Libya is located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the North, Egypt to the east, Sudan, Chad and Niger to the south, Algeria and Tunisia to the East. With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres, Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa, and the 16th largest country in the world. The capital, Tripoli, is a port city located along the Mediterranean shore with 1.27 million inhabitants. Libya is made of three historical regions, Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica and has five World Heritage sites that are protected by UNESCO: the archeological sites of Cyrene, Leptis Magna, Sabratha, the Old Town of Ghadames and the ancient Rock Art site of Tadrart Acacus.
The country has abundant history and tradition, and remains an important centre of trade in the 21st century. Libya has been inhabited since the late Bronze Age; it was ruled by Carthaginians, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks before forming a part of the Roman Empire.
The Vandals occupied Libya until the 7th century, when invasions brought Islam and Arab colonisation. In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire and the Knights of St John occupied Tripoli, until Ottoman rule began in 1551, lasting until the Italian occupation of Libya from 1911 to 1943. Libya became an independent kingdom in 1951. Today Libya’s population today counts over 6.3 million, and mainly consists of Arabs and Berbers, with the main religion being Sunni Muslims.
The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which accounts for 80% of GDP and 97% of exports. Libya holds the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and is an important contributor to the global supply of light, sweet crude. Apart from petroleum, the other natural resources are natural gas and gypsum.