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Libya
Capital:
Tripoli
Population:
5,631,585
note: includes 166,510 non-nationals (July 2004 est.)
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Background:
From the earliest days of his rule following his 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI has espoused his own political system, the Third Universal Theory. The system is a combination of socialism and Islam derived in part from tribal practices and is supposed to be implemented by the Libyan people themselves in a unique form of "direct democracy." QADHAFI has always seen himself as a revolutionary and visionary leader. He used oil funds during the 1970s and 1980s to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversives and terrorists abroad to hasten the end of Marxism and capitalism. In addition, beginning in 1973, he engaged in military operations in northern Chad's Aozou Strip to gain access to minerals and to use as a base of influence in Chadian politics. Chadian forces were able to force the Libyans to retreat from the Aozou Strip in 1987. UN sanctions in the 1990s isolated QADHAFI politically following the downing of Pan AM Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Later, when QADHAFI found that he could not easily break free of the sanctions and when he realized that Arab nations were lukewarm to his many unusual political initiatives, he turned his attention to Africa where he achieved mixed success at influence-building. Libyan support for terrorism appears to have decreased after UN sanctions were imposed in 1992. During the 1990s QADHAFI also began to rebuild his relationships with Europe. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya resolved the Lockerbie case. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Government type:
Jamahiriya (a state of the masses) in theory, governed by the populace through local councils; in fact, a military dictatorship
GDP:
purchasing power parity - $35 billion (2003 est.)
Internet users:
160,000 (2003)
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