With the Mediterranean Ocean to the north and the Sahara desert to the southwest, Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa (after Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan).
#1. Tripoli, the capital of Libya, was in a position to help protect American ships from attack by Barbary pirates in the 19th century (since, after all, some of them were based there!) By paying protection to the Sultan, the U.S. ships sailed the Mediterranean unmolested. When the price went up, the two countries went to war, twice, in what came to be known as the Barbary Wars.
#2. In Libya’s entire history, it only had one King. King Idris reigned from 1951 until he was overthrown by Colonel Gaddafi (also spelled Qadhafi) in 1969.
#3. During the latter years of Gaddafi’s regime, the country’s full official name was the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”.
#4. Although an Islamic nation today, Libya was an early Christian center historically.
#5. Currently at least two political groups have set up governments for Libya, but only one of them is recognized as legitimate by the rest of the world. The fighting and instability in the country/region was responsible for the deaths of almost 1,800 migrants fleeing several countries in North Africa. They died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in the summer of 2015.
#6. Libya’s 1,770 kilometers (1099 miles) of Mediterranean Sea coast is the longest of any North African country.
#7. The area of the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya is frequently called the Libyan Sea.
#8. Much of the central and eastern area of the country is covered by the Libyan Desert. The Libyan Desert is one of the most sun-baked and arid places on earth. There is no average rainfall — the land may go for decades with no rain and the highlands for five to ten years without it.
#9. North of the mountains of Jebel Uweinat the Libyan plain is dotted with eroded volcanic features. This area also contains the Arkenu structures, thought at one time to be two meteorite impact craters.
#10. When oil was discovered in the 1950s, an enormous aquifer underneath much of Libya was also found. This aquifer’s water pre-dates the last ice ages.