Libya Libya

Statistical Snapshot


With an area of around 1.76 million km2[1], Libya is the third largest Arab country in Africa. The Libyan population is mostly urban, with around 80.1 percent of the population of 6.8 million live in urban areas.[2][3] Political instability and conflict is changing Libya’s age structure: the percentage of people under the age of 24 is estimated to fall to 44 percent in 2020, down from 49 percent in 2010.[2] Life expectancy at birth reached 72.7 years, slightly higher than the regional average of 71.8 years, and  total fertility rate has reached 2.2 children per woman in the past two decades.[4]


Libya’s HDI value for 2018 is 0.708— which put the country in the lower range of the high human development category— positioning it at 110 out of 189 countries and territories. The country’s value is below the average of 0.750 for countries in the high human development group and above the average of 0.703 for countries in Arab States.[5]


Libya returned to a state of violent conflict and political turmoil in April 2019, affecting the economic performance and exacerbating the already existing humanitarian hardships faced by the population.[6] According to the Global Peace Index, Libya ranked among the 10 least peaceful countries in the world in 2019, and the fifth least peaceful countries in the region, preceded by Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, incurring an economic cost of violence estimated at 22 percent of GDP for the same year.[7] Libya is a major transit route for migrants crossing to Europe from Africa. By end of April 2020, there were 48,732 refugees, mostly Syrians and Sudanese, and by end of Feb 2020, there were 373,709 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 448,573 returned IDPs in Libya.[8] In 2020, around 893,000 million people were considered in need of humanitarian assistance, 30 percent and 34 percent of which were children and women, respectively.[9] 


The destruction of civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals made access to basic services such as education, health services, safe water and sanitation limited.  Around 127,000 school aged children are in need of assistance to access safe and quality education in Libya, of which 38,500 are IDPs. Moreover, only 6 percent of health care facilities provide all essential services, where more than 22 percent of health care facilities are not operational, and 26 percent of those that remain open are unable to offer essential services. The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector identified 242,000 people in need of WASH assistance in 2020, with nearly 36 percent of households in Libya reported limited access to sufficient drinking water.[9] This puts the country in a more challenging position to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.


Despite having the fifth largest oil reserves (after Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates) in the Arab region[10] where revenues from hydrocarbon sector represented 43.2 percent of GDP,[11] around third of the population live in poverty.[12] Following a deep recession  over 2013-16, driven by a steep decline in oil production from 70 million tonne oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2012 to 18.2 Mtoe in 2016, largely due to political instability and conflict,  the Libyan economy was able to substantially increase oil production to 42.3 Mtoe in 2017,[13] driving real GDP to grow by 64 percent in 2017. However, the annual average GDP growth rate took a sharp decline in 2018 and 2019, reaching 17.9 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively.[14]


Fluctuating oil revenues and inflexibility in the government expenditures resulted in the country’s overall fiscal situation to be under severe stress during the period 2013-2018. However, in 2019 and due to higher revenues, at 57,365.2 million Libyan Dinar (LYD) in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to 35,911.2 million LYD in the fourth quarter of 2018 [15], Libya’s budget deficit run into surplus at 8.8 percent of GDP in 2019 after six years of deficits. In 2019, the current account registered a deficit at -0.3 percent of GDP, after recording surpluses for two years in a row, at 8 percent of GDP in 2017 and 1.8 percent of GDP in 2018.  After three years of high inflation in Libya over 2015-2017, the consumer price index (CPI) registered a negative value in 2018, averaging around -1.2, and increased again to 4.6 percent in 2019. Inflation is projected to further increase to 22.3 percent in 2020.[14]


Unemployment remained relatively stable in the range of 18.5 percent between 2006 and 2019. However, youth remain the most affected with almost 69.8 percent of females between the age of 15-24 are unemployed, compared to 42.3 percent of males in 2019, according to ILO modelled estimates.[16]


The production of oil almost froze since January 2020 due to oil ports closure as a result of rival faction fighting and attacks against ports and is projected to slow down in 2020. The spread of the COVID–19 pandemic is further worsening the economic situation in Libya. In this context, Libya’s real GDP growth is expected to contract by more than 50 percent in 2020, reversing the recent recovery. The fall in oil prices accompanied by lower oil exports will have an impact on the budget and current account balances. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fiscal balance is expected to register a deficit at 7.2 percent of GDP and current account deficit is expected to widen to 6.6 percent of GDP in 2020.[14]


This overview was last updated in June 2020. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 2016. AQUASTAT Main Database [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[3] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].

[4] The World Bank. 2020. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[5] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2019. Human Development Report 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].
[6] The World Bank. October 2019. Libya Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].

[7] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2019. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[8] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2020. Operational Portal Refugee Situation: Libya. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[9] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). 2020. Humanitarian Response Plan: Libya. [ONLINE] Availableat at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[10] Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). 2019. Annual statistical Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020]. 
[11] World bank. April 2020. Libya Economic Update.  [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].
[12] Armitage, J. July 2018. Libya sinks into poverty as the oil money disappears into foreign bank accounts. The Independent. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].

[13] International Energy Agency. 2020. Data and Statistics [ONLINE]Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].
[14] International Monetary Fund. April 2020.World Economic Outlook Database [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].

[15] Central Bank of Libya. 2019. Economic Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].
[16] International Labour Organization (ILO). 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].

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Data Highlights

  • In Libya, like other Arab countries, it is the women who are severely affected by unemployment. Women unemployment rate more than doubled in recent years, where it rose from 11.3% in 2010 to 24.7% in 2018.

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