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Population of Libya


Libya is a large country with a relatively small population, but the population is concentrated very narrowly along the coast. Population density is about 50 persons per km² (130/sq. mi.) in the two northern regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, but falls to less than one person per km² (2.6/sq. mi.) elsewhere.


Ninety percent of the people live in less than 10% of the area, primarily along the coast. About 88% of the population is urban, mostly concentrated in the three largest cities, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata. Libya has a population of about 6.5 million, 27.7% of whom are under the age of 15. In 1984 the population was 3.6 million, an increase from the 1.54 million reported in 1964.

There are about 140 tribes and clans in Libya. Family life is important for Libyan families, the majority of which live in apartment blocks and other independent housing units, with precise modes of housing depending on their income and wealth. Although the Libyan Arabs traditionally lived nomadic lifestyles in tents, they have now settled in various towns and cities.

 Because of this, their old ways of life are gradually fading out. An unknown small number of Libyans still live in the desert as their families have done for centuries. Most of the population has occupations in industry and services, and a small percentage is in agriculture.

According to the UNHCR, there were around 8,000 registered refugees, 5,500 unregistered refugees, and 7,000 asylum seekers of various origins in Libya in January 2013. Additionally, 47,000 Libyan nationals were internally displaced and 46,570 were internally displaced returnees.

Ethnic groups

According to the CIA, Libya's population as of 2014 mainly consists of Berbers and Arabs (97%). The remaining 3% of residents include Tunisians, Egyptians, Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Turks, Pakistanis and Indians.

The original inhabitants of Libya belonged predominantly to various Berber ethnic groups; however, the long series of foreign invasions – particularly by Arabs and Turks – have had a profound and lasting influence on Libya's demographics.

Today, many Libyans are a mixture of Arab, Turkish and Berber ethnicities. The Turkish minority are often called "Kouloughlis" and are concentrated in and around villages and towns. Additionally, there are some Libyan ethnic minorities, such as the Berber-speaking Tuareg and the Tebou.

Most Italian settlers left after Italian Libya's independence in 1947. More repatriated in 1970 after the accession of Muammar Gaddafi.


According to the CIA, the official language of Libya is Arabic.The local Libyan Arabic variety is spoken alongside Modern Standard Arabic. Various Berber languages are also spoken, including Tamasheq, Ghadamis, Nafusi, Suknah and Awjilah. Both Berber and Arabic languages belong to the wider Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic) family.

In addition, Italian and English are widely understood in the major cities.