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Libya: Libya Geography Profile 2012






Libya Geography Profile 2012

Libya has no permanent rivers, but many wadis, gullies containing large water briefly after rains. large reserve of groundwater occur along the coast of Tripoli and in parts of the desert. The largest of these sources is groundwater in the Oasis of Kufra in the southeast. Salt marshes and salt lakes dry along the coast, especially along the Gulf of Sirte.

Excepting the two strips of land along the coast, one in the northwest and one in the north, Libya lies entirely within the Sahara. Much of the country lacks diversity, consisting primarily of stony plateaus, gravel plains, and vast expanses of sand dunes. Only the occasional oasis and rock outcrops break the monotony of the terrain, which generally varies from 500 to 3,000 feet (150 to 900 m) above sea level. Bette is the culmination, the highest in the Tibesti massif near the border between Chad, which reaches 7,434 feet (2,266 m).

Most of Libya has a desert type climate, characterized by extreme aridity and strong daily fluctuations in temperature. Rainfall averages less than 5 inches (130 mm) per year, and large areas will receive no rain for several years at a time. Summer temperatures reach over 100 ° F (38 ° C) at noon, then falling to between 60 ° and 70 ° F. (16 ° and 21 ° C) overnight. Winters are cool with occasional frosts.

In coastal areas of northwest and north-east, where the influence of the sea exceeds that of the desert, a Mediterranean climate prevails. Summers are usually hot and dry, with temperatures averaging near 80 ° F. (27 ° C). Winters are mild to moderately cold and rainy. Annual precipitation ranges generally from 10 to 20 inches (250 to 500 mm) depending on location and altitude, but severe droughts occur every few years. The Ghibli, a hot, dry, sandy wind laden, blows from the desert, especially in spring and autumn. It usually lasts one to four days, but can significantly increase the temperature and cause considerable damage to crops.


Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia

Geographic coordinates: 

25 00 N, 17 00 E

Map references: 


Area comparative: 

slightly larger than Alaska

Land boundaries Total: 

4,348 km

Land boundaries Note: 


Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior


mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions

Natural resources: 

petroleum, natural gas, gypsum

Natural hazards: 

hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms

Environment - current issues: 

desertification; limited natural fresh water resources; the Great Manmade River Project, the largest water development scheme in the world, is being built to bring water from large aquifers under the Sahara to coastal cities

Geography note: 

more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert