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Summary: Libya is in northern Africa against the Mediterranean west of Egypt and north of Chad, and is mostly barren desert with some flat to undulating plains and scattered plateaus and depressions. The Libyan government has made significant strides in strengthening and rebuilding international ties, and is working to privatize more enterprises to support the growth of the economy, which is based primarily on oil, manufacturing and construction, with heavy imports of foodstuffs.

Capital: Tripoli
Time Zone: UTC+2
Population: 5,631,585
Languages: Arabic, Italian, English
Power: 127V, 50 Hz, with 230V is sections
Currency: Libyan Dinar - Currently 1 LYD = 0.8226 USD $
Climate: Libya has a mediterranean climate along the coast, with a dry and extreme desert interior. The hotter and windier summer season runs from April to October, and the cooler winter season runs from November to March.


Tripoli: A city with a long history including Italians, Romans and Greeks, Tripoli is a port city that has some great sights. Start in the Green Square, at the town center and central to most of the attractions, then head to the main medina for copperwork, fabrics and jewelry, then see the Jamahiriya Museum, with four floors of artifacts from the country's Leptis and Islamic history, and then enjoy the landmark Assai al-Hamra, or Red Castle, a massive complex with courtyards that will take an afternoon to explore.

Leptis Magna: Founded in 600 BC by Phoenicians and taken over by the Romans in 46 BC, Leptis Magna is one of the best Roman archeological sites in the Mediterranean region. Some of the roads themselves are the original cobblestone, and the museum has excellent collections of art and artifacts, but you should also see the Severan Arch, one of the prominent landmarks in the area, the Hadrianic Baths, made with marble and granite and still popular with locals and tourists, and the amphitheater, markets, and other monuments from the past.

Jebel Akhdar: Banghazi is Libya's second largest city and is covered in weekly Friday markets, or souqs, and is known for its Roman ruins, green landscape, and beaches. Travel through the region of Jebel Akhdar, an area of verdant land and mountains pockmarked with farms and Italian architecture, about 160 miles away, to Cyrene, a daytrip with Greek ruins that echo Delphi and with beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

Security: Generally speaking, Libya is stabilizing and becoming safe to travel, but an accompanying guide in rural areas is advised, and it's best to steer clear of the Sudan and Chad border. Avoid demonstrations, discussing politics or criticizing the country, religion or leaders. Ask permission before taking pictures, and don't photograph military or governmental buildings, and don't get involved with either alcohol or drugs while here, as they are illegal.

Local Customs: Dress conservatively, particularly women who should cover arms and legs, whereas men can get away with short sleeves. In either case, keep beachwear to the beaches, respect the local customs, and when cutlery is unavailable, eat with the right hand only, as the left is considered unclean. Haggling in the markets is frowned upon.

Cash on Hand: Credit cards can not yet be used and traveler's checks are only sporadically usable, so locate the nearest bank, with hours typically open Saturday to Wednesday until noon, to exchange major currencies and plan on carrying cash.

When To Visit: The cooler winter is more comfortable for spending time in Libya, as the summer gets hot and windy, as the ghibli sandstorms blow periodically over the season. Islamic festivals are always respected, so events like Ramadan and Tabaski are important. September is always an important month because of Revolution Day, complete with parades, folk music and events.

Food: Libyan cuisine is a mix of Italian, Mediterranean and Arabic styles, with unleavened bread, lamb and beef, dried apricots and figs all playing a role. Local dishes include couscous dishes covered in meat or vegetable stews, and shakshouka, lamb and vegetables mixed in a tomato sauce base served with an egg on top. Alcohol is forbidden.

Tipping: Tipping has not been standardized, so check your bill as a 10% service charge may have already been included. Typically, up to 15% for good service is expected.

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