The social security system dates from 1957, and has since
been greatly expanded. Healthcare, like medicine, is free of
charge. In 2009, there were 20 doctors and 37 hospital beds
per 10,000 residents, and 5.5 percent of government spending
went to health care. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of LBY and acronym for Libya.
In addition to free health care, there are a number of
public health insurance, such as old-age pension, parental
leave and sickness and occupational injury insurance.
Everyone gets subsidized food, cheap housing and free
education. In most cases, women have the same rights as men,
but traditional patriarchal structures remain. About 25
percent of women are working and 8 percent of MPs are women.
In terms of education, however, equality prevails and at the
upper secondary level the girls are in the majority.
Support for liberation movements
Kaddafi's attempt to form a united Arab bloc against the
United States and the Soviet Union had finally collapsed in
the late 1970s. From 1980, Libyan diplomats instead began
extensive activities in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin
America. Libya supported Polisario in Western Sahara and
participated directly in the civil war in Chad in support of
GUNT (the National Union Transitional Government) led by
Through a comprehensive international propaganda
campaign, the United States linked Libya with "international
terrorism". This was the pretext that in August 1981 the
United States Navy fired two Libyan aircraft over Sidra Bay.
Khaddafi failed to respond violently and instead received
political support from conservative Arab regimes who had
previously been hostile to Tripoli.
In 1983, Libya began an approach to Morocco. The process
culminated in August 84 with the signing of an agreement
between the governments of the two countries. Morocco wanted
to neutralize Libyan support for the liberation movement
Polisario in Western Sahara, and Libya wanted to remove
Morocco's support for Hissan Habré's regime in Chad.
In January 86, the United States accused Libya of
involvement in terrorist acts, imposed a financial blockade
on the country and bombed Tripoli and Benghazi in April.
Dozens of civilians were killed. Subsequent information
revealed that the US's real goal had been to eliminate Major
In November 91, the North American and British judiciary
placed responsibility on the Libyan government for the 88
attack on the Pan Am plane that crashed in Lockerbie in
Scotland and killed 270, as well as the UTA plane crash over
Nigeria that cost 170 lives. Interpol issued arrest warrants
against the two Libyan agents who were accused of being
responsible for the actions. In January 92, Libya declared
its readiness to cooperate with the UN on the resolution of
the two assaults. Still, Khaddafi rejected an extradition
request from the UN and suggested instead that a trial be
conducted against the two in Tripoli.
Libya's stance worsened relations with the UN, which
renewed requests for extradition in February and March. At
the same time, the UN issued an ultimatum to condemn
"terrorism" until April 15, threatening sanctions, blockades
and possible military intervention. The deadline was
exceeded and the EU and the world's 7 most industrialized
countries imposed financial sanctions. Khaddafi responded by
appealing to the International Court of Justice in The
In August, the embargo was renewed and Khaddafi therefore
implemented a change in his foreign policy. He appointed a
"moderate" to the foreign minister in the hope of
approaching the Libyan and North American positions. In
1993, the country continued the liberalization of its
economy, which had begun in 89 at the same time as
diplomatic relations with Iran had been severed.
Libya's international isolation was reinforced in 94 as
the UN intensified the embargo. In domestic politics,
however, this development merely provided greater support
for the head of state, as it was the public opinion that it
was the United States responsible for the country's
In the southern part of the country around Fezzan, the
people showed their dissatisfaction with the handover to
Chad of the Aouzou land area. The transfer took place
following a judgment of the International Court of Justice
in The Hague. Tripoli started an old project when an
agreement was signed on the construction of aqueducts for
importing water from neighboring countries.
Libya's isolation continued through 95 despite numerous
attempts to resume dialogue with the West. However, the
isolation did not prevent the private sector from growing or
continuing foreign investment, which was mainly concentrated
in oil exploration. Despite the embargo, the country
benefited from the 40% increase in oil prices that broke
through in the second half of 96. That same year, parts of
the aqueduct were opened to supply the people in remote
areas of the desert with water.
In 1997, Libya gradually began to break its international
isolation in an attempt to lift the embargo. For the first
time, three UN Security Council members - Egypt, Guinea
Bissau and Kenya - asked for a mission to be sent to Tripoli
to assess the situation. At the same time, the Alliance Free
Movement and the African Unity Organization, the OAU,
supported a Libyan proposal to bring a lawsuit against the
two terrorists accused of liberty in a neutral country.
In October, South Africa formally asked the UN to lift
the embargo after Nelson Mandela visited Libya in an attempt
to mediate in the conflict. Mandela stated in favor of the
Libyan position, but at the same time made it clear that he
did not demand an "unconditional" lifting of the sanctions.
Still, the Security Council renewed the month after the
In March 98, Tripoli achieved a first international legal
victory when the International Court of Justice declared
itself competent to deal with Libya's complaint about the
economic embargo. The decision sparked a power struggle
between the Security Council and the Court. After protracted
multilateral negotiations, Britain and the United States
proposed that the two Libyan accused in the Lockerbie
assault be brought before a court in The Hague with Scottish
judges and have their case dealt with under Scottish law.
Finally, in March 1999, Libya accepted this proposal, and
the Security Council in April lifted the sanctions that had
been in effect since 1992. The lawsuit began in 2000, and in
January 2001, one of the two accused Libyans was convicted
and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In September 1999, over 20 African and Arab leaders
participated in the 30th anniversary of the Libyan
Revolution in Tripoli - among them the Presidents of South
Africa, Palestine, Algeria and Zambia. 15 years after
severing diplomatic relations with the country, in December
99 London accredited an ambassador to Tripoli.
Libya took advantage of the abolished sanctions for a
diplomatic offensive in the region. The country offered to
mediate in the conflict in Sudan and resume dialogue with
Chad. In March 2000, the United States sent a senior
delegation to the country to look into the possibility of
lifting the ban on investment and travel to Libya, which had
been in effect since 1981.
Among the African countries, in 2001, Libya was at the
forefront of the UNDP's human development index - mainly due
to its oil production. In recent years, there have been a
series of clashes between Libyans and migrant immigrants
from other African countries. In September 2000, such
clashes cost 50 lives. There are about 1 million emigrants
in the country from other parts of Africa.
Following a failed coup attempt in the Central African
Republic in May 2001, Libya sent soldiers there to provide
protection to President Patassé. In November, the president
had to seek Libyan assistance again. When peace was
restored, the Central African people demanded that the
Libyan soldiers be withdrawn for fear that their stay in the
country would otherwise be prolonged.
In August 2001, the United States extended its sanctions
against Libya and Iran for another 5 years. The Bush
government argued that the purpose was for these countries
to fund terrorism, but the decision did not resonate in
Europe. Under US sanctions law, any company that invests
over $ 20 million US $ annually in the oil industry in one
of the two countries, or setting up subsidiaries there, will
be penalized by the US.