Capital | Tripoli
Population | 6,310,434 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 1,759,640 sq km
Official language | Arabic
Holidays | Revolution Day, 1 September (1969)
Currency | Libyan dinars (LYD)
Time Zone | UTC+2
Best time to visit | November to March, for cooler temperatures-or during Libya’s golden age in the 2nd century AD.
Connecting with the Culture | Shopping in the bustling medina in Tripoli. Walking through the streets and souks of old Benghazi. Viewing the desrt architecture and old city at Ghadhames. Exploring the archaelogical site at Leptis Magna, regarded as the best Roman site in the Mediterranean. Visiting the Greek city of Cyrene. Hikingthrough the magnificent Jebel Akhdar mountains.
Read | Libyan-born and American raised Khaled Mattawa’s `Ismailia Eclipse’, poetry that speaks across both cultural and political borders.
Listen | to `Marhab’ by Massoud, modern Libyan folkloric tunes.
Watch | `Lion of the Desert’, by Libyan filmmaker Moustapha Akkad, about a Libyan Guerila soldier who tries to stop the invasion of Italian troops during WW2.
Eat | couscous bil-Bosla – couscous with lamb, beans and t omato; dolma mshakila – peppers and zucchinis stuffed with spiced, minced lamb; shorba bilhout – spiced fish soup; delicious local dates.
Drink | sweet mint tea or the excellent local mineral water.
In a word | Ahlaan wasahlaan (welcome)
Chracteristics | World heritage sites; ancient Roman and Greek cities; beautiful resort towns; local souks and medinas; islamic culture; historic mosques and hammams; gorgeous beaches; mud brick desert architecture.
Surprises | One of the last unspoilt places on the Mediterranean seaboard, ripe for discovery are Libya’s incredible hospitality, beautiful desert-scapes, well preserved classical ruins, prehistoric rock art and palm fringed oases nestled in the Saharan desert; Tuaregs-the blue men of the desert; the pottery market at Gharian.