With an area of around 1.76 million km2[1], Libya is the third largest Arab country in Africa. Around 80 percent of the 6.5 million population live in urban areas.[2][3] Gripped by conflict, Libya’s age structure has been changing, with a decrease in the percentage of people under the age of 30 to 55.1 percent in 2015, down from 68.5 percent in 2010.[2] On average, a new born in Libya is expected to live 72 years and every woman is expected to give birth to 2 children, at rate that is stable since 2000.[1]


Since the uprising of 2011, the political and security situation in Libya has become more challenging. Libya ranked among the 10 least peaceful countries in the world in 2018, and among the four least peaceful countries in the region, preceded by Yemen, Iraq and Syria, according to the Global Peace Index.[4] As the largest gatekeeper of migrants crossing to Europe from Africa, Libya hosts around 400,000 migrants. By the end of 2018, there were 56,455 refugees, mostly Syrians and Sudanese,170,490 internally displaced (IDPs) and 445,845 returned IDPs in Libya.[6] In 2018 also, around 1.1 million people were considered in need of humanitarian assistance.[5] Despite having the fourth largest oil reserves (after Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates) in the Arab region at 6,300 million tons in 2016[7], around a third of the population live in poverty.[8] Mired in conflict, Libya incurred an economic cost of violence (Purchasing Power Parity) reaching 17.7 billion, or 26 percent of GDP, in 2017.[4] With temporary improvements in the political scene between 2015 and 2017, and consequently in the oil production, the economy registered a record growth at 64 percent in 2017, but declined again to 10.9 percent  ̶   highest at the regional level  ̶   in 2018, given the renewed attacks on the oil fields in the East and the decline in oil production back to 700,000 barrels per day.[10][11] As a result of the armed conflict and disruptions in the production of oil, constituting around 91 percent of government revenues prior to the conflict in 2010[12], real GDP contracted by 66.7 percent of GDP in 2011 and 53 percent in 2014.[10]


With the increase in oil revenues by 81 percent between 2015 and 2017[12], public finances have slightly improved. In 2017, the fiscal deficit improved to 43 percent of GDP, after reaching 131 percent of GDP in 2015, and is projected to reach 25.1 percent of GDP in 2018.[10] The lack of adjustment in current expenditures and the volatility of oil revenues have kept the overall fiscal stance under severe stress. The wage bill, in addition to subsidies, still seize major share of public expenditures at 48 percent and 10.6 percent of GDP, respectively.[11]


After remaining in the grip of a twin deficit for three consecutive years, Libya registered a current account surplus of 8.4 percent in 2018 (current account registered a deficit of 78.4% of GDP in 2013).[10] In 2017, the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Purchasing Power Parity) amounted to USD 11,100, compared to USD 15,837 regional average. Nearly half of the young population is unemployed.[13]


Key humanitarian needs in Libya are related to protection, including access to critical services such as education and health, safe drinking water and sanitation.[9] With 489 schools being destroyed, damaged or used as IDP shelters in 2018, the education of at least 267,000 students has been affected. Moreover, 17.5 percent of hospitals, 20 percent of primary health care facilities and 8 percent of other types of health facilities are not operational. More than 71 percent of people living with chronic diseases are facing shortages in medicines. Moreover, nearly 43 percent of the population is relying on water trucking as the main sources of drinking water.[5] With supply shortages in goods and services and shrinking purchasing power, inflation remains high at 28.1 percent.[10]

This overview was last updated in February 2019. 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 11 February 2019].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2017. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11February 2019].
[3] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
[4] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2018. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). 2018. Humanitarian Response Plan: Libya. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
[6] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Operational Portal Refugee Situation: Libya. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
[7] World Energy Council. 2019. Energy Resources. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
[8] Armitage, J. July 2018. Libya sinks into poverty as the oil money disappears into foreign bank accounts. The Independent. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
[9] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Libya Update. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 February 2019].
International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2018. World Economic Outlook Database. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 February 2019].
[11] The World Bank. October 2018. Libya Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 February 2019].
[12] Central Bank of Libya. 2013-2018. Economic Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 February 2019].
[13] United Nations Development Programme. 2018. Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2018 Statistical Update. Available at: [Accessed 12 February 2019].

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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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