Libya Economy


According to Smber, agriculture is still far from guaranteeing food self-sufficiency, but it has registered a strong increase in production, especially thanks to the economic development programs implemented with oil revenues. Understandably, the main limitation of Libyan agriculture is the lack of water for irrigation, which is added to other problems: size of the funds, methods of management, low use of fertilizers, insufficiency of arable land (only 1.2% of National territory). The water supply is based on the extraction of the underground aquifers; considerable investments have been made by the Libyan government since the 1970s; among all it should be remembered the “great artificial river”, a complex of underground pipelines that extends for approx. 3500 km intended to convey the water from the desert subsoil to the Gulf of Sirte. From the agricultural point of view there are three distinct bands, well marked especially in Tripolitania. In the coastal plains irrigated crops prevail that give life to suani, gardens shaded by palm trees, where vegetables (tomatoes, onions and potatoes) and legumes are obtained. On the slopes of the mountains that dominate the coast, dry crops are found with small fields of cereals (wheat and barley) as well as vines and olives. More internally, on the reliefs and on the first plateaus, there is the predesert, where alpha and esparto are grown, used for the extraction of cellulose, but from which fibers for mats and ropes are also obtained. In inland desert areas, only oasis farming is possible, with irrigated crops in the shade of date palms, a plant characteristic of the oases and which annually produces a good quantity of dates. The tobacco produced is very valuable. They also grow henna, used in the preparation of dyes and tanning substances, citrus, peanuts and castor. § The breeding, by ancient tradition based on the nomadic grazing of sheep and goats, has received a strong boost especially in Cyrenaica. There are numerous sheep and goats but cattle and camels are also important. § Fishing is not widely practiced, despite the presence of vast fishing areas in the seas; along the coasts of Cyrenaica the collection of sponges is carried out.


Before 1972 Libya practically did not have an industrial sector: throughout the country there was a modest-sized refinery in Al Zawiya (Al-Zāwiyah), some food industries and small textile factories. Since the early 1970s, specific economic development plans promoted the construction of an industrial system which in 2006 contributed 76.1% (down to 67.1 in 2017) to the formation of GDP, but which it is still hindered in its growth by the lack of manpower, by the difficulty of finding an adequate managerial class and by the lack of infrastructures. The petrochemical sector is essential for the country: it can count on various refineries and processes a quantity of crude oil that is higher than the internal demand; also the panorama of manufacturing industry has been made the subject of investments with a view to reducing imports: there are industries of cement, building materials, tanneries, textile factories, food complexes, electromechanicals, etc. At the artisan level, the production of carpets and traditional garments are important. § The proximity to European markets, the main buyers of Libyan oil, and the low sulfur content of the oil itself, which is therefore particularly suitable for refining, are the basis of the great importance assumed by the country as an oil supplier. The major deposits in the country include those of Mabruch, Hofra, Zelten, Raguba, Beda, Ora, Samah, Waha, Gialo, Amal, Serir, Augila, Magid; Marsa Brega (Marsá a-Burayquah), Sidr, Ras Lanu, El Hariga, Zuetina etc. The country can also count on natural gas deposits, natron (sodium carbonate), extracted in Fezzan and used in tanneries and iron minerals. All of thermal origin is of course the production of electricity.


Libya is devoid of real rivers (the wadi Kaam and the wadi Ramba have very little flow in Tripolitania, in Cyrenaica the wadi Derna) and many areas are areic or endorheic: there are numerous ponds (sebkha), which during the summer season they dry out giving rise to natural saline (mellahe); they are formed in the depressions, such as those characteristic of Cyrenaica (the balte), connected to the karst nature of the terrain, where the waters of the uidian fed by the reliefs and escarpments that dominate the depressions are dispersed. But uidian and corresponding aquifers allow the life of numerous oases even in the innermost part of the country: so in the Libyan Desert there is the oasis of Cufra (Al-Jawf), while in the Fezzan a whole series of oases is aligned at the foot of the escarpment rock overlooking the sandy depression of Murzūq. The major uidians develop from the interior towards the coast and run their course along ancient river valleys which, especially from Hamādah al Hamrā, descend towards the Gulf of Sirte. The Jifārah is, however, the only area of ​​the country rich in water and in fact looks like a single large oasis.

Libya Economy

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