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Libya is a large Arab and North African country about three times the size of France but with a population of only 5.3 million, as the majority of the country is desert. Most of the population is young (32% under the age of 15 years) and urban, with 85% living in the main coastal cities such as Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata.1 Libya was an Italian colony from 1911 until after the Second World War when it became a British protectorate; Libya obtained independence as a kingdom in 1951. However, in September 1969 Muammar Gaddafi established a military dictatorship that continued until he was killed on 20 October 2011.
In the 1950s Libya was considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world with high illiteracy rates and only a handful of people with university qualifications. With the discovery of oil in the 1960s, living standards rose and literacy rates escalated to 86%.1 Currently, Libya is regarded as one …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Peter Newman, Middlesbrough, UK.