Country Profile - Libya
Libya is located in Northern Africa on the Mediterranean coast, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger and Algeria. The current population stands at 6.65 million people, with 12% of these believed to be immigrants, making it the 106th most populated country in the world. Over 90% of the population live along the Mediterranean Coast between Tripoli and Al Bayda, as the Sahara and lack of fresh water make the interior largely uninhabitable.
Tripoli, the capital, is also the most populous city, containing 1.13 million inhabitants. The official language is Arabic, although Italian and English are widely understood in the major cities, as well as Berber throughout the country. 96.6% of the population are Muslim, virtually all being Sunnis, and the country also contains a small Christian minority.13
Libya continues to be viewed as a very high-risk country in relation to commercial activities and travel predominantly owing to the ongoing civil war, vast number of armed militias and the presence of terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb affiliated groups. There is a high risk of terrorism and kidnap, by criminals, militias and extremist groups, across Libya.
Corruption continues to plague Libya, with the country being ranked 170 of 176 countries by Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Index.14 All sectors of the Libyan economy and state suffer from endemic corruption but particularly the public procurement sector and the oil industry, whilst state owned enterprises dominate their markets. Corruption was rampant under Gaddafi’s regime, but has significantly worsened in the post-revolution era.15
The Libyan economy has remained in recession since 2013, with GDP contracting by an estimated 8.3% in 2016 to an estimate of US$33.1 billion, although if certain conditions are met the economy is expected to rapidly grow in the near future.16 The official currency of Libya is the Libyan Dinar.
The Libyan government is currently in transition and contested. There are currently three centres of power. The Presidential Council, based in Tripoli, was created from the UN- brokered Libyan Political Agreement in December 2015 and is currently headed by Faye al- Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, and thus the UN recognised head of state. The Central Bank of Libya, which takes oil revenues, and the National Oil Corporation are both loyal to the Presidential Council. The rival Government of National Salvation, formed from the rump of the General National Congress also presides in Tripoli and is led by Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell. Nevertheless, it no longer controls any relevant institutions. The final centre of power is formed by the authorities in Tobruk and al-Bayda, notably the House of Representatives, the recognized legislative body of Libya. The House was supposed to fall under the Libyan Political Agreement but twice voted down the Government of National Accord. These authorities fall under the military control of the anti- Islamist General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army. Haftar and the Tobruk authorities have also established their own Central Bank and National Oil Corporation.17
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