Location: Libya is located in North Africa on the coast of the
Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered on the east by Egypt; on the
south by Sudan, Chad, and Niger; and on the west by Algeria
Size: Libya’s total area is 1,759,540 square kilometers of landmass,
which is slightly larger than Alaska or approximately three times the
size of France.
Land Boundaries: Libya is bounded by Algeria (982 kilometers), Chad (1,055 kilometers), Egypt (1,115 kilometers), Niger (354 kilometers), Sudan (383 kilometers), and Tunisia (459 kilometers).
Length of Coastline: Libya’s coastline totals 1,770 kilometers on the Mediterranean Sea.
Maritime Claims: Libya’s territorial sea extends 12 nautical miles and to the Gulf of Sidra closing line of 32º 30' north.
Topography: Libya has narrow enclaves of fertile lowlands along its Mediterranean coast and a vast expanse of arid, rocky plains and sand seas to the south. Coastal lowlands are separated from one another by a predesert zone and backed by plateaus with steep, north-facing scarps. Libya’s only true mountains, the Tibesti, rise in the southern desert. Less than 5 percent of Libya’s territory is economically useful.
Principal Rivers: Libya has several perennial saline lakes but no significant perennial watercourses. The only permanently flowing river is the two-kilometer-long Wadi Kiam.
Climate: The Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert are the dominant climatic influences in Libya. In the coastal lowlands, where 80 percent of the population lives, the climate is Mediterranean, with warm summers and mild winters. The climate in the desert interior is characterized by very hot summers and extreme diurnal temperature ranges. Along the Tripolitanian coast, summer temperatures range between 40.6° C and 46° C; temperatures are even higher to the south. Summer temperatures in the north of Cyrenaica range from 26.7° C to 32° C. The ghibli, a hot, dry, dust-laden desert wind, which can last one to four days, can change temperatures by 17° C to 22° C in both summer and winter. Precipitation ranges from light to negligible. Less than 2 percent of the country receives enough rainfall for settled agriculture. The Jabal areas of the north receive a yearly average of 381 to 508 millimeters. Other regions get less than 203 millimeters. Rain usually falls during a short winter period and frequently causes floods. Winters can be bitterly cold, with temperatures below 0° C. Frost and snowfalls sometimes occur in the mountains. Evaporation is high, and severe droughts are common.
Natural Resources: Libya’s most important natural resources are its oil and natural gas reserves, which dominate its economy. A 2005 estimate put the country’s proven oil reserves at 39 billion barrels and its natural gas reserves at 52 trillion cubic feet. Its other significant resources are natural gas, gypsum, limestone, marine salt, potash, and natron (sodium carbonate).
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Land Use: Of Libya’s land surface, only approximately 1.03 percent is classified as arable land, with 0.17 percent planted to permanent crops. About 4 percent of the land area is suitable for grazing livestock, and the rest is agriculturally useless desert. Most of Libya’s arable land lies in the Jabal al Akhdar region around Benghazi and the Jifarah Plain near Tripoli.
Environmental Factors: Desertification and very limited natural freshwater resources are the two important environmental issues facing Libya. Annual rainfall averages only between 200 and 600 millimeters in the most arable portions of the country. The Great Manmade River Project, designed to bring water from fossil aquifers beneath the Sahara, has no long-term viability because of the finite nature of the fossil reserves.
Time Zone: Libya lies in one time zone, which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.