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  • Overview

    Oil-rich Libya has had a tumultuous history as many havewrestled for control of this fascinating land. Tucked between Egyptand Tunisia, and bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, Libya has seeninvasions by Turks, Vandals, Byzantines, Romans, Arabs, andItalians, only gaining independence in 1951. These civilisationshave left their mark, particularly evident in the striking Romanand Greek ruins at Leptis Magna, Cyrene and Sabratha. Despite this,Libya remains quintessentially Arabic, as evident in the Medina(old city) of the capital Tripoli, the nomadic lifestyle ofdesert-dwelling Bedouin and Berber tribes, and the language andculture of the people.

    Tripoli, in the northeast, is the country's main port. Thebustling city is dominated by the splendid Assaraya al-Hamra (RedCastle), a large palace complex, as well as the walls and gates ofthe Medina. Filled with orange groves, grapevines, palms and olivetrees, the lush city is home to several mosques, museums andhistorical sites, as well as modern amenities. Benghazi is Libya'ssecond largest city and has a more modern atmosphere, having beenall but destroyed during World War II.Benghazi acts as a good basefrom which to explore the neighbouring Green Mountain area, as wellas several Roman ruin sites along the coast.

    Libya is largely an undiscovered tourist destination, due tosanctions imposed on the country through its rocky politicalhistory, and a current high risk of terrorism. There was a rise intourism and an increased interest in the country after the liftingof sanctions in 2003, with a number of resorts springing up alongLibya's Mediterranean coast. However, the country's descent intocivil war in 2011 put an end to Libya's popularity as a traveldestination. Nevertheless, there still remains oases to bediscovered, ruins to explore, cities to investigate, and beaches tolaze on.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    The Libyan Desert is one of the harshest and most arid in theworld, and decades can go by without rain in certain areas, butthis harsh interior is tempered by the Mediterranean climate in thenorth. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are cooler with lowertemperatures in the evening, and rainfall is minimal. The desert ismore extreme: hot in the day and cold at night. Spring and autumnexperience the , a hot desert wind that can last up to four days,bringing temperatures in the coastal areas up to 122°F (50°C). Juneto October is the best time to travel to Libya, particularly to thecoastal areas, as temperatures are in the more manageable region of80°F (27°C).

    Tripoli International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 19 miles (30km) south ofTripoli.
    Time: GMT +2.
    Transfer Between Terminals: There is currently only one terminal for both international andnational travel.
    Getting to the city: Unless transport has been arranged with a tour operator prior toarrival, taxis are the principal means of transport to thecity.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies at the airport include Alamo, Avis,Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.
    Fascilities: Facilities include duty-free shopping, a restaurant, prayerroom, business lounge and currency exchange.

    The Libyan Dinar (LYD), divided into 1,000 dirhams.


    The official language of Libya is Arabic (used for allofficial business), though some Italian and English is spoken,especially in the cities.


    Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round three-pinplugs are used. Power outages are common.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid upon theirarrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon theirarrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon theirarrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid upontheir arrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    South African citizens must have a passport that is valid upontheir arrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon theirarrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid upon theirarrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid upontheir arrival in Libya. A visa is required.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Most foreign passengers require a visa to enter Libya. Touristvisas must be organised in advance, but can sometimes be issued onarrival; provided that travellers are holding a copy of a letterissued by the Libyan immigration authorities, confirming that avisa will be granted to them upon their arrival at the airport.This copy must be sent to the office of the transporting carrier inLibya at least 24 hours in advance. Visitors travelling to Libyafor touristic purposes are also required to convert USD 1,000 (orequivalent) in freely convertible cash, or to debit the amount froma valid credit card upon their arrival at the airport. Failure todo so will result in the traveller being refused entry to Libya.Note that admission and transit will be refused to holders of (i)documents containing a valid or expired visa for Israel, or (ii)tickets showing an Israeli destination. All visitors must also holdproof of sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in Libya,and a yellow fever vaccination certificate (if arriving within sixdays or leaving or transiting through an infected area). Pleasenote that the volatile political situation in Libya means thatvisa/entry requirements often change abruptly, and as such,travellers should make sure they are in possession of up-to-dateinformation BEFORE leaving home. NOTE: It is highly recommendedthat your passport has at least six months validity remaining afteryour intended date of departure from your travel destination.Immigration officials often apply different rules to those statedby travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    There are no major health risks associated with travel to Libya.Visitors travelling from infected areas require a yellow fevervaccination certificate. Travellers are encouraged to getvaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid.Healthcare facilities in Libya are basic and travellers are advisedto have full health insurance. In remote areas there may be nohealth facilities at all, therefore travellers are advised to carrytheir own basic medications. Tap water in Libya is chlorinated, butit is advised that visitors drink only bottled or boiled water.


    Not common, may be offensive. However, tipping tour guides isappreciated.

    Safety Information:

    Libya remains unstable and unpredictable in the wake of civilwar, with various extremist groups and political factions warringfor control. Ports and airports have been targeted by terroristgroups. Terrorism is a real threat and travellers should beparticularly alert to the kidnapping threat as foreigners havepreviously been targeted. The political instability has reportedlyalso led to an increase in crime levels.

    Safety in Libya is far from certain and most government agenciesadvise against all travel to the country at this time.

    Local Customs:

    Libya is an Islamic country and visitors should be respectful interms of following Arabic customs, particularly during the month ofRamadan when eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public isforbidden. Swimwear should be restricted to beaches, and womenshould dress modestly, and avoid Arab gatherings where women arenot permitted. Homosexuality is illegal and extramarital sexualrelationships are forbidden. Criticism of the Libyan Government,Islam and the country itself is not tolerated. Permission mustalways be sought prior to photographing people, and it is notrecommended that a camera be used or carried near any official ormilitary buildings. Libya is one of the strictest countries interms of a ban on alcohol and drugs, and neither should be broughtinto the country, though smoking is very common.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers may enter the country with 200 cigarettes or 250cigars or 250g tobacco, and 250ml of perfume. All alcohol and drugsare strictly prohibited, as well as almost all foodstuffs. There isalso an extensive list of banned items, including any articlesmanufactured or produced in Israel, and it is best to consult aLibyan Embassy for more information before travel.

    Useful Contacts: