Libya is a country in Northern Africa. It made the headlines once with the Civil War in 2011, when people found out that it’s an Islamic country with oil reserves. In this country, a gallon of water is more expensive than a gallon of gasoline. While rich in gold and oil, one saying mocks the exploitation of its resources by the West: ‘The country is rich, the people poor’.
Libya though has a lot more to offer. Culturally and geographically, it’s usually included in the Mediterranean region, with a surprising number of Greek and Roman monuments. Ever heard of Aristippus of Cyrene? Cyrene is in Lybia, meaning hedonism, as we know it now, originated in Libya. Unlike in any other African countries, visitors can explore Sahara considerably easier. In Libya, there are several pieces of prehistoric art, which can be seen in the desert, especially in Ghat. Leptis Magna used to be the residence of a Roman Emperor. The ruins resisted incredibly well to the test of time and Libyan archaeologists plan to recover even more of the ancient site.
For a better understanding of the Berber tradition, visit Nalut. As for shopping, good coffee and sunbaths, you can go to Benghazi. The beaches on the coast are popular attractions. Actually, since Libya’s territory is made up mostly by the desert (with only a few oasis towns), the majority of the population lives in only three cities.
Libyans value social interactions. They enjoy a fair share of small talk. Outsiders usually call them indiscreet or nosy. They might seem so since there aren’t as many taboos about personal life as in other parts. People ask each other about how much money one earns, how much they paid for their clothes, about family, why doesn’t someone have children and so on. Since family is important to them, they don’t understand how you can transcend to adulthood without getting married. One thing though falls under the label of imprudence: to ask about the female members of one’s family.
There is a ban on alcohol, but Libyans don’t take it seriously. They make their own drink or buy it illegally, without much fuss. Some vans stop in secluded spots and distribute drinks to anyone interested. Police usually knows about it and they might perceive a fee, but they don’t seem to back up the government on this one. If you think of moving to Libya, some things could help you make up your mind. Students enrolled in public universities earn as much as an employee in that field. Besides, banks don’t perceive interests on loans. Newly-weds receive, under certain terms, free accommodation.
Libya is a Muslim country that respects its traditions. Therefore, those who travel here must take care not to offend with their behavior or clothing.
Libya’s state religion is Islam and the official language is Arabic. Libyan Islam revolves around Sanoussiya, a religious brotherhood founded in Cyrenaica in 1843. Fiercely anti-Christian, Sanoussiya, which took over the country through zawiyas and controlled the caravan traffic, violently opposed the Italians.
Through all the customs and prohibitions in the country there are the following ones: on the street, honking and flashes indicate a cordial welcome, so it is customary to respond; clothing must be decent, molded shorts and tops must be avoided, especially by the ladies; men should not be talking to the Libyan girls because they can put them in a uncomfortable situation. Before you enter someone’s home and especially when visiting a mosque, the shoes must always be removed; women should wear a veil when entering a mosque; do not offer money to someone offering their hospitability; do not drink or eat in public during Ramadan; gum chewing is not seen with good eyes; when you give food to someone, you should do it with your right hand; do not insert any alcoholic beverage in Libya. A non-Muslim caught in public place drunk can be sentenced to prison from 2-6 months, can receive a fine or can be expelled; taking pictures in cities or provinces is restricted due to numerous works related to territorial defense; you must avoid hugging and kissing in public.
Although naturally speaking, this country has nothing surprising, the architecture of the buildings and its culture make tourists remain astonished. The fact is that a history like that of Libya is always surprising and the best thing a tourist can do is to take note of the available tours, which are organized frequently.
David Robson is the founder of Complus Alliance. He has been writing about different topics for almost 10 years. He’s main focus is delivering quality insights to a wide array of audience.