is suspected, among other things, of having shot at protesters in connection with the revolt against his father, when he was the commander of the special forces.

The Parliament building is stormed

A guard is killed and six members of the National Congress are injured when young people, equipped with knives and knives, protest that a sit-down demonstration has been broken up. The Transitional Parliament is moving its business to a hotel.

February

Elections to the basic election assembly are held

The 60 members who will write a new constitution are elected so that one third each come from the regions of Tripolitania, Cyrenaika and Fezzan. Almost a third of voters are said to have registered for the election, and in the end, only half are voting.

The National Congress mandate expires

The Provisional Parliament extends its mandate to December, as there is no constitution and no new elections have been held. Many Libyans protest against the extension.

Violent women war victims

The government's decision that women who were raped in connection with the 2011 uprising should be regarded as victims of war means that they can receive compensation just like wounded combatants. The ICC has claimed to have evidence that Gaddafi ordered government loyal forces to use rape as a weapon.

Chemical weapons are reported to be destroyed

Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz states that the entire Libyan arsenal has been destroyed, including bombs and artillery pieces filled with mustard gas. According to Abdelziz, Libya has been assisted by Canada, Germany and the United States.

January

JCP leaves the government

The Muslim Brotherhood Party has for weeks tried to put a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Zidan, without success. JCP accuses Zidan of failing to guarantee security and ordering the electricity and oil sectors.

Deputy Prime Minister murdered

The shooting takes place when the Deputy Minister visits his hometown of Sirte. It is unknown who is behind the first murder of a transitional government member.


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